HC Deb 19 March 1986 vol 94 cc291-2
20. Mr. Watts

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received in response to the consultative document "Paying for Local Government."

Mr. Waldegrave

My right hon. Friend and I have both received a number of written representations and many more informal ones. I am generally very encouraged by what I have heard.

Mr. Watts

Does my hon. Friend agree that by providing a much fairer basis for distributing the costs of local services among those who use them, the proposal for a community charge will bring tremendous benefits to single-person households, and especially pensioners'?

Mr. Waldegrave

My hon. Friend is right. It will bring about a much closer connection between the use of services and paying for services. That is the objective of the whole operation.

Mr. Straw

Is the hon. Gentleman not ashamed of his proposal for a poll tax, which will cut the tax burden on the wealthiest in society, but, as the Green Paper makes clear, force up house prices and increase the burden of taxation on the poorest in the community, especially the young unemployed? Can the hon. Gentleman name any other major Western country that uses any tax as crude and regressive as a poll tax? If this is not a tax on the right to vote, why does the hon. Gentleman propose to use the electoral register to enforce it?

Mr. Waldegrave

The hon. Gentleman should read the Green Paper. We do not propose to use the electoral register. The tax will relate the use of services to paying for services. The misuse of the local government finance systems for all the types of social engineering purposes in which the Labour Party delights has ruined the whole local government finance system and made it very complex.

Mr. Forth

Does my hon. Friend believe that the real benefits of this excellent measure have yet to permeate either to the Opposition or to the people at large? Does he agree that the essential fairness of spreading the burden of local government finance to all who benefit from services will be readily appreciated when it is properly and fully explained?

Mr. Waldegrave

The Labour party is strong on criticism and weak on proposals, although it has made one proposal, which is to have a domestic revaluation on capital values. Perhaps when that permeates outside, the Labour party will find that it is not so satisfactory as it thinks.