Grants to District Councils

Part of Orders of the Day — Clause 9 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th June 1976.

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Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South 12:00 am, 16th June 1976

I am grateful to the Minister for the way in which he has answered the amendment. It is right to place on the record the danger which all of us who represent new towns see because society has asked the old towns to take on the burden of new towns. We should not forget that, when a new town is attached to an old one, one is asking the original society to undertake an enormous transformation and upheaval. That is asking a lot. There might be a particular crisis at a point of time and it is all too easy for a Treasury Minister to make a broad cut and chop off the grant there and then. As a result, those societies which have undertaken this burden are left high and dry.

In as far as the Government will make a grant, of course we understand that in the end the Treasury has a say. It is fair to say that it is within a fairly large budget, and if the grants were held it is perfectly possible for cutbacks to be made in other areas. We are dealing with only 29, and at one point in time all 29 are unlikely to be on the go. The figures involved are unlikely to be that substantial.

There may be occasions when we might not wish to lock in a new town completely, and, in the final analysis, the Treasury must have the ultimate regard to that. I think it was right for us to put down this amendment in order to get on the record firmly and clearly that where a transfer takes place and there is a burden, only in the final resort should that grant be removed by the Treasury. I hope, as a result of the discussions we have had, that a Chancellor of the Exchequer will think warily before removing that grant and, indeed, that a Secretary of State will fight extremely hard to ensure that those grants are not removed because of the financial crisis.