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

There is democracy, even in CoSLA.

I believe that the formula is still weighted against the rural areas and I ask my hon. Friend to reconsider this matter. I believe that, subconsciously, because of CoSLA's weighting in favour of central Scotland, the Government are not giving sufficient weight to the far-flung country areas where costs are much higher than in central Scotland.

I want to ask two questions about the district councils. Thrift deserves its reward, and the outturn, as it affects some district councils and, indeed, some regional councils, is somewhat disappointing to them. I hope that my hon. Friend can tell me about his method of client group assessment. Why does the new formula have to be adjusted as soon as it is prepared? For instance, in Nithsdale the client group requirement is £2·522 million. Why does it have to be adjusted by £0·452 million? Similarly, in Annandale and Eskdale the client group method reduces the figure from £1·655 million to £1·26 million. All these statistics are extremely difficult to grasp, but it would be helpful if my hon. Friend could say a word or two about why the new formula is being adjusted.

The Secretary of State has provided a good settlement. Why is it so necessary for the Opposition, year in, year out, to criticise it in every possible way? If they had their way and there was a massive increase for the local authorities, there would inevitably be higher taxation, a much higher borrowing requirement, higher interest rates and therefore higher unemployment. If that is what the Opposition want, they should be honest enough to say so.