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Local Taxation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:38 pm on 4th July 2005.

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Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government), Deputy Chair, Conservative Party 6:38 pm, 4th July 2005

If the hon. Gentleman had been here longer, he would have heard more of the arguments, but I shall deal with that point shortly.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend Mr. Wallace for his knowledgeable contribution.

The Government's dependency on council tax is a case study in addiction. It starts with a small transfer of a little public expenditure to councils, with the addition of the odd unfunded burden on local councils. Only a few people notice, and the Government begin to feel good. Now it has become a habit. Each year, a little bit more is added. Each year, it becomes more difficult to disguise the dependency. Every four years or so, the Government realise that they have a problem and they swear off the habit, only to fall off the wagon in a post-election binge. It will ultimately kill them.

Some people believe that identity cards—the plastic poll tax—will bring the Government down. However, I believe that it is their abuse of property tax—revaluing and adding bands—that will bring them down. Even including an element of local income tax will make no difference. As The Independent put it,

"The sensible response, therefore, ought to be to look at the causes of the rise."

The causes of the rise are the causes of the problem. Labour Members and their Liberal Democrat allies are beginning to resemble "Desperado".

"These things that are pleasin' you will hurt you some day".

That day is known: it is 2007. The Government's world will truly rock—to its foundations. They will bitterly regret fiddling the council tax.