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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

The hon. Gentleman did not mention to the House that Sheffield budgeted for a saving of £20 million on its financing costs, or that it will also benefit from the £13.5 million of savings that it achieved last year. Sheffield was given help last year because of its financing costs, much of which existed because of the hon. Gentleman's period in office in the city. The ordinary council tax payer in Sheffield is paying for the overspending of many years.

If the council tax payers of Sheffield want to know why their bills are so high, they must ask the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett). It was during their stewardship that the burden of debt was put on the shoulders of the people of Sheffield. The hon. Gentleman wants me to take the burden that he placed on the shoulders of the people of Sheffield and move it on to everybody else's shoulders. He wants the debt to be passed on to the shoulders of people who have been looked after by prudent Conservative authorities. I must tell the hon. Gentleman that I will not do that.

It is time that the people of Sheffield recognised that the prudent policies of the Government have brought reductions in the financing costs. The financing costs have come down because an economy with low inflation rates, and therefore low interest rates, enables the costs of past profligacy to be less than they would otherwise be. I am sure that, given the facts, the people of Sheffield would recognise that the hon. Gentleman has only one part to play in the House—to apologise for the extent to which the local council wasted the money of the people of Sheffield in the past.