§ Question again proposed,6.52 pm
§ Mr. John Cartwright (Woolwich)
It is a pleasure to congratulate the hon. Member for Hyndburn (Mr. Hargreaves) on his maiden speech. He frankly admitted to some nervousness when he began, and I admire his courage in choosing to make a maiden speech on something as mind-bogglingly complex as the rate support grant supplementary reports. I strongly agree with his outline of the analysis of some the failings of the grant-related expenditure assessment system.
The House was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman's generous tribute to his predecessors, especially Mr. Arthur Davidson, who was very much liked in all parts of the House. I hope that the hon. Gentleman feels a little more relaxed now that he has the ordeal of his maiden speech out of the way. We all look forward to hearing from him again, especially if he continues to be as critical of the rough justice of the rate support grant system as he was in his maiden speech.
I intend to be brief. As the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) reminded us, we have been around this course a great many times during the past few years. The Secretary of State reminded us that, although the saga of Government attempting to control local authority spending is long, it has gathered pace since 1979.
When the Government began the whole operation with the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980, hon. Members in various parts of the House told Ministers that if they pursued that approach they would inevitably be sucked into further and further detailed interference in the spending decisions of individual local authorities. That has proved to be the case. Each piece of legislation and each change in the rate support grant allocation system has led inexorably to more legislation, to more changes and to more interference.
That was made absolutely clear when the Government set their hand to the current grant penalty arrangements. We warned that the system would mean higher rate poundages for ratepayers— not only because the determined high spenders would be certain to show two fingers to the Government and raise their rates to maintain their high levels of spending, but because a number of Conservative authorities, concerned about the level of services, would raise their rates to protect those services rather than cut them back.
As the Secretary of State made clear this afternoon, the system of grant penalties is leading to rate capping. That means that Government will fix the rate levels for individual local authorities. They will decide what is a proper level of service for an individual authority. When we reach that stage we shall have ended the traditional relationship between central and local government. Central Government will then be very much involved in the individual running of local authorities. That is not only wrong but muddle-headed.
The Secretary of State concentrated on the wicked high spenders beloved of Tory Ministers. But 160 of the 413 authorities have exceeded what is euphemistically called the Government's expenditure guidance. Surely that does not imply that all the 160 authorities are manned by determined, wild, reckless overspenders and wild-eyed 1103 revolutionaries. It shows that the whole complex business of target-setting is a far from accurate process. I have never believed that it could work.
However complicated we make the mathematical formula, to however many decimal places we take the multiplier, there is no way in which officials at the Department of the Environment in Marsham street can know what it is right to spend in individual local authorities from Land's End to John O'Groats. That is a matter for local decision-making and local judgment. The idea that Government know best is alien to the usual relationship between central and local government. We are wrong to try to make the machinery ever more complicated and ever more burdensome on local government.
I object to the whole business in principle, but I object on practical grounds also. Government interference confuses responsibility and accountability. No longer are electors and ratepayers able to say to individual councillors "You are responsible for that spending decision". Councillors can now say that it is nothing to do with them because the wicked Government have cut the grant and so they have had to raise the rates. There is no longer a clear responsibility for spending decisions. That is wrong. Councillors should be clearly accountable for spending decisions.
I do not defend the spending priorities of some local authorities. They have made a difficult position 10 times worse with the spending priorities that they have set themselves. I am sure that the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley) will support me if I quote some examples from my local authority, the London borough of Greenwich. It has made a difficult position a great deal worse by deciding to spend money on a police adviser at £13,800 a year, a women's adviser at £13,800 a year, on the whole ramification of a human affairs committee and on the publication of a newspaper staffed by people moonlighting from Tribune. The council says that it needs to employ a substantial number of additional staff, which will mean additional office accommodation and additional car parking. That is on top of a 29.8 per cent. rise in the rates.
One of the most interesting examples of local authority spending priorities was a recent advertisement in the national press by the London borough of Camden for a nuclear-free zone co-ordinator, with a salary of more than £13,000 a year. I do not know what a nuclear-free zone co-ordinator in the London borough of Camden will do. That is an odd sense of priorities at a time of major cuts in social provision in a great many of our London boroughs.
I do not defend local authority spending decisions which, in many cases, are ridiculous. However, those are matters between the elected councillors and the electors. At the end of the day if we can ensure that local councillors are more directly responsible for their actions, the ratepayers and the electors will sort out the errors made by councillors.
It is not right to think of the Government as a great policeman, to whom ratepayers turn every time their local council makes a crazy decision. The Secretary of State argued earlier that ratepayers turned to the House and to their Members of Parliament when they disagreed with a decision. No doubt they turn to us, but we are wrong to try to sort out those problems from above. If we believe 1104 in local accountability and the principle of local councillors being elected by and responsible to local people, the issues should be left to the elections.
I would prefer to deal with the problems in Greenwich by turning out the villains at the next election rather than by asking the Government to breathe down the necks of local councillors.
Some of the worst examples of overspending occur in the authorities that are safely elected for four-year terms and do not have to face annual elections with one third of their members retiring. Perhaps if more local authorities had annual elections their minds would be concentrated wonderfully.
Local authorities should have a more direct relationship between spending decisions and revenue raising. One of the problems is that only one fifth of local government income comes from the only genuine local tax—the rates. The other four fifths of local authority income comes from the non-domestic rate, which is not a genuine local tax, and from rate support grant. One of the strongest arguments for a local income tax is that it strengthens the relationship between those who spend the money and those who provide it. I believe that to be right.
We shall vote against the reports because they undermine the basis of local government, because they are a further step on the road to total central control of local authorities, and because they make local government accountable upwards to civil servants in Marsham street. The future of local authorities lies in them being made accountable to the people whom they were elected to serve.
§ 7 pm
§ Mrs. Angela Rumbold (Mitcham and Morden)
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn (Mr. Hargreaves) on his maiden speech. I recall the first occasion that I made a speech in the House. One of my hon. Friends observed that it was more difficult for a girl to make a maiden speech because hon. Members could see her knees knocking whereas a man's trousers disguised that. I have much sympathy for my hon. Friend. He made an admirable first contribution.
I joined the picturesque world of local government in 1974. There was one year of blissful spending before the then Labour Government decided in 1975 that the party was over and that expenditure would have to be curtailed in some shape or form. I am probably the first hon. Member to speak today who made the rate for four successive years. Those were the years when we experienced the transition from the regression analysis formula for rate support grant allocation to the introduction of the block grant, rather than expenditure assessment. They were traumatic years. I can speak with feeling about the difficulties that faced local government in trying to assess their priorities, not merely for the year ahead, but for the following years. It was important to get the sums right in the first year so that one could be sure that the sums would be right in the second year. It is possible.
I was surprised at the enormity of the problem that was created, partly because of the joint venture between local and central Government. Central Government have some responsibility for the tasks that local government has to carry out. We spend time legislating and that legislation has to be carried out at local level. Sometimes our Ministers are not responsive enough.
1105 It is important to remember that locally elected people can set priorities and budgets well in advance of the time when they must make the rate. They can start that process almost immediately after the rate-making in March. To work out and set the priorities is a much better way to make a rate and assess a budget that conforms to the targets that central Government, rightly, have to impose on local government if they are to have any control and make any contribution to helping those who have to pay the rates.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State rightly said today that we as Members have a responsibility to our constituents when they plead with us to control local government expenditure if locally elected councillors are incapable of doing that job for them. Electors have two resorts. They elect local councillors who should do the job. If they do not do that job electors must be able to resort to Members of Parliament to take some form of control.
My experience leads me to the reasonable conclusion that local government should be expected to set budgets sensibly and be responsive to the requirements and needs of the electorate. I agree with the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) that democratically elected people should take responsibility and respond adequately to local needs. That can be done within the constraints of grant allocation.
Some authorities have already begun to reduce the number of people whom they employ. The size of local government staff must be reduced. I refer not to those who deliver services at the sharp end, but to the faceless men who sit inside the town halls. The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) demonstrated amusingly how councillors can go on spending sprees on the rates, but we never talk about the people who sit in our town halls. We do little to try to rid town halls of such people. Sometimes we make a cut across the board to achieve hastily cobbled savings. I worry when local authorities say, "Heavens, we have to try to reduce rates by 1 per cent. or 3 per cent." They do not think about the problem carefully. They do not take the time to think about it. They cut 3 per cent. across the board and affect the sharp end rather than the centre of local government.
§ Mr. Fisher
Will the hon. Lady explain how she can distinguish between the value of a social worker and a clerical assistant, or faceless person, sitting in a town hall, who supports that social worker and allows him to get on with his casework?
§ Mrs. Rumbold
I can do that to a certain extent. The social worker is delivering a service directly to a constituent. His job is needed. So many forms and bits of paper fly between central and local government that a clerical assistant is necessary. We should do something about that so that we reduce the amount of work in the various bureaucracies. The Secretary of State said that Government Departments have managed to reduce their staffing levels. Local government also has a good record, but unless control of local politicians is very firm the current progress could slide away within months.
I have tried to draw attention to two important aspects. First, it is possible for local authorities to budget properly and well within their targets. Secondly, and more important, locally elected politicians must accept the responsibility for delivering local services, and the Government must accept that locally elected politicians have that responsibility.
§ 7.8 pm
§ Mr. Bill Michie (Sheffield, Heeley)
During the past hour I have become more and more dismayed by the speeches of Conservative Members. The fact that we are Members of Parliament is no excuse for being pompous or for believing that we know better than local authorities. Local authorities have tremendous responsibilities, some of which we cannot always understand, and certainly cannot experience, because we have a different job to do.
I speak with the experience of 12 or 13 years on the local authority in Sheffield, which I consider to be one of the most progressive authorities in the country.—;[HoN. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members should come to Sheffield and they would soon find out what local government and democracy are all about. I hope that they will understand from what I am about to say how responsible councils, such as Sheffield, are and how dishonest and hypocritical this Conservative Government have been on local democracy.
The former Secretary of State for the Environment, the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine), came to Sheffield last year. In fact, he came to see whether any of our houses had fallen down since he reduced the grant. He was fortunate enough to be there when Sheffield was receiving a prize for winning the "city in bloom" competition. He said that it was marvellous to have an industrial city that had so many trees and flowers, and clean air. I pointed out to him that the clean air programme, many years previously, had cost about £11 million, and that if this Government had been in power at the time the scheme would probably never have got off the ground, and that Sheffield, as it was called half a century ago, would still be the devil's kitchen. It is not central Government who deal with matters such as clean air, but local government, elected annually. Local government is responsible for doing the best it can for the people who have supported it.
Sheffield and other similar towns and cities have improved their services and environment, picking up the bits and pieces left after years of exploitation by private industry. They have picked up their responsibilities to such an extent that the local people have responded in their usual way by supporting a Labour council in the city and also electing the same number of Labour Members of Parliament as they have done for many years. That they will continue to do. It has been argued that the response of the electorate does not prove the local government case, but I say that the response in Sheffield and many other places proves that case.
I deplore the argument that councils make their own decisions to spend, whatever happens, and that they have no responsibility. The hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold) described a council meeting as a few people saying "What can we spend today, if we have anything left in the coffers?" Local government does not work in that way. Three-year and four-year programmes are common in Sheffield, although unfortunately now, as has been said before, it is a case of Russian roulette. One is never quite sure where the cuts will come, how much they will be, and whether one is in the penalty box. That is what has been happening ever since this Government came to power. On the RSG orders for 1981–82, Sheffield had a penalty of £6.518 million. That went on to the next year, when we had about 1 per cent. inflation in cash terms. That, of course, is nonsense.
1107 The amounts that have been given to local authorities are quite unrealistic. How do local authorities pay for the extra burdens that have been put on them by the Government— for instance, statutory sick pay, joint funding, increased improvement grants, and housing? Those matters all have revenue implications that have not been properly and honestly considered by the Conservative Government. For Sheffield, this year, that has meant a penalty of £14.179 million, which is equivalent to a 21.9p rate increase. Sheffield had increased the rate by only 17p. If the Government had decided not to take money away from Sheffield, we could have continued or expanded our services, and reduced the rate.
It is wrong to say that the responsibility for the high rates lies solely with local authorities. In places like Sheffield, the responsibility is solely that of the Government. The loss during 1981–82 and 1983–84 now amounts to £127.3 million. That is equivalent to £258 for the average Sheffield householder over the past three years. It is not a rise in expenditure; it is not a case of irresponsible overspending; it is the fact that the Government decided to withdraw rate support and other grants. I deplore the argument that all the responsibility lies with local government.
Every so often we get people coming from London to Sheffield. The Prime Minister, who came up for the annual Cutlers' nosh-up feast, had the nerve to say that Sheffield would be much better off and industry much healthier if the city council had not put up the rates—[Interruption.] I have already explained that Sheffield need not have put up the rates if the money had not been taken away from it. The Government have fined the people of Sheffield and hurt people in business at the same time. It is there in black and white. It is no good the Prime Minister blaming the council for something that her Government have done. Her Government have done the dirty work. The right hon. Lady got the response that she deserved in Sheffield. There were thousands of people on the streets, and they were not there for her autograph.
§ Mr. Michael Knowles (Nottingham, East)
this is the first time that I have had the privilege of addressing the House. It is a task which I suspect the individual concerned approaches, if not with downright fear, certainly with considerable trepidation, for in some senses it is both a beginning and an end. I come to this House after 13 years in local government, and I thought that I had got away from all that, but that has not happened.
First, I wish to pay tribute to my predecessors. The new Nottingham, East constituency, which I have the honour to represent, is a combination of parts of the old Nottingham, East and the old Nottingham, North. I am well aware of the high personal regard in which both William Whitlock and Jack Dunnett were held. They were both liked and highly regarded by people of all political beliefs for their work on behalf of their constituents. Many of the problems that I have taken up were handled by Jack Dunnett, and I want to put on record my thanks to him for all the help that he has given to me and his former constituents. The spirit in which the changeover took place is a testimony to the man and his work over the years.
The constituency of Nottingham, East is historically based on the old Anglo-Saxon part of the town. It is a city 1108 constituency, and it has typical inner city problems—;housing, and immigration from both Asia and the West Indies—;stretching out to the more affluent suburbs. It has small businesses. One of my fellow Nottingham Members spoke the other day about all the large companies in the city in his constituency, and I have the feeling that many of my constituents work in those large companies. However, the economic base of my constituency is small businesses.
It was in this part of the town, where conditions are still not good, that William Booth was born and launched his crusade early in the 19th century. He marched his followers in a war against poverty and ignorance, not just because he saw them as appalling but because he saw them as an offence obscuring God's love for man.
Nottingham has long had a reputation for a turbulent and radical approach to politics, not least founded on the freelance redistributive taxation policies of Robin Hood. It was there that the Luddites flourished. The invention of the spinning jenny during the industrial revolution has been referred to, but it was in Nottingham that the Luddites flourished—;not the mindless machines and smashers of legend, but men who protested against the indignity and injustices of that time. Indeed, it was the city of Nottingham that Fergus O'Connor represented and I suspect that all Members of Parliament that have represented it since have wished that they had his command of oratory. I well recognise the traditions that I have to live up to as a Member of Parliament for Nottingham.
The points that I wish to make today perhaps stand in that tradition, although I cannot claim that the people of Nottingham are so worried about the anomalies and injustices of the present rate support grant that there is any imminent danger of their burning the castle down again. Over the years, anyone interested in local government has seen matters become steadily more complicated. When the rate support grant system was changed a few years ago one of the benefits was supposed to be its simplicity—;that we would all understand it. I must confess that I did not understand the old system and I do not understand this system either. If anything, it is more complex than the original system.
I have some questions about the new system to which I would be pleased to have answers if the Minister understands the system better than I do and can see his way to answering them. In the introduction to the 1983–84 report paragraph 1(b)(iii) saysto reflect changes to home improvement grant expenditure made in the 1983 Budget".One effect of that is that councils that appoint administrative staff and others to carry that out will have the cost counted against both GREA and the targets. Will that be the case or will those be excluded? If they are included, it points to one of the difficulties of loading fresh duties upon councils under such a system.
The urban programme grants referred to in paragraph (f) will expire after three years. Therefore, from being 75 per cent. excluded they will become 100 per cent. included in the target. Again, that is not much incentive for councils to get a move on.
Section B, paragraph 4, makes a point about home improvement grants. If, for various reasons, such as a shortage of staff, local authorities find that they cannot spend the money on the home improvement grants, will that money revert to the rate support grant? I do not know 1109 and I should welcome an answer on that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I admit to being somewhat disconcerted by the cheers that I am getting from the Labour Front Bench. I must be going down the wrong road.
The system has become so complex over the years that treasurers and financial directors ir local government sometimes have the feeling of being merely rate support grant loss adjusters. They have ceased to do their real job. Penalties have been introduced to de al with recalcitrant local authorities but their effect has been to make authorities suffer, whether or not they are deliberately obstructive.
Holdback from authorities that have offended is not distributed as any kind of incentive to those authorities that have met the target. One can imagine a system which punishes the baddies and rewards the goodies but under this system everybody loses. If I appear to be critical, I am. I speak with the experience of nine years as the leader of a local council and we never failed to meet the Government's financial targets. Indeed, I was lucky. My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold) was the deputy leader of the same council and chairman of the policy and resources committee. We never failed to meet any of the Government's targets. I readily admit that luck played a part in that but we also made some political judgments and kept fast-footing the system. I admit that our success was partly due to the fact that, ideologically, we were already going down the Government's path but, in that sense, we were ahead of them so we were able to achieve those targets without as much difficulty as others. There are now Conservative local authorities that want to do what the Government want but that have the feeling that whatever they do more will be demanded of them and that their problems are just not appreciated.
It was said earlier that local government has continued spending but my figures show that between 1975 and 1981 local government spending fell from 16 per cent. to 14 per cent. in the proportion of local government expenditure. Central Government expenditure rose from 33 per cent. to 35 per cent. That does not prove that point.
Local government's problems do not seem to be appreciated. Late last year the Government wanted capital spending to increase, without apparently appreciating the revenue implications of the consequential costs. All that must be taken on board but, as I said, it is not impossible. I led a council that more than achieved that, so it is possible. I would not welcome some Labour Members as allies. The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) spoke of some of the more lunatic spending that is going on in local government and so it is—;[AN HON. MEMBER: "And in Government."] I accept that. When I had a half brick heaved at me from Whitehall I seemed to hear the sound of tinkling glass. It was being heaved from inside the biggest glasshouse in the country.
Two themes are emerging from local government. One is virtual despair. Whatever local government seems to try to do to comply with requests, it has the feeling that it has been adjudged guilty and is doomed. The other is that treasury departments now indulge all year in creative accounting. Instead of concentrating on services, councils are being forced to act like a bunch of tax accountants on Budget day, finding fresh holes in the system. That has to be done in self-defence but it is not what the system should be about. However, that is what people are being driven to.
1110 These short-term criticisms are easy to make and they have been made many times in various forms during the debate. Not only in this but in future debates the House must consider where local government is going. The latest Government steps, taken under financial pressure, do not differ in principle from the public expenditure surveys in the 1960s and early 1970s. One has moved into the detail rather than the general, but I suspect that that was historically inevitable when the party was over. Almost any party that was in government at that stage would have progressed down the same path.
Local government, with only the rating system and the rate support grant to finance it, was almost bound to become more and more a creature of central Government under the pressure of public criticism of the rating system and the tightening of Government resources. The steady result has been the erosion of local government's independence. It may be that local government, as we have known it in Britain for over 1,000 years, is doomed and that it can no longer survive in the modern world. If that be true I would rather face up to that and the consequent problems and openly argue the case for and against than to be drifting in the direction in which we seem to be going.
We could get the worst of all worlds if the pattern of the past 20 or 30 years is allowed to continue. What has happened? First, Government have unloaded their responsibilities on to local government because it was convenient to do so, and, secondly, they have tightened the noose, through the rate support grant. The acceptance of central Government services was a poisoned chalice for local government. The best answer for local government may be to say to national Government "Take those services back. We would rather provide smaller and personal services paid for locally than be involved in this system."
I can see the dangers facing local government and the implications for the life of England. Local government and the civic pride it encompasses may in recent years in part have fallen into the grip of officers interested in empire-building, of unions more interested in their members than services and indeed of some lunatic political groups in the grip of alien ideologies. As a Conservative I warn against the dangers of killing the tree just because some of the fruit is poisoned. Local government, civic pride and parochial patriotism are part of the rich diversity of English life. Although it may, in the short-term, be producing problems, if we imperil the whole of that structure we may change the nature of this country in ways we cannot even imagine.
I believe that tinkering must cease. We must soon provide a system that encourages proper local accountability for local service locally paid for. The new Bill could be a new basis for local government and not just another move in what seems to have become an endless game of political chess.
§ Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)
My first and pleasant task is to congratulate the hon. Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Knowles) on his maiden speech. The hon. Gentleman showed a rare understanding of his city and constituency and a detailed interest in local government in which he has been involved for some time. At one stage during his speech he appeared concerned that Opposition Front Bench Members were nodding in 1111 agreement and amusement at some of his comments. The hon. Gentleman should not worry about that. His real concern must come when the Government Front Bench start to nod in agreement and amusement at what he is saying.
The hon. Gentleman and other Conservative Members, in a particularly interesting aspect of the debate, put forward a series of special cases, all of which show the injustice, unfairness and arbitrary nature of the existing system.
We heard from the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-West (Sir A. Grant) an eloquent example of special pleading. The hon. Gentleman argued that the system as a whole was correct, but that somehow it was wrong in relation to Cambridgeshire. We have heard other such examples. I should like to throw in yet another example of the injustice and unfairness of the system by referring to west Yorkshire.
In the revenue budget for west Yorkshire for 1983–84, there was an increase of budgeted expenditure of just over 2 per cent. above the target set unilaterally by the Government. That led to an increase in the rate precept for the west Yorkshire area of 2.7 per cent.— well below the rate of inflation at that stage, and, I suspect, at the end of the 1983 financial year.
It was interesting to note that the Secretary of State said that all the metropolitan counties—;without exception—;were overspenders. It may be worth while contrasting the average rate bill in Labour-controlled west Yorkshire with the average rate bill for a ratepayer in Conservative-controlled Surrey. In west Yorkshire the annual average rate bill is £183. That is 48 per cent. less than the average rate bill in Conservative-controlled Surrey. It may well be that when the Secretary of State considers those figures he will decide to abolish not the metropolitan county of west Yorkshire, but the shire county of Surrey. I think there is support on the Opposition Benches for abolishing Surrey. Those figures do not suggest that west Yorkshire is an overspender. To the present Government it is not a responsible authority. The authority has been penalised to the tune of nearly £1 million—;a penalty that will cost jobs and services and will rob the economy of west Yorkshire of almost £1 million that could usefully generate income and other activities.
If we consider further in detail, we see the contradictory nature of the system the Government are now operating. According to the Government's grant-related expenditure assessment for west Yorkshire, the county council is currently overspending on the police by more than 11 per cent. and on the fire service by more than 30 per cent. Yet, in both those cases, the budgets are worked out according to the guidelines established by another Government Department—;the Home Office. The police establishment is agreed with the Home Office, yet, according to the GREA, the west Yorkshire county council, in holding its budget and meeting the figures of the Home Office, is an overspender.
The county council could, of course, have achieved the Government's targets for the police. If it had done so, it would have led in the financial year 1983–84 to the redundancy of 100 uniformed members of the west Yorkshire police. We have heard a great deal from the Conservative party about its belief in law and order. We saw in the debate on capital punishment—;I saw it in the 1112 local newspapers—;how Conservative Members for west Yorkshire were lining up to defend law and order and to support the restoration of capital punishment. I should like to ask tonight, regarding the reduction in the money that is made available to west Yorkshire, whether they will vote for or against the Government. Will they vote against the Government and support the law and order platform on which they were elected? Let us make no bones about it. If they vote for the Government on this occasion, every Conservative Member in west Yorkshire will be voting for a reduction in the uniformed police force. The county council should be applauded for its attitude. The irresponsible Conservative party shows a complete disregard for the needs of law and order throughout west Yorkshire.
I come now, Mr. Deputy Mayor—;[Horn. MEMBERS: "Mr. Deputy Speaker."] I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is experience of local government that does it. I come now to the notion of overspend. The arbitrary nature of the system means that the notion of overspend cannot be objectively defined. It is partial, it is political, and it is based on a set of ideological beliefs that Conservative Members do not hide, except when it comes to their own authorities and their own back gardens. Any pretence to objectivity or to a logical system is dropped by the Government. If it were a logical system, one could argue that the grant-related expenditure assessments which go through some mysterious mathematical process were the basis of objectivity. The Government dispensed with GREA—;they do not use it—;and replaced it with an alternative set of targets called expenditure targets. Those targets are not related to the GREA. They are not objective; they are clearly political. It is against those targets that the Government judge overspend.
Because of that, and because we are dealing with an arbitrary and bureaucratic matter, we are faced with a clear device on the part of the Government to control local authorities by controlling their spending and, above all, by eroding and undermining local democracy.
In an intervention earlier, my hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. O'Brien) pointed out that the resposibility in local government lay with the electors, because they had the right to reject policies, councillors and parties with which they did not agree. It is in the ballot box that the sovereign responsibility for local government should reside. We now face a system whereby that sovereign responsibility is passing at an ever-increasing pace from the electorate on to the desks of the Minister and the bureaucrats in Whitehall.
Some people will say, "Why bother to vote?" Others will say, "Why bother to stand for local government when those who make the real decisions, those with real power, are those we cannot control and whom we never see?" If I needed to illustrate further the nature of that arbitrary power, I need go no further than the announcement made by the Secretary of State earlier, when he said that the spending targets of local authorities would be announced next week. Conveniently, the announcement will be made in the first week in August— the first week of the parliamentary recess—;when Parliament will not have an opportunity to supervise the right hon. Gentleman's decision. The local electorate is being kept out of the system, and the same is happening to Parliament.
The Government have devised a system that is hardly comprehensible. Even Conservative Members have pointed that out. It is also manifestly unfair to many areas. 1113 More important, in a constitutional and political sense, what is proposed is a fundamental erosion of local democracy. One can only hope that tonight and on subsequent occasions Conservative Members will recognise that, in exercising their ideological vengeance against Labour-controlled councils, they are also endangering the democracy for which many of us have fought.
§ Mr. Richard Hickmet (Glanford and Scunthorpe)
I regret to say that hon. Members must go through the ordeal of listening to another maiden speech, and I ask for the indulgence of the House. I have the privilege and honour to represent the new constituency of Glanford and Scunthorpe, which is based on the industrial garden town of Scunthorpe, a town which for some reason causes considerable amusement to the patrons of Ronnie Scott's night club. Mr. Scott has been cracking jokes about Scunthorpe for the last 20 years.
It is a fine town with broad streets and beautiful parks, with one of the best parks departments in the country. It is bounded by the Trent in the west, the Humber in the north, the river Ancholme in the east and the village of Messingham in the south. In its rural areas, it has some of the finest agricultural land in what used properly to be described as north Lincolnshire. A house or bungalow can be bought in my constituency for £20,000 to £25,000. That money will buy a fine dwelling with a fine garden. It is one of the most pleasant parts of the country in which to live.
Nobody can talk about my constituency without mentioning steel. It is a steel town. I have the privilege to be the only Conservative Member of Parliament to represent one of the five major integrated steel plants; the town contains the great steel works of Appleby Frodingham. Since 1979, the old Lysaghts works, Normanby Park, has closed. About 11,000 men have been made redundant from BSC and there is 16 per cent. unemployment in the travel-to-work area alone. In Scunthorpe town, unemployment is running at well over 20 per cent.
However, Scunthorpe has one of the best, hardest-working work forces in the country, with a wonderful reputation for industrial relations. A statement was made earlier about the visit of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to Luxembourg, where new steel quotas were discussed and agreed. The closures in my constituency were caused by over-capacity in the system in BSC, by the uncompetitiveness of BSC and by its over-manning. I am proud to say, however, that the steel works of Appleby Frodingham is the jewel in the crown of BSC, and I am privileged to represent this town and its great steel works.
I wish to pay my tribute and respect to those who have represented my seat in the past. My hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) used to represent the old Brigg and Scunthorpe constituency. His kindness and help to me as a new Member is exceeded only by his delight at no longer being the youngest Member of this honourable House. I should also mention Mr. John Ellis, who was my opponent at the recent general election. He represented the former constituency with great distinction and honour and the victory in my constituency was saddened by the fact that it was al: the cost of John Ellis.
Local authority expenditure is reflected by the rates, a subject of great significance to my constituency. 1114 Humberside county council has been penalised by the Government for exceeding Government spending targets and budgets, and £9 million in rate support grant has been taken away from that authority's expenditure. While acknowledging, indeed applauding, the decision to take the £9 million away from Humberside county council, I urge my right hon. Friend to say what will happen in the next financial year when that county council levies its rates. Without capping at this stage the ability of Humberside county council to pass on that cut in rate support grant, I am most concerned about the rate rise that will take place next year and the effect of high rates on business and the prospects for employment in my constituency.
Humberside county council is one of the highest rated county councils in the country. The effect of its high rates policies on businesses and employment prospects must be well known. Businesses which must pay the crippling level of rates precepted by that authority all too often face the prospect of going into liquidation.
Those businesses which might come into my constituency—;it has an enterprise zone, development status and fine road, rail and air links—;are deterred from so doing because of the high rates levied by that local authority. The prospect is that in 1984–85 there will be a further significant increase.
As a former local councillor, I believe that it is not the function of local government to employ people. It is to provide those services which it is under a statutory obligation to provide and which it believes should be provided according to the needs of its population, though at the lowest reasonable cost.
I was interested to hear the attack on Wandsworth council by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and about its privatisation policies in refuse, street cleansing and garden maintenance. I was chairman of the committee which put the private contractors into Wandsworth. I assure the House that if— as hon. Members were invited to do—;one knocks on 20 doors to find out what the people of Wandsworth think about the collection of their refuse, they will say that, for the first time, it is being collected efficiently, cheaply and according to the instructions of the council and not according to the instructions of NUPE shop stewards.
I urge that all local authorities be required to invite tenders for the collection of refuse in their areas, for street cleansing, for the maintenance of their paths and for other suitable undertakings. It is appropriate not to confine the privatisation exercise to areas in which there is a high manual content. Professional services in local authorities such as valuation and planning could well go out to private contractors. The purpose of the exercise is to provide services, and not necessarily to employ.
I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the House for the indulgence that has been extended to me.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Hickmet) on his maiden speech. We have spoken after each other before in our earlier experiences in other places. I do not know what the score is in terms of who beat whom when we contested on behalf of others across courtroom floors but I guess that in the next year or two he may gain a few marches on me. I hope that in the course of time I shall be able to catch up and overtake 1115 him in terms of successes in the House. I wish him well in representing his constituents and I wish them well under his representation. That is felt especially strongly, as the son of a Lincolnshire mother who would want to ensure that her fellow countrymen and countrywomen were in good hands.
Sometimes the Secretary of State has made decisions that were unjustified but which, given the Government's philosophy, were logical. The reports that are before us are not only unjustified but, as every participant in the debate save the Secretary of State has conceded, entirely illogical. The Government stand before us as the apostle of noninvolvement, as a Government who believe in standing back. Yet they are intervening more and more in what is becoming a greater and greater mess.
I recognise that I must be brief on this occasion. I do not intend to speak for long not least because I was also in the Chamber 12 hours ago when I participated in a debate during the consideration of the Consolidated Fund Bill, unlike some other hon. Members who were probably tucked up in bed.
The local government rate support grant system has many defects. First, it encourages expenditure that local authorities may not wish to make. Unless they spend this year they may not be guaranteed the money that they require for next year. Many county councils are complaining that they are being forced to do things that they would otherwise choose not to do. Secondly, the system fines almost everybody. We have had examples of counties that are as careful, cautious and conservative as Cornwall and Warwickshire, as well as examples of boroughs that are as Socialist as Sheffield. We have heard that one year they find themselves penalised and the next find themselves receiving back the money to which they thought they were entitled. This militates -against accounting and sensible budgeting, confuses ratepayers and the local populace and does everything that local authorities would wish to avoid in confusing and adding to the burdensome bureaucracy of local government.
The Government proclaim the desire to remove bureaucracy but what they propose will add to bureaucracy over and over again. The reports seek to adjust totals of relevant expenditure, to make a number of changes to grant-related expenditure assessments, to re-determine grant-related poundages, to determine new safety net multipliers and to implement proposals that relate to the same budget on which a report was introduced only six months ago, which took a different approach.
The rate support system is based on a false premise that has been identified by a number of right hon. and hon. Members. The false premise is that local government is spending heavily and the central Government are cutting back. The figures prove exactly the opposite. They show that, in general, local government has complied with the strictures of central Government. If we select any area of local government expenditure— the arts, recreation, housing and social services, for example—;and compare it with central Government expenditure in the same area, the percentage decrease in local government expenditure has been far greater than that achieved by central Government. The Government are seeking in an amazingly complicated way to attack a system of expenditure in local authorities of all political colours when they should be concentrating on reducing their own 1116 wasteful central expenditure and leaving local authorities free to determine the form and direction of their expenditure, as the authorities closest to the local electorate.
Liberal Members share with Labour Members, and an increasing number of Conservative Members, a belief in local autonomy. We believe that local government is a good thing. We believe that local authorities should be allowed to decide where their spending priorities should lie. The Government are conspiring against the advice of Conservative, Labour, Liberal and Social Democratic party members throughout the land, including Conservative councillor after Conservative councillor. These experts are telling the Government not to interfere and are pointing out the folly of interference, yet the Government persist.
Last week Conservative Members were telling us, when we were debating capital punishment, that we should listen to those whom we represent. Will they have consulted those whom they represent before passing through the Government Lobby tonight, or will they be going against the advice of the experts in their own ranks in this place and in local government? Will they be acting against the advice of their experts and do they intend to follow the Government in compounding the problems of a system that is increasingly futile and muddle-headed?
The sooner we start again and the sooner the Government apply themselves to producing proposals for the reform of local government finance—;we hear now that they will do so during the summer recess— the sooner we may be able to produce an equation that works. The equation should be based on the principle that local government should raise its own finances and should then be able to spend them. Local government is now being told that it cannot raise as much as it wants and that it cannot even spend what it raises. It is a contradiction in philosophy, in policy and in the Government's approach, and it is about time that we heard the last of it.
§ Mr. Kaufman
With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall make a brief contribution at the end of an excellent, enthusiastic and well-informed debate. Those who have sat through these debates in recent years will probably agree that this is one of the best that we have had. One of the reasons is that scarcely a Member on either side of the House has had a good word to say for the Government. That is a reflection of how well informed the debate has been.
§ Mr. Kaufman
The hon. Gentleman said some very nice things as a cover for what he really intended to say in talking about the county council in the area which he represents. We all know that very well.
I wish particularly to congratulate the three Conservative Members who have graced the debate with their maiden speeches. The Opposition were particularly touched when the hon. Members for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Hickmet) and for Hyndburn (Mr. Hargreaves) paid tributes to their Labour predecessors. It was especially generous of the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe to do so, as John Ellis has not been a Member of this place for some time. We greatly appreciate 1117 the hon. Gentleman's remarks. We liked, too, what the hon. Member for Hyndburn said about Arthur Davidson, who was a popular man in the House. The hon. Gentleman's great generosity to Arthur Davidson will stand him in good stead should the time come when he makes a speech with which we disagree. On this occasion he did not do that, and that makes it even easier for us to congratulate him.
I offer particular congratulations to the hon. Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Knowles), without wishing to be invidious to his hon. Friends the Members for Glanford and Scunthorpe and for Hyndburn. The hon. Gentleman made one of the best maiden speeches that I have heard for a long time. It was expert and amusing, and it had the major merit to Opposition Members of being magnificently critical of the Government. We look forward to hearing from the hon. Gentleman again. Moreover, we look forward to the hon. Members whom I have mentioned joining us in the Division Lobby. We also look forward to their joining Opposition Members in insisting that the Secretary of State publishes his targets and the White Paper this week. It is unacceptable for Parliament to go into recess with those documents unpublished. In the friendliest way, I give the Secretary of State an amicable mid-summer warning that only the publication of that White Paper within the next two days will save him from a fate that is so condign that I hesitate to describe it.
§ 8 pm
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
The right hon. Member for Manchester. Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) started his speech with Sartre and ended it with a parody of "King Lear". Perhaps I can set his mind at rest. On 23 June, referring to the White Paper on rating limitation, I said:I cannot guarantee to publish it while the House is still sitting."—;[Official Report, 23 June 1983; Vol. 44, c. 253.]That has always been my view, as we are up against an exceedingly tight timetable. I said precisely the same today. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to take me to task about that, but he was being a little disingenuous.
I, too, should like to congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for Hyndburn (Mr. Hargreaves), for Nottingham, East (Mr. Knowles) and for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Hickmet) on their admirable maiden speeches. I was happy to spend some time in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn, on his behalf, before the general election. I assure him that the Government are continuing to study the construction and details of the GREA and we shall note carefully what he said.
My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, East spoke robustly about the independence of local government. He spoke with great eloquence and we look forward to hearing from him again.
My hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe expressed a widely felt anxiety about the likely rating behaviour of high-spending authorities— he is directly concerned with the Humberside council— in 1984–85 before the Government's rate limitation legislation can take effect. I assure him that we have that point firmly in mind and are trying to find ways in which to deal with it.
I welcome the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-West (Sir A.. Grant), and I thank him for his kind personal remarks. I assure him that no major spending authority received a higher increase in 1118 its target above the previous year's budget than Cambridgeshire. It was on the maximum target for this year over last year's budget.
Throughout all the speeches of Opposition Members has run the assumption that it is impossible to have local democracy and to stay within the Government's spending guidelines. That is nonsense. The great majority of local authorities have managed to contain their spending firmly within the Government's guidelines, and they are no less democratic for that. Because the minority have failed to do that, we have had to erect what I admit is a complicated system of control. I shall introduce a Bill later this Session to give the Government power to control rates. That is the heart of the matter. The right hon. Member for Gorton may huff and puff, but I shall not deal in detail with some of the fallacies. That is what the country voted for, and that is what the Government will do.
§ Question put:—;
§ The House divided: Ayes 286, Noes 174.1121
|Division No. 41]||[8.4 pm|
|Aitken Jonathan||Cope, John|
|Alexander, Richard||Cormack, Patrick|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Couchman, James|
|Amess, David||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Arnold, Tom||Critchley, Julian|
|Ashby, David||Crouch, David|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Currie, Mrs Edwina|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Atkins Robert (South Ribble)||Dicks, T.|
|Baker, Kenneth (Mole Valley)||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Baldry, Anthony||Dover, Denshore|
|Batiste, Spencer||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward|
|Bellingham, Henry||Dunn, Robert|
|Bendall, Vivian||Durant, Tony|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)||Dykes, Hugh|
|Benyon, William||Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'hroke)|
|Berry, Sir Anthony||Eggar, Tim|
|Best, Keith||Evennett, David|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Eyre, Reginald|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Fallon, Michael|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Farr, John|
|Blackburn, John||Favell, Anthony|
|Body, Richard||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Forth, Eric|
|Bottomley, Peter||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Fox, Marcus|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Franks, Cecil|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Fraser, Peter (Angus East)|
|Bright, Graham||Fry, Peter|
|Brinton, Tim||Gale, Roger|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Galley, Roy|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Budgen, Nick||Gorst, John|
|Burt, Alistair||Gow, Ian|
|Butterfill, John||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Carlisle, John (N Luton)||Grant, Sir Anthony|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Greenway, Harry|
|Carttiss, Michael||Gregory, Conal|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Ground, Patrick|
|Chope, Christopher||Grylls, Michael|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)||Gummer, John Selwyn|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Clarke Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Hargreaves, Kenneth|
|Cockeram, Eric||Harris, David|
|Conway, Derek||Harvey, Robert|
|Coombs, Simon||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Hawkins, C. (High Peak)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Hawksley, Warren||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Hayward, Robert||Mitchell, David (NW Hants)|
|Henderson, Barry||Moate, Roger|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)|
|Hickmet, Richard||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Hicks, Robert||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Mudd, David|
|Hill, James||Murphy, Christopher|
|Hirst, Michael||Neale, Gerrard|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Needham, Richard|
|Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Holt, Richard||Neubert, Michael|
|Hooson, Tom||Newton, Tony|
|Hordern, Peter||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Howard, Michael||Normanton, Tom|
|Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)||Norris, Steven|
|Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)||Osborn, Sir John|
|Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)||Ottaway, Richard|
|Hubbard-Miles, Peter||Page, John (Harrow W)|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Page, Richard (Herts SW)|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil|
|Hunter, Andrew||Parris, Matthew|
|Irving, Charles||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|Jackson, Robert||Pawsey, James|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Jessel, Toby||Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Pollock, Alexander|
|Jones, Robert (W Herts)||Porter, Barry|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Powley, John|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Key, Robert||Price, Sir David|
|Kilfedder, James A.||Pym, Rt Hon Francis|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'field)||Raffan, Keith|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Knight, Gregory (Derby N)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Knowles, Michael||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Knox, David||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Lamont, Norman||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Lang, Ian||Robinson, Mark (N'port W)|
|Latham, Michael||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Rost, Peter|
|Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel||Rowe, Andrew|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)||Ryder, Richard|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Lester, Jim||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Lightbown, David||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant)||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Lord, Michael||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Shersby, Michael|
|McCrindle, Robert||Silvester, Fred|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Sims, Roger|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Spence, John|
|McQuarrie, Albert||Spencer, D.|
|Madel, David||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Major, John||Squire, Robin|
|Malins, Humfrey||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Malone, Gerald||Stern, Michael|
|Maples, John||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Marland, Paul||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Marlow, Antony||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Mates, Michael||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Mather, Carol||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Maude, Francis||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Merchant, Piers||Tracey, Richard|
|Trippier, David||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|van Straubenzee, Sir W.||Wheeler, John|
|Vaughan, Dr Gerard||Wilkinson, John|
|Waddington, David||Wolfson, Mark|
|Wakeham, Rt Hon John||Wood, Timothy|
|Waldegrave, Hon William||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Walden, George||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Ward, John||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Wardle, C. (Bexhill)||Mr. Archie Hamilton and|
|Warren, Kenneth||Mr. Tim Sainsbury.|
|Alton, David||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Anderson, Donald||Forrester, John|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Foster, Derek|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Fraser, J. (Norwood)|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Ashton, Joe||Garrett, W. E.|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Godman, Dr Norman|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Gould, Bryan|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Gourlay, Harry|
|Barnett, Guy||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Barron, Kevin||Hardy, Peter|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Beith, A. J.||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Bell, Stuart||Haynes, Frank|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Boyes, Roland||Home Robertson, John|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Howells, Geraint|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Buchan, Norman||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Caborn, Richard||John, Brynmor|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Campbell, Ian||Kennedy, Charles|
|Cartwright, John||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Lamond, James|
|Clay, Robert||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Leighton, Ronald|
|Cohen, Harry||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Coleman, Donald||Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Litherland, Robert|
|Conlan, Bernard||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Corbett, Robin||Loyden, Edward|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||McCartney, Hugh|
|Cowans, Harry||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||McGuire, Michael|
|Craigen, J. M.||McKelvey, William|
|Dalyell, Tam||Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||McNamara, Kevin|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||McTaggart, Robert|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||McWilliam, John|
|Deakins, Eric||Madden, Max|
|Dewar, Donald||Marek, Dr John|
|Dixon, Donald||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Dobson, Frank||Maxton, John|
|Dormand, Jack||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Dubs, Alfred||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Michie, William|
|Eadie, Alex||Mikardo, Ian|
|Eastham, Ken||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n SE)||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Evans, Ioan (Cynon Valley)||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||O'Brien, William|
|Ewing, Harry||O'Neill, Martin|
|Fatchett, Derek||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Faulds, Andrew||Park, George|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Parry, Robert|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Patchett, Terry|
|Fisher, Mark||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Flannery, Martin||Pendry, Tom|
|Penhaligon, David||Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Pike, Peter||Snape, Peter|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)||Soley, Clive|
|Prescott, John||Spearing, Nigel|
|Radice, Giles||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Redmond, M.||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Richardson, Ms Jo||Tinn, James|
|Roberts, Allan (Bootle)||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)||Wainwright, R.|
|Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)||Warden, Gareth (Gower)|
|Rogers, Allan||Welsh, Michael|
|Rooker, J. W.||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Winnick, David|
|Rowlands, Ted||Woodall, Alec|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Sheerman, Barry||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)||Mr. Norman Hogg.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That the Rate Support Grant Supplementary Report (England) 1983/84 (House of Commons Paper No. 26), which was laid before this House on 4th July, be approved.
That the Rate Support Grant Supplementary Report (England) (No. 3) 1981/82 (House of Commons Paper No. 25), which was laid before this House on 4th July, be approved.