asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make available to hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies detailed information regarding local government finance or, alternatively, supply them with copies of the document published annually by the Municipal Treasurers' Association.
I am placing in the Library duplicated copies of a Summary of Financial Statistics prepared by my Department for 1955–56. I could not undertake to supply hon. Members with copies of a publication such as the Rating Review for which the Government is not responsible. This is published by the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants (Scottish Branch) and can be purchased from the Institute. I will ensure that there is a copy in the Library.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that not only is he in default of the statutory provisions of the Act, but his failure to lay these statistical returns before both Houses of Parliament places his Scottish colleagues at a disadvantage with their English colleagues, whose statistics are always up-to-date? Will he do something about the matter?
As I think the hon. Member will realise from my reply, we are making a substantial improvement in the time taken to produce these returns. We did fall very badly behind, I agree, but now we have practically caught up with the figures made available to us by local authorities.