Following the statement on the council tax, Sir George asked the Local Government Minister when John Prescott knew that Gordon Brown was going to cancel the pensioner's rebate - see below
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): Would the Minister agree that the precept that he has just announced has been damaged by the Chancellor's announcement about pensioner rebate last Wednesday? Will he answer this simple question: when the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor agreed the block grant figure last December, did the Chancellor have the courtesy to tell the Deputy Prime Minister that the pensioner rebate was to be abolished?
Mr. Woolas: The Government take their decisions on these matters in the round. One also has to take into account the position of the Department for Work and Pensions, which funds the council tax benefit system. What cannot be dismissed is the fact that 2.5 million pensioners, representing 14 per cent. of the total council tax budget, pay their bills through council tax benefit.
The hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar cannot get away from that. As I said in my statement, no one who cannot afford to pay the council tax has to pay it.