§ Lord Gainford
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What community charge capping criteria they will adopt and which authorities would be designated by these criteria.
§ Baroness Blatch:
My right honourable friend, the then Secretary of State for the Environment announced on 31st October 1990 the provisional capping criteria which he intended to adopt. He made clear that authorities should not assume that there would be a de minimis proviso allowing authorities whose budgets were excessive by only a small amount not to be designated. On the information available to us, it appears that the following 17 authorities have set budgets which would be excessive, or represent an excessive increase over the previous year, under those criteria: Barnsley, Basildon, Berkshire, Bristol, Doncaster, Greenwich, Ipswich, Lambeth, Langbaurgh-on-Tees, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Reading, Somerset, Stoke-on-Trent, Warwickshire and Wirral.
As my honourable friend the Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities announced on 5th March, it is clearly a matter of concern where 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.
Our present intention is to apply the criteria which my right honourable friend the then Secretary of State announced. This is necessarily provisional. We are now looking at local authorities' budgets and when we have completed our consideration of these budgets and all other appropriate matters my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will take his statutory capping decisions. He intends to do so as soon as practicable.