Local Government Services (Leicester)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:13 pm on 20th February 1997.

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Photo of Paul Beresford Paul Beresford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Environment) 10:13 pm, 20th February 1997

Will the hon. Gentleman refer back to the first figure I gave? I said that the average council tax collection rate for Conservative councils is 96 per cent.; the Labour average is 92.7 per cent.; and the figure in Leicester is 89.83 per cent. That represents millions of pounds.

The hon. Gentleman should also reflect on what I am trying to point out, without going through the budget blow by blow, which I do not wish to do—if Leicester Labour councillors cannot do it, perhaps they should stand aside and let someone else do it. I am trying to point out that their attitude of mind is at fault. Even if it is a small percentage, it is a poor show that those councillors have taken the opportunity at this time to increase their allowances. If the hon. Gentleman reflects on how he voted at the tail end of last year—I do not know how he voted—it might cause him to think again.

Leicester's new unitary status this year gives it an opportunity to recognise that year on year expenditure needs to be based on decent, efficient services. Council after council throughout the country can manage it. The status and needs of Leicester council have been reflected in its SSA and its status compared with other unitary authorities in the same position. It is at the top of the list for Government grants and for SSA, but it still fails to meet the needs of its local people.