Mr Fox is wrong to state, as Ms Leckie did in my local newspaper, that there was some sort of amnesty down south. I have confirmed with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister that there is no general amnesty and that those who are in debt will continue to be pursued. The ODPM made the clear statement, which I support, that such a move would be unfair on the vast majority of people who have paid their local council tax debts. Mr Fox is just plain wrong. Perhaps he was misinformed or perhaps he has misunderstood—I understand how that could happen.
Such an amnesty would be unfair on those who have made an effort to fulfil their responsibility to pay local taxation. We all have a responsibility to continue to do that. The sum of between £1.3 million and £1.6 million of poll tax debt that was paid in the six months up to summer 2003 goes towards our public services and helps to provide nursery places in our communities and the emergency services on which we all rely. It is absolutely wrong that people who have debts to society and to their local council should not pay