asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the estimated average annual increase in rates expected for 1975–76 on the basis of the latest information available to him.
No useful estimate can be made at the moment.
Will my hon. Friend estimate the effect on rates of the recent increase in teachers' salaries? All hon. Members wished the teachers to have a salary increase and must, therefore, accept the consequent rate increases, and not complain about them. As rates are a regressive form of taxation, will my hon. Friend issue a circular, advisory or otherwise, to local authorities to ensure that rent rebate systems are sufficiently generous to protect people on low incomes?
I am not quite sure what my hon. Friend has in mind about rent rebates. He knows of the current legislation which is going through the House. In so far as teachers' salaries fall on that portion of local authority expenditure which is met through the rate support grant—which has gone up to 75 per cent. for next year; an unprecedented increase—the cost will be borne by the taxpayer. The remainder will be borne by the ratepayer, and it will have an effect on the rates. We have to recognise that when salary increases are given to local authority employees rates are affected.
Does the Minister agree that if the total cost of teachers' salaries were transferred to the Exchequer a much fairer distribution of the burden would fall on the taxpayers generally?
The trouble about any transfer from local expenditure to central expenditure is that the money still has to be found from somewhere.