Local Government (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 17th January 1983.

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Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries 8:30 pm, 17th January 1983

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman is saying. We are dealing with the rate support grant order. I am certain that the ratepayers of Edinburgh and Lothian are thankful that the rate increase this year will be substantially less than the increase over the past three or four years under the Socialist policy of the Lothian council.

I wish to ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State one or two questions. He will anticipate that I shall want to say something about the rate support grant formula. He was helpful before Christmas in writing to me about the needs element. If one excludes the Western Isles, where the headage rate of £730 is ahead of the rest, the regions are covered by a bracket of about £170. I wonder whether that is a sufficient weighting in favour of rural areas, where the costs, distances and bus subsidies are higher, for obvious reasons. I wonder whether my hon. Friend should consider having another look at the formula with CoSLA. CoSLA, being based on the population in central Scotland, tends to say, "Thank you very much for the formula as it is."