Orders of the Day — Public Libraries and Museums [Money]

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th February 1964.

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Again considered in Committee.

Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East

I refer to the point again because the case is causing a good deal of upset, both for the person concerned and for others who have heard of the case. What is the position? Do I understand that after the Bill becomes an Act paragraph (c) of the Money Resolution will mean that in the case of this person who transferred from Middlesex to Glasgow, but who had been out of the library service for twelve months and who, therefore, was out of superannuation and the gap had to be filled, the Exchequer will provide, through the equalisation grant or the rate deficiency grant a contribution which will enable the employing local authority to carry his superannuation burden for the period of 12 months when he was not in the library service?

I have taken up the case but cannot get any satisfaction. Everybody seems to be passing the buck. Nobody wants to pay the money. The Money Resolution refers to local government in England and Wales or in Scotland although the Bill does not apply to Scotland. Do I understand that if a Scottish authority with a library service employs people who come up either from England, the Isle of Man or anywhere, it will get a grant from the Exchequer under this Money Resolution to compensate that authority—in the present case, Paisley—to carry the burden, which may be only a few hundred pounds, for the period during which the person in question contracted out of the library service and, therefore, had broken the superannuation conditions?

We are short of librarians in Glasgow. This is a case where a young lady cannot take up her profession as a librarian, even though librarians are needed, because of what seems to be a failure of interchange of superannuation responsibilities between local authorities and the State. When I read the Money Resolution, I thought that paragraph (c) might alter this situation and provide, either through rate-deficiency grant or Exchequer equalisation grant, for the authority to be given the money to pay for it.

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Lewisham North

I admire the ingenuity of the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), tonight as always, but I am afraid that the provision in the Money Resolution will not be of help in the case he has in mind. The rate deficiency grant in England, which I believe I am right in saying is called the Exchequer equalisation grant in Scotland, is not paid in respect of individual services in the way the hon. Gentleman hoped. It is not paid to library authorities or to local authorities to help them with the kind of individual difficulty the hon. Gentleman described.

The rate deficiency grant is payable to any authority in whose area a rate of 1d, in the £ produces a smaller sum per head of the population than the national average. These are the local authorities that qualify for the rate deficiency grant. The percentage of grant is the percentage which the deficiency bears to the national average. This percentage is paid on any expenditure which would otherwise fall on the rates.

Under the Bill, there is likely to be an increase in expenditure by local authorities on library services. I imagine that all hon. Members would agree that that is the likelihood. That is certainly what we hope for as a result of the Bill. This will automatically increase the amount of rate deficiency grant in England and Wales. It will also, since the grant in Scotland is linked by a formula to the aggregate of the rate deficiency grant, increase the amount of Exchequer equalisation grant in Scotland. It is not possible to estimate the increased expenditure that will result under this head. I therefore hope that the hon. Gentleman will find this a satisfactory explanation of the effect of this provision in the Money Resolution, and I can only say that I am sorry that it is evidently not of assistance to his constituent.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported.

Report to be received Tomorrow.