§ Mr. French
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the answer of the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Chope), to the hon. Member for Gloucester of 4 April, if local authorities are obliged to reveal on request whether they are levying a standard community charge at less than twice the personal community charge.
§ Mr. Chope
Where a charging authority has specified a class of property for the purposes of setting a different multiplier from that generally applied, it is required to publish a notice giving details of the exercise of the power in at least one local newspaper within 21 days of making the specification. Authorities are required to give information on their standard community charges in their standard charge demand notices. It follows therefore that they should be able to give details of their classes and multipliers to those who ask for them.
§ Mr. David Porter
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a further statement about the community charge liability of seafarers and offshore workers who spend significant parts of the year away from their homes and who have no second homes.
§ Mr. Chope
As I explained to my hon. Friend on 21 MarchOfficial Report, column 660, and 3 April, Official Report, column 564, it is initially the responsibility of the community charge registration officer to decide whether a person is solely or mainly resident in his area. In this respect offshore workers are no different from any other potential charge payer. It is open to charge payers to appeal to their local valuation and community charge tribunal against their entry on the community charges register.
§ Mr. Strang
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the number of people employed full time in each region of England, Scotland and Wales in the collection of the community charge.
§ Mr. Chope
[holding answer 18 April 1990]: Local authority debt in England at March 1989 was some £46 billion, of which Nottingham city council's debt was £424 million. One of the objectives of the new capital finance system provided in the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 is that local authorities should use some of their capital receipts to reduce their indebtedness. Accordingly capital receipts are divided into a reserved part to be set aside as provision for credit liabilities and a usable balance.
The reserved part may be used at any time to repay debt, to meet liabilities under credit arrangements, or, where a credit approval has been used as authority not to charge expenditure to a revenue account, to meet that expenditure as a substitute for external borrowing.
The usable part may be applied at any time and at the discretion of the authority concerned to meet expenditure incurred for capital purposes or as voluntary provision for credit liabilities.
There are no capital receipts which, under the legislation now in force, local authorities in England cannot use.
My right hon. Friend has no ministerial responsibility for local authority capital finance in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.