Local Government (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:02 pm on 17th January 1983.

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Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , Renfrewshire East 10:02 pm, 17th January 1983

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that it is reasonable that, when the SDA's major rehabilitation work in GEAR is concluded in about three years' time, the management and co-ordination effort in GEAR should be returned to the local authorities. I hope that it will be accepted also that there should be a full five years for review. If the hon. Gentleman consults the local authorities, I think that he will find that they are not unhappy with this reasonable proposition of passing the management to them. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the SSHA's commitment to GEAR will be met.

The most important person in this settlement is the ratepayer. The right hon. Member for Craigton rightly did not repeat his horrific forecast of last year for this year's outturn. We believe that the increase in rates will be within the rate of inflation. We have had encouraging reports from a number of authorities. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) referred to the Lothian region. It appears from press reports that the Lothian authority is considering a reduction in its rate. I hope that that shows that the settlement before the House is reasonable for the taxpayer, for the ratepayer and for responsible local government. Accordingly I commend it to the House.