HC Deb 27 July 1988 vol 138 cc397-8
8. Mr. Worthington

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will meet (a) the Confederation of British Industry (Scotland), (b) the Scottish Council (Development and Industry), (c) Chambers of Commerce and (d) the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to discuss the implementation of a uniform business rate.

Mr. Lang

The reform of business rates has been discussed with a number of Scottish business interests. No further meetings are planned at present.

Mr. Worthington

I find it amazing that the Minister continues to be complacent as always when he knows, as he has said in the past, that the Scottish business community is substantially disadvantaged, so that a Marks and Spencer store in Falkirk pays £166,000 in rates and a Marks and Spencer store of similar size in York pays £32,000. It is universally agreed that, after the revaluation in 1990, Scottish business will be further disadvantaged. Neither I nor the business community can understand why the Government wish to impose a higher tax on Scottish business than will be paid in England and Wales. Why is the Minister being so complacent?

Mr. Lang

The complacency is on the other side, when one reflects that the hon. Gentleman was once finance convenor of Strathclyde region. One of the disadvantages that Scottish businesses face is as a result of the depredations of high-spending Labour-controlled local authorities. However, I am happy to assure the hon. Gentleman that Scottish businesses will derive consider-able benefit from the index-linking provisions in the Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Act 1987. If those provisions had been in force for the past five years, Scottish businesses would have had to pay £200 million less in rates than they have had to do.