Glasgow (Funding)

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 1:47 pm on 5 February 1997.

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Photo of Ian Davidson Ian Davidson , Glasgow Govan 1:47, 5 February 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to meet Glasgow city council to discuss the allocation of public funds to the city. [12880]

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

I have offered to meet a delegation of hon. Members from Glasgow and representatives of the council next week.

Photo of Ian Davidson Ian Davidson , Glasgow Govan

Are the Minister and his colleagues aware of the widespread view in Glasgow that the Government are deliberately discriminating against the city, not only in terms of the money given to local authorities but in terms of money for the health board, the development agency, Scottish Homes and other organisations? Will he agree next week to give Glasgow the resources that it needs?

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

The hon. Gentleman is very brave to come here and talk about Glasgow at all, in the light of the article in today's Glasgow Evening Times about the civil war that seems to be going on in the Labour party there.

As I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, central Government funds are distributed according to a formula drawn up by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Scottish Office and the distribution committee. I understand that COSLA is perfectly satisfied with the distribution procedure—although I gather that the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) has proposed an independent review of it. Given that COSLA is largely the Labour party, is this yet another split in the Labour party in Scotland?

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

Does my hon. Friend agree that, since 1979, per capita spending by all Government agencies and Departments in Glasgow has far exceeded the amount spent in North Tayside? When we hear complaints from those in Glasgow—especially after the rows and ructions that have been going on there, and the spending of money on limousines rather than vehicles intended to transport people—we ask whether it is not time that we told them to shut up.

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

I understand what my hon. Friend is saying. He is referring to a report in yesterday's Evening Times, which mentioned the £810,000 that had been spent on some 28 limousines, one of which was a Rolls-Royce for the Lord Provost of Glasgow. The people of Glasgow have a perfect right to question the priorities given to expenditure in their city—which, as my hon. Friend pointed out, is significantly greater than expenditure in many other parts of Scotland, and very much greater than expenditure per head south of the border.

Photo of Mrs Maria Fyfe Mrs Maria Fyfe , Glasgow Maryhill

Will the Minister not admit that the Government's record on spending public money is a disgrace? No council in Britain comes anywhere near it. How does the Minister explain the apportionment of Glasgow's share of urban programme funding, which is grossly unfair to those in the city?

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

Yet again, we have heard a reference to distribution. I have already covered the distribution of local government funds; as for urban funding, perhaps the hon. Lady should visit some other parts of Scotland, where people think the exact opposite—that Glasgow has received more than its fair share over the years.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

Has my hon. Friend read the whole of today's Evening Times article? In particular, has he seen the headline "Give us a trip and we'll vote for you", which refers to Labour councillors in Glasgow? Given that appalling state of affairs—given that Glasgow receives 80 per cent. more Government grant per capita than the English average, and the administration is descending into chaos—is there not a case for suspending that administration and putting in commissioners?

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

I shall not comment on allegations that are reported in the Glasgow Evening Times. Like my hon. Friend, I read that article, and I suggest that, if there are such allegations, they could be referred to Lord Nolan, who I am sure would be particularly interested. Local elected representatives have a responsibility to their electorate, and the people of Glasgow should expect no less of their councillors than anyone else.

Photo of Mr George Robertson Mr George Robertson Shadow Secretary of State

Could we hear a little less humbug from Ministers, the arch-priests of waste who lost £1 billion of taxpayers' money on the poll tax? Less preaching would be much appreciated in Scotland.

When the Minister meets Glasgow city council next week, why does not he tell it that he will abandon this wasteful nursery voucher scheme and give it and other local authorities the money that is being spent on the scheme? He should also cancel the incredible advertising campaign, which is pure party propaganda and is grossly improper before a general election. It is funding the Tory party's campaign on vouchers. He should use that money for the provision of proper nursery education, which the people of Scotland want and the children of Scotland need.

Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside

I noticed that the Opposition Chief Whip had his eyes closed during that contribution. I am not surprised, because the hon. Gentleman has a bit of a cheek. Unfortunately, he believes in removing choice from the people of Scotland. If he talked to people in one of the pilot areas, such as Eastwood, which is close to Glasgow—the city that we are discussing—he would discover what a successful scheme it has been and that it has had a high take-up. It is right and proper that people in the rest of Scotland should be able to enjoy such a scheme so that they can give their four-year-old children nursery education.

Of course, the hon. Gentleman is in a remarkable fix because he is tied by the right hon. Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) and is clearly not able to offer an alternative. Nursery vouchers are good for Scotland, and that has been proved already.