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Local Government (Financial Provisions, Etc) (Scotland) Money

Volume 649: debated on Wednesday 22 November 1961

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[ Queen's Recommendation signified.]

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 ( Money Committees).

[Sir GORDON TOUCHE in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to provide for revision of apportionment of expenditure and general grants among local authorities in Scotland, to make further provision as respects Scotland with respect to payments in lieu of or by way of rates by the British Transport Commission. Electricity Boards and Gas Boards, relief from rates of charitable and other similar bodies, sums borrowed by local authorities and with respect to Valuation Appeal Committees and other matters, it is expedient to authorise any increase attributable to the said Act of this Session in the sums payable out of moneys provided by Parliament by way of Exchequer Equalisation Grant under the enactments relating to local government in Scotland. —[Mr. Maclay.]

10.56 p.m.

Will the Secretary of State tell us what is meant by the words "or other matters"? My recollection is that the Bill is very tightly drawn. The Long Title is so tightly drawn that one cannot get any matters squeezed into the Bill apart from those enumerated in the Money Resolution.

I think that to give the hon. Gentleman an absolutely clear answer would involve something which I am not quite able to do at the moment because I have not got the complete details of the Bill and the point he raises by me. I will examine the point. I think that the Resolution is not restrictive in any way. I will let him know.

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain the last two lines? The Money Resolution reads:

"For the purposes of any Act… to provide for revision of apportionment…to make further provision"—
and so on—
"it is expedient to authorise any Increase attributable to the said Act in the sums payable out of moneys provided by Parliament by way of Exchequer Equalisation Grant under the enactments relating to local government in Scotland."
Am I right in saying that this means an increase of sums payable out of money provided by way of equalisation grant? Could that in any way be attributable to the actual Bill? As I understood, the equalisation grant which we get in Scotland was based on what was spent in England. Under no Scottish Measure in the past could we actually increase the sum. The apportionment of the sum could be changed, but the actual sum itself was fixed.

The hon. Gentleman is, of course, right in his reference to the very complicated calculations which must be made in relation to the equalisation grant. There are variations possible in the apportionment of Exchequer equalisation grant inside the total sum which comes to Scotland. Equally, there are variations between the Scottish and English sums which alter every year according to the incidence of quite a large number of factors. I think it would be quite impossible to single out precisely which factors might be involved here. The point to have clear is that an increase in expenditure on equalisation grant as a result of the Bill is authorised by Clause 11. Any increase is likely to be very small. The Money Resolution recites all the main purposes of the Bill, but expenditure or equalisation grant will in fact result only from additional expenditure falling on local authorities under Clauses 6 and 7. That is the explanation, and I hope that the hon. Member will feel that it fully fulfils the needs.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported.

Reported to be received Tomorrow.