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Orders of the Day — Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:59 pm on 1st February 1995.

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Photo of Mr Nirj Deva Mr Nirj Deva , Brentford and Isleworth 8:59 pm, 1st February 1995

The hon. Gentleman is right. One Conservative-controlled authority—Ealing—has collected only 23 per cent., and I am sure that there are people who will do something about that.

Let us look at debt. Why do Labour-controlled local authorities have the highest debt in the country? Manchester has a debt of £1,326 million. Its total debt per head is £3,000. In Birmingham, it is £1,233; in Islington, £946 and so on. Why is it that those uncollected taxes and rents are in Labour-controlled local authorities?

Let us return to that great quote from the Leader of the Opposition—that the character of any party does not become clear until one is in power, because it is very clear indeed. Those Labour authorities have been in power for generations, for far too long, and some day their ratepayers will wake up and say, "This is no good. We have to do something about it."

In Hounslow, we have a Labour-controlled local authority that is more efficient than the local authorities that I have discussed. Its revenue support grant is about 0.5 per cent. more than last year. I know that this is a time to whinge, but I am not going to whinge. I merely put on record, as my hon. Friend knows, that we have to build two new schools this year, because our population is increasing faster than predicted, and we have a problem with refugees because of the airport. I know that my hon. Friend has taken that on board.