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Volume 958: debated on Wednesday 15 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the population of the city of Glasgow in the years 1968 to 1978; and how these changes compare in real terms with the level of rate support grant in each of those years.

Comparable information in the form requested is not available, but I shall circulate in the Official Report details of the population of the respective local authority areas before and after local government re-organisation and of rate support grant payable to the city of Glasgow district council from 1975–76 to 1978–79. The former county of city provided a wider range of services than does the present district council.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the net rate-borne expenditure per head of the population in the city of Glasgow is £59·14, that 25,000 Glasgow citizens leave the city annually, that 43,000 citizens are unemployed, and that the increasing inequity of the burden on the ratepayers is discouraging industry from coming to the city and encouraging its people to leave? Will my right hon. Friend alter the rate support grant to ensure that the wide disparities of rate-borne expenditure between districts are either eliminated or substantially reduced?

I appreciate my hon. Friend's argument. I cannot anticipate my discussion with COSLA on the distribution formula for next year. I advise my hon. Friend to study the figures that will appear in the Official Report. If he does, he will realise that Glasgow has done remarkably well in the current year.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, although we have had considerable sums from the Government, Glasgow could face a bleak future, bearing in mind its intolerable load of debts, a declining population and a district rate five times as high as that in other problem districts? How can we expect industry to be attracted to Glasgow when by moving a few miles it can save rate payments of several thousands of pounds?

The rate support grant formula is rather complicated, but the needs of Glasgow are well recognised. At present there is a declining population factor in the formula. If hon. Members look at the figures, they will see that last year RSG per head for all district councils was about £18·50. The Glasgow figure was about the same. In the current year the overall Scottish figure has gone up to nearly £23 and the Glasgow figure has gone up to £32.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that part of the problem of Glasgow, in addition to the decline in the old industrial jobs, lies in the reorganisation of local government? Areas such as Eastwood, Bearsden, Milngavie and Bishopbriggs, which are really part of Glasgow, have been abstracted from the district. Would it be possible, when the new Assembly is elected, to reorganise this section of local government?

It could be possible for the Assembly to do it. With regard to the other matter that was raised, my answer is that that was done by Opposition Members and I voted against it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, relative to the total sums involved, more is spent on each person resident in Glasgow than on each person resident in Edinburgh? In view of the great need for an outer city bypass for the Lothian region, will he consider a slightly larger rate support grant for the Lothian region next time?

I do not think that we can bandy rate support grant figures across the Floor of the House of Commons. I am meeting the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities later this month to discuss this matter and I have very much in mind the particular problems in Glasgow.

I do not dispute my right hon. Friend's point that considerable efforts have been made in the past to help Glasgow, but will he accept that the real criterion here is need? When we look at the problems of Glasgow, such as the falling population, peripheral housing schemes, and so on, is it not a fact that the present financial effort of central and local government is not meeting these needs? Will my right hon. Friend undertake to look as sympathetically as possible at Glasgow's problems in that respect?

Will the right hon. Gentleman also remember that those who have been named as extracting themselves from Glasgow have done so with good reason, which is to get their rate lowered? Does he agree that that exaggerates the situation, as Glasgow is carrying a burden which can no longer be sustained? That is why people get out and are continuing to leave.

I do not know that I would accept that, but Glasgow has special problems. I have tried to recognise them and will continue to recognise them. The usual criticism from other parts of the country is that I am too favourably disposed towards Glasgow. I do not believe that that is so. I believe that Glasgow has problems which are much greater than those anywhere else in Scotland. I have tried to recognise these problems and I hope to recognise them further.

I am getting more and more tired of people saying that Glasgow—[Interruption.] It is not a funny matter, Mr. Speaker. To anyone living in Priesthill, or in part of the Secretary of State's constituency, it is not funny to be told that there are special problems. It is high time that something was done to solve them. The longer we leave them, the heavier the charge will be on the local authority. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Spring-burn (Mr. Buchanan) that this problem should be dealt with urgently.

As I have pointed out, we already have something in the RSG formula which is particularly beneficial to Glasgow, and I am looking at further proposals in the context of next year's formula, but that is something I have to discuss with COSLA. It is not a matter that I can decide in discussions only with Glasgow district council or, for that matter, with individual Members in this House. But I am very sympathetic to these problems, which, as I have said, are much worse than those anywhere else in


Former county of city of Glasgow

City of Glasgow district


Estimated population at 30th June


Estimated population at 30th June


Note: The figures for 1968 to 1974 relate to the former county of the city of Glasgow which cea ed to exist on 15th May 1975. Figures for 1975 to 1977 relate to the city of Glasgow district which came into existence on 16th May 1975. An estimate of the population in the area of the district at 30th June 1974 is given for reference. Estimates of population at 30th June 1978 are not yet available.


Glasgow district council

All district councils

RSG £ million

RSG per head £

RSG £ million

RSG per head £