I am grateful to the Government for what they are doing in my constituency. Does that take into account the severe lack of rateable value that will be suffered by the derating of outside plant and machinery? It is difficult for local authorities to budget or plan until they know whether the Government will stand by their pledges so that local authorities will be compensated for the change.
We have been told that the only local authority that will gain compensation is Orkney, and that will be, so it has been estimated, between a half or a quarter of the amount needed. If the Government have more money to offer, we shall welcome it. We make it quite clear that we are grateful for small mercies. I ask that the whole method of local government finance be re-examined because it is upon the guidelines that the penalties will be assessed. If the guidelines, even if Orkney and Shetland are exempt, are in general lower than the cuts, that would seem to be an anomaly. I ask the Government to consider whether it is fair to lay the burden of compensation on other local authorities and at least for a time not to make good to Orkney and Shetland the loss that they will suffer. It must be the object of the Government that far-flung and rural areas must not be at a disadvantage by these very complicated formulae. If the Government make the anticipated changes, the burden should at least fall upon the central Exchequer and not upon other local authorities.