§ 15. Mr. Oppenheim
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the numbers of people employed by Derbyshire county council; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Key
Staff employed by Derbyshire county council have increased by 22 per cent. in the past 10 years—from around 38,500 people in 1981 to nearly 47,000 people in 1991. If spending and the community charge are to be kept at acceptable levels, staff numbers have to be kept under better control than that.
§ Mr. Oppenheim
Is my hon. Friend aware that while Derbyshire county council's policies have led to the redundancies of hundreds of teachers recently, and while Derbyshire is the only county in England to have fewer policemen than 10 years ago, none the less the county council's job creation priorities have managed to find no fewer than three posts at £40,000 per annum for former Labour councillors and Members of Parliament, the council leader has fitted himself up with a job at an annual equivalent salary of £40,000, the leader of the Derbyshire 330 Labour party—one David Skinner—has been given a job as a minder to Japanese business men despite being kicked out of the council for corruption 15 years ago, and his wife has been given a job at £23,000 per annum in the council's bloated publicity department? Are those the candy-floss, Mickey Mouse jobs that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) goes on about so much, or are those people just sponging off the backs of the poll tax payers?
§ Mr. Key
Anyone who wants to see a Labour government in action should look at Derbyshire. Talking of phoney jobs, the biggest generator of phoney jobs will be Labour's con trick of creating regional parliaments full of fully salaried Members of Parliament and all their hangers-on without making a ha'porth of difference to the quality of services for local people.
§ Mr. Skinner
That millionaire mammy's boy has some cheek to talk about families. My brother was sacked by a Tory council many years ago in Derbyshire because he had the guts to take it on, and he has nothing to apologise for. Neither has Derbyshire county council which, unlike many Tory councils, has kept school meal prices down to the lowest in Britain and refused to sack workers. In 1985, its Labour majority was bigger than that of the Tories and the people of Derbyshire re-elected it in 1989: they are satisfied with Derbyshire county council's policies, and when we have the general election they will kick out the Under-Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim), the man with the Pampers on.
§ Mr. Key
I think that we understand why so many Labour seats in Derbyshire are at risk in the coming election, and I am not surprised. This is the authority which has not increased school meal prices for 11 years, since 1981; it has been expelled from the Museums Association for selling pictures and using the money for non-museum purposes—and so on, and so on, and so on. The electorate will judge it.