HC Deb 25 May 1995 vol 260 cc936-8
Q3. Mr. Illsley

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 25 May. [24652]

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Illsley

From the Government's overwhelming defeat in the local elections last month, it is clear that the electorate totally rejected their local government policies. In particular, people rejected the Government notion that Labour authorities are high taxing and high spending. Will the Government now abandon plans to cap the expenditure of local authorities this year?

The Prime Minister

I have very great doubts about whether people have abandoned the notion that Labour means high taxes, both nationally and locally. If one looks band for band at local taxation last year, one finds that in band C, for example—I take the figures from memory, but I think that they are right—Labour councils taxed about £160 more than Conservative councils. That point will be understood increasingly as people examine their tax bills.

Mr. Robathan

In the course of his busy day, has my right hon. Friend had an opportunity to read the report on Islington's social services? If so, he will have found that the Labour party in Islington put political correctness above the needs of the vulnerable and of the children in its care, and above common sense. Does he agree that, in the same way, the Labour party in general puts women-only shortlists and other forms of positive discrimination and political correctness above the interests of the nation—

Madam Speaker

Order. What other parties do is not the responsibility of the Prime Minister. I have told the House time and time again that Ministers at the Dispatch Box answer for their policies, not for what other people do. Perhaps the Prime Minister can give some answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, but I hope that the House will remember in future that Ministers are to be questioned about their responsibilities, not about anything else.

The Prime Minister

The substantive part of the question followed on nicely from the question asked by the hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) a moment ago. Like everyone in the House—I would hope—I read the reports about what apparently happened in Islington council and found them extremely disturbing. They show what happens when political correctness runs riot. I believe that tolerance, in that environment, becomes excess. It causes untold suffering for those in need of help. This was a sad example of what happens when the Labour party is in power. The hon. Member for Barnsley, Central neglected to mention the activities that went on in Islington, so I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing them to my attention.

Q4. Ms Quin

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 25 May. [24653]

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Ms Quin

Does the Prime Minister recall his prediction at the 1991 Conservative party conference that Labour would introduce eight new taxes if it took office? How does that claim look now in the light of the 20 new taxes that he and the Government have introduced?

The Prime Minister

Perhaps the hon. Lady should glance at the list of new taxes to which Opposition Front Benchers have committed themselves if they come to government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Opposition Members are right: most of the taxes that they propose are rubbish. Labour is now and always has been the party of high taxation at national and local levels, and while the Opposition continue to commit themselves to more spending on every occasion, they always will be the party of high taxation.