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Orders of the Day — Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:31 pm on 1st February 1995.

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Photo of Mr Michael Carttiss Mr Michael Carttiss , Great Yarmouth 7:31 pm, 1st February 1995

Someone is interrupting although I said that I would not accept interventions. He is saying that my constituency has assisted area status but we got precious little money back from Europe for that.

The Department of Health's budget, quite rightly, goes up by 3.8 per cent. this year. The Department of Education's budget rightly goes up by 4.1 per cent. Very difficult decisions have to be taken by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench to limit central Government expenditure—4.1 per cent. on education and 3.8 per cent. on health—but, at the same time, they are telling local authorities, which have to run such services locally, that they will receive an increase of only 0.5 per cent.

On that famous night of 20 January 1986, to which I referred, 29 Conservative Back Benchers voted against the Government. None of them lost the Whip; some of them were ex-Cabinet Ministers—Lord Pym, Lord Prior and Lord Gilmour—and some of are in the Government now. The hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) voted against the Government in 1986; he is now Minister of State in the Treasury. He should know that if the settlement was not good enough when it was much higher in 1986, this year's settlement is not good enough.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) is now a Minister of State in the Foreign Office and I accept entirely that he cannot be expected to worry about revenue support grants, but he voted against the Government that night. Look how these people get on when they vote against the Government.

Notably, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the Member for Hertfordshire, West, wrote to me-I quoted from his letter—and told me that Norfolk could manage and that the settlement was fair and equitable. It was not fair and equitable to him when he voted against the Government on 20 January 1986. Now, as Under-Secretary for the Environment, he is telling me that 0.5 per cent is—