Uncollected Local Authority Taxes

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 18th December 1996.

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Photo of Mr Irvine Patnick Mr Irvine Patnick , Sheffield, Hallam 1:50 pm, 18th December 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement regarding the level of uncollected local authority taxes in Scotland. [8134]

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

There is £721 million of uncollected local authority taxes in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Irvine Patnick Mr Irvine Patnick , Sheffield, Hallam

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. That is a lot of money. Which is the worst offending council? What would be the effect in that and other cities in Scotland if the council collected its dues and demands—in other words, carried out its fiduciary duty?

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

On uncollected council tax, the worst offenders are Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Glasgow has the largest amount of uncollected council tax. Currently, band D council tax payers in Glasgow have to pay £807. If all the money were collected, however, they would receive a cheque for £315 from the council.

Photo of Thomas McAvoy Thomas McAvoy , Glasgow Rutherglen

Does the Secretary of State accept that the £14 billion cost of the poll tax to the British public was due largely to his support for its introduction in Scotland? When will he have the guts and the honesty to confess his share of guilt in imposing that £14 billion tax on the British people? Does he realise the extent to which the people of Scotland regard his cavalier attitude to public spending, which he showed by taking that aircraft on Monday night, as a pathetic spectacle? He might say that the incident was petty, small or minor, but it showed that he has a double standard when it comes to spending public money in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

I think that we can take that as a commitment, on behalf of the Labour party, that—if Labour is ever in government—Labour Members will not make any use of RAF jets. I look forward to hearing the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) make that commitment.

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

The hon. Gentleman wants an answer on the poll tax, but he obviously does not like the answer he has had on the RAF. On his question on the poll tax, the hon. Gentleman might like to note that Labour councils in Scotland are showing an increasingly poor record of collecting council tax. Consequently, council tax payers who pay their council tax are having to pay more. That is what Labour is like in local government, and it would be the same in central Government. If it were ever elected to office, there would be higher taxes and poorer standards in collection and in administering the law. That has been Labour's record in local government, and that is its record in Scotland.