Local Government (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:02 pm on 17th January 1983.

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Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton 8:02 pm, 17th January 1983

I look forward to the hon. Gentleman's speech, when he will no doubt describe the slashing of services that will take place in the Lothian region that is now under the control of his friends. I hope that he will defend that policy rather than make pathetic statements to the press, as he did during the weekend.

Figures have been produced by CoSLA, and I challenge the Secretary of State to disown them or to show any inaccuracy. What would be the position in 1983–84 if local authorities simply budgeted for the same amount of expenditure as in 1982–83 but updated the figure to take account of the Secretary of State's figures for inflation? Even on that figure, the result would be a reduction in services in real terms of between 3 and 4 per cent. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned that figure in his speech—[Interruption.] I see that the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) has decided not to join us. This subject is obviously rather beyond the Social Democratic Party.

If the local authorities obeyed the guidelines laid down by the Secretary of State, the regions would have to reduce their expenditure in 1983–84 by 7·2 per cent. in real terms and the districts would have to reduce their expenditure by 11·8 per cent. in real terms. In Scotland as a whole, there would have to be a reduction in expenditure of 7·8 per cent. in real terms in 1983–84. I am glad to say that the Secretary of State has not a hope of that happening. It would mean the wholesale slashing of essential services in Scotland.

The district guidelines for 1983–84 again rather miraculously turn out to be exactly the same as those for 1982–83, down to the last pound. [Interruption.] The Under-Secretary of State seems to dispute that. Perhaps he would like to correct me.