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Volume 175: debated on Thursday 5 July 1990

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Local Government Finance

11.12 pm

I beg leave to present a petition signed by some 25,000 people from Cornwall in opposition to the poll tax. It is an opportune moment for it to be presented, because not only did those people oppose the poll tax, but they asked for changes to be made to make it more related to people's ability to pay, specifically through a system of local income tax.

A Committee of the Cabinet is meeting to consider alternatives to the poll tax and how it may be improved. If reports in the newspapers are anything to go by, next year people will have to pay more and the destitution that faces many at present will not be answered by its proposals.

Those proposals have not been finally drawn. The petition suggests a specific way ahead through the Liberal Democrat scheme of a local income tax, and I hope that that Cabinet Committee, whose attention has been drawn to the petition by a letter delivered to No. 10 Downing street by the people of Cornwall, will pay attention to the opportunity and the option that it presents the House.

The petition is signed by 25,000 people from across the county of Cornwall. If it had been collected United Kingdom-wide, that would be the equivalent of 2.5 million signatures. It is a significant petition from my county, and I hope that the Government will respond to and respect the heartache and despair that led so many to put so much effort in collecting it.

To lie upon the Table.