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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 confirm all that my right hon. Friend says. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) is not here. I had thought, from all the letters that he had written to Members of Parliament of his own party and others, that he may have found it possible to come to this important debate. Is the matter important only in his constituency and not in the House?

I wonder whether the right hon. Member for Yeovil has noticed that if there was a redetermination, it would be unlikely that Somerset would have benefited more. Indeed, the likelihood would have been that other counties would have noticed that Somerset had received a 2.5 per cent. increase in its education standard spending assessment, which is well over twice the county average; that in personal social services, it had a 2 per cent. increase, which is considerably more than the county average; and that in other services it had a 4.6 per cent. increase.

It appears to me that in all the measurements, Somerset has done significantly better than many other counties. Yet the right hon. Member for Yeovil has rushed immediately to frighten people. The attempt by Liberal Democrats to frighten people as part and parcel of their party-politicking is the worst aspect of a party which has little to commend itself in general.