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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

I must point out that I have taken about 18 interventions and that my speech is extremely short. I had to answer those questions and I hope that the answers will save time for many hon. Members who need to speak. I understand that some people do not want to hear the facts of what happens when local councils are run by Labour and Liberal authorities.

Authorities whose caps have not been relaxed will be disappointed. I reiterate that we have not taken the decisions lightly, but have considered all aspects of the authorities' overall situation and listened carefully to the arguments put to us. We have changed the figures for a number of authorities—authorities whose policies we might not agree with, but which have been able to put a proper case that has been clearly acceptable within the rules. We concluded that the cases that they put to us provided a sufficient base for relaxing their caps, while others provided an insufficient base.

It is a tight settlement, but the great majority of authorities have been prepared to take tough decisions to set budgets within their caps. The caps that we have proposed in the order are reasonable, appropriate and achievable in all the circumstances of each authority. They will save council tax payers in the relevant areas about £24 million in 1995–96 alone. I commend the order to the House.