HC Deb 21 June 1995 vol 262 c346
18. Mr. Clifton-Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent representations he has received on changes to the capping criteria for local authority budgets. [28044]

Mr. Curry

I shall consider the capping criteria for 1996–97 in the context of decisions on next year's local government finance settlement.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

Does my hon. Friend agree that we should relax the capping criteria on local authorities, so that profligate and wasteful expenditure decisions by councils can be well and truly exposed and local people can make their decisions known via the local ballot box?

Mr. Curry

Any Government will seek to find ways in which people can distinguish at local level between those offering themselves for election, at the same time as making sure that Government's responsibility for overall economic policy continues. In the light of that, we shall consider the capping criteria next year.

Mr. Denham

Will the Minister confirm that on current projections Hampshire county council will be required to cut its budget by £38 million next year? Why, then, has he absolutely refused to meet representatives of the county council, the business community and local residents in Hampshire to discuss the crisis into which he is forcing the council? Is this not a case of "those who won't listen won't learn"?

Mr. Curry

Next year's budget for Hampshire county council has not been set; the capping criteria have not been set; decisions on the SSA have not been taken; and the budget has not been announced. When the hon. Gentleman talks about what might happen next year he is indulging in sheer fantasy.

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