§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he intends to take in relation to those authorities which have now set budgets above the limits implied by the intended capping criteria; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Portillo
We will not hesitate to use our capping powers to curb those authorities' budgets which we consider excessive or represent an excessive increase over the previous year.
As we have made clear on a number of occasions our present intention is to apply the criteria which my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State announced on 31 October 1990. These intended criteria are, however, necessarily provisional since we cannot take our capping decisions until authorities generally have set their budgets. When we do so, we shall take into account all appropriate considerations. But it is clearly a matter of concern that a few authorities have decided to budget at levels which under the intended criteria are excessive or represent an excessive increase: it remains open to such authorities to adopt substitute lower budgets if they so wish.
§ Mr. Blunkett
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment at what stage in their posting local authorities are able to exempt(a) married and (b) single Gulf service personnel from the poll tax.101W
§ Mr. Portillo
[holding answer 4 March 1991]: There is no exemption for people serving in the Gulf. It is for community charge registration officers to decide when the law requires a person to be removed from the register, thus ending liability to the charge. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 19 February that it is our intention that those serving in the Gulf should not have to pay the charge during that period. We are currently considering what steps need to be taken to realise this objective.