Revenue Support Grant

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1996.

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Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 12:00 am, 17th June 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the outturn of the 1996–97 revenue support grant settlement. [31646]

Photo of William Hague William Hague Secretary of State for Wales

Welsh local authorities and police authorities have budgeted for net revenue expenditure of £2,934 million in 1996–97. It is too early to estimate what actual expenditure will be.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

The Secretary of State must be aware that Neath and Port Talbot council has suffered unique discrimination at the hands of the Welsh Office's revenue support allocation. How can he justify the fact that one half of former West Glamorgan, Swansea, has levied a 4.5 per cent. council tax increase whereas, before damping, Neath and Port Talbot, the other half, levied 45 per cent.—nearly 10 times as much? How can he justify the fact that Trebanos village is split down the middle, and one side pays £90 more? In March, both sides were paying exactly the same. He must intervene. Responsibility does not lie with the council. It has inherited a standard of service, which has been agreed by the Welsh Office, and is having to carry the can for the Welsh Office's discriminatory settlement. Surely he should intervene and prevent catastrophe next year, if not this.

Photo of William Hague William Hague Secretary of State for Wales

The settlement is not discriminatory, as the hon. Gentleman knows. The council tax damping schemes that I have introduced are designed to reduce the effect of discrepancies such as the one he described. The effect is that no council tax increase in Wales can be more than 25 per cent. in the current year. A total of £3.7 million of council tax reduction grant has gone to Neath and Port Talbot. Its standard spending assessment per capita is higher than the Welsh average, so it would not be fair to say that it has suffered unique discrimination.

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I give notice that I shall apply for an Adjournment debate on the subject.