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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 will confirm that in 1991 Camden forgot a loan repayment of more than £24 million, which meant that, in many cases, rents rose by a third. I shall quote from someone who is not noted in his professional life for doing other than supporting a range of Labour authorities. I shall do so although I deprecate some of the attacks made on people by turning their perfectly proper professional behaviour into a political issue. Andrew Arden said: the standards applicable to dealing in vast sums of money have been found wanting: it is as if pockets of what I can only describe of entrenched amateurism have been allowed to prevail. Camden could save at least £2 million every year if its staff working hours were increased to the local government norm. Camden's members services unit, which is open only to Labour members of Camden council, costs £143,000 a year. For every £5 spent on housing repairs in Camden, £1 is lost in administrative costs. That compares to an average of 30p in inner-London boroughs as a whole, and that average is pushed up by authorities such as Camden. Just in case it has been missed, I should say that Camden's grant to the Camden lesbian centre in 1994–95 will be £44,228. No wonder the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras giggles. The only people in Camden who do not giggle are those who have to pay the bill for such incompetence. Those who think that the Labour party would make a Government should remember what has happened to Camden under Labour's control.