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Council Tax

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:08 pm on 15th June 1995.

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Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Secretary of State for Environment 4:08 pm, 15th June 1995

It has the money to do so, largely provided by the taxpayer. Somerset would have had to cut its budget by 3.5 per cent. The difference is that Devon was in a position to spend something more than three times as much as Somerset. The difference between the two is about three times. Therefore, Somerset clearly had a much better case.

In order to cover up that difference, Devon county council has produced a series of—if I dare say it in the House—untruthful figures. For example, in order to pretend that it has been done down, instead of talking about spending per pupil, it wanted to use spending per head of the population in its figures and bring all the adults into its school population. Only in that way could it produce the figures.

When Devon came to compare administration costs, it included redundancy in the Somerset figures and left redundancy out of its own figures to show how much better it supposedly was on administration. I am afraid that a county that has to mislead its electorate shows by its own words that its case is extremely poor. Its case did not stand up under close consideration by myself and my officials when the council came to see us.