HC Deb 20 January 1986 vol 90 cc115-35 10.13 pm
Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

I have great sympathy with the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel), because his county has come off worst of all the shire counties. The second worst is the Isle of Wight. Under this settlement, expenditure will fall short of maintaining a standstill by £1.4 billion, or nearly 6 per cent. We are told that targets and holdback have been abolished and have been replaced by negative marginal grant rates at any level of expenditure. Clawback, which reconciles the amounts of block grant claimed with the total available, remains a big unknown. Negative marginal grant rate for nearly all authorities tends to depress expenditure in the reasonable authorities, but will probably be ignored in the less reasonable ones. Selective ratecapping becomes institutionalised, if that tendency is fulfilled.

Yet more unsettling are the GREA methodology changes which have been made with a panoply of safety nets and capital gains. In other words, complexity is heaped on complexity. Only 10 councils of 372 in England will have a multiplier of one. The remaining 362 have multipliers to recoup part of their gains or losses from methodology changes. Is that the fair, certain and intelligible system proposed by the former Secretary of State? It is not.

What about grant for Burnham restructuring in 1986–87? Should we believe the August announcement of the Secretary of State for Education and Science that October 1985 was the last date for an agreement, if any grant was to be forthcoming? Or, is the Secretary of State for the Environment still keeping the door open? In any case, what figure are we to assume?

New legislation continues to add expenditure burdens to local government at the same time as its resources are diminishing by Government action. My county was one of the worst losers a year ago from the abolition of TSG to revenue. On top of that, next year it will be the second worst loser among the shire counties from GREA methodology changes. That is at a time when we are suffering from the unknown future of Westland, our largest employer, when Plessey is threatened with a takeover by GEC—it employs 1,350—and when Fairey Marine, one of the other large manufacturers, is for sale. Heaven help the future of employment on the Isle of Wight. I pray every night that it will not be as bad as I fear it will be.

The prospects for local, government are for either a 20 or 25 per cent. precept increase, or for further service reductions, just when my constituents are looking to local government to do something about our desperate plight on the unemployment front. If the island were more prosperous, it might be able to weather these annual hammer blows, but—I hate to say this—it is a deprived, offshore poor relation. Both Conservative and Liberal county council administrations have spent the past 12 years begging the Government to recognise that, and to improve the position. I have led two or three such delegations to various Secretaries of State.

The Transport Act 1985 is almost wholly irrelevant on the island, but going through its statutory motions will add cost to existing council burdens, both administratively and in the provision of uncommercial service which is at present provided on a cross-subsidisation basis. I make no bones of the fact that we charge people more in the summer to keep our services going in the winter.

The Isle of Wight county council's heavy GREA loss on concessionary fares is especially inopportune at present. Council officers are reaching the stage of punch-drunkenness at the daunting task of meeting statutory obligations with shrinking and wholly inadequate grant resources. It may be better if the county council volunteered to be rate-capped as that seems to be the only way of attracting Government attention at present.

10.18 pm
Mr. Neil Thorne (Ilford, South)

I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Minister two questions. First, I understood my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to say that the balances of the GLC would be distributed on the basis of population. I am not clear whether that applies both to the revenue and to the capital balances. I trust that it applies to both. If so, I assume that it is the Department's intention to ensure that debts which are attributable to boroughs will be so attributed. About £266 million can then be attributable to boroughs, £134 million to Thamesmead, and only £120 million will be non-attributable. That will be the sum total of what will be distributed between the London boroughs, and will be well covered by the assets of that authority on its demise.

Secondly, will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking that he is prepared to use section 91 of the Local Government Act 1985 to prevent the GLC from leaving the cupboard bare on its demise on 31 March 1986?

10.20 pm
Mr. Derek Conway (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

While we in Shropshire very much welcome the abolition of targets, which we have for some time been led to believe would happen, the problems of grant-related expenditure allocation are still hitting us as much as they have in previous years. We were led to believe that a change in our favour was imminent.

Shropshire has been treated reasonably favourably in terms of growth in GREA. In 1986–87, the Shropshire GREA will be £158,744,000, which represents an increase of 7.6 per cent. over the 1985–86 figure, and compares with 5.8 per cent. for the other shire counties. On the whole, we in Shropshire have been favoured more than we expected, but we are still not happy with the basis of the GREA.

The reason, in part, for Shropshire's advantage over some of the constituencies of my hon. Friends who have spoken is the educational sparsity in the county and the education debt that the county carries. In addition, Shropshire's population grew by 1.1 per cent. in 1986–87, compared with 0.5 per cent. in the other shire counties. While my initial reaction was to feel that Shropshire was being favoured by the Department of the Environment, the fact that we have the Telford development corporation in the county, and the growth of population that that brings, makes it incumbent upon Ministers to ensure that the existing services in our rural areas do not suffer as a result of the Government's effective policy.

A grant-related expenditure assessment based on settlement levels of expenditure means that the gap between Shropshire's GREA and spending continues to grow. This year that will be about £20.4 million, which will leave Shropshire 12.8 per cent. below our grant-related expenditure and the second highest amongst the shire counties.

The Department of the Environment settlement notification shows that at the Government's preferred level of expenditure Shropshire's spending attracts £71.954 million on an expenditure of £138 million. In comparison with the Government's forecast for Shropshire, that means that we were treated favourably. We were up by 4.1 per cent., when the other shire counties were down by 3.1 per cent. That shows that in percentage and rate poundage terms the Shropshire increase was among the highest for the shire counties.

The effect on Shropshire is that the marginal rate is minus 39.49 per cent., which means a loss of grant for ratepayers of £39.49 for every £100 being spent, bringing Shropshire to the level of spending assessed by the Department of the Environment.

My right hon. Friend's remarks on the transfer of resources to London have enabled me to decide on my course of action in the Lobby tonight. I accept my right hon. Friend's comments on the need to address inner city decay. Those comments will be well met by many of my hon. Friends who may not be in the same Lobby but who share his aspirations for an improvement in the problems that exist in the inner cities. However, to say that he could not pass by on the other side of the street does not mean that that is justification for removing resources from the shire counties to deal with the problems in the cities, particularly in London.

Shire counties are not all rolling hedgerows and Mercedes-Benz estate cars. There are as many problems to be found in some town areas in the shire counties as can be found in the inner city areas. The reallocation of £400 million will be welcome and will be more substantial than the sum available last year. Perhaps the surplus from overspend and penalties will take some of the sting out of the arguments that we have heard today, but the sharing of the block grant, on the Department of the Environment's own figures, remains. The shire counties are down from 46.4 to 43.7 per cent., whereas London is up from 15.2 to 17.5 per cent. For the areas that have exercised financial self-restraint and control in the difficult years, that is more than it is possible to take. More action is needed for inner city regeneration, but that will not be acceptable at the cost of shire county degeneration.

10.25 pm
Sir Paul Hawkins (Norfolk, South-West)

It is not my intention to make a speech. I wish merely to ask a question to avoid interrupting my hon. Friend the Minister for Environment. Countryside and Local Government, who is to reply on behalf of the Government. Can my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State say whether, if he were the treasurer of Norfolk county council, he could advise his council to fix a lower rate in anticipation of the £5.5 million which I understand it is expected, if all goes well, will be received by Norfolk as a result of clawback on rate capping?

10.26 pm
Mr. Ralph Howell (Norfolk, North)

Although I represent part of a county in which there is one of the lower spending authorities, I feel that the other side of the coin should be put to the House. My attack on the Government is based on the fact that they are giving too much money to local government. I am irritated by the Government talking constantly about high spenders and low spenders. In fact, all local authorities are high spenders. I substantiate what I am saying by drawing the attention of the House to the fact that when I became involved in local government in 1959 there were only 2 million local government officers in the United Kingdom. There are now 3 million. What are they doing? They are doing nothing more than that which was done by the 2 million, and they are doing it less well than it was being done in 1959. I am appalled that we have not been able in six years to place greater restraint on local government.

Every viable business that has not been able to expand has had to reduce its labour force considerably in recent years. Many businesses have had to do so by more than 50 per cent. However, in six years the best that we have achieved is a reduction of 4.3 per cent. in local government manpower. The Government have been soft and weak in not controlling local government and local government manpower. They should have exercised more efficient control, and I wish that they would get on with the job quickly.

10.28 pm
Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

I do not think that local government needs any lecturing about alleged profligacy or overspending by a farmer and a member of Lloyd's. However, that is the sort of speech that we have heard from the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell). With the exception of the hon. Members for Norfolk, North and Norfolk, South-West (Sir P. Hawkins), who were absent throughout the previos six hours of debate—

Mr. Ralph Howell

On a point, of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) has made an untrue statement. I have not been absent from the Chamber for the whole of the debate.

Hon. Members


Mr. Straw


Mr. Howell


Mr. Speaker

Order. I must accept what the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell) says.

Mr. Straw

With the exception of the hon. Members for Norfolk, North and Norfolk, South-West, who made two brief speeches at the end of the debate, this debate, like two previous debates on rate support grant, has been characterised by the deafening silence of Conservative Members in support of Government policy. In the debate on 23 January 1984, only one Conservative Member spoke in support of the Government's policy. That was the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples). In the debate on 19 January 1985 no Members spoke in support of the Government. Today, of 18 Conservative Members who have spoken, only two are in support of the Government. The rest have spoken vitriolically and eloquently against what the Government are seeking to do.

When the new Secretary of State sat down on 18 December 1985, following his statement on this year's rate support grant settlement, he must finally have comprehended that his predecessor's unpopularity was nothing personal—it goes with the job. I do not wish to do the former Secretary of State any injustice. The story—and I know not whether it be true—is that, when asked recently what he thought about the problems of the present Secretary of State, he said that the situation was all right when he left it.

On the Richter scale, used for measuring the size of the shock waves that every rate support grant settlement produces inside the Tory party, the previous Secretary of State's efforts rated only six or seven, while this first effort of the new Secretary of State most certainly rates nine. Never has a man come to the House so pleased with himself and gone away so forlorn as he did on 18 December. Scarcely a single Conservative Member on that occasion, representing the Tory heartland of the shires, had anything good to say about the settlement.

Some put it in a gentlemanly way, like the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison), who described the settlement as "a matter of great regret". The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-West (Sir A. Grant) spoke of "arcane, arithmetical dexterity". The hon. Member for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack) spoke of "gobbledegook and incomprehensibility". The hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) spoke of the beginning of the pantomime season". That master of subtlety, the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks), simply described the settlement as "disgusting", while the man who will be the next Speaker but three, the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), accused the Secretary of State of deliberately fiddling the GREA formula and, for good measure, asked how the Secretary of State could acquit himself of the charge of "sheer political cowardice". To that charge, the Secretary of State could only reply: As for the first question which my hon. Friend asked, I intend to produce a Green Paper after Christmas."—[Official Report, 18 December 1985; Vol. 89, c. 315.]

I hesitate to intrude upon the private grief of the Conservative party or in any way to add to its difficulties, but I say to hon. Members on the Government Benches, whether they are in that tiny, silent minority supporting the Government or in that much larger group of sullen opponents, that the problems faced by the shire counties were both predictable and predicted, and are a direct consequence of the monstrous system of financial control established by this Government who, as we said they would, are now producing gratuitous and random results of the kind so eloquently described by many hon. Members on both sides of the House.

Some hon. Members, understandably seeking justice for their own shire areas,. have claimed that they have suffered because resources have been shifted to inner urban areas. I represent a shire county. So does my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham). Therefore, we understand the problems. Our shire counties, too, have been hit by this settlement. Lancashire, as my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) spelt out, has suffered like the rest. The Association of County Councils predicts that the effect of this settlement will be a 19.6 per cent. increase in rates.

None of us, however, whatever area we represent, should allow the Secretary of State to divide and rule. I am glad that in this debate one hon. Member after another on the Government Benches, in criticising the Government, have accepted this point. Hon. Members have accepted the need for more resources to be devoted to the inner cities, but said that Peter should not be robbed to pay Paul.

In the past, as we have spelt out year by year, the inner urban areas have been hit most severely of all by successive rate support grant settlements. The Controller of the Audit Commission, Mr. John Banham, in a speech on 19 November, drew attention to the fact that, even with the much vaunted increase in the cash amount for urban aid, real resources devoted to the most deprived inner city areas have been cut by 20 per cent. under this Government. Therefore, there has been every justification for restoring the resources available to the inner cities.

Indeed, the Association of County Councils, in asking Conservative Members to vote against the settlement, in a letter to all Members of Parliament, generously said that many in local government would not dispute these priorities in favour of inner cities but support them. However, what the association disputes, and what we dispute, is that the money to help the inner cities should come from the shire areas. As the Association of County Councils, Conservative, alliance and Labour Members have said, the additional funds necessary for inner cities should in fairness be provided through the national tax system. As the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour) said, the suggestion that the shires have had to be hit in order to help the inner cities is an appalling red herring.

This time last year there were three successive debates on local government finance. The first was on the rate support grant settlement and the other two on rate-capping orders. In each of those debates my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland and I sought to explain to an incredulous House that if rate capping worked, it would have exactly the opposite effect to what the Government intended. The Secretary of State, for example, claimed last year—I ask Conservative Members to weigh with care what he said would happen against what has actually happened—that the more favourable targets which we have been able to give low-spending authorities for 1985–86 have been possible only through the savings which have been achieved in public expenditure terms by rate capping the highest spenders … Thus, low-spending authorities will benefit from rate capping."—[Official Report, 16 January 1985; Vol. 71, c. 416-17] That was the promise—that rate-capping the highest spenders would produce benefits for the lower spenders.

On the surface that seemed an obvious point. We all work on the basis that Ministers, even in the Department of the Environment, are rational people and are there to help their friends. Some of the Secretary of State's supporters, although sceptical about the claim, none the less thought that they should believe him. But the actual effect of rate capping is the opposite to what the Secretary of State said it would be.

Bringing down spending in rate-capped areas forces up the rates in non-rate-capped areas. That is bizarre. It is mad, but it is true. The system which last year the Secretary of State described as "byzantine in its complexity", and which this year he has made worse, is simply mad.

Let me explain the point further so that there is no dubiety. Nobody should say next year that they were duped this year as they said this year they were duped last year and last year that they were duped the year before.

The rate support grant cake is fixed in advance. Under the Government's system, whether target or penalty or the new system of target and penalty in another guise called GREA and slope, the more an authority spends, the less it gets; the less an authority spends, the more it gets.

For example, as I shall spell out in a moment, ILEA is accused of being a high spender. It has no rate support grant. Gillingham is a low spender and it is getting more rate support grant than it needs to cover its total expenses, and it could, as the treasurer has said, declare a dividend and a rates holiday for all its electors.

Under rate capping and all the other controls ILEA gets no rate support grant. So badly has ILEA been treated that the Conservative leader of the Opposition on ILEA, Professor David Smith, last Saturday resigned in sadness from that position in the Conservative party, saying that the Government had failed to take a positive approach to the problems of housing, poverty and education. He went on to say that there had been an increase in alienation and confrontation and that all the Government could think about was rate capping. Being a professor, he understands how rate capping not only hits Labour authorities, such as ILEA, but many Conservative authorities represented by Conservative Members. Parenthetically, I would add that resignations become so commonplace in the Conservative party that the excellent news that Professor Smith had resigned from the Inner London education authority was announced only in the pages of The Daily Telegraph.

Under the byzantine, completely crazy system that has been established, an authority spending too much gets nothing whereas Gillingham, Bath and Hove have received so much grant that they are able to declare a dividend. The treasurer of Gillingham said that Gillingham gets the greatest benefit of all. It could levy no rate, increase spending by 20 per cent. and still balance its books on the basis of the Government's 3 per cent. inflation figure although it thought that that was a little unrealistic.

The more an authority spends, the less it gets; the less it spends, the more it gets. That is the rub. As rate capping and other methods act to push down the spending of the disgraceful high-spending authorities such as ILEA or other Labour authorities, they earn more grant. The more that the Secretary of State controls their spending, the more grant they get. That grant is taken from other previously low-spending authorities. I shall return to that later when I explain the disgraceful fraud that the Secretary of State has been trying to perpetrate on Opposition Members and on the House with the document called "Grant Recycling 1986–87".

There are added reasons for the effect of this year's settlement and why the Government are now reaping a whirlwind from their policies. The abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan counties takes place on 1 April—[Interruption.] Hon. Members will cheer less when they add up the balance sheet of the full cost of abolition. Drawing up that balance sheet will take some time. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State, faced with the prospect of district elections in London and the metropolitan areas because the Government could not abolish them this year, is desperate to prove that abolition will not add to the ratepayers' burden. That is another reason why resources have temporarily been shifted to the metropolitan areas and why the Secretary of State and his predecessor imposed draconian controls on the ability and facility of local authorities to spend their own capital resources. Today they set down that the London Residuary Body, the largest non-elected quango in Europe, will not not have any control over the spending of its capital receipts in order that the full cost of abolition can be obscured from the ratepayer.

When the present system of rate support grant was introduced in 1980, it had some features which, with a fair wind, might have benefited local government. The Public Accounts Committee, in a report referred to by the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby), was right to say, in paragraph 54, that the basic structure of the new RSG system was well designed to achieve its originally intended purpose of a more comprehensible, stable and equitable system, based on a more objective measurement of spending need."

The Public Accounts Committee says that the system as now operated is "seriously defective" and that it is clearly absurd that counter productive incentives can exist in the grant system and that these must undermine respect for the present system. That is the third successive independent report that has damned the Government's creation. The previous two included one from the Audit Commission. I hope tonight we will not hear any further distortions by the Minister about what the Audit Commission said about the possibility of improving efficiency in local government. The controller was so outraged by the distortion of the commission's figures of £1 billion savings claimed by the Minister that he has written to the Secretary of State protesting, in the words of the Municipal Journal at the Minister's use of Commission figures out of context.

It is within the knowledge of the House that the Secretary of State and the Minister are intelligent, sensitive and sensible men. I am generous to a fault. They know that they are having to do the impossible. They daily trade in nonsense and end up pleasing no one, except the hon. Members for Norfolk, North and for Norfolk, South-West. Instead of returning the system to the path of relative stability which it enjoyed when we were in office and—

Sir Paul Hawkins

Did I hear aright? Did the hon. Gentleman mention me as approving the Government's settlement?

Hon. Members


Mr. Straw

I withdraw. I abjectly apologise for the fact that I may have been mistaken in believing that a longstanding Conservative Member of Parliament may have been supporting his Government. It is a mistake that I shall seek not to make again. When Conservative Members intend in future to speak in support of the Government, will they serve Opposition Members with written notice and ensure that there are ambulances waiting outside so that any of us who have a heart attack from surprise can be cared for across the way?

The Secretary of State and the Minister are intelligent, sensitive and sensible men. They know that they are having to do the impossible. They daily trade in nonsense and end up pleasing no one. Instead of returning to the path of relative stability which the settlement enjoyed when we were in office and when the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) was in office, what do they do? They promise us even more complexities—another Green Paper and further efforts to redeem the Prime Minister's pledge, now 12 years old, to abolish the domestic rate.

If what I read in the newspapers is true, I can hardly believe our good fortune. Here is proof at last that the Almighty is on our side. If the present mess were not bad enough, what are we promised? We are promised a poll tax to replace part only of the domestic rate which would make half the population worse off. If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well If it were done quickly". But, lacking the confidence of their own proposals, the newspapers now tell us that those great reforms will not be introduced until at least 1990.

With crucial district council elections in May, the Opposition cannot thank the Secretary of State enough for the gratuitous and additional benefits that he is bringing to the Labour party. We, at least, want to keep him warm. It is no wonder that the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham described the poll tax as unappetising.

Two years ago, almost to the day, there was a celebrated exchange during the 1984 rate support grant debate between the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym) and the Minister who was about to reply. Twice the right hon. Gentleman intervened. He was dissatisfied with the first answer and he struck again on behalf of his outraged and low-spending Conservative-controlled Cambridgeshire: Whatever constraints there may be from 1985–86 and thereafter, will the Minister be fairer to the low-spending authorities than his statement suggests? The Minister replied, I can give a categorical answer to that question—yes."—[Official Report, 23 January 1984; Vol. 52, c. 736.]

Last year, the present Secretary of State claimed, to the incredulity of his friends, that the commitment given by his hon. Friend during the debate a year ago had been fulfilled. It had not. It has not, as the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East spelt out earlier this afternoon. he claimed that the undertakings given two years ago had been breached.

Low-spending councils were hit last year, and Conservative councillors paid dearly for that duplicity in the shire county elections in May. If Ministers broke that undertaking last year, they have broken it twice this year. They can, in short, no longer be trusted. If hon. members had any vestige of trust in Ministers when they came in to listen to the debate, I hope that their trust has been wholly shattered by the stunt—that is all that it can be described as—put up by the Secretary of State—to spring like a rabbit out of a hat a document entitled "Grant Recycling" published by the Secretary of State late this evening to try to prove to his hon. Friends how much they would benefit from the abolition of target and penalty.

The point that the Secretary of State sought to make was complicated. It was especially complicated because he suggested that all that Conservative Members had to do was to flick through the document, find their authorities and see how much they might get back through increases in rate support grant, in addition to what was notified on 18 December. They are then expected to troop into the Lobby to vote for the Government's proposals—or, at the very least, not to vote against them.

Even were the document accurate, its message for most Conservative shires and shire districts is meagre. A figure of £5 million has been mentioned, but against the budgets of Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire of £230 million, that is nothing but a drop in the ocean. It should not be refused, but, but as the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East said, it is not likely to make any signifcant difference to the size of probable rate rises.

How much will the districts represented by hon. Members who have spoken today benefit from the Secretary of State's largesse? Castle Point in Essex will benefit by £93,000; Mid-Devon, which includes the constituency of the hon. Member for Tiverton, will have the wonderful sum of £42,000; East Cambridgeshire will receive £63,000; Eastleigh £117,000—on a budget of almost £4 million—Chichester £107,000—again on a budget of almost £4 million. Milton Keynes, which has been run ragged by the Government's policies, will benefit to the tune of £196,000, Devizes by £203,000 and Great Yarmouth by £93,000.

The document contains even more wonderful news for the Tory marginals of Stevenage, Welwyn and Hatfield and Crawley. They will receive absolutely nothing from the Secretary of State's largesse. Neither will some of the safer Tory areas such as Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Bath, Reigate and Chesham and Amersham. Perhaps the Secretary of State decided that the Chiltern district council would receive nothing because it had already given up on the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham. But the Secretary of State may believe that other Conservative souls are closer to being saved.

I shall explain to Conservative Members why the document is not worth the paper on which it is printed. First, the Secretary of State pretended that it contained amazing new information about the operation of the rate support grant system. When he announced his intention to abolish targets and penalties, he said that the effect would be that the previous amount that had been held back by the Treasury—which had gone into the Treasury coffers—would in future be available for redistribution among all the shire and metropolitan authorities in England. However, the Secretary of State did not spell out this afternoon how the system would work. At least with the penalty system, because penalty was taken away from an authority and went straight to the Treasury, it was possible to predict the effect of increases in spending without having to take into account the relative spending levels of every other authority in the land. Because this is a closed system, in which the total pool is set, what one authority receives depends critically not only on the absolute level of spending of another authority, but on the relative level of spending of one authority against another. To add to that complexity, it also depends on whether the authority is a high-resource authority, such as Hillingdon, or a low-resource authority.

Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South)

Does it not depend on whether my hon. Friend the Minister, when he replies, says whether local authorities can take into account in setting their budgets the figures contained in that document? For my local authority, that means £2.3 million. If my hon. Friend says that, I probably will not vote against the Government.

Mr. Straw

If that is all that it takes to square the hon. Gentleman, he should not bother to turn up in the Lobby. Local authorities can take into account whatever they choose. The question is whether this document is worth taking into account. I shall explain why it is not.

How much one authority gets depends on what the others do and its resource basis. Where does the information on which the Minister bases these calculations come from? Is it based on an across-the-board assumption about increases in local authority spending? If so, why was the information given to the House at 7.30 pm today when it has been available in the Department of the Environment for weeks? The Welsh Office had the courtesy to issue exactly the same type of information to Welsh Members of Parliament some weeks ago. Why was it suddenly sprung on us? Was the Secretary of State trying to stunt with the press? Is it true that, although it took two and a half hours for the document to appear in the Library after the Secretary of State's announcement that it would be made available to hon. Members, members of the press were told about it a good deal earlier? Perhaps the Minister will deal with that.

If the information is based on an across-the-board increase, does the Minister agree that local authorities have estimated that £400 million could be available for grant recycling only if budgets rise by 9 per cent. on average? I see the Secretary of State smiling like a Cheshire cat. Is that what the Secretary of State assumes? If not, what is the assumption? I should be happy to give way to him. It is crucial information. It is crucial to how Conservative Members vote tonight. If the information is not based on such crude assumptions, on what assumptions is it based? Local authorities have not made any budget decisions yet, so they and their treasurers are in no position to make any of the calculations in the document. Where do the assumptions come from?

The Government have set a terrible mantrap for the Conservative party by the system of rate capping and financial controls. I said earlier that, if rate capping works, overspending is reduced and lower spenders are hit. The same result arises here. The claims being made about the benefits of grant recycling will be met only if metropolitan authorities overspend more than shire authorities. I see that the Minister agrees with that statement. The possibility of their doing that is very limited. Metropolitan authorities are Labour-controlled and many key metropolitan authorities are now rate capped and their expenditure is controlled.

One of the major factors in the increase of local government spending above Government norms is the likely cost of the settlement of the teachers' pay dispute which will hit Conservative-controlled shire counties disproportionately hard. The metropolitan districts and the London boroughs have elections; the shire counties do not. It is a fact that, when there are elections, other things being equal, rate rises tend to be lower. There is no warrant whatever for Conservative Members putting any faith in this document. It is a bare-faced attempt by Ministers, at the last minute, in their desperation to try to head off a revolt, to try to bribe Conservative-controlled councils with some of their own money.

We oppose the settlement because it still starves hard-pressed authorities of millions of pounds, because it undermines the ability of local communities to help themselves and because it is an affront to democracy. Conservatives should oppose the settlement because of the damage that it is doing to their areas as well. All should join us in the Lobby tonight.

10.58 pm
The Minister for Environment, Countryside and Local Government (Mr. William Waldegrave)

It is a privilege not often given to the Government spokesman to double support for the Government by the very act of rising to his feet. I thought for a moment that my hon. Friends the Members for Norfolk, South-West (Sir P. Hawkins) and for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell) would spoil my record but one of them said that we had not gone far enough and the other was anxious not to be swept into joining my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and me on this matter, so it is left to us to persuade the House. That is a task which I know is difficult.

We had many powerful speeches from my hon and right hon. Friends. It has been a long debate and perhaps we have had two or three separate debates. First of all we had the transitory interventions from the Labour party, four or five of whose members have looked in from time to time. They shed crocodile tears for the difficulties of the counties, but those counties would be in far greater difficulties if they listened to the local Labour politicians. There would be no low spenders for any of us if the Labour party locally had its way, as I well know from my own shire county of Avon. From time to time they told us how disgracefully small the transfer to the cities was and so on. The Labour party, and its eloquent spokesman the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), who wound up for the Opposition, would have done better if they had left the case in the hands of my right hon. and hon. Friends who believe in it.

The second debate was much more straightforward. It was from my hon. and right hon. Friends arguing with certainty for increased grants in all their areas, in all the areas for which they claim record low spending. The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) called that the revolt of the bourgeoisie. That had my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks) on his feet to protest at the definition. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour), who was temporarily out of the House at that moment, may also have been on his feet.

There was also a third debate and this was largely a concert of dogs who did not bark in the night. On this occasion my right hon. and hon. Friends did not have the benefit of a brief from the Council for Social Responsibility of the Church of England, for example, welcoming the transfer of resources to the inner cities. We did not hear from many of the city Members who benefited from that. One or two Members on the Opposition side said "more", and the hon. Member for Newham, North-West provided us with a helpful remark by saying that it was a good settlement for London. I was grateful to him for that. It almost broke a record: it was almost a speech in favour of the settlement. My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) made an important point for people in constituencies like his about the London Residuary Body levy. Other hon. Members with constituencies in a similar position to his can compare the situation. The budget of something like £60 million would mean probably less than 2.5 million for Uxbridge for the levy of the London Residuary Body. I hope that will be useful to him.

There was also another debate to which we will return next week and it was led most vigorously, as on other occasions, by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop). My hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) and, I think, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym), and certainly my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge, referred quite rightly to the Public Accounts Committee report. They were all seeking fundamental reforms to the whole system. These are not reforms that can be carried through in the context of a rate support grant settlement, but we shall return to them. When hon. Members see the proposals brought forward by my right hon. Friend, no one will want to accuse him of political cowardice.

I was asked to reply to some particular points and I shall do that before coming to the central debate, in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) and other eloquent speakers from the Government side of the House participated. The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) asked about the use of section 80 of the Local Government Act 1985. He paid us the compliment of saying that this was a complicated matter, and he will not mind if I read from the brief. This section gives the power to the Secretary of State to specify amounts of grant which shall be deemed to have been payable to the new joint authorities and other successor authorities to the GLC and metropolitan county councils. This would be for the purpose of setting safety nets and caps on grant changes as a result of abolition. In the event, my right hon. Friend has dealt with the limitation of grant changes as a result of abolition in a different way, and has determined his base positions for 1986–87 in the same way as for all other nets and caps in the settlements. In so doing he is relying on section 59 of the Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Act 1980. He has not therefore had to rely on section 80 of the 1985 Act, which he regards as a discretionary power. I hope that answers the hon. Gentleman's point.

Dr. Cunningham

I am grateful to the Minister of State for allowing me to intervene, because this is an important point for a large number of authorities. His reply does not answer the question at all. Birmingham city council and other councils have asked the question, which remains valid: how can the Secretary of State make a judgment about this matter, and how can authorities decide whether that judgment is fair when the Secretary of State continues to refuse to publish the figures for this financial year on which the judgment is based?

Mr. Waldegrave

The hon. Gentleman may have misunderstood me. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not used the discretionary power to make the judgment in that way. Perhaps we could continue this fascinating debate on some other occasion, because I believe that hon. Members are not necessarily here to listen to this point.

The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) asked about section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State—the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold)—has had meetings with the Association of Metropolitan Authorities about this matter and it remains under consideration.

The hon. Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. McKay) made a point about the loss of rate revenue. I am afraid that I cannot meet him on that point, but I well understand the problem. The rateable resources will come back in the subsequent year.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) made a point about the distribution of balances, which is very important to outer London boroughs as well. The revenue balances are being distributed on the basis of population.

Let me turn to the powerful speeches of my right hon. and hon. Friends. [Interruption.] I make no apology for comparing those speeches in that way with the speeches of other hon. Members. The burden of their complaint has been much the same. Even to list them all would waste precious time. The speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) was especially enjoyable. The speech by right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point was particularly impressive, as always, and my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton is never to be ignored. I understand the frustration represented in the speeches by many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, faced as they are with what their local authority officers tell them are inevitably huge rate increases. As is universally the case in such matters, there is another side to this case. It is known to some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, although not all, because they are sometimes on the other side of the argument.

Three crucial variables affect the rating outcome of a local authority—how much grant in total central Government give, how central Government distribute it and how much local authorities choose to spend. A major plank of the Government's policy has been to cut the rate support grant percentage. There is not a big cut this year, but there is a cut. For at least 40 years—it may be nearly 60 years—wherever there has been an RSG percentage cut, higher resource areas lose more in cash than lower resource areas. It is a redistributive system, as my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes (Mr. Benyon) rightly said.

We discussed these matters at the time of the autumn statement. We voted on them. They had the support of all but a handful. In some sense, there is greater consistency in the position of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham because he did not vote for the level of provision that we put forward, nor for the RSG percentage that went with it. Conservative Members have endorsed the autumn statement. There were few votes against it. Even the Association of County Councils in its letter said that it is not specifically asking Parliament to restore the block grant and AEG to previous levels".

I remind my right hon. and hon. Friends of exactly what they voted for in the autumn statement. Paragraph 2.34 shows how we proposed to increase provision—what we thought local authorities would be likely to spend. Paragraph 2.35 says that the grant stays the same in cash. I am a classicist. I do not think that one has to be a statistician to know that that shows that there is a percentage cut in RSG. It is not as big as in previous years and it is not as big as when the good Dr. Witteveen, of whom my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) is so fond, spoke to the Labour Government. We all voted for that cut. I certainly voted for it. I shall not embarrass any of my colleagues by mentioning all those who voted for it. As in every year, the percentage cut is distributed unequally by the resource equalisation system, in favour of poor areas and away from richer areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham understood this very well. I think it is fair to say that he always argued before in favour of this percentage cut as putting the burden on local authorities. The structure of his speech was right—he has understood the situation.

We come now to how that figure of nearly £12 billion is distributed. First and foremost, we changed the system of distribution in favour of low spenders by abolishing targets—something on which we were congratulated by the PAC—and replaced them with stronger pressures in the block grant system itself. This gave every low spender a major gain. It was done in response to arguments for it from right hon. and hon. Friends.

We also decided, as we had been asked to by many right hon. and hon. Friends, church leaders and others, to make some provision for what hon. Members on both sides of the House saw as the increasing needs of the inner cities. That has been welcomed today by many hon. Members, such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point. As the ACC is honest enough to say: Many in local government would not dispute the Government's priorities but would support them.

Mr. Straw

Read on.

Mr. Waldegrave

I know very well what comes next.

As there was no additional money, and my right hon. and hon. Friends had already voted for the autumn statement, with one or two exceptions, where was the money to come from? Was it to come from the air? This is the inevitable working of the system that has been entrusted to my Department by my right hon. and hon. Friends. It left a situation in which the distributional shifts in the amount of money had been changed. Let us be clear to what we are objecting, and to what we are not objecting. Elements in the redistribution of the system had been moved in favour of the low spenders. The effect of the RSG cut that is central to our policy, and for which the Government have a defensible case in terms of the accountability of local authorities, meant that even for the low spenders, there was a cut in the grant at a likely spending level.

Sir Kenneth Lewis

Does my hon. Friend agree that he is giving to the shire counties with the one hand, but taking away more with the other, and doing it all in aid of the Treasury—because the Treasury wants cuts in the Budget—not recognising that if people have to pay more on their rates, they will not get any advantage from such cuts?

Mr. Waldegrave

It is wrong to try to shuffle off responsibility from my Department on to the Treasury or any other Department. This is a free-standing policy. We believe in the cuts in the RSG percentage because we believe that the entanglement of central with local government is the cause of so many of the woes of local government. We want to put responsibility more firmly on its shoulders and restore accountability. It is one of our central policies, and is the right policy.

The third crucial variable is spending. Actual spending is doubly crucial to rates in low-spending areas this year. We guessed the likely outcome for them in terms of rates by two measures—what would the low spenders do, and what would the Labour and Liberal high spenders do? As we all know, that is crucial to—[Interruption.] Liberals may laugh at the idea of Liberal councils being high-spending, but I point out the example of Wiltshire's budgets.

We had set the councils a real term standstill target in 1985–86, as has been said by several speakers. This year as well, we had to look at what would be the likely outcome against the background of what we had been asking them to do. At no point had we said to the low spenders that they were off the leash and would be allowed to have general expenditure gains, and they could ignore the attempts that our party, across the country, is making to hold back spending. That was never our policy. We told them that we were trying to develop a system under which, if they held their expenditure steady in real terms, the situation would not be easy. but it would be tolerable for them and their ratepayers. That is against a 3.5 per cent. increase which, more realistically, may be a 4 or 5 per cent. increase. My hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh said that we had assumed a standstill budget, meaning 3 per cent., 4 per cent. or 5 per cent. That is exactly right. That was the signal that we were asking should be sent to even the low spenders. We do not wish there to be a general increase, in real terms, in spending.

Mr. Robert B. Jones

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Waldegrave

Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends are popping in at the end of the debate and trying to make speeches. There is no reason why they could not have made speeches earlier, so I am going to make my speech. Virtually every county that has been to see me or my right hon. and hon. Friends specified its likely spending plans well in advance of that sort of standstill. I have to repeat again and again to my right hon. and hon. Friends that we are being shown projected budgets that, with one or two honourable exceptions, show spending increases of 8, 10 or 12 per cent. We gave no pledge to the high spenders, to the low spenders, to this House or to anybody else that we would validate spending increases in real terms of 5 per cent. or more. That was never a part of our plans. How could we possibly have given such a signal without throwing overboard our central economic policy, to which all of my right hon. and hon. Friends are devoted? We should have been excoriated for it. Several of my right hon. and hon. Friends have said that they should have been allowed or encouraged to spend up to the grant-related expenditure assessment.

Mr. James Prior (Waveney)

My hon. Friend has been saying for the last quarter of an hour that because Conservative Members have supported the Government's general economic policy they have got to support this motion. Is that not really an invitation to Conservative Members to vote against the Government more often?

Mr. Waldegrave

I was saying something that was a little more pointed. I was not commenting upon the general support for the Government's economic policy but upon the fact that the figures that made this result inevitable had been put before the House and had been voted on by the House. It is no good saying to Department of the Environment Ministers or to Ministers in any other Department, "We give you the weapons but we do not like the outcome."

The spending of the high spenders is crucial, too. Authorities that overspend on our system this year all contribute to a pool. All of this goes back to local government. I do not disagree with the hon. member for Blackburn about how this pool of money works. He was right when he said that the low spenders will receive the greatest benefit if we take the amazing gamble that those who have been low spenders since 1976, and before, will continue to be relatively low spenders and that Labour authorities and, in some cases, Liberal authorities which have been high spenders, even under the Labour Government, who could not persuade them to reduce their spending, will continue to be relatively high spenders.

May I point out to my hon. Friends the Members for Wirral, South (Mr. Porter) and for Norfolk, South-West that it would not be imprudent for treasurers to look at local authority spending—I suspect that they have always done this; in fact, I know that in many cases they have always done it—and to take the further figures that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State placed in the Library and say, "This is likely to be the outcome." The decision must be for them, but it would not be an imprudent decision to take.

Mr. Straw

Before the Minister gets off this point and since he has not yet mentioned the figures circulated by the Secretary of State at 7.30 pm, will he spell out on what assumptions the calculations were made? Why were the figures not made available to hon. Members before the debate in the same manner as his Welsh colleagues made similar figures available to Welsh hon. Members?

Mr. Waldegrave

The assumption in the figures is redistribution if there is a pool of about £400 million—

Mr. Straw


Mr. Waldegrave

That is the assumption. As the hon. Member says, there is nothing new about that. The hon. Gentleman can take any level that he likes. The assumption is the redistribution of a pool of £400 million.

We recognise that the settlement is tough and that it does not give the green light to expansion of expenditure—even to low-spending authorities. Nationally, we are not yet in a position to do that. We judged in December and we judge now that although the settlement is tough, it is tolerable, especially when the close ending and the new London Residuary Body budget are taken into account.

I beg my right hon. Friend and hon. Friends, who must be tempted to fight the settlement in the interests of their constituents—

Mr. Carttiss

It is not a temptation, it is our duty.

Mr. Waldegrave

To respect our constituents is indeed the duty of all of us. My right hon. and hon. Friends must not fall for the siren songs from the Opposition and get into an unholy alliance with those who do not believe in low spending and who bear our party and the shire councillors nothing but ill will. They seek to validate every high rate increase by blaming it, with the help of my right hon. and hon. Friends, on the Government. I beg my hon. Friends to think carefully, because the outcome will not be, as it never is, as bad as the predictions. I beg my right hon. and hon. Friends, whose misgivings I understand well, to think carefully before joining that unholy rabble in the Lobby tonight.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 301, Noes 230.

Division No. 41] [11.28 pm
Adley, Robert Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Aitken, Jonathan Baldry, Tony
Alexander, Richard Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Batiste, Spencer
Ancram, Michael Bendall, Vivian
Arnold, Tom Bennett, Rt Hon Sir Frederic
Ashby, David Best, Keith
Aspinwall, Jack Bevan, David Gilroy
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Biffen, Rt Hon John
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Blackburn, John
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Bottomley, Peter Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Hampson, Dr Keith
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Hanley, Jeremy
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hannam, John
Bright, Graham Hargreaves, Kenneth
Brinton, Tim Harris, David
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Harvey, Robert
Brooke, Hon Peter Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Hawksley, Warren
Browne, John Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Bruinvels, Peter Hayward, Robert
Bryan, Sir Paul Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Heathcoat-Amory, David
Budgen, Nick Heddle, John
Burt, Alistair Henderson, Barry
Butcher, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Hickmet, Richard
Butterfill, John Hill, James
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Hirst, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Holt, Richard
Cash, William Howard, Michael
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Chapman, Sydney Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Chope, Christopher Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Churchill, W. S. Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hunt, David (Wirral, W)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Clegg, Sir Walter Hunter, Andrew
Cockeram, Eric Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Colvin, Michael Irving, Charles
Coombs, Simon Jackson, Robert
Cope, John Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Couchman, James Jessel, Toby
Critchley, Julian Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Crouch, David Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Currie, Mrs Edwina Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Dickens, Geoffrey Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Dorrell, Stephen Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Key, Robert
Dover, Den King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward King, Rt Hon Tom
Dunn, Robert Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Durant, Tony Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Knowles, Michael
Eggar, Tim Lamont, Norman
Emery, Sir Peter Lang, Ian
Evennett, David Lawler, Geoffrey
Eyre, Sir Reginald Lawrence, Ivan
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fallon, Michael Lee, John (Pendle)
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lester, Jim
Fletcher, Alexander Lightbown, David
Fookes, Miss Janet Lilley, Peter
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forth, Eric Lord, Michael
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Fox, Marcus Lyell, Nicholas
Franks, Cecil McCurley, Mrs Anna
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Freeman, Roger MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Fry, Peter MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Gale, Roger Maclean, David John
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde) McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Garel-Jones, Tristan McQuarrie, Albert
Glyn, Dr Alan Major, John
Goodlad, Alastair Malins, Humfrey
Gorst, John Malone, Gerald
Gower, Sir Raymond Maples, John
Greenway, Harry Marland, Paul
Gregory, Conal Marlow, Antony
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Mates, Michael
Grist, Ian Maude, Hon Francis
Ground, Patrick Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Grylls, Michael Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Gummer, Rt Hon John S Mellor, David
Meyer Sir Anthony Silvester, Fred
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Sims, Roger
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Spence, John
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Spencer, Derek
Moate, Roger Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Monro, Sir Hector Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Squire, Robin
Moore, Rt Hon John Stanbrook, Ivor
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Stanley, Rt Hon John
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Steen, Anthony
Moynihan, Hon C. Stern, Michael
Mudd, David Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Neale, Gerrard Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Needham, Richard Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Neubert, Michael Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
Newton, Tony Stokes, John
Nicholls, Patrick Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Normanton, Tom Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Norris, Steven Terlezki, Stefan
Onslow, Cranley Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Oppenheim, Phillip Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Osborn, Sir John Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Ottaway, Richard Thornton, Malcolm
Page, Sir John (Harrow W) Thurnham, Peter
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Tracey, Richard
Parris, Matthew Trippier, David
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Trotter, Neville
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn) Twinn, Dr Ian
Pattie, Geoffrey van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Pawsey, James Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Viggers, Peter
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Waddington, David
Pollock, Alexander Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Portillo, Michael Waldegrave, Hon William
Powell, William (Corby) Walden, George
Raffan, Keith Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) Waller, Gary
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Ward, John
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Watson, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Watts, John
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Roe, Mrs Marion Wheeler, John
Rossi, Sir Hugh Whitfield, John
Rost, Peter Whitney, Raymond
Rowe, Andrew Wilkinson, John
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Wolfson, Mark
Ryder, Richard Wood, Timothy
Sackville, Hon Thomas Woodcock, Michael
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Yeo, Tim
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Young, Sir George (Acton)
Sayeed, Jonathan Younger, Rt Hon George
Scott, Nicholas
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Tellers for the Ayes
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Mr. Carol Mather and
Shelton, William (Streatham) Mr. Robert Boscawen
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Benyon, William
Alton, David Bermingham, Gerald
Anderson, Donald Bidwell, Sydney
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Blair, Anthony
Ashdown, Paddy Boyes, Roland
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Bray, Dr Jeremy
Ashton, Joe Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)
Barnett, Guy Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Barron, Kevin Bruce, Malcolm
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Buchan, Norman
Bell, Stuart Caborn, Richard
Bellingham, Henry Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Campbell-Savours, Dale
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)
Carttiss, Michael Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Cartwright, John Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Janner, Hon Greville
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) John, Brynmor
Clarke, Thomas Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Clay, Robert Jones, Robert (Herts W)
Clelland, David Gordon Kennedy, Charles
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Kirkwood, Archy
Cohen, Harry Lambie, David
Coleman, Donald Lamond, James
Conlan, Bernard Leadbitter, Ted
Conway, Derek Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Leighton, Ronald
Corbett, Robin Litherland, Robert
Craigen, J. M. Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Crowther, Stan Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Cunliffe, Lawrence Loyden, Edward
Cunningham, Dr John McCartney, Hugh
Dalyell, Tam McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Maclennan, Robert
Deakins, Eric McNamara, Kevin
Dewar, Donald McTaggart, Robert
Dicks, Terry McWilliam, John
Dixon, Donald Madden, Max
Dobson, Frank Madel, David
Dormand, Jack Marek, Dr John
Douglas, Dick Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dubs, Alfred Martin, Michael
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Dykes, Hugh Maxton, John
Eadie, Alex Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Eastham, Ken Maynard, Miss Joan
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Meacher, Michael
Ewing, Harry Meadowcroft, Michael
Farr, Sir John Michie, William
Fatchett, Derek Mikardo, Ian
Faulds, Andrew Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Flannery, Martin Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Forrester, John Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Foster, Derek Murphy, Christopher
Foulkes, George Nellist, David
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Nelson, Anthony
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Freud, Clement O'Brien, William
Garrett, W. E. O'Neill, Martin
George, Bruce Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Park, George
Godman, Dr Norman Pavitt, Laurie
Gould, Bryan Pendry, Tom
Gourlay, Harry Penhaligon, David
Grant, Sir Anthony Pike, Peter
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) Prescott, John
Hancock, Michael Price, Sir David
Hardy, Peter Prior, Rt Hon James
Harman, Ms Harriet Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Radice, Giles
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Randall, Stuart
Haselhurst, Alan Redmond, Martin.
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Richardson, Ms Jo
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Heffer, Eric S. Robertson, George
Hicks, Robert Rogers, Allan
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Rooker, J. W.
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Rowlands, Ted
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Ryman, John
Home Robertson, John Sedgemore, Brian
Hordern, Sir Peter Sheerman, Barry
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hoyle, Douglas Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Silkin, Rt Hon J. Tinn, James
Skeet, Sir Trevor Torney, Tom
Skinner, Dennis Wainwright, R.
Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury) Wallace, James
Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds, E) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wareing, Robert
Snape, Peter Weetch, Ken
Soley, Clive Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Spearing, Nigel Welsh, Michael
Speed, Keith White, James
Steel, Rt Hon David Wiggin, Jerry
Stott, Roger Wigley, Dafydd
Straw, Jack Williams, Rt Hon A.
Tapsell, Sir Peter Winnick, David
Temple-Morris, Peter Woodall, Alec
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Thompson, J. (Wansbeck) Tellers for the Noes:
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Mr. Frank Haynes and
Thorne, Stan (Preston) Mr. Mark Fisher.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the Rate Support Grant Report (England) 1986–87 (House of Commons Paper No. 140), which was laid before this House on 18th December, be approved.

  2. c135