My right hon. Friend met members of Greater Manchester Council during his visit to two of the council's consumer advice centres on 30th September this year. I am certainly ready to meet members of the council to discuss the work of these centres and my Departments' grant assistance to them, should they feel this would be helpful.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Tory-controlled Greater Manchester Council is considering closing its consumer advice centres? Will he also confirm that this would mean no saving for its ratepayers and, indeed, would be a considerable loss to the people who now receive good service from these centres? Will he confirm, further, that if the district councils wish to take over this consumer protection function they will be able to do so?
I have no official confirmation that Manchester proposes to do this, but if the council decided to close the centres I would regard that as a matter for very great regret. I confirm that it would not save the ratepayers of Manchester one penny, and it would deprive them of a valuable service. If district councils want to take over centres, I hope that counties will not stand in their way, and the districts can then receive the 100 per cent. Government grant.