§ Mr. Proctor
Is my right hon. Friend aware that she would receive a festive and warm welcome in Billericay from my ratepayers, if not my rate spenders? Is she further aware that 60 per cent. of rates come from non-domestic ratepayers who have no direct influence on local elections, and that only 35 per cent. of people eligible to vote in local elections actually pay full rates? In the light of that, does my right hon. Friend agree that the Government have an ultimate responsibility to protect business, commerce and householders from excessive rate burdens imposed by wildly extravagant local councils such as the Socialist Basildon district council?
§ The Prime Minister
My hon. Friend is right in his conclusion that only a minority of the electorate pay rates. That is one of the very worrying aspects of that system. My hon. Friend is also right in thinking that many industrial and commercial enterprises are not represented in any way on the voting registers of those authorities to which they pay rates. I wholeheartedly agree that the Bill to cap rates is overwhelmingly popular among ratepayers.