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Local Taxation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 4th July 2005.

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Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Minister of State (Communities and Local Government), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 4:00 pm, 4th July 2005

I have been extremely generous in giving way, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will now allow me to finish my speech.

In particular, we asked Sir Michael how best to reform and revalue council tax and to look at the case for supplementary revenue raising by local authorities and options for reforming business rates and other local taxes and charges. Since starting work, he has visited each of the English regions and Wales to take evidence from stakeholders. He has met groups and individuals with a wide range of interests, and key stakeholders have been encouraged to submit written evidence. I look forward to his report.

I have a sneaking feeling that the minds of the drafters of both Opposition motions may be less on the finer points of the Lyons inquiry and more on their intense political rivalry for the vacant Cheadle seat. When the hon. Member for Meriden started talking about "Bash the rat"—[Interruption.] I am sorry but "splat the rat" is known as "Bash the rat" in the more refined parts of the north-east. However, when she started talking about "splat the rat", I thought she was talking about us. It turns out that we on this side are the drainpipe in this competition and the rat is sitting on the Liberal Democrat Bench. Be that as it may, the Government are fully focused on promoting serious engagement with the difficult choices raised by the pressure for more local spending in an acceptable way. It is to that end that I welcome this debate and look forward to its conclusions.