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Local Authorities (Income And Expenditure)

Volume 981: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now confirm that it is now not his intention to seek statutory powers for the purpose of limiting in any way either the total non-capital expenditure of local authorities or the total amount they raise from local rating.

I do not know how that answer fits in with all the confusion, but my question is posed in two ways. Is the Minister saying "yes" to both parts of the question? Will he confirm clearly that it is not the Government's intention to introduce any statutory powers relating to wage bargaining and the number of people employed by local authorities?

I do not know how that question arose as a supplementary to the previous one, but the answer, once again, is "Yes".

Will my right hon. Friend help the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) by telling him how much money could be saved in public expenditure if Labour local authorities kept their rate increases in the forthcoming year down to the same level as those of Conservative-controlled authorities?

The total level of local authority expenditure is £22,000 million. I do not have the exact details of the figures available, but it is clear that by the much higher levels of average expenditure leading to rate increases this year, Labour authorities will substantially increase the burden on ratepayers in their areas.