Mr Irvine Patnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what measures he intends to make health promotion and the prevention of ill health a central function of general medical practice.
Mr Irvine Patnick: I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply, but I am sure that people in Sheffield would appreciate more detail. Will he give more details?
Mr Irvine Patnick: When the hon. Gentleman was leader of Sheffield city council, his submission to the Government was for a local income tax. He will have read an article in the Sheffield Star of 15 December 1987, which states: The days of hand-to-mouth annual budgeting, and ineffectively blaming the Government when grants and financial regulations fail to meet expectations are a thing of the past". So said the...
Mr Irvine Patnick: I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside, (Mr. Blunkett) has changed his stance. He said that it is not a local income tax any more; it is now a property tax. We in this place require stability and an alternative that we stick with all the time.
Mr Irvine Patnick: I have listened to the hon. Gentleman rant on with his negative opposition to the Bill. However, the Labour party has no alternative. It has not made up its mind whether it wants capital values, capital rating, local income tax or what. All the hon. Gentleman has done is to say that we are wrong, but he should tell us about the alternatives proposed by the Labour party. My right hon. Friend...
Mr Irvine Patnick: As I understand it, Orkney council has private refuse collection on the island of Westray while Skye and Lochalsh district council has contracted out its refuse collection on the island of Raasay and street cleaning at Glenelg. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some small places in Scotland are contracting out services?
Mr Irvine Patnick: Private contractors, farmers and similar people in places such as Sheffield, which the hon. Gentleman disparaged, contract out to the council for snow clearing and other services. When we discussed this matter in Committee, I gained the impression that Labour Members were saying that no services in Scotland could be privatised and that firms would not compete. The hon. Member for Glasgow,...
Mr Irvine Patnick: Will my hon. Friend confirm that provision will be made for the Health and Safety Commission for an increase in the number of inspectors in 1988–89?
Mr Irvine Patnick: Does the hon. Gentleman regard the dog warden as an endangered species? Does he envisage them delivering the letter rather than the postal worker?
Mr Irvine Patnick: The hon. Gentleman referred to the historical nature of the powers of local government. Does he agree with the argument that I subscribe to, that all local government powers come from this place? They have not dropped as tablets of stone from heaven.
Mr Irvine Patnick: It is not about Sheffield?
Mr Irvine Patnick: The hon. Members for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) and for Bradford, North (Mr. Wall) have explained everything to the House. The hon. Member for Bradford, North pointed out that since 1979 the sewers have collapsed, schools need major repairs — and on and on went his litany. The hon. Member for Leyton offered no alternative policy; he simply wanted more money, but with no improved efficiency, no...
Mr Irvine Patnick: The hon. Gentleman seems to enjoy making such interventions. We cannot determine services until the system is introduced in 1990. However, I assure him that what happened in Liverpool will not happen in other cities.
Mr Irvine Patnick: I leave that for the history books. The ratepayers in Sheffield want a rate freeze for the next two years and do not understand why the city has not been rate capped for 1988–89.
Mr Irvine Patnick: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for regaling us with the story of how Liverpool went bankrupt. If Sheffield city council decides to put services out to tender before the local government legislation becomes law, it will save ratepayers' cash. It does not need to wait for the enactment of the legislation. It can do it now. The council seems to disregard the fact that more staff equals...
Mr Irvine Patnick: The hon. Gentleman says that people will not get jobs in the private sector. How does he know? On what facts are his remarks based? What report does he have?
Mr Irvine Patnick: Does not the fact that capital receipts are available reduce borrowing, so that, in effect, the local authority has the use of such money?
Mr Irvine Patnick: Members of Sheffield city council are allowed four minutes to speak. As a member of that council, I know that if one's speech is not finished within four minutes the silence is deafening. I shall try to finish this speech within four minutes. Land and buildings in inner cities are a jigsaw of ownership and problems. Somehow, the road layout and services do not match what is needed now or in...
Mr Irvine Patnick: The hon. Gentleman talks about matchstick jobs. Real jobs exist. Jobs are available, but the workers are not correctly skilled for them. Opposition Members should accept that training is available for vacancies. They seem to derive spurious pleasure from saying that unemployment is insoluble. I do not accept that.
Mr Irvine Patnick: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?