HC Deb 25 May 1966 vol 729 cc473-4
63. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the percentage increase in the total amount of rates which he estimates will be paid by ratepayers in Scotland in 1966 compared with 1965.

Mr. Willis

My right hon. Friend still does not have enough information on which to make a firm estimate.

Mr. Campbell

Nevertheless, in the light of the information which is appearing and as the Secretary of State held out hope as long ago as December, 1964, that increases in rates would be reduced, is the Minister of State aware of the disquiet among ratepayers in Scotland at the present increasing burden?

Mr. Willis

Yes, but the increasing burden of rates, of course, is not something which has just occurred under the Labour Government. It has been going on for a very long time. This is the first Government to try to do something about it. I should point out that there are certain complications in making any estimates as this is the year of revaluation.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

As it was estimated last year that the increase in rates would be only 4 per cent., is the reason why no estimate has been given this year that that estimate proved to be disastrously wrong, having been less than half the actual increase?

Mr. Willis

An estimate was given last year. It was grossly misinterpreted by hon. Members opposite. There are other factors and I have mentioned one of them, which make it that much more difficult this year.

Mr. John Hall

Is it not a fact that the result of the Government's efforts to do something about rates is to raise rates to the highest burden we have ever had to bear in this country?

Mr. Willis

That does not alter the fact that this Government at least are, trying to do something about it.