HC Deb 23 May 1990 vol 173 cc274-5
7. Mr. Day

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what a person on average male earnings would pay in local income tax in 1990–91 in order to raise the same amount of revenue as the community charge in Truro.

Mr. Portillo

If we had a system of local income tax which raised the same amount as the community charge nationally, a single person in Truro on average male earnings could have paid up to £888.

Mr. Day

I thank my hon. Friend for that most interesting and illuminating reply for which I am sure the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) is grateful. Would it be even more helpful if roof tax figures were available for Truro and the rest of the country? Does my hon. Friend agree that the expected publication of Labour's mini-manifesto tomorrow is likely to throw no more light on the subject than Labour has shed on it in the past? Do not the public have a right to expect an answer concerning the Labour party's proposals?

Mr. Portillo

I agree with my hon. Friend that it would be helpful to have authoritative figures from the Labour party on the roof tax. My hon. Friend speculates that tomorrow's policy document will not provide much illumination on that subject. I can hardly believe that that is true. Labour party spokesmen—Mr. Peter Mandelson in particular—have more or less assured us that the details will be spelt out in tomorrow's document. Therefore, my hon. Friend must be mistaken if he says that they will not be forthcoming tomorrow.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

I assure the Minister and the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Day) that Truro has absolutely no interest in the Labour party's roof tax. It is, however, interested in the local income tax proposals. Although the Minister is new to his job, he ought to be aware that his figures are not based on the kind of local income tax system that we would introduce. The local income tax figure for an average household in my constituency is £317, compared with an average household poll tax bill of £622. Cheadle constituents may be interested to know that the average local income tax bill for each household there would be £365, compared with an average household poll tax bill of £798. The hon. Member for Cheadle lost his seat as a councillor to the Liberals and no doubt will lose his parliamentary seat at the next general election.

Mr. Portillo

All I can say is "abracadabra." The SLD has come up with a system under which everyone everywhere pays less. Today I can reveal how that trick is achieved. Part of the trick is to take last year's figures, thus raising only £7.2 billion in local income tax in England whereas this year £10.8 billion is being raised from the community charge. Immediately, therefore, the hon. Gentleman's figures are out by a cool 50 per cent. Furthermore, my figures compare what a person on average male earnings would pay in each constituency. We are looking at what a person on the same level of earnings would pay in each constituency, which seems to be the only valid comparison.