We have received representations from four of the local authority associations and comments from 73 local authorities in response to the consultation paper on rate support grant published on 3 December 1986. In addition, my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and I have seen deputations from a number of authorities and hon. Members.
As a result of the representations that were made on the earlier consultation paper significant changes were made, but as a result of the substantial support for the revised proposals no changes were made.
Has my hon. Friend noted that the Government's failure to propose raising the rate support grant for Derbyshire this year by more than four times the rate of inflation has prompted the Left-wing leader of the county council to describe this action as "shades of a Hitler regime"? Is this not a despicable comment and an insult to the many Conservatives who fought against the Hitler regime in the last war?
It is an outrageous comment, particularly when Derbyshire is to get an extra £18·4 million in grant next year, and perhaps it is more than many of my hon. Friends would wish. It is right to say that the sort of outrageous comments that Mr. Bookbinder made will ensure that he never gets elected to the House.