HC Deb 19 February 1990 vol 167 cc645-6
9. Mr. Alan W. Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is his latest information on the level of poll tax to be levied by (a) Carmarthen district council and (b) Dinefwr borough council; and what is the average for all the local authorities so far notified in Wales.

Mr. Peter Walker

I have received no such information.

Mr. Williams

Is the Secretary of State aware that Dyfed has the lowest average male earnings of any county in Britain? What has he to say to the 20,000 or 30,000 people in my constituency who are on low pay, live in very ordinary homes, are not eligible for any rebates and who will lose heavily when the poll tax bills arrive?

Mr. Walker

Expenditure was based on a 7.1 per cent. increase on last year's budget, and only 15 per cent. of all local government expenditure in Wales will come from the poll tax. The hon. Gentleman should explain to his constituents how lucky they are.

Mr. Rogers

I am amazed that the Secretary of State is ignorant about what is happening in local government in Wales. I am sure that he realises that many local authorities, including my own county council of Mid Glamorgan, have already set the level of poll tax. Those councils will now have to struggle for the resources to rebuild and reopen the Rhigos mountain road at the top end of the Rhondda valley, which has collapsed as a result of recent bad weather. Under the previous rating system, a Welsh Office scheme gave 75 per cent. over and above a penny rate to cope with emergencies. Will the Secretary of State assure me that such money will be immediately forthcoming under the new system to open this vital road, which is the Rhondda's only access to west Wales, the heads of the valley and even into the midlands?

Mr. Walker

That is a separate question and I shall look into the details.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

Would my right hon. Friend care to speculate on the howls of outrage that will be uttered by people all over Wales if Labour's proposals for a roof tax are introduced? Under that tax, people would be charged not only on the basis of the capital value of their home, but on the basis of their income. Much unfairness would arise, because after a national Labour Chancellor had fleeced the taxpayers, 400 local chancellors would do the same at the town halls.

Mr. Walker

One notices the total confusion and muddle in the Labour party on this matter. It is certain that if a Labour Government handled a new roof tax in the same rather ruthless way as they handled the rate support system, the people of Wales would have a bad time. When people throughout the Principality discover that they will have to pay a tax based on the capital value of their house, they will be very distressed.

Mr. Barry Jones

I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Conservative Cabinet invented the wretched poll tax. Did not he undertake in Cabinet to impose that unjust tax on the people of Wales? His name was on the poll tax Bill as it was dragooned through the House. These fairy tales from the right hon. Gentleman will lead to electoral disaster for his party. He will be remembered in Wales as the man who brought an unjust tax, the poll tax, upon our people. The poll tax and the right hon. Gentleman's endeavours to promote it are a stain on his ministerial reputation.

Mr. Walker

In fairness to the hon. Gentleman, he has no ministerial reputation. We have introduced one poll tax. The shadow Cabinet of which the hon. Gentleman is a member has had three different types of roof taxes. We all look forward to seeing the detail of the one that he supports so that people throughout Wales can examine it.

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