HC Deb 12 July 1990 vol 176 cc481-517


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question—[11 July]—That the draft Charge Limitation (England) (Maximum Amount) Order 1990, which was laid before this House on 6th June, be approved.—[Mr. Chris Patten.]

Question again proposed.

5.4 pm

Mr. Patrick Ground (Feltham and Heston)

Yesterday, the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould), speaking from the Opposition Front Bench, advanced the argument that the Secretary of State's powers to charge-cap should be exercised only in the event of illegality or fraud on the part of a local authority, and that short of illegality or fraud, local authorities should be allowed to spend to their hearts' content and the Secretary of State should rely on the principle of accountability and the results of local elections.

The principle of accountability is useful and important, but it should not be followed to its ultimate and logical conclusion. In areas of substantial overspending, a minority looks to central Government for a measure of protection against the excesses of overspending. Charge capping is a useful measure to protect that minority.

A community charge of £400 or £500 can represent considerable hardship to those on modest incomes who are not in receipt of community charge benefit. Hon. Members who say that it is wrong not to follow the principle of accountability to its logical conclusion are eloquent on the subjects of accountability and logic, but any success that we have achieved in regulating our affairs has often been achieved precisely by refusing to follow such principles to their logical conclusion.

Charge capping is useful to protect a minority, and in its influence in areas that are not charge-capped but where the minority is afforded a measure of protection by the influence that can be exercised by charge capping. That applies particularly to authorities that are not charge-capped but that are on the borderline of charge capping.

One example is the London borough of Hounslow, part of which I represent. There has been a Labour-controlled council since 1971. Hounslow has escaped capping in every year except one. Its experience of capping in that year makes it wish to avoid charge capping in future. Hounslow's expenditure is excessive by all the standards except the £26 benchmark. It is among the 12 authorities that have escaped capping by the skin of their teeth. Since the beginning of April, many of my constituents have asked me why Hounslow has not been charge-capped and why they have not been given the protection that has been afforded to charge payers in other areas.

In the local elections, the Conservative group on Hounslow council advanced a programme that would have reduced the community charge from £396 to £296. Its detailed programme would have avoided any substantial or significant cuts in services. It did not win the election, but the council is considering closely whether Hounslow can avoid charge capping for the coming year. The ideas advanced by the Conservative group are of considerable value and will be considered by the majority group, but they should have been considered before the risk of charge capping arose.

The council is considering those ideas in the light of experiences of adjoining boroughs such as Hammersmith and Fulham. I have an interest in the outcome of Hammersmith and Fulham's case because as a resident my charge stands to be reduced from £424 to £325. Hounslow's residents have realised that the charge levied in Hammersmith and Fulham stands to be reduced to £325 and that as a result of the election in Hillingdon the charge has been reduced from £367 to £289. Those reductions have shown Hounslow council, which is on the borderline of capping, that other authorities can provide good services and carefully thought out programmes for significantly less than it is charging.

I was disappointed by yesterday's debate. We spent much time discussing the principles of capping and accountability but little time discussing the appropriateness of the level set by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

The debate is being conducted against the background of litigation, but I hope that when discussing appropriateness my right hon. Friend did not feel inhibited by the fact that charge capping will shortly be considered by the Lords of Appeal. It is difficult to discuss appropriateness, although in its judgment the Court of Appeal made it clear that it is a matter for the House. I hope that in future it will be possible to discuss the appropriateness of a capping order without the threat of litigation pending. It is better that litigation has been completed more quickly than in previous years, but it is still not ideal to discuss appropriateness when the orders are being challenged in the highest court of the land.

It is important that the charge-capping power is exercised appropriately and is seen to be exercised so as to allow much discretion and diversity to local authorities. Under the capping orders that have been made, whether we consider the difference between the standard spending assessments and the level of capping, the range of community charges or the gross totals, substantial local discretion and diversity remain. The difference between the standard spending assessments and the level of capping is substantial—£57 million in Avon, £72 million in Derbyshire and £40 million in Haringey. In Derbyshire, it is £72 million on top of an SSA of £448 million and in Haringey it is £40 million on top of £166 million. Therefore, there is a wide margin of difference.

That is borne out by the community charges that have been set in London, which range from £148 in Wandsworth to £502 in Haringey—a difference of more than £350 or more than 300 per cent.

If we consider the total overspending of authorities that have been capped and compare it with the amounts that have been lopped by capping, the same picture emerges. The local authorities that have been capped have overspent by £766 million. The capping proposals would achieve a reduction of only £214 million. Therefore, by the Government's definition, more than £550 million of excess expenditure remains among the capped authorities alone. The considerable powers that the Secretary of State has under the legislation have been exercised with considerable retraint. They have allowed much room for discretion among local authorities, variety in the community charge and huge differences between what is deemed to be excessive expenditure and the level of expenditure at which capping bites.

That is one of the most important tests of whether the capping procedure has been exercised appropriately but in a way that is consistent with a lively operation of local democracy. Applying that approach of appropriateness, this has been a satisfactory exercise of the Secretary of State's powers.

5.18 pm
Mr. Stan Crowther (Rotherham)

Rotherham metropolitan borough council is not a high-spending authority, but even if it were I should be here to defend it because I believe profoundly in the right of every elected authority to determine the level of expenditure required to meet the needs of the people whom it represents and to answer for that decision to the electorate, not to the Secretary of State. My constituents did not elect the Secretary of State to control the affairs of Rotherham council. They elected councillors whom they can remove at the next election if they do not perform their functions satifactorily.

The Secretary of State said yesterday that Parliament creates local authorities, but it is fair to remind him that democracy in this country began at a local level, because there was democratic local government, admittedly in a primitive form, centuries before the first Parliament was established in Britain. We should keep that in mind.

Even in the exercise of the draconian powers that his misguided hon. Friends have given him, the Secretary of State has managed to get it wrong according to the standards that he claims to have set himself. He alleges that the order is intended to protect charge payers against high-spending authorities. That is manifest nonsense. Rotherham borough council set a poll tax of £334, far below the national average. That was far below the level set by many Conservative authorities and my reaction was that it was too low and would not raise enough money to provide the services that were needed. Nevertheless, I thought, "It's the council's decision; it's not for me to decide and not for the Secretary of State to decide." Far from being a profligate authority, Rotherham borough council—and I say this without wishing to offend—is a tight-fisted authority from time to time, partly because it has been robbed of millions of pounds over the past 10 years by successive reductions in the Government grant.

When I have a 97-year-old woman constituent who cannot get a home help to help out with the cleaning, I do not want any Conservative Member telling me that my authority spends too much money. That is a hopelessly ridiculous position and I hope that the Secretary of State will make an effort to find a proper explanation for his crazy decision.

I do not intend to repeat the statistical analysis that my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) gave to the House in his excellent speech last night. However, it needs to be emphasised that the so-called "standard" spending assessment is absolute nonsense. It is an absurdity. It is even worse than the old grant-related expenditure system—which was pretty awful—but at least the GRE system included unemployment as an indicator of social deprivation. The SSA does not, which is absurd.

When a system arrives at the conclusion that there is less social deprivation in Rotherham than there is in Oxford, in Cambridge, in Cheltenham, in Kent, in Hampshire or in the Isle of Wight, we do not need to go further to demonstrate the nonsense of the system. In the case of Rotherham borough council, the changeover from GRE to SSA has made a difference of £5.3 million. which is equivalent to £26 per head on the poll tax.

Can the Secretary of State explain how the same Government can decide that this year, my authority needed to spend £5.3 million less than they decided that it needed to spend last year? How on earth can that be explained? That is how the Secretary of State has introduced his capping exercise. If that difference of £5.3 million had not been made, the council would have escaped his net. I should like a proper explanation of that at some stage. I do not suppose that I shall get it, but it is fair to ask for it.

The service that will suffer most is, necessarily, education because it is the service that takes the most money. I wrote to the Secretary of State for Education and Science some time back and asked whether he could personally justify the capping of Rotherham when the education authority covering his constituency spends more per pupil than mine, yet his authority has not been capped. My constituents' children will suffer under this arrangement, but the children in the constituency of the Secretary of State for Education and Science will not. I asked for a personal explanation, but he did not bother to write to me. He got the Minister of State to write a nonsense letter, which did not help.

The same Secretary of State is prepared to use the taxpayers' money under his assisted places scheme to send youngsters to private schools, such as St. Peter's school in York, where the fee is £4,872. My authority already spends less than £1,900 per pupil on secondary education and the Government tell me that it must cut that amount. How on earth can that be justified? It is disgraceful that the children of my constituents will have their educational resources reduced below the level that the parents' representatives on the council decided was necessary to meet the proper educational standard. It is absolutely wrong that Secretaries of State should have the power to override a decision made by the elected representatives. That is a gross abuse of power by a power-mad Government. Any Conservative Member who has a real regard for democracy must vote against the orders.

5.25 pm
Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

I welcome the opportunity to support the stance of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on his charge-capping measures. The courts have decided that he exercised his powers properly within the law. He made one or two telling points yesterday. I endorse his point that local government has no powers other than the powers given to it by the House. We must accept and respect that. They devolve from the sovereignty of Parliament and should be considered in that light.

It is often overlooked that, where there is a double mandate—first, to local government and secondly, to national Government—the national Government's mandate must prevail over that of local government.

I recently introduced a ten-minute Bill dealing with universal capping. One of my suggestions was that, when the national Government were fighting a battle against inflation, the local councillors could not be immune from tight fiscal management of their funds. Unfortunately, councillors feel that they are somehow immune, that they can turn their backs on the problems of central Government and the public's struggles against the high interest rates which are necessary to reduce our economic problems. But they cannot turn their backs and say, "We'll spend what we like, how we like," which totally ignores the problems we face as a whole.

The public must look at the local councillor who is as accountable as the Member of Parliament and as the Government of the day. One of the keys to that accountability is laid down in the community charge. The community charge cannot work properly, except in single-tier authorities. The local government elections in May in Westminster and Wandworth proved that, where there is one authority, it is clear what the public are voting for and they recognise where the services come from.

The best example of my point is my own county of Lancashire. The West Lancashire district council reduced its share of the community charge to just below the Government's estimate. Little credit was given for that, because the county council increased its share to £100 above what the Government's estimate was likely to be. As the notice for payment of the community charge was sent out by the district council and had its name on the top, it was the district councillors who stood for election who took the brunt of the public's displeasure over the size of the community charge. It was not their responsibility; the responsibility lay elsewhere. There must be a second plank of accountability in future.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

The responsibility lies with the Secretary of State.

Mr. Hind

No. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State did not set a community charge in Lancashire that was £100 per head more than was necessary. It was set by Labour councillors, in county hall at Preston. The public must realise that, if we are going to make accountability work.

In future I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will bear it in mind that, if accountability is going to work, the public must receive two bits of paper through their letter boxes. The first will tell people that they owe the district council £37, as in my case, and the other will be from the county council telling them that they owe £335. If that were the case, the public would know what they are paying and to whom.

Those county councillors should not be able to sit back and say that they can charge what they will, because they know that it will be another three years before they are called to account by the electorate. Accountability must mean that they have to stand for election more regularly. They should stand for election in the same way that district councillors have to stand, one third each year. However, that is for the future. If that were to happen, the minds of those councillors would be focused. They would concentrate on more efficiency and better value, and they would think more accountably towards the electorate. They would be more careful about the demands that they place on people, and as a consequence, accountability would benefit.

The most important thing about capping is that it focuses the mind on the need for efficiency. Efficiency is something which many local government officers in my experience do not seem to consider. For example, in Lancashire, a P and A report was commissioned which told the councillors that the meals on wheels service and the residential homes were a disaster. Effectively, they were high-cost services which delivered a poor level of service and the council was advised to take positive action.

I am sure that there are many examples of that around the country. Charge capping will focus the minds of local government councillors and officers on those matters, and that will result in better value for money for the public. Without capping, an awful lot of authorities will go their own sweet way, they will not consider efficiency. value for money or the service that is delivered to the public.

Charge capping has one big danger: some authorities may want to maximise the blame on the Government. They may say that they have asked for a lot of money, and the Government are to blame. Those authorities will look for the savings that will hurt the most and cause the maximum embarrassment, as they see it, to the Government. They will not look at efficiency.

The hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Crowther) referred to home helps and to education. No doubt those areas should be protected. Councils should be looking to make savings in different areas. The total budget in Lancashire is more than £1 billion, and there must be savings which can be made, which should be considered long before the council considers the provision of home helps and education.

Councils must also consider whether they are doing things which are not the function of local government. They must consider whether they are doing things which should be the functions of industry or the voluntary sector or even central Government. In many cases, councils are trying to deliver services which are not their responsibility and should be provided by others.

If we are to have a positive approach and efficiency in relation to the service that is delivered, we will not need charge capping. Local authorities will focus their minds if a third of them are to be re-elected every year, rather than the ridiculous position now, when some counties have a two-tier electoral system. According to the figure given me by my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities in a letter this week, Lancashire increased its expenditure last year by 20 per cent. How many of us in the House or in the community at large received pay rises of 20 per cent? That increase in the budget would have translated into an increase of one third on the rates, even before we consider the introduction of the community charge.

Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

They were cutting grants.

Mr. Hind

Not in Lancashire's case. It was a straightforward 20 per cent. increase in expenditure across the board. When inflation is running at between 8 and 9 per cent., that is completely unjustified. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is aware of all that. Conservative Members realise what is happening, and if we are to have proper sensible local government in future, we must have charge capping. I gladly support the orders.

5.35 pm
Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

Of all the debates that I have taken part in since I was elected to this House just over a year ago, this must be the most farcical. The Government introduced the poll tax. It was their idea and it has been their failure. At no time has it been supported by the Opposition. We have fought the unfairness of the poll tax. But these orders will drive a coach and horses through the very measure that the Government introduced to bring about so-called accountability for the local electorate. It is farcical that we should have this parliamentary time, short as it is, to discuss such a proposal.

The Government's poll tax levels in London are absolute fantasy. It seems that they have simply been plucked from a conjuror's hat. The standard spending assessment levels do not make sense. They do not add up, and they bear no relation to the actual expenditure or to the needs of each local authority. Therefore, they are bound to produce absurd anomalies.

The poll tax in my borough of Lambeth is £548, while residents in Wandsworth—we hear this over and over again—have to pay £148. However, in the local council elections in May, there was a swing to Labour of 1.5 per cent. The people in Lambeth voted in spite of that high poll tax—we know that it is high, and we did not want that high poll tax—for Labour. They understood the reason for the high poll tax.

Why did the Government see fit to subsidise the poll tax payers in Wandsworth by 300 per cent. more than they subsidised the poll tax payers in Lambeth? Wandsworth is getting £116 per person more in safety net payments. Lambeth is getting a mere £26. Would it not be simpler for the Secretary of State to admit that he is simply trying to score cheap political points? The Government oppose what Lambeth has been doing. If that is not the reason for what the Government have done, the only explanation can be that the SSAs were truly meaningless. If real spending and real needs had been taken into account in my borough, Lambeth would have received over £200 per head in safety net payments.

Lambeth is the fourth most deprived borough in the country. We have 37,000 households on income support and 65,000 people claiming housing benefit. Those are not just statistics: they are people, and families. Those people face the prospect of high poll tax charges which they know are a result of the Government's changes. It is a Government tax.

Since the abolition of the Inner London education authority, Lambeth is the largest education authority in inner London. We have therefore been disproportionally hit in Lambeth by the underfunding of education in London generally. In Lambeth, education will cost £11 million more than the Government have budgeted for. At the same time, on our borders in Wandsworth, with its very low poll tax, a consultation suggestion emerged last week that four secondary schools on the border with Lambeth will be closed. Wandsworth is reducing its education budget. Many parents in Wandsworth will send their children to Lambeth schools. That is a disgraceful manipulation of the education budget in Wandsworth.

As everyone knows, Lambeth suffers also because of the high level of homelessness. Waterloo and cardboard city are in our area. We have the largest emergency night shelter in London—people come from all over London, and Lambeth has responsibility for those people. Lambeth, which has been underfunded and successively rate-capped, with hundreds of families in bed and breakfast, is now being poll-capped.

The sham of the Tory comparison between Lambeth and Wandsworth must be pointed out to show what Lambeth does that Wandsworth does not do. Wandsworth charges four times the amount that Lambeth charges for parental contributions to day nurseries. Meals on wheels in Wandsworth are nearly twice as expensive for elderly residents. Day care in homes for the elderly is free in Lambeth, but in Wandsworth it costs £4.95 a week.

Another unfair aspect for Lambeth is that county hall, the old seat of local government—the Greater London council—was abolished by the Tory Government. The Inner London education authority was abolished by the Tory Government. The London residuary body, an unelected and undemocratic body, received a backdated assessment on the rating value of county hall. As a result, Lambeth must pay back £5.5 million, and the Government have refused to consider centrally funding that reassessment. The whole £5.5 million charge will be payable by Lambeth residents.

Anyone who is seriously interested in fairness must agree that it is unfair that that £5.5 million must go on to the Lambeth poll tax. Lambeth borough has come through enormous difficulties. No one is complacent about services in Lambeth. Neither I nor my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser) is complacent about the level of services in Lambeth. We all want to improve the position. Just when there was beginning to be light at the end of the tunnel—not just in my view and that of my hon. Friend—in January 1990 the district auditor himself said: Although the council"— that is, Lambeth faces considerable problems, I am encouraged by recent initiatives to address the underlying weaknesses. This work is a major undertaking for the Council and I am hopeful that the initial progress can be maintained. Just as we were beginning to see some progress, some real changes and some benefits in the coming year, Lambeth has been poll-capped and attacked again by the Government. After the motion is approved and poll capping is introduced, there will be no effect on the overall economic situation of the country. Lambeth will have to save £8.5 million.

My local authority is responsible and, if the motion is approved, will struggle to make reductions, but at what price? Facilities for the elderly will be reduced, swimming pools will probably be closed, library opening hours will be affected, and there will be administrative chaos. Ironically, those who can least afford the high poll tax that the Secretary of State wants to reduce will be hit hardest. They will be doubly hit: there will be cuts in non-statutory provision and so on. The Government's cynical action will not bring about the result that the Government hope. It will not make people in my borough vote Conservative. They proved that two months ago, and they will prove it even more resoundingly at the next general election.

5.43 pm
Mr. Tim Janman (Thurrock)

The local government finance legislation, which was passed a year ago, and the failure of the challenge in the courts, which proceeds day by day, clearly demonstrate that there is no question but that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is right to bring forward the orders and to ask hon. Members to vote on them today. I make it quite clear that I shall support my right hon. Friend in the Lobby. One could even make the case that he has been quite lenient in the number of councils that he has capped, and not only in respect of the numbers but in the extent to which he has capped some of them.

As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground) rightly said, if we examine the level at which some authorities have been capped and consider the difference between that level and their SSA expenditure per head, we shall note that there is a huge disparity. In other words, even if the ruling party in any of those authorities had set a level just below the cap and the Opposition had suggested a spend more equitable to the SSA, it would still have presented their electorates with a wide choice of what to vote for.

In the London borough of Hillingdon we have seen a practical illustration. The Conservative opposition are actually saying that the cap is over-generous. Now that they have taken power from the socialists—the people of Hillingdon have far more sense than the people of Lambeth—they themselves will be setting a community charge of £25 a head lower than the figure that my right hon. Friend suggested.

It is worth thinking about all the authorities that have not been charge-capped and whether, in future, it will be worth my right hon. Friend considering capping other authorities. Clearly, the impediment to doing that at the moment, and the reason why we are considering only 21 authorities, is the £15 million floor level on revenue budget, which determines whether an authority can be eligible for my right hon. Friend's scrutiny. For example, my local authority, Thurrock, is overspending by, according to my right hon. Friend's Department, £75 a head. On my calculation, when we include extra overcharging for the excuses of costs of collection and non-payment, it is overcharging by £91.77 per charge payer. On the Department's figures, the borough is overspending by 85.4 per cent. On my figures, if we take the overspend of nearly £92 a head, the percentage overspent is considerably more than 85.4 per cent.

Although we are not considering an order to cap my local authority, it and many others like it are massively overspending and probably employing twice as many people as they need and are not contracting out services to the private sector. Thurrock is seeking to build phase 3 of its office block development. According to one of my local papers, that could add anything between an extra £8 and £62 to the charge that each of my constituents must pay. Clearly, there is a strong case for removing the £15 million floor level and capping far more authorities. However, if my right hon. Friend does that, he should not cap any authorities to any great extent. There are three reasons for that.

First, although the concept of local government democracy is fine, in practice it is seriously flawed. In fact, the reality of local government democracy today is farcical. If my right hon. Friend caps more councils, he should do so in a limited sense. That would at least send a message from him and the Government that there is support for people living in those areas and that the Government are prepared to step in and make sure that excessive spending is curbed. It would show also that the Government were on their side and were not leaving the matter purely to the mechanism of the community charge and the accountability that would be increasingly associated with it.

Secondly, if, in each instance, the cap is not great, and, to be fair, it is not in many of the local authorities that we are considering today, it would not wreck the principle of accountability—in other words, a small cap in terms of depth. As my hon. and learned Friend has said, it is unquestionable that the principle of accountability is clearly not diminished.

Thirdly, we should not provide a political hostage to fortune. In the 21 authorities and others that are being capped, and in others that would be capped if the £15 million floor level was removed, the socialists in those administrations and perhaps in some Tory administrations, to protect their empires and bureaucracies would say that they would cut services that residents were receiving rather than cut their own gross inefficiencies and overmanning.

Local government has enjoyed a massive increase in expenditure, year on year in real terms, not only prior to 1979 but even—sadly—since the Government came into power. Although there are genuine exceptions and some local authorities do a good job and are efficient, I submit that the vast majority are extremely inefficient and are ripping off their community charge payers as, in the past, they ripped off their ratepayers left, right and centre.

As well as considering an alternative to extending community charge capping, I ask my right hon. Friend to consider an even more radical alternative and to provide the people of any local authority area with the ability to cap that authority themselves. Perhaps my right hon. Friend could consider introducing a mechanism whereby, if any local authority sought to spend more than the SSA set down by the Secretary of State, it would have to ratify that by a binding local referendum before the expenditure and the budget could be implemented.

That would give the people of the area a real choice. It would refine and extend the accountability principle of the community charge. It would mean that the local people could answer one specific and simple question in the ballot box—do we or do we not agree with the Budget that our locally elected councillors have set for our authority? The local people would have the opportunity either of agreeing and ratifying those spending plans, or of capping the authority themselves and asking it to think again. That would be an interesting and workable extension of the principle of accountability in local government.

Although, as I have said, the concept of local government democracy is fine, today its delivery is seriously flawed. After all, local government exists purely to deliver services. It receives half its revenue, not from the local population, but from central Government. It receives another quarter of its revenue from businesses, which do not have a vote or a say in who is elected to run the local authority. Although some people will obviously change their allegiance when they vote in local elections because of what is going on locally from the party for which they voted nationally, the vast majority of people vote in a local election according to their normal political tribal instincts or because of what is happening nationally.

The percentage turnout also varies between the number who turn out to support the Opposition and those who support the Government. I am not making a party political point because, when the Labour party was in government in the 1960 and 1970s, it suffered from that when it lost seats in local government hand over fist, and we have suffered the same reverse in the 1980s. The way in which people vote in local elections often bears little resemblance to what is happening or to the key issues affecting the local authority. It bears far more resemblance to what is happening nationally.

In conclusion, although I believe that my right hon. Friend should consider some radical alternatives, he is absolutely right to introduce the orders both in moral and in legislative terms. I shall support them.

5.53 pm
Mr. Michael Welsh (Doncaster, North)

I assure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I shall take no longer than the 10 minutes to which you have requested hon. Members to try to limit their speeches.

I totally oppose the order and, like others, will vote against it. I am not only opposed to poll tax capping; I am opposed to the poll tax. If the Government had not introduced the poll tax, we should not have poll tax capping now. The Government thought that the problems would be solved when the Secretary of State uttered those magic words, but as soon as the poll tax is introduced, the Government start to cap it. That is a sign of the complete inefficiency of the Department of the Environment.

The Government's method of assessing which authorities to cap is also unfair. No one can say that the standard spending assessment—the SSA, as it is known —is fair. if hon. Members want to know why it is not fair, they need only read the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) in the Hansard that is available today. He explained the unevenness and unfairness of the SSA so well. Hon. Members could also consider the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Crowther) just a few moments ago when he explained the total unfairness of this capping method.

The authority in which my constituency is situated, Doncaster, is not a high spender; it is a correct spender, and it is a caring council. I do not care how much a caring council spends, but if it is both caring and careful with its money, we should do nothing but support it. However, in March this year, Doncaster metropolitan district council accepted and approved a budget of £190.1 million for the year 1990–91. On 3 April the Secretary of State made an order to cap that budget and ordered a new budget figure of £178.5 million. That means a cut of £11.6 million. That is not a bad cap for a little northern town, is it?

The national average poll tax was £363 per head, but Doncaster's budget, which was approved in council, set a poll tax of £335 per head. That means that Doncaster had a poll tax per head that was below the average for the country. In that case, why cap it? It does not make sense. The reason can be only that the Secretary of State is being vindictive towards Labour local authorities. The facts cannot point to anything but that.

Let us compare some authorities. On 15 February 1990 the Community Charge Transitional Relief Report (England) was laid before Parliament. It set target poll taxes, as they have become known, which raise some important issues. Let us compare the facts with what was included in those provisions. It was said that Doncaster's expenditure was 6.6 per cent. above target. I have to he fair and agree that that is right. It is also true that Doncaster's expenditure above target amounted to £54 per head. I am not arguing about that, but let us consider some of the other authorities that have not been capped.

Milton Keynes' budget was 98 per cent. above target, which meant £79 per head, but it was not capped. The Isle of Wight's figures were 17.6 per cent. or £108 per head above target, but that authority was not capped. The royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea was 16.7 per cent. above target or £189 per head, but it was not capped. There are many others. On those workings, to put it mildly, the Secretary of State's capping has been unfair. As I have said before, the reality is that the Secretary of State was being vindictive.

Doncaster's approved council budget was accepted by most people. I have chosen my words carefully because the budget was not accepted by the leader of the Tory Party in Doncaster. He said that he welcomed the capping. We now come to the May elections. The leader of the Tories had been a councillor since the district was formed in 1973. During that time, the Labour party has never won a seat in that ward. The leader of the Tory party, who agreed with the capping, lost his seat. That shows the local people's approval of the budget. That shows what the citizens of Doncaster thought about London imposing capping on them—

Mr. Irvine Patnick (Sheffield, Hallam)

By how many votes did he lose?

Mr. Welsh

As the Prime Minister says, "If I win by one, I win."

Doncaster should not have been capped. We are proud of our caring authority. We have one of the best nursery schools in all of Great Britain. The capping proposals may damage nursery schools. The Minister may not be bothered about the little kiddies in my area going to school, but I must make it plain that the hon. Member for Doncaster, North is bothered. We want nurseries for those kiddies so that their mums can have time perhaps to earn extra money. Nursery schools are necessary and the poll tax cap may infringe on that service.

Unemployment is still high in Doncaster. We have tried to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We have done well but still it is not enough. In 1990 unemployment fell to 10.8 per cent. That was still twice the national average but we had brought it down. We have lost many jobs in mining and other industries. It was announced last week that the pit where I worked, Brodsworth colliery, is to be closed with the loss of 700 men's jobs. The Government's statistics did not take that into account. Also Hatfield colliery is to be slimmed down with the loss of another 200 jobs. In one week in my constituency, 900 jobs in the mining industry have been lost. That is what it is all about.

It is more money, not less, that local government in our areas needs. But we shall not get it. We are not begging; we simply ask to be allowed to spend more money for the good of Doncaster. It is Doncaster's money. The Minister has let us down. Most of the Department's junior Ministers have visited Doncaster. All were more than pleased at the way in which the local authority and the people of Doncaster are trying to make Doncaster a better place to work and live and winning at it.

We are proud of the area. We are a bit like the Scots. We are proud but a bit more careful with our money. We do not spend foolishly the authority's money or our own. We never spend a penny where a ha'penny will do. We are not daft.

To show the Minister what Doncaster is like, to get itself going it has urban programme status, a derelict land programme, and an inner-city task force. It is part of an EEC integrated development programme. The authority has been asked and encouraged by Ministers, senior officials and representatives of the EEC Commission to get cracking. Yet the Secretary of State comes along and decides to confiscate £11.6 million of our money. That is a proper disgrace.

What is the truth? I do not wish to blame the Minister if he is not to blame. One must be careful. The truth is that she who must be obeyed has spoken. She said, "At least a score of authorities must be capped." There was only one golden rule: none of the capped authorities must be Tory. That is what happened.

Doncaster, with a community charge of £335, was capped. Luton, with a community charge of £402, was not capped. Southend-on-Sea, with a charge of £420, was not capped. Sandwell, with a community charge of £423, was not capped. That is what it is about. The Government are bumping the poor areas. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. No matter which way the Minister puts his case, the man riding on the South Yorkshire Transport bus will simply look at the figures and reach one conclusion. It will be, "Him in London hates us and won't let us develop our own area."

There is no logic in the capping except a perverse strain of logic that makes it necessary for the Secretary of State to protect the poll tax payers of Doncaster from a below average poll tax. That could happen only through political motivation.

6.3 pm

Mr. Michael Stern (Bristol, North-West)

I shall keep my remarks as brief as possible in view of the number of hon. Members who wish to speak. I represent a constituency that falls under two capped authorities—Avon and Bristol. I shall address my remarks principally to Avon, but I suspect that most would apply equally to Bristol.

In the run-up to the meeting in March at which Avon set its community charge, there was a great deal of discussion, first of the principles and secondly of the detail of how the new community charge system should work. Labour is the controlling group on Avon county council—I stress controlling group because although nominally the county is jointly controlled by the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups, in practice I have yet to witness an occasion when the Liberal Democrats said anything other than, "Me too."

In the run-up to that fateful meeting, the Avon councillors, not surprisingly, had many disagreements with the Government about the community charge. They made strong representations directly to the Government, civil servants and, indeed, local Members of Parliament about the matters on which they disagreed. But each time that disagreements arose, the House rightly made a decision on that disagreement. By the time that Avon met to consider its community charge, all past disagreements were wholly irrelevant.

That is the point that I wish to make. However much the controlling group on Avon disagreed with the principle of the community charge and the way in which its standard spending assessment had been reached and various regulations promulgated, that was not at issue. What was at issue on that night in Avon house was Avon's budget and the inevitable—I stress inevitable—level of community charge that would result.

The Avon councillors had two clear choices. They could set a level of spending that would inevitably, and entirely by their own choice—only they could avoid it—result in a community charge of £493 in Bristol. Or they could set a level of spending such as that offered to them by the Conservative group, which would set a community charge lower than the amount proposed in the order.

In accordance with what they considered to be right, the majority of the Avon county councillors decided to set the highest level of community charge proposed to them. It is not up to me to justify their decision. No doubt they considered that it was the right decision. They have tried to defend it on many occasions.

The reason why I am so much in favour of the orders before the House is that I represent several of the poorest areas in the city of Bristol, such as Southmead, Lawrence Weston and Manor Farm, all of which are by no standard to be regarded as wealthy. The people cannot afford a high community charge. I represent many people to whom the difference of £2.50 a week per couple, which is the difference between the community charge proposed by Avon county council and that which will apply after tonight's vote, represents a significant proportion of their disposable income. Those poor people in my constituency will gain from the orders.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House should not forget that this decision does not affect any of us personally. We all have a level of income that is considerably higher than that of the people to whom I refer. Avon county council deliberately decided on that night in March to take about £2.50 a week per couple away from such people, when by no standard could they possibly afford it.

The Opposition have argued that the Government are wrong to correct the decision taken by Avon on that night. Since the decision to cap was made, however, people have repeatedly asked how any democratic Government could stand by and watch the deliberate creation of poverty by a local authority. They asked how any Government could stand by and watch local authorities cause a serious, radical deterioration in the standard of living of those who are not in a position to defend themselves. Given that the Government have the power, those people questioned how they could stand by and do nothing.

I support my right hon. Friend and his colleagues because their decision to cap has protected the most vulnerable of my constituents. Surely that is the job of any democratic Government.

6.10 pm
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

The hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Stern) and for Thurrock (Mr. Janman), who has just left the Chamber, believe that people are suffering, but it should be for those people to decide that. The hon. Member for Thurrock argued that a referendum should be held on the poll tax level that the Government had imposed on the local councils, but his argument is wrong. If one really believes in democracy, one should allow the local council to fix its budget. It should then be left to the local people to decide whether they approve it.

We are not just talking about poverty and a cut in costs; we are talking about cuts in payments and services. There is not one example where that will not happen.

Ms. Harriet Harman (Peckham)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is outrageous that hon. Members should be asked to vote to cut spending by Southwark council, which will affect services in Southwark, when the Secretary of State gave no justification for that decison? Conservative Members do not pay the poll tax in Southwark and they do not know about the need for services, yet they plan to ride roughshod over local people. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is a scandal that the Secretary of State did not mention Southwark once when asking the House to vote for the orders?

Mr. Hughes

This may be unique, but I agree with every word of the hon. Lady's intervention. Also unique is my belief that I am the only person to speak today—and yesterday—for the right of his local authority to make its decisions even though that local authority is not of the same political colour as himself. That local authority should choose how to set its budget, and democracy means that the people also have the right to exercise that choice.

The Secretary of State has told us that the poll tax was brought in as a means of bringing about accountability. Everyone has argued, however, that to say with one breath that it is a more accountable system, which allows the people to decide, and then to intervene, is inherently illogical. The right hon. Gentleman's argument is convoluted.

I understand the argument that the Government must limit the total amount of public money spent in the country, but if they had not given so much to the rich in the past 11 years, there might have been more money available for my constituents, who, by any definition, are still poor. I am not prepared for the Government to argue that they are justified in limiting total public expenditure when they have so distorted the balance of benefit derived from that expenditure in favour of the rich and against the poor. The Prime Minister's house is in our borough, and she and her husband, who are millionaires, will save hundreds of pounds. However, people on the basic state pension, without a penny in addition, must pay extra as a result of the order. That cannot be justified, and that is why the Government have found that their policy is so unsuccessful.

I do not seek to justify every decision taken by the majority Labour group on Southwark council. The Liberal Democrats are the opposition and they did very well in May—we won six seats, five from Labour in my constituency. The Tories did not do well. After the general election in 1987, the Prime Minister said, on the steps of central office, that they would have the inner cities for themselves next time. If a Tory stronghold of 8 per cent. on Southwark council means having the inner cities next time round, she needs to do a lot more thinking about the policies to achieve it. At the moment, the right hon. Lady is not persuading anyone that her policies are geared to help the people of the inner cities—the people who matter.

The Government should give local authorities a chance to have a say. They should not be fettered by Government impositions. We will then have real democracy; the turnout at elections will increase, and we shall have proper accountability.

People want simple things—decent basic services. The inner-London boroughs should never have been capped this year because, having taken over education from the Inner London education authority, the amount they needed was unquantifiable. Southwark certainly should not be capped when, since the end of May, it has been 200 teachers short and it cannot find nursery teachers, and specialist music teachers, and it sends classes home. We should not be capped when we cannot keep our streets clean or provide decent services in our public parks. I hope that the Minister is listening, as he represents part of London. I know that he was put in his job belatedly and that all this was not his idea—I do not charge him with that.

Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

He voted for it.

Mr. Hughes

; I know, but unfortunately, many people vote for things with which they do not inherently agree. The pay-off for some of them is preferment, and that is more important.

Southwark should not be capped when it needs so much money for housing maintenance and the renovation of empty properties. We need so much money for social services, but, for the first time, we will now have to charge people for home helps. We need more sheltered housing. We need to employ more people to prevent children from being abused, and we need more help to alleviate drug problems. Southwark should not be capped when our libraries are to be closed and our swimming baths kept shut. How can we be capped when the local authority is taking on more charges every day?

This is an absolutely crazy system. Last year, the cost of collecting the rates in Britain was £181 million and the cost of collecting rubbish was £446 million. This year, the cost of collecting the poll tax is more than double the total cost of collecting rubbish throughout the land. That is madness. Last year in London, it cost £44 million to collect the rates and £106 million to collect the rubbish. This year, refuse collection will cost £119 million, but poll tax collection will cost £141 million.

So far this year, Southwark has collected 33 per cent. of its poll tax, but at the same time last year it had collected more than 80 per cent. of its rates. The business rate is still being paid, but the new system does not allow local authorities to administer it. Southwark is now to be capped, but we have been given no reason for that decision. We persuaded the Government to increase the amount that Southwark could charge, but no reason was given for that decision either.

The Government are intervening halfway through the council year to set a new budget. That causes chaos, as well as great harm to my local community. When the Minister makes his announcement tonight, I hope that he realises that, as long as the Government keep the poll tax and keep on capping local authorities, they have an ever-increasing chance of losing the next general election.

6.17 pm
Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

I shall keep my contribution brief, as I know that a number of my hon. Friends want to participate in the debate. I hope that Conservative Members will not take advantage of my declaration by seeking to catch your attention, Madam Deputy Speaker, so that they can keep the debate going until 6.30.

My local authority, Wigan metropolitan borough council, is to be capped despite the fact that, in England, 106 local authorities have levied a poll tax higher than that of my authority. In 1989–90, the Government set a rate support grant settlement for my authority of £74,578,000. One year later, despite the increase in inflation, the introduction of the Children Act 1989, the introduction of care in the community and charges to the authority resulting from the Education Reform Act 1988, the standard spending assessment set was £54,231,000.

In 12 months, the Secretary of State has determined that my local authority can provide additional services when its allocated grant is £20,500,000 less than that set in the previous year. That is not only financial nonsense but totally disrupts the provision of services in my authority. Eastern Europe is throwing over Stalinism, but the Government are acting in a Stalinist fashion by their gross interference in local government. With the poll tax and the poll tax cap, the Government are interfering in the provision and funding of services. The Government wish to intervene during the financial year to reduce local authority resources without reducing their commitment to provide services at an adequate level.

The Government have been exposed over the last two days of debate. It is no wonder that they wanted fewer Members to participate in it. Each time an Opposition Member has spoken, he or she has exposed the bankruptcy of the Government's policy on poll capping. More importantly, the contributions of Conservative Members have exposed the draconian nature of the Conservative party in the 1980s and 1990s. The Government are bringing more and more powers towards the centre, dictating and determining decisions that should be left to local decision-making processes. They show total contempt for the principles of local government.

If, throughout the end of their term of office, the Government maintain such interference in local authority decision making, I predict further Government losses at the local government elections next year. They will sustain substantial losses at the next general election, because they will not be forgiven for the way in which they emasculated local authority expenditure and deliberately connived to cut back on local authorities in the north of England.

It is no surprise and no coincidence that, in the band from central Yorkshire to Merseyside, the substantial majority of councils caught in the rate-capping exercise have been Labour local authorities that have set on or below the national average for poll tax. All of them have set a poll tax substantially below that of the majority of Conservative councils in England.

We are expecting the Government to introduce their care in the community proposals by 1 April next year, but due to the Government's draconian measures, my local authority has had £1 million arbitrarily withdrawn from its social services budget. That will mean the closure of homes for the elderly, deferring the opening of a spcial care unit for the mentally disabled in the community and the introduction of charges for day care, home helps and day care centres for the mentally handicapped. Those are not "bleeding stumps"—by withdrawing grant to my local authority, the Government, by diktat, are cutting into its basic services.

I feel sorry for local authority members, who are volunteers working in the community. They give up time and effort from work, factories and families to provide community services. They are continually harrassed, harangued and tackled by a Government who, at every turn, attempt to reduce their ability and democratic right to provide levels of service based on the community's needs. Therefore, I ask the House to vote against the proposals on the basis that they are draconian, unworkable and totally unfair and unacceptable to the people of Britain.

6.21 pm
Ms. Harriet Harman (Peckham)

In his speech yesterday the Secretary of State failed to justify why hon. Members should vote to impose a poll tax cap on Southwark council. None of the hon. Members who spoke in favour of the orders said why it would be right to cap Southwark council. Perhaps it is understandable that they have not talked about the poll tax or services in Southwark because, of course, they do not know anything about them. They do not live there, pay the poll tax there, use the services there or see the need for services that are not there. They know nothing about it. Therefore, perhaps it is fitting that, in commending the orders to the House, the Secretary of State did not even mention Southwark and why we should be prepared to justify poll tax capping there. To do so would be unfair, unjust and wrong.

Many Tory councils have far higher poll tax figures then Southwark's original poll tax of £390. For example, Windsor and Maidenhead has a poll tax of £466 and Wokingham has one of £454—the Secretary of State knows the list. The Government say that what counts is the amount of spending above the standard spending assessment. The Secretary of State knows that many councils spend more, in percentage terms, above their standard spending assessment than does Southwark council.

Capping is wrong for Southwark because of the costs it will impose on the council of rebilling all the residents of the borough and recalculating the rebates for those on benefit. It would be a huge administrative diversion and a waste of public money. The rebilling alone will cost more than £80,000.

Some Conservative Members talked about poll tax capping in the cause of efficiency. How can it be efficient to make a council, halfway through the financial year, suddenly make massive cuts in its services and budgeting? That throws all the borough's financial planning into chaos and means that short-term decisions have to be made. It is not easy for an organisation the size of Southwark council to make £11.5 million cuts halfway through a financial year.

I was talking to the chief superintendent in Peckham police station the day before yesterday about the worrying increase in crime in my constituency and the need for better street lighting, increased services for young people, better youth services and leisure facilities, and more resources for victim support schemes. However, none of those improvements can go ahead if we are poll tax-capped. People locally know the problem and the need for resources, but they are being prevented by the Secretary of State's arbitrary action from planning and building up those services to improve life in the inner-city area.

Most of the cuts will fall on education and social services. We had a debate in the House recently about the chronic teacher shortages in primary schools in Southwark. The Secretary of State for Education and Science acknowledged that there was a grave problem and children were being sent home from school. Children go to school, but they do not even know whether they will have a teacher or be sent home. How can we attract teachers into inner London? We must provide extra housing, creches and a stable education service to attract them to teach in a district that will otherwise be under stress. How are we to do that when education will take the brunt of the cuts caused by the poll tax cap? During their term of office the Government have done many terrible things, but one of the worst in social services was planning to shelve community care proposals and use the most vulnerable people as political pawns to deal with Government difficulties over the poll tax. That is absolutely shameful.

The poll tax is fundamentally wrong and unjust, as the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) said. Capping doubles that injustice and disregards local democracy. The people who live and work in Southwark know more about what they need than the Secretary of State does. They elected representatives to make decisions about local services. Poll tax capping shows a disregard for local democracy and vital public services. I hope that the Minister will never again issue press statements about inner-city regeneration. How can he regenerate inner cities when he is undermining the infrastructure on which they depend?

6.27 pm
Mr. David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside)

Tonight's debate and the orders on which we shall vote at 7 pm are an admission of the Government failure. They show the Government's failure first and foremost to persuade Conservative councillors that they should make sufficient cuts to bring the poll tax levels in Conservative-controlled districts down to the predicted figures that we heard about when the poll tax was introduced. I am timorous about mentioning the name of the previous Secretary of State for the Environment—I imagine that he may be the previous Secretary of State for Trade and Industry by the weekend—who predicted in November 1987 that the poll tax would, on average, be £178. It is now double that figure.

It is galling for Ministers because their constituents want public services—basic education and social services care—as much as they want reasonable taxation. Therefore, Ministers were unable to persuade local councils to lower their poll taxes to the level that the Ministers wanted. The consequent pressure by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State to use people as examples was intolerable.

Mr. Stern

I accept that in most areas there is a choice between services and the level of the community charge. What would the hon. Gentleman tell the people of Bristol who have to pay huge poll tax bills and have the dirtiest streets in the country?

Mr. Blunkett

My answer to that is as simple as my answer to all questions about poll tax capping. It is our job to make democracy work better, not to abolish it. In our last debate on the issue a Conservative Member made the classic statement that poll tax capping could be removed when democracy worked better. As my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould), said yesterday, we have made proposals to make that happen. We intend to introduce annual elections and to make the councillor's job easier. We shall provide for greater participation by people in the running of their services.

The Government's failure lies not in persuading Conservative, Labour or Liberal councillors to cut services but in the basic principles of the poll tax. The previous Secretary of State, the right honourable unmentionable, pronounced on 25 March that poll tax capping could not be justified. In a Radio 4 interview he made it clear that it was the job of the electorate to determine poll tax levels.

Mr. William O'Brien (Normanton)

Has he yet withdrawn that statement?

Mr. Blunkett

No, not yet, so we can presume it is still his view.

It is a correct view, because it is in line with the poll tax principles enunciated by Conservative Members, who said that it was supposed to bring accountability. The basis of the poll tax has failed. The Government also failed in setting an average poll tax of £360.

The Secretary of State and Conservative Members have admitted that the standard spending assessment is flawed and will have to be revised. I hope that the eventual review of the poll tax will include a clear statement about improving the formula for SSA and its distribution. Without that there can be no accountability and no judgment by local people about a reasonable level of efficiency.

The poll tax is flawed on the issue of fairness about what people pay and what they get. The Secretary of State has admitted that the assumptions on which the grant allocation was made were also faulty, because the amount that local authorities spent this year, and were predicting to spend, was £3.8 billion greater than the assumptions for grants.

Above all, the Government have failed on the cap itself. As we spelt out yesterday, because of the difficulty that is being experienced in collection, the cuts will not be made on poll tax ceilings. Last week the Municipal Journal conducted a survey which showed that, while there would. be a £216.7 million cut in poll tax, an increase in collection difficulties would cost authorities £327 million in uncollected tax. That is a crazy way to organise a supposed cut in taxation and action against inflation, which is one of the arguments that has been advanced in the debate.

Yesterday, the right hon. Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson) said that Brent people would be dancing in the streets. They may dance in the street for another reason. because a recent ICM poll puts Labour 16 per cent. ahead of the Conservatives. That would justify people dancing in the streets. They certainly will not dance to celebrate increased bureaucracy and higher administrative costs or to rejoice at having experienced 11 years of local authority cuts, penalties, grant reductions and changes in the assessment levels.

Some authorities such as Islington are being capped simply because of the change in the grant-related assessment formula relative to the standard spending assessment, and the difference between the SSA in November and the one in January. That is a crazy way to hold people to account for determining what happens to their services.

It is unmistakable bias to cap authorities such as Calderdale, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham, which have below-average poll tax levels. That is inexplicable to an authority such as Calderdale which had imposed upon it a poll tax of £244, which is fourth from the bottom. The tax in Windsor and Maidenhead is £449 and authorities throughout Surrey and Buckinghamshire have poll tax levels that are double those being imposed in other areas. What sort of services are some authorities expected to provide compared with those provided in the south-east?

The hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Stern) said that none of us is affected by the cap, but he has missed the point. Of course we can afford to pay the poll tax, we are all recipients of services and some of us actually send our children to state schools. We know exactly what poll tax capping will mean to those who will have their education services reduced. Many people have elderly parents and cannot afford to place them in the most prestigious private residential homes and would not want them to be in such places. Those people want their elderly parents to be supported in the community by day centres, home helps and special aids and adaptations and by the range and choice of services that local authorities now provide. Councils do that by spending on services.

That is what the debate should have been about, but in his hour long peroration yesterday the Secretary of State did not talk about services at all. The debate is not about poll tax levels, which vary enormously and the highest of which have not been capped. The debate is about whether the Government will inflict their cuts and their ideology on those who failed to vote Conservative in the local elections. All the mumbo-jumbo that we heard yesterday about court cases and the football match where penalties were taken during the game rather than after extra time and in which the goalkeeper was removed by the referee so that the other side could win is irrelevant.

The Secretary of State has said that he determines what is excessive. That is like "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" where words mean what one says they mean. He is saying to children and parents that they will have the standard of education that he determines and not the one that they want.

I have been invited to speak at Roedean, and I have carried out research into that school. The fees are £2,700 a term and there are incidental expenses for music and sporting activity. I do not know what those things cost, but altogether the charges are certainly more than £2,700 a term. The average state secondary school cost is between £1,500 and £2,000 a year. We can also compare what people want for their children. It has already been said that the average cost to us all of assisted places is £3,400, and that people receive charitable relief on the money that they spend on their children's education. All that we demand is that people should be allowed to choose for themselves, but the Government have decided to choose what is right for those people and their parents and families. They must have decent standards of service.

The people that we represent cannot opt out and buy in the private market, or discard public service; they are dependent on the level of service provided by their local authority. Millions of people throughout the country will be affected by what is happening tonight. They will have their services reduced without any choice and without the right to decide. To take away the ballot box is to take from most people the last vestige of control over what happens to their own lives in their own community, because they do not have the wealth to use their money as their vote in the market place.

The debate is about ideology—I do not duck that issue —and about decisions on what happens to individual men and women. It matters to every one of us. Conservative Members who have spoken gave the game away. Eulogising about the cutbacks in Hillingdon, the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) admitted that £2.5 million would be cut from the £32.8 million budget of the social services committee. He may think that he is speaking for Hillingdon council, but some of us would like to feel that we have a right to speak for the elderly and infirm people who will suffer from a 7.5 to 8 per cent. cut in services. Even the hon. Gentleman admitted that, under the present standard spending assessment, it would not be possible for Hillingdon council to reduce the community charge without changing the level of services provided—that is a euphemism for cutting services.

The hon. Gentleman went on to say that there would probably be some job losses. I think that that is a considerable underestimate. What is more, he announced that there would be an increase in education spending. I mention Hillingdon only because it is being held up as a paragon of virtue. Hillingdon is doing what the Secretary of State for Health has been doing: it is cutting education services to pretend that it is spending more money on them. The policy is to close schools, cut adult education and increase charges, then spend slightly more on other schools and proclaim the cut as not a cut but an increase in service. That is what the Department of Health is doing across the country.

Above all—my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Ms. Harman) mentioned this—the idea of chopping the community care proposals to try to lower poll tax levels by an average of £15 a head is a shoddy, shabby move, and one that I hope that the Government will come to regret. It affects the people who most need help. Their needs do not go away; their problems do not change; their family pressures do not alter because they happen to be saving £15 on the poll tax.

The daftest thing of all is the formula on which our authorities receive their grants to provide our services. There is something called the social deprivation index—it is known officially as the all-ages social index. On that are predicated the decisions about what authorities will receive. Can anyone imagine an index that has as the worst off those authorities that have benefited most from Government aid in one form or another, and penalises those in the most rundown industrial parts of the country? According to an answer given on 27 June, Wandsworth was eighth in the index, Kensington and Chelsea ninth and Westminster 12th; Rochdale was 45th, Calderdale 77th and St. Helens 87th. Barnsley, which was 172nd on the list, is poll tax-capped and penalised. While the people of Cheltenham can live in comfort with adequate grant to look after their gardens, Barnsley, Rotherham, North Tyneside and St. Helens face cuts in education and social care on an ideological whim of the Prime Minister's, imposed by the Secretary of State.

There is an alternative: it is democracy. There should be no cuts, no capping and no erosion of the right to decide locally on services, but a removal of central authoritarianism and of the right to decide from the House of Commons and from Whitehall. A decision must be taken to put back that which we have all fought to achieve—the right to choose for oneself.

6.44 pm
The Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities (Mr. Michael Portillo)

I was asked to explain the criteria that the Secretary of State had selected. Those criteria were based on overspending above-standard spending assessment—the estimate that the Government make of how much it is appropriate for local authorities to spend. The SSAs were applied equally to all authorities in the country. The criteria were in the distribution report that the House debated and approved. Preceding that debate, 100 different papers of analysis had been circulated, and 40 meetings were held with local authority associations to determine whether those criteria were appropriate.

The new SSAs differ from the old grant-related expenditure assessments—the previous method of assessing need—in that they place a new emphasis on additional educational needs and on the needs of ethnic minorities. Those criteria, surely, should commend themselves to the Labour party. Clearly, they remove any disadvantage that the old system may have caused inner-city areas. That is well demonstrated by the Government's assessment of need for the inner-city areas: in Islington, it is £1,172 per adult; in Haringey, £1,181; in Lambeth, £1,392; by contrast, the figure for Wandsworth is £982—fully £400 below the Lambeth figure.

What happened between the old assessment and the new one will, I hope, be of interest to Opposition Members. The borough of Brent has a new needs assessment 20 per cent. above the old one; Southwark's is 26 per cent. above the old figure; Islington's is 28 per cent. above—I do not know what the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) referred to. Haringey is 20 per cent. above and Lambeth 26 per cent. above its old assessment. I admit that the northern metropolitan boroughs do not do as well out of the new system as the inner-city areas—not only London but Liverpool and Manchester, where there are single-parent families, ethnic minorities and strongly identified additional educational needs.

However, the northern metropolitan boroughs do not do all that badly. All their new assessments are above the old GREAs. For example, Rochdale is £49 per adult above, and Rotherham £38 above. I admit that Wigan is the lowest, at £10 above, but Doncaster is £36 above—

Mr. McCartney

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Portillo

I wish to keep going, as I have not intervened in two days, except on the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott).

I want to disabuse the House of one more idea—that the northern metropolitan boroughs have set low community charges. Let me also make it clear that capping applies to budgets and not to community charges—to what councils are spending, not to what they are charging. The reason for that is obvious. In the first year, many authorities are receiving funds from the safety net, or receiving special grant because they are authorities with a low rateable value. When the help given in the first year, and the help that in the second year will be given by the taxpayer, is stripped out, community charges for the northern boroughs do not look half as good. The lowest figure is that of St. Helens, at £433; Calderdale's is £460; Barnsley's is £480; and Rochdale's is £458. In case the House thinks that I am directing my fire at the northern boroughs, I am not being so exclusive. In Southwark—

Mr. John Evans (St. Helens, North)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Portillo

In a moment.

In Southwark, if we strip out the grants that are being made this year from the safety net and additional factors, the figure is £607. In Greenwich, the figure is £700.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

What about Westminster?

Mr. Portillo

The House may know that Westminster makes the biggest single contribution to the safety net of any borough in the country—£75 per head—I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has kicked the ball into his own net.

Mr. John Evans (St. Helens, North)

Will the Minister acknowledge that the increase in the budget placed before the people of St. Helens in March this year was less than the rate of inflation? Will he also acknowledge that, if the formula used for GREA had been used this year in St. Helens and Westminster, St. Helens would have received a substantial increase in Government support and Westminster would have received substantially less?

Mr. Portillo

I have given the hon. Gentleman the facts. If St. Helens were not receiving help from the safety net and in grant, the charge would have been £433. That helps to illuminate a point that seems to have troubled the House—why charge capping is compatible with accountability. It is because, in the first year, when the Government arranged for many authorities to be protected by those special arrangements—I am not even mentioning for the moment the transitional relief which goes to the charge payer—it is not clear to the electorate how high those community charges are. It has been demonstrated today that that is not clear to hon. Members either. They do not understand how high the community charge is in their areas.

We took the criterion of spending 12.5 per cent. above the new assessment of needs, the SSA. That 12.5 per cent. was in line with the same criterion that we used in the case of rate capping over many years. It can hardly have been a surprise to anybody that we used SSAs as the basis for capping, because SSAs were designed with great care to represent the needs of local authorities. Haringey's director of finance issued a report dated 2 March 1990 in which he said that the council must be extremely vulnerable to be subject to community charge limitation on the basis that the £573 may be considered to be excessive. The treasurer apparently knew, so I do not know why the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) thought that it would be a surprise.

The assumed community charge, as was made clear by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, was not the basis of capping; it was the basis on which the Government gave welcome and valuable help to people to compensate them for the change from rates to the community charge. It took account of massive overspending by local authorities under Labour control in the past. Now the Labour party seeks to ram down our throats the fact that we made a realistic transitional relief provision based on that overspending. But we also made it perfectly clear that that would not be the basis on which we would cap.

Counsel representing Derbyshire county council in the courts recently made it perfectly clear that he was not accusing the Government of political bias, so I am surprised that Opposition Members have sought to run that one. If counsel representing Derbyshire made it clear that he was not accusing the Government of that, I do not know why Opposition Members seek to do it here. Perhaps it is because the standards of proof here are less rigorous than in a court of law.

My next question is: are the caps attainable? The hon. Member for Dagenham gave the game away entirely when he said that, if the local authorities had known in advance how charge capping was to apply, the vast majority of charge-capped authorities would have had no difficulty in avoiding the cap level.

The hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn) said: I know that my party's group in St. Helens … believes that it can provide the same level of service for the lower amount."—[Official Report, 11 July 1990; Vol. 176, c. 350.] Apparently it can be done in St. Helens.

My hon. Friend the Member for Calder Valley (Mr. Thompson) said: there was and still is a budget on the table that would bring Calder Valley's expenditure down to a figure below the charge-capped rate with no loss of services or jobs."—[Official Report, 11 July 1990; Vol. 176, c. 373.] My hon. Friends the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward) and for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Stern) made similar points. My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) explained how Hillingdon today had better management techniques and had abolished all those unwelcome committees that consume money.

If the SSAs were wrong, one would think that other authorities in the north of England would have had difficulty in staying close to them. But Bradford is only 3 per cent. above its assessment of need, Manchester is only 3.9 per cent. above its assessment of need, having said some months ago that it would be 30 per cent. above, and Conservative-controlled Trafford is 2.6 per cent. below our assessment of what it needs to spend.

It is clear that our assessments of need are not wrong, the criteria are not wrong—it is the spending which is excessive. That point was made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground) and my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Janman), who both said that the Government were using their powers moderately.

Why should the Government choose to cap at all? First, the Government must have a view about the level of public spending. That point was extremely well made by my hon. Friends the Members for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) and for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind). The hon. Member for Dagenham ignored the point and the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng), who is a member of the Labour Treasury team, is mystified by the point, which gives me some misgivings about the conduct of their financial policy.

Secondly, we need to protect the charge payer. The hon. Member for Dagenham recognises that capping is needed in extremis. The hon. Member for Southport said: There is much argument about whether reserved powers to cap are ever justified and, although I am in danger of contradicting myself, I suppose I must come down in favour of such powers."—[Official Report, 11 July 1990; Vol. 176, c. 348.] He was absolutely right. It is a point that was well made.

Why so? Because it is clear that some authorities have taken advantage of the changes in the system in order to blame the high levels charged on the Government and the change in the system, not on their high spending. Some authorities—many of my hon. Friends talked about Derbyshire—clearly face no election in the foreseeable future, so they felt that they could pile on the charges. Many authorities were receiving special help with the charges—the safety net payments and the grants made for low rateable value—so the community charge was distorted. Many boroughs expected to win the coming elections out of a misplaced traditional loyalty to Labour whatever they did and in many places large numbers of electors faced reduced charges because of the benefit that they were receiving, which was much more generous under the community charge than under the rates and because of transitional relief.

None of that took account of the charge payer. It was only Conservative Members who mentioned the interests of the charge payer. In particular, my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Sir W. Shelton) said that he felt desperate on behalf of the charge payers of Lambeth. My right hon. Friend for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson) said that many people were brought into penury by the heavy rates and the community charge in Brent. In other words, the problem did not begin with the community charge, but long ago with the rates.

My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Carrington) said, thank goodness the Government had not messed about with a small reduction. He wanted a £99 reduction because that was £198 per couple in his constituency. My hon. Friends the Members for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) and for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim) made similar points. Our concern has always been with the charge payer. We have heard nothing at all throughout the debate from Labour Members about the concerns of the charge payer.

I have no doubt that the community charge will achieve its objective of increasing local authority accountability. We have seen that already in the moderate increases in Scotland in the second year. We have seen it in London, not only with the defeat of left-wing Labour councils at the recent elections, but also in the relative moderation which has been shown by one or two Labour and SLD-controlled councils which have been concerned about re-election and have set lower charges.

In time, the effect that we have seen in Scotland and in London, affecting not only Conservative boroughs but Labour ones too, will spread to the rest of the country. But for the moment there are factors that obscure accountability—the special grants that I have talked about and the safety net; the changes that have been made to the system, giving boroughs the opportunity to blame the system, not their own overspending; the counties not facing election, and the fact that the counties are not seen as responsible for the level of spending for which they are in fact responsible. Some councils this year have abused those factors in order to impose swingeing burdens on their community charge payers.

Some councils are clearly planning to do the same next year, but we give this promise. The Government will not stand idly by and let that happen. The Government must protect the community charge payers, because we care about them and the Labour party does not. This year capping has been worth up to £198 per couple and next year we are prepared to take action once more if authorities continue to behave in this unreasonable way. For that reason I have no hesitation in commending the draft orders to the House.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 309, Noes 210.

Division No. 290] [6.59 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Colvin, Michael
Allason, Rupert Conway, Derek
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Amess, David Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Amos, Alan Cope, Rt Hon John
Arbuthnot, James Couchman, James
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Cran, James
Arnold, Sir Thomas Currie, Mrs Edwina
Ashby, David Curry, David
Atkins, Robert Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Atkinson, David Davis, David (Boothferry)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Day, Stephen
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Devlin, Tim
Baldry, Tony Dorrell, Stephen
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Batiste, Spencer Dunn, Bob
Bellingham, Henry Emery, Sir Peter
Bendall, Vivian Evennett, David
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fallon, Michael
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Farr, Sir John
Body, Sir Richard Favell, Tony
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fenner, Dame Peggy
Boscawen, Hon Robert Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Boswell, Tim Fishburn, John Dudley
Bottomley, Peter Fookes, Dame Janet
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Forman, Nigel
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Forth, Eric
Bowis, John Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Fox, Sir Marcus
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Franks, Cecil
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Freeman, Roger
Brazier, Julian French, Douglas
Bright, Graham Gale, Roger
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gardiner, George
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Browne, John (Winchester) Gill, Christopher
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Buck, Sir Antony Goodhart, Sir Philip
Budgen, Nicholas Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Burns, Simon Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Burt, Alistair Gorst, John
Butcher, John Gow, Ian
Butler, Chris Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Butterfill, John Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Carrington, Matthew Grist, Ian
Carttiss, Michael Ground, Patrick
Cash, William Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hague, William
Chapman, Sydney Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Chope, Christopher Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Churchill, Mr Hampson, Dr Keith
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hanley, Jeremy
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hannam, John
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Moate, Roger
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Monro, Sir Hector
Harris, David Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Haselhurst, Alan Moore, Rt Hon John
Hayes, Jerry Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hayward, Robert Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Moss, Malcolm
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Moynihan, Hon Colin
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Neale, Gerrard
Hill, James Needham, Richard
Hind, Kenneth Nelson, Anthony
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Nicholls, Patrick
Holt, Richard Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hordern, Sir Peter Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Norris, Steve
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Oppenheim, Phillip
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Page, Richard
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Paice, James
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Patnick, Irvine
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Hunter, Andrew Patten, Rt Hon John
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Irvine, Michael Pawsey, James
Irving, Sir Charles Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Jack, Michael Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Jackson, Robert Porter, David (Waveney)
Janman, Tim Portillo, Michael
Jessel, Toby Powell, William (Corby)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Price, Sir David
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Raffan, Keith
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Redwood, John
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Key, Robert Rhodes James, Robert
Kilfedder, James Riddick, Graham
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Kirkhope, Timothy Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy)
Knapman, Roger Roe, Mrs Marion
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Rost, Peter
Knowles, Michael Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Ryder, Richard
Lang, Ian Sackville, Hon Tom
Latham, Michael Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Lawrence, Ivan Sayeed, Jonathan
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lee, John (Pendle) Shaw, David (Dover)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb")
Lightbown, David Shelton, Sir William
Lilley, Peter Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shersby, Michael
Lord, Michael Sims, Roger
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale)
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maclean, David Soames, Hon Nicholas
McLoughlin, Patrick Speed, Keith
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Squire, Robin
Madel, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Major, Rt Hon John Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Malins, Humfrey Stern, Michael
Mans, Keith Stevens, Lewis
Maples, John Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Marland, Paul Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Marlow, Tony Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Stokes, Sir John
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Sumberg, David
Maude, Hon Francis Summerson, Hugo
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Tapsell, Sir Peter
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mellor, David Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Miller, Sir Hal Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Mitchell, Sir David Temple-Morris, Peter
Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret Warren, Kenneth
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Watts, John
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Wells, Bowen
Thorne, Neil Wheeler, Sir John
Thurnham, Peter Whitney, Ray
Townend, John (Bridlington) Widdecombe, Ann
Tracey, Richard Wiggin, Jerry
Tredinnick, David Wilkinson, John
Trippier, David Wilshire, David
Twinn, Dr Ian Winterton, Mrs Ann
Viggers, Peter Wolfson, Mark
Waddington, Rt Hon David Wood, Timothy
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Walden, George Yeo, Tim
Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Tellers for the Ayes:
Waller, Gary Mr. Alastair Goodlad and
Ward, John Mr. Tony Durant
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Eastham, Ken
Allen, Graham Evans, John (St Helens N)
Alton, David Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Anderson, Donald Fatchett, Derek
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Faulds, Andrew
Armstrong, Hilary Fearn, Ronald
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Ashton, Joe Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Fisher, Mark
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Flannery, Martin
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Flynn, Paul
Barron, Kevin Foster, Derek
Beckett, Margaret Foulkes, George
Bell, Stuart Fraser, John
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Fyfe, Maria
Bermingham, Gerald Galloway, George
Bidwell, Sydney Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Blair, Tony Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Blunkett, David George, Bruce
Boateng, Paul Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Boyes, Roland Godman, Dr Norman A.
Bradley, Keith Gordon, Mildred
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Gould, Bryan
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Buckley, George J. Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Caborn, Richard Grocott, Bruce
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hardy, Peter
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Harman, Ms Harriet
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Canavan, Dennis Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Carr, Michael Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Henderson, Doug
Clay, Bob Hinchliffe, David
Clelland, David Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cohen, Harry Home Robertson, John
Coleman, Donald Hood, Jimmy
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Corbett, Robin Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Corbyn, Jeremy Howells, Dr, Kim (Pontypridd)
Cousins, Jim Hoyle, Doug
Cox, Tom Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Crowther, Stan Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cryer, Bob Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cummings, John Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Dalyell, Tam Illsley, Eric
Darling, Alistair Janner, Greville
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dewar, Donald Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Dixon, Don Lambie, David
Dobson, Frank Leadbitter, Ted
Doran, Frank Leighton, Ron
Douglas, Dick Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Duffy, A. E. P. Lewis, Terry
Dunnachie, Jimmy Litherland, Robert
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Livingstone, Ken
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Reid, Dr John
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Richardson, Jo
Loyden, Eddie Robertson, George
McAllion, John Rogers, Allan
McAvoy, Thomas Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McCartney, Ian Rowlands, Ted
Macdonald, Calum A. Ruddock, Joan
McFall, John Sedgemore, Brian
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Sheerman, Barry
McKelvey, William Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McLeish, Henry Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Maclennan, Robert Short, Clare
McWilliam, John Skinner, Dennis
Madden, Max Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Mahon, Mrs Alice Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Marek, Dr John Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Snape, Peter
Martlew, Eric Soley, Clive
Maxton, John Spearing, Nigel
Meacher, Michael Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Meale, Alan Steinberg, Gerry
Michael, Alun Stott, Roger
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Strang, Gavin
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Straw, Jack
Moonie, Dr Lewis Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Morgan, Rhodri Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Morley, Elliot Turner, Dennis
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Vaz, Keith
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wallace, James
Mullin, Chris Walley, Joan
Murphy, Paul Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Nellist, Dave Wareing, Robert N.
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
O'Brien, William Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
O'Neill, Martin Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Parry, Robert Wilson, Brian
Patchett, Terry Winnick, David
Pendry, Tom Wise, Mrs Audrey
Pike, Peter L. Worthington, Tony
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Wray, Jimmy
Primarolo, Dawn Young, David (Bolton SE)
Quin, Ms Joyce
Radice, Giles Tellers for the Noes:
Randall, Stuart Mr. Frank Haynes and
Redmond, Martin Mrs. Llin Golding.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Charge Limitation (England) (Maximum Amount) Order 1990, which was laid before this House on 6th June, be approved.

It being after Seven o'clock, MR. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Order [10 July] , to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the remaining motions.

Question put, That the draft Charge Limitation (England) (Maximum Amount) (No. 2) Order 1990, which was laid before this House on 18th June, be approved.

The House divided: Ayes 304, Noes 207.

Division No. 291] [7.14 pm
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Allason, Rupert Baldry, Tony
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Amess, David Batiste, Spencer
Amos, Alan Bellingham, Henry
Arbuthnot, James Bendall, Vivian
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Arnold, Sir Thomas Biffen, Rt Hon John
Ashby, David Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Atkins, Robert Body, Sir Richard
Atkinson, David Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Boscawen, Hon Robert
Boswell, Tim Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Gregory, Conal
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bowis, John Grist, Ian
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Ground, Patrick
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hague, William
Brazier, Julian Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Bright, Graham Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hanley, Jeremy
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hannam, John
Browne, John (Winchester) Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Buck, Sir Antony Harris, David
Budgen, Nicholas Haselhurst, Alan
Burns, Simon Hayes, Jerry
Burt, Alistair Hayward, Robert
Butcher, John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Butler, Chris Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Butterfill, John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hill, James
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hind, Kenneth
Carrington, Matthew Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Carttiss, Michael Holt, Richard
Cash, William Hordern, Sir Peter
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Chapman, Sydney Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Chope, Christopher Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Churchill, Mr Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Colvin, Michael Hunter, Andrew
Conway, Derek Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Irvine, Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Irving, Sir Charles
Cope, Rt Hon John Jack, Michael
Couchman, James Jackson, Robert
Cran, James Janman, Tim
Currie, Mrs Edwina Jessel, Toby
Curry, David Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Day, Stephen Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Devlin, Tim Key, Robert
Dorrell, Stephen Kilfedder, James
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Dunn, Bob Kirkhope, Timothy
Emery, Sir Peter Knapman, Roger
Evennett, David Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Fallon, Michael Knowles, Michael
Farr, Sir John Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Favell, Tony Lang, Ian
Fenner, Dame Peggy Latham, Michael
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lawrence, Ivan
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lee, John (Pendle)
Fishburn, John Dudley Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fookes, Dame Janet Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Forman, Nigel Lightbown, David
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Forth, Eric Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Lord, Michael
Fox, Sir Marcus Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Franks, Cecil Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Freeman, Roger Macfarlane, Sir Neil
French, Douglas MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Gale, Roger Maclean, David
Gardiner, George McLoughlin, Patrick
Garel-Jones, Tristan McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Gill, Christopher McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Madel, David
Goodhart, Sir Philip Major, Rt Hon John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Malins, Humfrey
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mans, Keith
Gorst, John Maples, John
Gow, Ian Marland, Paul
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Marlow, Tony
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale)
Maude, Hon Francis Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Soames, Hon Nicholas
Mellor, David Speed, Keith
Miller, Sir Hal Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mills, Iain Squire, Robin
Moate, Roger Stanbrook, Ivor
Monro, Sir Hector Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Stern, Michael
Moore, Rt Hon John Stevens, Lewis
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Moss, Malcolm Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Stokes, Sir John
Neale, Gerrard Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Needham, Richard Sumberg, David
Nelson, Anthony Summerson, Hugo
Nicholls, Patrick Tapsell, Sir Peter
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Norris, Steve Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Oppenheim, Phillip Temple-Morris, Peter
Page, Richard Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Paice, James Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Patnick, Irvine Thorne, Neil
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Thurnham, Peter
Patten, Rt Hon John Townend, John (Bridlington)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Tracey, Richard
Pawsey, James Tredinnick, David
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Trippier, David
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Twinn, Dr Ian
Porter, David (Waveney) Viggers, Peter
Portillo, Michael Waddington, Rt Hon David
Powell, William (Corby) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Price, Sir David Walden, George
Raffan, Keith Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Redwood, John Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Waller, Gary
Rhodes James, Robert Ward, John
Riddick, Graham Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Warren, Kenneth
Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy) Watts, John
Roe, Mrs Marion Wells, Bowen
Rossi, Sir Hugh Wheeler, Sir John
Rost, Peter Whitney, Ray
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Widdecombe, Ann
Ryder, Richard Wiggin, Jerry
Sackville, Hon Tom Wilkinson, John
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Wilshire, David
Sayeed, Jonathan Winterton, Mrs Ann
Shaw, David (Dover) Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wood, Timothy
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Shelton, Sir William Yeo, Tim
Shepherd, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Tellers for the Ayes:
Shersby, Michael Mr. Alastair Goodlad and
Sims, Roger Mr. Tony Durant.
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Bidwell, Sydney
Allen, Graham Blair, Tony
Alton, David Blunkett, David
Anderson, Donald Boateng, Paul
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Boyes, Roland
Armstrong, Hilary Bradley, Keith
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brown, Gordon (D"mline E)
Ashton, Joe Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Buckley, George J.
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Caborn, Richard
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Barren, Kevin Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Beckett, Margaret Campbell-Savours, D.N.
Bell, Stuart Canavan, Michael
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Carr, Michael
Bermingham, Gerald Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Clay, Bob Lester, Joan (Eccles)
Clelland, David Lewis, Terry
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Litherland, Robert
Cohen, Harry Livingstone, Ken
Coleman, Donald Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Corbett, Robin Loyden, Eddie
Corbyn, Jeremy McAllion, John
Cousins, Jim McAvoy, Thomas
Cox, Tom McCartney, Ian
Crowther, Stan Macdonald, Calum A.
Cryer, Bob McFall, John
Cummings, John McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dalyell, Tam McKelvey, William
Darling, Alistair McLeish, Henry
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Maclennan, Robert
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) McWilliam, John
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Madden, Max
Dewar, Donald Mahon, Mrs Alice
Dixon, Don Marek, Dr John
Dobson, Frank Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Doran, Frank Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Douglas, Dick Martlew, Eric
Duffy, A. E. P. Maxton, John
Dunnachie, Jimmy Meacher, Michael
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Meale, Alan
Evans, John (St Helens N) Michael, Alun
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Fatchett, Derek Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Faulds, Andrew Moonie, Dr Lewis
Fearn, Ronald Morgan, Rhodri
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Morley, Elliot
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fisher, Mark Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Flannery, Martin Mullin, Chris
Flynn, Paul Murphy, Paul
Foster, Derek Nellist, Dave
Foulkes, George Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fraser, John O'Brien, William
Fyfe, Maria O'Neill, Martin
Galloway, George Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Parry, Robert
George, Bruce Patchett, Terry
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Pendry, Tom
Godman, Dr Norman A. Pike, Peter L.
Golding, Mrs Llin Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Gordon, Mildred Primarolo, Dawn
Gould, Bryan Quin, Ms Joyce
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Radice, Giles
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Randall, Stuart
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Redmond, Martin
Grocott, Bruce Reid, Dr John
Hardy, Peter Richardson, Jo
Harman, Ms Harriet Robertson, George
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Rogers, Allan
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Rowlands, Ted
Henderson, Doug Ruddock, Joan
Hinchliffe, David Sedgemore, Brian
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Sheerman, Barry
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Home Robertson, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hood, Jimmy Short, Clare
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Skinner, Dennis
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Hoyle, Doug Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Snape, Peter
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Soley, Clive
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Spearing, Nigel
Illsley, Eric Steinberg, Gerry
Janner, Greville Stott, Roger
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Strang, Gavin
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Straw, Jack
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Lambie, David Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Leadbitter, Ted Turner, Dennis
Leighton, Ron Vaz, Keith
Wallace, James Winnick, David
Walley, Joan Wise, Mrs Audrey
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Worthington, Tony
Wareing, Robert N. Wray, Jimmy
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N) Tellers for the Noes:
Williams, Rt Hon Alan Mr. Frank Haynes and
Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then) Mr. Ken Eastham.
Wilson, Brian

Questions accordingly agreed to.

Question put, That the draft Charge Lamination (England) (Maximum Amount) (No. 3) Order 1990, which was before this House on 2nd July, be approved.

The House divided: Ayes 299, Noes 201

Division No. 292] [at 7.26 pm
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Conway, Derek
Allason, Rupert Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Amess, David Cope, Rt Hon John
Amos, Alan Couchman, James
Arbuthnot, James Cran, James
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Arnold, Sir Thomas Curry, David
Ashby, David Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Atkins, Robert Davis, David (Boothferry)
Atkinson, David Day, Stephen
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Devlin, Tim
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Dorrell, Stephen
Baldry, Tony Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Dunn, Bob
Batiste, Spencer Evennett, David
Bellingham, Henry Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Bendall, Vivian Fallon, Michael
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Farr, Sir John
Biffen, Rt Hon John Favell, Tony
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Fenner, Dame Peggy
Body, Sir Richard Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fishburn, John Dudley
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fookes, Dame Janet
Boswell, Tim Forman, Nigel
Bottomley, Peter Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Forth, Eric
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Fox, Sir Marcus
Bowis, John Franks, Cecil
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Freeman, Roger
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard French, Douglas
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gale, Roger
Brazier, Julian Gardiner, George
Bright, Graham Garel-Jones, Tristan
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gill, Christopher
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Browne, John (Winchester) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Buck, Sir Antony Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Budgen, Nicholas Gorst, John
Burns, Simon Gow, Ian
Burt, Alistair Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Butcher, John Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Butler, Chris Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Butterfill, John Gregory, Conal
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Grist, Ian
Carrington, Matthew Ground, Patrick
Carttiss, Michael Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Cash, William Hague, William
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Chapman, Sydney Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Chope, Christopher Hanley, Jeremy
Churchill, Mr Hannam, John
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Harris, David
Colvin, Michael Haselhurst, Alan
Hayes, Jerry Nelson, Anthony
Hayward, Robert Nicholls, Patrick
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Norris, Steve
Hill, James Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hind, Kenneth Oppenheim, Phillip
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Page, Richard
Holt, Richard Paice, James
Hordern, Sir Peter Patnick, Irvine
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Patten, Rt Hon John
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Pawsey, James
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunter, Andrew Portillo, Michael
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Powell, William (Corby)
Irvine, Michael Price, Sir David
Irving, Sir Charles Raffan, Keith
Jack, Michael Redwood, John
Jackson, Robert Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Janman, Tim Rhodes James, Robert
Jessel, Toby Riddick, Graham
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Roe, Mrs Marion
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rossi, Sir Hugh
Key, Robert Rost, Peter
Kilfedder, James Rowe, Andrew
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Kirkhope, Timothy Ryder, Richard
Knapman, Roger Sackville, Hon Tom
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Sayeed, Jonathan
Knowles, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lang, Ian Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Latham, Michael Shelton, Sir William
Lawrence, Ivan Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shersby, Michael
Lightbown, David Sims, Roger
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Smith, Sir Cyril (Rochdale)
Lord, Michael Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames, Hon Nicholas
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Speed, Keith
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maclean, David Squire, Robin
McLoughlin, Patrick Stanbrook, Ivor
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
McNair-Witson, Sir Patrick Stern, Michael
Madel, David Stevens, Lewis
Major, Rt Hon John Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Malins, Humfrey Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mans, Keith Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Maples, John Stokes, Sir John
Marland, Paul Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Marlow, Tony Sumberg, David
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Summerson, Hugo
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Maude, Hon Francis Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mellor, David Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Miller, Sir Hal Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Iain Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Moate, Roger Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Monro, Sir Hector Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Thorne, Neil
Moore, Rt Hon John Thurnham, Peter
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Tracey, Richard
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Tredinnick, David
Moss, Malcolm Trippier, David
Moynihan, Hon Colin Twinn, Dr Ian
Neale, Gerrard Viggers, Peter
Needham, Richard Waddington, Rt Hon David
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Wiggin, Jerry
Walden, George Wilkinson, John
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Wilshire, David
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Waller, Gary Wolfson, Mark
Ward, John Wood, Timothy
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Warren, Kenneth Yeo, Tim
Watts, John
Wells, Bowen Tellers for the Ayes:
Wheeler, Sir John Mr. Alastair Goodlad and Mr. Tony Durant.
Whitney, Ray
Widdecombe, Ann
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Flannery, Martin
Allen, Graham Flynn, Paul
Alton, David Foster, Derek
Anderson, Donald Foulkes, George
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Fyfe, Maria
Armstrong, Hilary Galloway, George
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Ashton, Joe Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) George, Bruce
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Barron, Kevin Godman, Dr Norman A.
Beckett, Margaret Gordon, Mildred
Bell, Stuart Gould, Bryan
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Bermingham, Gerald Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Bidwell, Sydney Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Blair, Tony Grocott, Bruce
Blunkett, David Hardy, Peter
Boateng, Paul Harman, Ms Harriet
Boyes, Roland Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Bradley, Keith Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Henderson, Doug
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Hinchliffe, David
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Buckley, George J. Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Home Robertson, John
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Hood, Jimmy
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Canavan, Dennis Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Carr, Michael Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hoyle, Doug
Clay, Bob Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Clelland, David Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cohen, Harry Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Coleman, Donald Illsley, Eric
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Janner, Greville
Corbett, Robin Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Corbyn, Jeremy Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Cousins, Jim Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cox, Tom Lambie, David
Crowther, Stan Leadbitter, Ted
Cryer, Bob Leighton, Ron
Cummings, John Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Dalyell, Tarn Lewis, Terry
Darling, Alistair Litherland, Robert
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Livingstone, Ken
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dewar, Donald Loyden, Eddie
Dixon, Don McAllion, John
Dobson, Frank McAvoy, Thomas
Doran, Frank McCartney, Ian
Douglas, Dick Macdonald, Calum A.
Duffy, A. E. P. McFall, John
Dunnachie, Jimmy McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth McKelvey, William
Eastham, Ken McLeish, Henry
Evans, John (St Helens N) McWilliam, John
Fatchett, Derek Madden, Max
Faulds, Andrew Mahon, Mrs Alice
Fearn, Ronald Marek, Dr John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Fisher, Mark Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Meacher, Michael Short, Clare
Meale, Alan Skinner, Dennis
Michael, Alun Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Morgan, Rhodri Snape, Peter
Morley, Elliot Soley, Clive
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Spearing, Nigel
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Mullin, Chris Stott, Roger
Murphy, Paul Strang, Gavin
Nellist, Dave Straw, Jack
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
O'Brien, William Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
O'Neill, Martin Turner, Dennis
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Vaz, Keith
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Wallace, James
Patchett, Terry Walley, Joan
Pendry, Tom Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pike, Peter L. Wareing, Robert N.
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Primarolo, Dawn Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Quin, Ms Joyce Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Radice, Giles Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Randall, Stuart Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Redmond, Martin Wilson, Brian
Reid, Dr John Winnick, David
Richardson, Jo Wise, Mrs Audrey
Robertson, George Worthington, Tony
Rogers, Allan Wray, Jimmy
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruddock, Joan Tellers for the Noes:
Sedgemore, Brian Mr. Frank Haynes and Mrs. Llin Golding
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. As I understand it, under the doctrine laid down in "Erskine May", on a Division it is usual for voices to be followed by a vote. As you may recall, there has been some considerable argument about ten-minute Bills on that point. As I understand it, the Liberals called a vote on the first order, yet the hon. Member for Rochdale (Sir C. Smith) was in the Tory Lobby on all three orders, which suggests that he did not follow the group voice and that the Liberals are badly split, which is, to say the least, disturbing.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

The hon. Gentleman is making a political point. He knows full well that it is not a point of order with which the Chair can deal.