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Orders of the Day — Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:11 pm on 1st February 1995.

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Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin , West Derbyshire 7:11 pm, 1st February 1995

I would rather not give way, because I have a great deal to say.

I could speak on this subject for a long time, but time is short. There are alternatives for education.

I am particularly concerned about the area cost adjustment. Some of us wonder whether the Department of the Environment has got the formula right. It should be looked at. It might mean that some London boroughs will have to lose money. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) did the House a disservice by spending 25 minutes talking about London. Many hon. Members are much more interested in what is happening in the rest of the country than in history lessons about Westminster. Will my right hon. Friend consider carefully the area cost adjustment?

When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was Chief Secretary, he talked about the pay review bodies reporting after local authority budgets had been set. That does put local authorities in an awkward position, in that they do not know what the pay settlements will be in the coming year. It should be looked at. It is not fair that they should find out what the pay review bodies say after they have set their budget. That is not the most efficient way to move forward.

I have no doubt that we will hear the same bleating as we have heard over the past few months—some of which may be genuine. Scaring parents is deplorable and does no credit to the people involved. Year after year, we hear the same excuses. I urge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to use every opportunity to expose what the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats are trying to do, and to explain what the outcome will be.