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Community Charge

Volume 168: debated on Wednesday 28 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many extra staff have been employed by regional and island councils in Scotland to deal with the administration and collection of the poll tax.

No information is held centrally on the number of extra staff employed by local authorities on community charge work.

After the Government's hypocritical and, indeed, near-hysterical response to Labour's alternative, will the Minister accept that the collection of the poll tax in Scotland has involved a scandalous misuse of scarce public resources? Will he concede that Labour's alternative will be simpler, fairer and much cheaper to collect?

The extra cost, as compared with the collection of rates, is £14·5 million, but we consider that justified in terms of greater fairness and accountability. With the roof tax there would be an army of valuers, assessors, monitors and statisticians. I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas), who said in The Scotsman that the

"Labour party policy document on the roof tax must rank high in bidding for the top prize for confusion and obscurantism".