HC Deb 23 April 1990 vol 171 cc13-4
58. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has had on the poll tax from tenants of the Duchy.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

I have had no representations from Duchy tenants either for or against the community charge.

Mr. Dalyell

Do Duchy tenants realise that year one of the poll tax is as nothing compared with the complications and difficulties of year two? Do they realise that 400,000 people in Strathclyde have not paid, and that £101 million is owning? Do they realise that that represents 23 per cent. of the total, and that my own, serious authority has had to provide money for self-defence courses in karate and other disciplines for officials who have to deal with the poll tax? Is the Chancellor of the Duchy doing anything to prepare people in the Duchy by providing lessons in karate, kwando or anything else?

Mr. Baker

That is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. I understand that self-defence lessons have been offered to all council employees, but are aimed primarily at benefiting social workers.

Duchy tenants will pay the community charge themselves as they did the rates previously. In 1990–91, the community charge for employees who have been occupying accommodation free of rent and rates will be met by the Duchy. This arrangement will be reviewed next year.

Mr. Robert B. Jones

If my right hon. Friend receives any representations from Duchy tenants will he tell them that they have to pay for the staff employed by Labour-controlled Lancashire county council? Lancashire has a lower population than the county of Hampshire, but it has 11,000 more staff.

Mr. Baker

My hon. Friend is right. The excessive expenditure by Lancashire county council this year is about £123 million. Such excessive expenditure is bound to lead to higher rates or community charges. The level of the community charge in Lancashire is due to the high-spending Labour authorities. The only way in which voters will get a lower community charge is by voting Conservative on 3 May.

Dr. Cunningham

Why does the Chancellor of the Duchy continue to try to con people in Lancashire and elsewhere? Why does not he look at the report on the study of the poll tax, carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Rating and Valuation Association which shows that it is not overspending by councils that is the root cause of the problem, but the unrealistically low targets set by the Department of the Environment? The study also shows that in Lancashire, as elsewhere, losers outnumber gainers by more than 3:1 except among the 8 per cent. of the population who have the highest incomes, where the gainers outnumber the losers. It shows that families in the third percentage band of income have had increases in their local tax bills of more than £200. The right hon. Gentleman should recognise that he will get the answer to his fluster and bluster on 3 May, when people across the country will reject the poll tax, as they should.

Mr. Baker

Instead of the hon. Gentleman doing calculations which no one in the House is following, why does not he publish his proposals on the roof tax as it would affect his constituency? We have calculated what it would be there. According to the Halifax building society national house price survey, the average cost of a property in Egremont is £54,000. The roof tax on that would be £697, which means that single occupants would be £7.13 a week worse off. Why not publish the figures?