Scotland (Local Government)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1981.

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Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton 12:00 am, 17th June 1981

There are a number of detailed and complicated matters that should clearly be the subject of a debate. The Government's suggestion that this matter be debated soon in the Scottish Grand Committee therefore meets with our approval.

I agree that this is not a propitious time to deal with major questions of local government reorganisation in Scotland, particularly as local authorities are already in a state of financial crisis as a result of Government policies. I agree, however, that there can be some redistribution of functions between regional and district authorities. I am glad that it is not proposed to deprive districts of all their powers for industrial development. I do not see how a major district with massive unemployment problems could be excluded from that sphere.

I do not understand what the Secretary of State has said about powers of promotion. Unless there are some powers of promotion, the other powers seem comparatively meaningless.

The idea that regional authorities should have to come to the Secretary of State for approval before undertaking overseas promotion is a further example of pettifogging interference by the Government in the rights of local authorities, and we certainly oppose it.

The statement is not at all clear as to the distinction between regional and district functions in terms of leisure and recreation. The Countryside (Scotland) Bill currently before the House has implications in this respect, so we shall wish to examine that.

Finally, I bitterly regret that the Government have not accepted the Stodart committee's recommendation that overseas promotion of tourism in Scotland should be the sole responsibility of the Scottish Tourist Board.

We welcome the prospect of a debate very soon on these and other matters.