asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made in the establishment of community councils.
Most of the new district and islands councils have in hand the necessary preparatory work for setting up community councils in their areas.
Will my hon. Friend try to ensure that the new community councils are as democratic and representative as possible, by seeing that they contain the maximum number of directly-elected representatives and also by ensuring that they are adequately financed by central Government, so that they are not entirely dependent on local authorities for their resources, some of which authorities may be reluctant to support bodies which oppose some of their views?
The preparation of schemes is a matter for the district and islands councils. Since we published our consultative document last December, there has been considerable activity by councils in this respect, particularly within the Strathclyde region. The regional council has promised to provide financial support, which, at the product of a penny rate, will amount to about Elf million. So I think that finance will be forthcoming.
Will the Minister confirm that there is no need for communities to wait until the district councils propose comprehensive schemes for community councils throughout the area before they get together to form provisional community councils?
A great deal of activity can go on now, but the first statutory step is for the advertisements to be placed. That has already been done in most areas. It is now up to interested bodies—local organisations, community organisations, and the rest—to put their ideas to the local authorities, so that this important initiative gets off the ground as quickly as possible.
What action does the Scottish Office intend to take against the ludicrous Treasury decision that any funds finding their way into community councils will not be regarded as of charitable status?
I do not know what the hon. Gentleman is talking about. The financial provisions for community councils were laid down in the Local Government Act.