HC Deb 20 June 1939 vol 348 cc2013-4
49. Sir Stanley Reed

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the rise in the rates collected by local authorities from £78,971,000 in 1913–14 to £210,104,000 in 1938–39, the increase in local indebtedness, and the conflict as to how far this is due to the action of the local authorities and how far to duties laid upon them by Parliament and Ministers, he will consider the appointment of a small expert committee to inquire into local taxation?

Sir J. Simon

While I view with concern the constant increase in local taxation, I doubt if any useful purpose would be served by the appointment of an expert committee to inquire into the matter.

Sir S. Reed

May I respectfully ask, in view of the very grave statement by the Prime Minister that this country is rapidly approaching the limits of its taxable capacity, whether the question of growing rates and growing burdens is not one of immense national importance?

Sir J. Simon

It is certainly a matter of importance but, on the other hand to a large extent the matter of rates is the responsibility of the selected representatives of the ratepayers on local authorities.

Sir H. Williams

Is it not the case that during the same period Parliamentary grants to local authorities have increased seven times, and when local authorities complain that increasing burdens are put upon them owing to Parliamentary action, will he not inquire into that?

Mr. Leach

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the money spent by local authorities is the finest investment that this country now makes?

Mr. James Griffiths

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this matter?