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Orders of the Day — Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:40 pm on 1st February 1995.

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Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Secretary of State for Environment 4:40 pm, 1st February 1995

I find that view extremely attractive for this reason: the capping mechanism was introduced because, in some areas, people were unable to pay the high costs of administrations, which, in all fairness, were mainly Labour controlled. They found themselves in terrible difficulty. As a resident of then Labour-controlled Ealing, I was one of those people who saw exactly what happened when people were suddenly faced with enormous bills. Tower Hamlets supports 7.7 non-manual staff in central services per 1,000. If we compare that with, for example, Wandsworth, which supports fewer than two per 1,000 of those staff, we understand why Tower Hamlets charges its often poor residents large sums of money. A real problem exists. The capping regime operates to protect those people. I have come down on that matter, not least because, if we add it all up, local government spends so high a proportion of what the nation makes that the Government may be blamed, and it would have a serious effect on the Government economic's policy.