§ Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)
At the end of this 23-hour marathon session of the House I am pleased to have the opportunity to present a petition that has been collected by my constituents in the Wavertree, Edge Hill and Smithtown areas of the city of Liverpool.
I could mention many of the streets included in the petition, but I am sure that the House would not wish to be detained. [HON. MEMBERS: No. Name them."] Many hundreds of people in those areas have asked me to present the petition on their behalf detailing their concern about the implementation of the community charge, the poll tax. I am sure that the House would wish to hear the terms of reference of the petition. It reads, in the time-honoured way:To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.The humble petition of the residents of Smithtown ward in Liverpool showeth that this community rejects the poll tax as a unfair law and notes that many people in this community will face grave difficulty in paying the charge.Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House will replace the community charge with a fair and equitable means of local government finance that truly reflects a persons ability to pay.And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray.I should like to take this opportunity——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman may not make a speech about it. He must present his petition.
§ Mr. Alton
I should like to take the opportunity to congratulate the organiser of the petition, Mr. Peter McGrath. Responsible opposition of this sort highlights the acute anxieties that many people in under privileged parts of the country, such as the community that I have represented for 18 years in Liverpool——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The rule is that the hon. Gentleman should make any preparatory remarks before he reads out the petition. He has read it out. Will he please put it in the bag?