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Dr. Harris: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Raynsford: I am afraid that, as the hon. Gentleman knows, this is a very short winding-up speech. I have less than five minutes before the debate has to end, so I regret that I cannot.

The hon. Member for Taunton argued that Somerset and Oxfordshire should be able to spend respectively £6 million and £3.4 million above cap. However, as was pointed out in an intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, North-East (Mr. White), many other local authorities have faced similar difficulties, yet have managed to set budgets within the cap limits that they knew would apply this year.

In response to an intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman), the hon. Member for Taunton claimed, incorrectly, that the Government were making no additional finance available to local authorities this year. She must be aware of the Local Government Finance (Supplementary Credit Approvals) Bill which has begun the process of honouring our policy of releasing capital receipts. Those will be available as finance to local authorities in the current year.

Mrs. Ballard: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Raynsford: I was simply correcting an incorrect statement that the hon. Lady made, but I shall give way to her.

Mrs. Ballard: I am sure that the Minister knows well that the Local Government Finance (Supplementary Credit Approvals) Bill affects capital receipts for housing projects. We are talking about two county councils tonight, and county councils are not housing authorities, so they will not benefit from that Bill.

Mr. Raynsford: I am well aware of the responsibilities of county councils as opposed to those of district councils, but the hon. Lady said that there was no additional finance for local authorities. That is what I was correcting.

Mr. David Heath: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Raynsford: I have already said that I shall not.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Crausby), in an impressive maiden speech, paid tribute to his predecessors and to his constituency, which I have had the pleasure of visiting a couple of times in the past two years.

The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry), after a brief excursion via Bolton, with which he, too, has associations, focused on Oxfordshire and offered us an interesting suggestion. He said that the former Minister responsible for local government, the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), had said privately that he would have considered relaxing Oxfordshire's cap had he remained in office. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it is not a basis for policy making, as I am sure the hon. Member for Banbury knows.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether the Minister of State's advice to councils before the general election had revealed the appropriate policy that the Government

17 Jul 1997 : Column 581

would follow. My hon. Friend was absolutely clear in her advice to councils, both Labour and others, before the election. She said that if we were successful in that election, the new Government would work within the existing settlement, so all authorities should plan accordingly.

Sir Robert Smith: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Raynsford: My hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) outlined, in a speech of political philosophy, his view of capping. However, as he made no specific comment about Oxfordshire or Somerset, I shall move on to my concluding remarks.

We have carefully considered all relevant considerations in each authority's case before reaching our final decisions on the caps for Oxfordshire, Somerset and Warwickshire. The Minister of State has seen representatives of the authorities in person, and I have responded to Adjournment debates on both Somerset and Oxfordshire in recent weeks.

We are persuaded that the proposed caps are reasonable, achievable and appropriate in the light of all the circumstances of each authority, and of our view of the appropriate level of local authority spending as a whole. Local authorities are responsible for a quarter of all public expenditure, and no sensible Government can overlook that fact.

Some hon. Members have suggested that the cap may undermine our party's commitment to education. That is nonsense. We inherited this year's settlement from the previous Administration, and we made it clear well in advance of the election that we felt that we had no choice but to stick with it.

The Budget, however, makes it clear that we are committed to education. We are making extra provision of £835 million for schools. That is for revenue spending in 1998-99, and is £1 billion more than this year's figure. The new deal for schools will also provide an extra £83 million for repairs. We are committed to education and we are committed to local government. I commend the order to the House.

Question put:-- The House divided: Ayes 301, Noes 36.

Division No. 62
[7.6 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham (Nottingham N)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atkins, Charlotte
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Browne, Desmond (Kilmarnock)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Christine
Byers, Stephen
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain (Hammersmith)
Colman, Tony (Putney)
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dismore, Andrew
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Ms Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael John (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Galbraith, Sam
Galloway, George
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Graham, Thomas
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian (Tamworth)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Mrs Ann (Brentford)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Liddell, Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mountford, Kali
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Mrs Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie (Scarborough)
Radice, Giles
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Jeff
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Singh, Marsha
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Desmond (Kemptown)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wright, Tony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Greg Pope and
Mr. Clive Betts.


Allan, Richard (Shef'ld Hallam)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Breed, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Chidgey, David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Fearn, Ronnie
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gorrie, Donald
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Robert
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tyler, Paul
Webb, Professor Steve
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Andrew Stunell and
Mr. Adrian Sanders.

Question accordingly agreed to.

17 Jul 1997 : Column 584


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