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Council Tax

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 15th June 1995.

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Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) 4:47 pm, 15th June 1995

As I was saying before I was so politely interrupted, the Secretary of State said that I misunderstood the figures and had not done my homework, but I predicted that the average council tax increase across the country would be 6 per cent. I freely confess that I was wrong; it was 5.2 per cent.

I plead in justification, however, that in Suffolk, Coastal, represented by the Secretary of State—I use the band D figure, because that is his favourite method—the increase was 6 per cent. It was 8.5 per cent. in Huntingdon, represented by the Prime Minister. It was 7.4 per cent. in the area represented by the Secretary of State for Education and, in the area represented by the chairman of the Conservative party, the right hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley), it was actually 15 per cent.

If we then compare—[Interruption.] The Secretary of State made a long speech. Let me finish my argument. If we compare the increases in those places with the increases in the places that are to be capped, what do we find? We find that, if Barnsley had had its way, it would have been 12 per cent. In Devon, there would have been no increase, allowing for the police. In Gloucester, there would have been no increase, allowing for the police. In Shropshire, it would have been 12 per cent. and in Sheffield 13 per cent.

Staggeringly, if Newcastle city council had had its way, it would have reduced its council tax by 5.6 per cent., but it gets capped. It is a fiddle and a farce. If the Secretary of State wants to confirm that, he is welcome to do so.