§ Mr. Channon
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs why he decided that the sending of letters to the committee on rating would be an embarrassment; and what arrangements he is making to deal with letters on the impact of rates sent to him by hon. Members and by the public.
§ Sir K. Joseph
Letters from the public provide valuable evidence of the strength of feeling about rates and of the problems which face the writers. These are matters of deep concern to me, and I shall continue to pay close attention to such letters, even though I cannot always send individual replies. But letters do not tell the whole story; people with no grievance seldom write, and there is no means of telling how representative those who do write are.
If we are to take sensible decisions we must have a balanced assessment of the impact of rates on different sections of the community up and down the country—an assessment that will embrace not merely those who are hard hit by the changes, but also those who benefit by them and those whose position is little changed. It is to provide this perspective view of the situation that the Secretary of State and I have set up the Committee under the Chairmanship of Professor Allen; and I feel sure that my hon. Friend will agree that they must be allowed to choose the statistical methods which will enable them to set out the whole position, and thus enable us to take the right decisions.