Welsh Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:26 pm on 1st March 1990.

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Photo of Mr Keith Raffan Mr Keith Raffan , Delyn 5:26 pm, 1st March 1990

I have not forgotten the hon. Gentleman.

Councillor Conway says that people must not be misled into thinking that the high community charge is due to extravagant spending…we went through the budget line by line and cut all unnecessary expenditure out. No one knows whether that is true because the Labour group did it in caucus. I shall come to that again in a moment. Once more, the facts contradict what he says. Clwyd spending is to be increased by £28·9 million or 18 per cent. Only £14 million of that is accounted for by inflation. The remainder is new spending. Of course, Clwyd has not cut anything.

When the council was in financial crisis last July—a crisis that it should have anticipated because, as the largest group on the council, Labour was largely responsible for pushing through the previous budget—it said that it would programme a 10 per cent. cut in senior and middle management posts under the containment agreement with a potential saving of £15 million. What has the council done? It has increased its staff by seven.

I and my hon. Friends know what Labour is up to. After all, we have the famous secret document from Southwark Labour group. It would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to Southwark Labour group for letting us have that document. It shows precisely what Labour is up to. It asked Labour councillors to consider: What is more important—short-term protection of people by setting low poll taxes or longer term protection by getting rid of the poll tax? The document's advice was to set: The highest rate you can get away with. That is what Labour in Clwyd has done. It is not being responsible, but simply playing politics, as it always has.