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Council Tax

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:53 pm on 15th June 1995.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge 5:53 pm, 15th June 1995

The hon. Gentleman can repeat his untruths later. He can repeat outside the case that the Liberal councillors are making in county hall. The longer he holds me up in my speech, the less opportunity the public will have for him to repeat it.

The fact is that a budget was put forward—not an easy budget; there are no easy budgets to deal with this settlement. However, it was a budget that could have been set and would have meant in the end no cuts in education. Surely it would have been more honest if the Liberal Democrat administration had been prepared to argue the case on its merits instead of trying to mislead people about the facts.

This very day, in an intervention to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, I put a series of figures that Devon county council came up with just hours ago. What do we find? We find that those apparently authoritative figures make a comparison between Devon and Somerset and exclude redundancy costs for Devon, but include them for Somerset. When the council still could not paint the picture that it wanted to paint, I understand that it got to the stage where it decided to recount adult heads of population rather than concentrate on the children. Perhaps we shall hear more about that in the winding-up speeches. Anyone who has been a west country politician for as long as I have knows that one cannot expect very much from the malignant nonentities who are the Liberal councillors. However, it is immensely sad to see experienced professional senior council officers prepared to traduce their integrity by producing such figures.