I had hoped that in the closing minutes of the debate I could come to some of the specific points made. The review of SSAs for the fire service looked at many options. The approach that was finally adopted by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has the support of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, who is responsible for the fire services.
Although the SSA for an authority is made up of a number of elements, we do not ask authorities to compare their expenditure with those elements service by service. It is the overall comparison between spending and SSA that is important. Local authorities retain discretion to set their overall level of spending and to decide how that should be distributed across the services that they should provide. Cumbria will see a 7·3 per cent. increase between its SSA for 1990–91 and its equivalent SSA for 1989–90 GRE.
I welcome this chance to debate the matter in detail. I hope that I have covered all the points raised by the hon. Member for Carlisle, but I shall write to him on any that I have failed to cover. I am satisfied that the new system of SSAs is simpler and more understandable than the old system of GREs and that the result for Cumbria is fair. It is for Cumbria county council to examine its expenditure plans and to play its part in setting a reasonable community charge.