Frank Dobson: I withdraw whatever it was that I said that was out of order. In the time available to me since these papers came before the House, I have found it impossible to assess the impact of the amendments on my constituency. Whether the Opposition Whips like it or not, I propose on all matters in the corrigendum that refer to ILEA to seek to divide the House.
Frank Dobson: Not a lot.
Frank Dobson: rose—
Frank Dobson: Does not the Minister consider that under these circumstances it would be better to start rating all farming property, rather than have this additional element of derating for fish farmers? I know that the Minister and his colleagues are dedicated to cutting down the number of local government staff, but how many does he suppose will have to be deployed in verifying that no ornamental fish...
Frank Dobson: In his brief reference to the amendments, including amendment No. 176, the Minister, in his usual casual way, referred to them as "technical amendments". The addition to schedule 8 is a technical amendment that adds nine pages to the schedule. That makes it a remarkable piece of technicality. Furthermore, it has a significant bearing on the future of local authority funding. The amendment...
Frank Dobson: That is certainly the view of those who, I assume, not even the Government could accuse of political motivation. Even the technicians of the various local authority associations are convinced that the ILEA is the prime target to lose Government funds which will be transferred to the shire counties. In the past year we have been exposed to the gross prejudices of the Conservative Party...
Frank Dobson: I normally find it fairly easy at least to understand what the Ministers attempts to tell us. However, I find it difficult to believe that the points that I make are entirely irrelevant or out of order. The right hon. Gentleman appears to be criticising you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, rather than me.
Frank Dobson: Does not the Minister agree that these technical amendments include provisions that will have an impact on ILEA, for instance, on the apportionment of the English block grant?
Frank Dobson: If the Minister cannot make an estimate, does he accept the estimate of the Tory-controlled London Boroughs Association that, if his policies continue for a further five years, they will lead to an increase of almost ½ million in the shortfall of houses in this country?
Frank Dobson: Will the Minister say what was the population of London when the establishment was agreed? Will he say also what was then the ratio between the population and the establishment, and what it is today?
Frank Dobson: rose—
Frank Dobson: rose—
Frank Dobson: In view of the brief time at my disposal. I have discarded half my speech. When I sit down, I hope that hon. Members will not think that I threw away the better half. My reason for speaking in this debate is that, with the increasing impoverishment of people who already are not well off as a result of the Government's policies and the general economic decline, a great deal of attention will...
Frank Dobson: Will the Director General of Fair Trading be looking to see whether private sector competitors as well as British Telecommunications are competing fairly?
Frank Dobson: I return to the matter that I raised earlier, which is related to cross-subsidisation. If the Director General of Fair Trading has special responsibilities in this sphere, will he be given powers to look into cross-transfers and cross-subsidisation within the existing companies which are not at present contrary to the law?
Frank Dobson: I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) for his very brief contribution. It is rather ironic that, when we are discussing instantaneous communication, we have some very turgid and vapid speeches, especially from the almost totally empty Government Benches. Sometimes I feel like a Luddite in this place. It appears that virtually everyone subscribes to the view that it is...
Frank Dobson: asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the latest estimate of the total value of the derating of agricultural hereditaments.
Frank Dobson: Does not this massive saving for the agriculture industry show that the industry makes no contribution whatever towards that part of the social wage in rural areas chat comes from local authorities? Does it not make it all the more necessary that agricultural workers should have got a better pay settlement this year than they have done?
Frank Dobson: It is like voting Tory.
Frank Dobson: Does not the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Bottomley) accept that it is fraudulent to claim that the Government are maintaining expenditure on the Health Service at the same level in real terms? Does he not realise that that can be true only if one ignores the extra amount that the Health Service must pay to the VAT man? As far as I know, the VAT man does not contribute to the Health...