HC Deb 21 January 2004 vol 416 c1322
Q6. Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes) (Con)

If he will make an official visit to the Friends meeting house in Totnes.

The Prime Minister

I have no current plans to do so.

Mr. Steen

If the Prime Minister had come to meet the Quakers and to see those peaceful people, he would have heard that their primary concern is the increasing level of council tax and the way in which it funds an army of bureaucrats and administrators rather than front-line services. Will he acknowledge that Devon county council employs as many people as the European Commission in Brussels, and that the managing director of Torbay council is now paid £more per annum than a Minister of State in the right hon. Gentleman's Government? The Prime Minister could cut council tax at a stroke—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Perhaps the Friends are better behaved than the hon. Gentleman.

The Prime Minister

When the hon. Gentleman began his question, I temporarily turned to the wrong part of my file. I do not want to comment on Devon county council; I am not as aware of the facts of who is employed there as the Quakers. My understanding is that that county council, along with others, has received a very significant increase in the amount of grant from central Government. We believe that the additional amount of grant is important for local authorities. I am sure that when he heard the Quakers' complaints he told them that his party voted against the extra investment that we allocated to local authorities.

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