Does not this place local authorities in an intolerable position in that if they agree to the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that rents should be kept down they forfeit the right to have the grant? Will he not come clean and tell the local authorities exactly where they stand? Perhaps he can tell us what was the view of the meeting that I understand he had with local authorities at the end of last month to discuss this very subject? This matter has been going on for a long time.
This is a new line for the hon. Gentleman, because the formula that has got us into this trouble was introduced by his Government. I have discussed this subject with local authorities and have said that I will be reconsidering it towards the end of this month and will let them know my decision then. I can go no further than that here.
Is not the Secretary of State for Scotland aware that a lot of local authorities are extremely disturbed about this situation and that it is not possible for them to plan ahead until they know the answer? Will he please bring forward his decision and let the local authorities know where they stand?
The decision must be related to the facts. The hon. Gentleman must appreciate that there are 233 housing authorities in Scotland. About 59 of them have written to me—that is, much less than one-third of them. They are not all affected in the same way, because it will depend entirely on the period. In respect of the amount involved, the hon. Gentleman will find that for some local authorities the sums are very minimal, indeed.