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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

The standard spending assessments are worked out as clearly as possible according to criteria that we have discussed long and loud with local authorities. If St. Helens spent as far below its SSA as Westminster, it would have an even lower council tax. It has a high council tax because it is a high spender. St. Helens should learn from Westminster's efficiency. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) is laughing. He wants to laugh because he does not want us to be reminded of the efficiency of his borough of Camden. Camden has the second highest external debt per capita in the country. Its total debt has increased by 14 per cent. in the past five years. A recent district auditor's first report revealed that Camden had a debt of £50 million rather than a surplus of £18 million, which its internal addition had suggested. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras has the effrontery to giggle despite representing a Labour-controlled authority with such a record.