HC Deb 18 December 2002 vol 396 c832
8. Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham)

What plans he has for the reform of council tax. [86326]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Christopher Leslie)

The Local Government Bill contains provisions on council tax revaluation, banding, discounts and exemptions.

Dr. Cable

Is the Minister aware that since the Conservatives introduced council tax nine years ago, the average English council tax bill has risen by more than 70 per cent., and by more than 50 per cent. under the present Government? How do the Government justify dependence on such a regressive tax, unrelated to the ability to pay, to fund a growing percentage of public services?

Mr. Leslie

I shall take that as a representation from the Liberal Democrats in favour of some sort of local income tax, which I understand is their policy. I wonder how many of their constituents appreciate the implications of that policy for them. Council tax is certainly fairer than its predecessor, the poll tax, which some people may still remember, but in our reforms we will take into account how we might be able to make council tax fairer still.