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Public Expenditure

Volume 981: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps have been taken to increase flexibility and discretion in the use of funds available to him to take account of the special needs of Wales.

From April next year, expenditure on the services in Wales within my responsibility which at present forms part of eight separate Great Britain public expenditure programmes and, where central Government expenditure is concerned, a similar number of separate Supply Estimate classes, will be treated as one public expenditure programme in its own right.This change will be reflected in the presentation of expenditure plans in the public expenditure White Paper published after the next annual survey.Within the overall total of expenditure contained in the Welsh programme—excepting certain services mentioned below—I will be able to alter at my discretion the allocation of expenditure to services to meet the special needs of Wales. I will thus enjoy greater flexibility than any of my predecessors in the allocation of resources to transport, housing, education, health and certain other services. The provision for agriculture, fisheries, food and forestry, and for industry, energy, trade—excluding tourism—and employment, is excepted from this discretion because these services are influenced to a greater extent than the others by Great Britain and EEC policies.These new arrangements will be reflected in the Supply Estimates. From 1981–82 there will be a separate Welsh Class of Estimates and, in the context of the assimilation of Estimates and cash limits, a new Welsh Office Vote and central Government cash limit structure. This will be broadly similar to the central Government cash limit structure operated by the Welsh Office in 1978–79 and 1979–80 and will provide flexibility in the use of voted money