The reason why the Government's Amendment goes only halfway is this. Perhaps the Under Secretary of State will be able to meet us on the other half. The specific grants to which the Clause refers will be deducted from the aggregate under Clause 2(2). All the local authorities are concerned about this because if one particular group of local authorities were to receive large specific grants that would automatically reduce what is left over to be divided among all the local authorities as rate support grant.
If the Under-Secretary of State can tell us that his interpretation of
local authorities as appear to him to be concerned
is that it includes the three local authority associations with which he normally negotiates, this would meet the point. But we think that our Amendment would have covered it much better.
We wished to be consistent. It is conceivable that the Association of District Councils, or some regional grouping of local authorities—for example, the northern burghs or Border counties—might also demand audience of the Secretary of State on this subject even though they may have no locus standi. We therefore thought it better to say
with such associations of local authorities as appear to
the Secretary of State to be concerned. In this way, the question of who comes to the meeting is placed firmly in one corner, namely, with the Secretary of
State, rather than be left to the associations to argue. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept this. We did it in previous Amendments in response to some of his objections in Committee. We thought that we should be consistent.