Local Authority Expenditure

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st November 1976.

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Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent) 12:00 am, 1st November 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he is having with local authorities concerning public expenditure cuts.

Photo of Mr Alec Jones Mr Alec Jones , Rhondda

Public expenditure is regularly discussed at meetings of the Welsh Consultative Council on Local Government Finance, chaired by my right hon. and learned Friend.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

Does my hon. Friend agree that if there are to be any cuts they should be made in the number of chief executives and not of dustmen? Does he further agree that the huge bureaucracy created by the Conservative reorganisation of local government has been astronomical in cost and has played a major part in hampering the recovery of the British economy?

Photo of Mr Alec Jones Mr Alec Jones , Rhondda

There is a great deal to be said for the Chiefs and Indians argument which my hon. Friend has put forward today and on other occasions. My view is that local government reorganisation did not help to make local government either more efficient or cheaper.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas , Merioneth

Is the Minister aware that we on this Bench do not accept that there should be any reduction in public expenditure in Wales, particularly on housing and social services? Will he ensure that local authorities in Wales are aware of the needs of their areas and the need for public expenditure?

Photo of Mr Alec Jones Mr Alec Jones , Rhondda

The hon. Gentleman likes to refer to cuts, but I remind him that the July measures, which involved cuts in Wales of £12 million, were accompanied by an increase in expenditure on housing in Wales of £20 million. Therefore, the net effect was a gain—not a loss—for Wales in public expenditure terms.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conway

Will the Minister confirm that, contrary to recent newspaper reports, on a population basis Wales gets a fair share of the rate support grant, her population being 5·6 per cent. of the total for England and Wales and the amount of rate support grant received by Wales in 1976–77 being 7·4 per cent. of the total?

Photo of Mr Alec Jones Mr Alec Jones , Rhondda

I am advised that Wales's share of rate support grant is higher per capita than that in England.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

Does the Minister know what percentage of the expenditure of local authorities in Wales goes on salaries, wages and so on as opposed to the other services?

Photo of Mr Alec Jones Mr Alec Jones , Rhondda

I invite the hon. and learned Gentleman to table that question, and I will see that he gets an answer.