HC Deb 15 November 1928 vol 222 cc1080-2

asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been called to the report of the financial experts engaged by the Rural District Councils Association upon the proposals for reform in local government, and in particular the paragraph which states that in the County of Durham the rural districts of Hartlepool, South Shields, and Sunderland receive no relief although their rates in 1926 and 1927 were 14s. 8¾d., 17s. 7¼d., and 16s. 10d., respectively, while the Sefton rural district, in Lancashire, with a rate of 10s. 10d., will receive a relief of 2s. 9d. in the £, and Guildford, in Surrey, with a rate of 8s. 5¾d., will receive relief to the amount of ls. 7¾d.; and what steps he proposes to take to modify the scheme outlined in the White Paper to get rid of the anomalies which exist in many industrial areas?


Yes, Sir. I have seen the report of the Rural District Councils Association, and I have discussed it with representatives of that body. The figures in the White Paper show that under the proposals of the Government the County of Durham as a whole would gain no less than 54.2 pence per head of the population, and the fact that the rural districts quoted by the hon. Member would not share in this relief is due to the arrangement under which the charge for Poor Law relief is spread over the county instead of the union. If, however, as a result of this change any economies in the charge should result, the rural districts in the county will, of course, share in the benefit. The general effect of the Government scheme is very largely to modify existing anomalies but it cannot entirely remove differences which arise from local conditions.


What is West Ham going to get under Clause 17?


May I ask whether the figures which the right hon. Gentleman gave are based on the working out of the scheme in the first five years, or on a permanent basis after 15 years?


On the first five years.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider that these anomalies show that there is some essential defect in the formula?


I do not admit that there are anomalies in the scheme. What I said was that there are existing anomalies which would be somewhat modified by the scheme.


The question shows great anomalies in the amount of relief, and I want to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will consider that such variations in relief point to some essential defect in the formula?


Apparently, the hon. Member uses the word "anomaly" as synonymous with "difference." There will remain differences in rating. The scheme of the Government is not designed to produce a uniform rate throughout the country.


May I ask whether the intention of the right hon. Gentleman is to provide Middlesex with, an advantage of £420,000 while Yorkshire suffers a loss of £475,000?

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