asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware of the severe rise in rates likely to arise next year in counties with an expanding population; and whether the remedies that he proposes will be in time to take effect in 1966–67.
I cannot forecast next year's rates. Although there will be no changes in the grant system until the following year, there will be relief in 1966–67 for ratepayers with small incomes.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all ratepayers in counties with an expanding population are going to suffer very severely in the coming year, as year by year they have to pay more of the rateborne expenditure and less and less falls on the Exchequer?
That would not be strictly true. I am not going to underrate the burden of rates—I have often repeated that it is very heavy—but the assistance we can give to the general ratepayer will come in our second Bill. Our first Bill was only an interim relief for the 2 million worst-off families.
Although the right hon. Gentleman says that he cannot forecast next year's rates, did he not forecast an average increase in rates throughout the country of 10 per cent. next year when he spoke at Plymouth on 20th November?
I said at Plymouth, and I think it was a reasonable thing, that I thought that 10 per cent. was the kind of increase likely. It might be more in some areas and less in others. I cannot make a very precise prediction on that.