asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has received any representations from Manchester city council in connection with the rate support grant settlement for 1985–86; and if he will make a statement.
Manchester city council was one of the 26 authorities represented at a collective meeting on 4 February.
Is my hon. Friend aware that when Manchester set its rate on Sunday, against the advice of the hard-Left leadership, the leader of the council, Councillor Stringer, described it as something that would bring a smile to the face of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State? If my hon. Friend is in touch with Councillor Stringer, will he ask him to bring a smile to the faces of some of my constituents who live on Councillor Stringer's overspill estates in my constituency, and to concentrate not on nuclear-free zones and police monitoring units, but on keeping those properties in a decent and proper state of repair?
I shall certainly do that. I noticed that Councillor Stringer also described the setting of the rate as a defeat for the Labour party. Since it was a victory for common sense, I suppose that he must be right.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that as well as the 112,000 signatures on a petition that was left on the Downing street doorstep, there were 10,000 people on the streets of Manchester calling for jobs, services and democracy? The Minister must recognise this, because he has given us a guarantee that he will visit Manchester. Will he give a commitment to the House today that when he comes to Manchester — unlike Ministers before him, who shed crocodile tears and then went away and did nothing—he will have an open mind?
I think that many of my hon. Friends will regard the fact that Manchester received a 3·8 per cent. increase in its target and a 10 per cent. increase in its GRE as a rather generous settlement.