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

Although additional burdens have been placed on the districts because of the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act, and although there will inevitably be inflation in 1983–84, the figures—which are meant to be built up district by district and service by service—are exactly the same in 1983–84 as they were in 1982–83. I have the figures in front of me. That point is confirmed in the Secretary of State's circular to the local authorities dated 26 November 1982. The circular confirms that the figures for the district have not been changed in 1983–84, despite what the Under-Secretary of State has said.

It is a farce to give the individual figures for each service and district. At the end of the day, the figures are exactly the same as those given for each district in 1982–83. In addition, the guideline figures for the districts bear no relation to the figures that are laboriously built up, on a needs basis, by considering individual services at district level. As the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) will be interested to know, the representative from that area complained bitterly this afternoon that, although the needs figure was £6·5 million, the guideline figure is only £5·5 million.

There are other discrepancies. There is a discrepancy of £15 million between the needs and the guideline figures for Glasgow. At least the discrepancy is in the right direction from Glasgow's point of view. The needs figures either mean something or they do not. If they are calculated carefully and on the scientific basis that they are meant to be calculated on according to the Scottish Office, the guideline figures should coincide with the needs figures. But they bear no relation to the needs figures and are wholly artificial. They are based on exactly the same figures as in 1982–83. As every district knows, they are a mess and a farce.

The same anomalies exist in the regions. In Lothian the needs calculation increases next year by 1·6 per cent., but the guidelines increase by 3·95 per cent. In Strathclyde the needs calculation increases by 4·92 per cent., but the increase in the guidelines is less than that for Lothian and is 3·90 per cent. The whole system is shot through with anomalies.

In a sense, the anomalies are not as important as the effect on services if the local authorities tried to meet the Secretary of State's guideline figures. The guidelines are now so much of a farce that the local authorities in most cases are paying no attention to them.