Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 13th February 1997.

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Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South 3:31 pm, 13th February 1997

May we have an urgent debate on local government in London? I refer my right hon. Friend to an answer given by the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Sir P. Beresford). It pointed out that outstanding rent and tax arrears amounted to £135 million in the London borough of Lambeth and £143 million in Camden; that in Hackney rent arrears were more than 30 per cent. of the annual rent roll, and 9.8 per cent. of council properties were empty; and that in Haringey rent arrears were 33 per cent. of the annual rent roll, and in Southwark more than 20 per cent.

Is my right hon. Friend further aware that in the London boroughs of Haringey and Islington arrears of council tax are such that the councils prefer not to tell the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy what they are? Is not it an urgent situation, when the authorities claim that they do not have enough money and want more from the Government but refuse to collect what is due to them from their tenants and council tax payers?