Orders of the Day — Rate Support Grant (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:13 pm on 21st July 1981.

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Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Aberdeen South 5:13 pm, 21st July 1981

I very much welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate. I was extremely surprised when I heard that the Opposition were about to use one of their Supply days to debate the conduct of the Lothian, Dundee and Stirling authorities. I should have thought that they would have wanted to distance themselves as far as possible from a local council so spendthrift, extremist and deeply unpopular with its ratepayers as Lothian. However, on the Conservative Benches we are glad to expose the waste and abuse, which we shall do with relish.

It is important to realise that this debate, nominally about three Scottish local authorities, is given wider significance by the fact that Lothian is only one of a small number of Left-wing local authorities, of which, outside Scotland, the Greater London Council and Lambeth are infamous examples, which grossly waste and misuse ratepayers' money, drive out businesses and jobs by their high rates policy, care little about the immediate needs of the majority of their own ratepayers and use the powers of local government to engineer political confrontation with the Government and to promote extremist, Left-wing policies. That is the context within which we are debating the actions of Lothian, Stirling and Dundee.

I should like to direct my remarks mainly to the case of the Lothian regional council because the basis of Lothian's defence—