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Welsh Rate Support Grant

Volume 35: debated on Wednesday 19 January 1983

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10.27 pm

I beg to move,

That the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1980 (Supplementary) (No. 2) Report 1982, which was laid before this House on 20th December, be approved.

With this, it will be for the convenience of the House to take the other four Welsh motions:

That the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1980 (Supplementary) (No. 2) (Amendment) Report 1982, which was laid before this House on 17th January, be approved
That the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1982 (Supplementary) Report 1982, which was laid before this House on 20th December, be approved.
That the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1982 (Supplementary) (Amendment) Report 1982, which was laid before this House on 17th January, be approved.
That the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1983–84, which was laid before this House on 20th December, be approved.

I think that it will be helpful if I deal with the supplementary reports before moving on to the main report for 1983–84. A supplementary report is the means by which account is taken of changes in certain costs and other factors which were uncertain or unknown when the main report was made. For example, it takes account of the most up-to-date information on rates of interest and rateable values. It also close-ends the grant. In other words, it ensures that grant payments to individual authorities in aggregate equal the total amount of grant available.

The supplementary reports are significantly different from the supplementary report that we debated last year, in that they give effect to the Government's decision to withhold rate support grant in respect of the overspending by local authorities that occurred in 1981–82 and 1982–83.

I had very much hoped that that action would not have been necessary. I had hoped that authorities would have kept their expenditure within the provision provided by the rate support grant settlements. As I said in the rate support grant debate last year, I took a conscious decision not to reduce the total amount of grant available for 1981–82, even though local authority budgets showed a total level of current expenditure in excess of the overall current expenditure target. I thought it right to give the local authority associations the chance to do what they said was possible and that they believed they would achieve. However, I said explicitly at the time that I was reserving my judgment, and that the Government would have to reduce grant by means of a further supplementary report if any expenditure excess remained.

I regret that that has proved to be the case. In 1981–82, after discounting emergency snow expenditure, there was a net current expenditure excess of about £12 million above settlement provision. That amount is too large to ignore. Accordingly, I propose to withhold £2·2 million grant from authorities in respect of the 1981–82 overspend. The amount of grant withheld from an individual authority will be directly related to the contribution it made to the overall overspend. That is the fairest way of effecting grant withholding.

I turn now to the supplementary report for 1982–83. That effects grant withholding for the current year. When authorities' original budgets for this year were analysed, they showed a total expenditure excess over rate support grant provision of about £57 million. That was particularly disappointing in view of the very adequate rate support grant settlement for the current year. I therefore asked authorities to submit revised budgets by the end of July and, at the same time, I set individual authority total expenditure targets. The revised budgets led to a welcome reduction in planned expenditure, but there still remained a significant excess of £25 million. The Government cannot accept such an overspend. Accordingly, I propose to withhold £4·2 million grant. That figure has been reached after taking into account certain disregards under section 8(4) of the Local Government Finance Act 1982.

How can the Secretary of State justify penalising Wales more harshly than England, which had a larger overspend?

The settlements for Wales have been much more generous than for England. The level of withhold is of the same order of magnitude in percentage terms as for England. Furthermore, because of the way in which the Welsh local authorities have performed relative to England during the period, they have had substantial additional capital resources made available to them. The level of withhold at £2·2 million is modest in relation to the overspend, as is the withhold in relation to this year. The amounts are a little less than I mentioned in the summer.

How does the Secretary of State justify the position in Newport, which has a standstill rate for the forthcoming year—and for the previous two years—yet has a £250,000 penalty? In the grant-related expenditure assessment, why does the right hon. Gentleman not take into consideration the penny rate subsidy for the buses or the upkeep of Tredegar house in Newport, which has been an important asset to the town?

We are not talking about the rate supplement for this year, to which the hon. Member referred, but for the two previos years. Newport was fully aware of the targets being set and the consequences of the decisions when it took them. It had plenty of opportunity to revise its budgets accordingly. The provisional decisions that it has made for the current year, which provide for a modest amount on its current plans over targets, show that it needs only the smallest possible adjustment by a local authority to avoid any form of penalty at all.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for allowing a third intervention. Is it not true that for an authority that is overspending by 1 per cent., the penalty in Wales will be 1½p in terms of grant, while it will be only 1p in England? Why is that so?

The simple fact is that the total overspend in England has been much higher and the total amount withheld substantially greater. The amounts for individual authorities and the problems posed for those authorities are also much greater. The hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) refers to small percentage differences, but the actual amounts that the Welsh local authorities have to deal with and their relation to the authorities' total budgets are relatively extremely small compared with the amounts with which some English authorities have to contend. We are not dealing with very significant amounts. Indeed, some might believe that this withholding is no more than a token and a guide for future action.

I regret having to withhold grant, but the Welsh local authorities knew full well that this would be the consequence of spending above the settlement provision. In response to questions after the statement on 20 December I made it perfectly clear that we would not hesitate to act in a similar way this year. The provision that we make is not decided lightly. Expenditure must be paid for out of the pockets of taxpayers and ratepayers. Every penny on the rates means an additional burden on the community at large and in industry and commerce may effectively destroy jobs, but I shall return to that aspect.

I should also make it clear that I am not an enthusiastic advocate of setting expenditure targets. It would be far better all round if authorities ensured that their expenditure in aggregate was kept at the level of the settlement provision, but experience in the revised budgets exercise showed that setting targets was helpful in letting authorities know exactly where they stood. In fact, 18 out of the 37 district and eight county authorities met their targets this year and thus have avoided both the withholding of grant and the close-ending adjustment, so clearly it can be done. As in 1981–82, the remainder will suffer grant withholding in direct proportion to the extent to which they have contributed to the overspend.

I turn now to the main Welsh rate support grant report for the coming year. This settlement, like previous settlements, has to be seen in the context of the Government's aim to contain local authority spending within a level that the country can afford. A start has been made in this direction. From local government reorganisation in 1974 until we took office, local authority expenditure in Wales outstripped inflation in its sector by 10 per cent. Since then, I am glad to say the trend has been reversed. Local authorities have been able to contain their spending to about 3½ per cent. below the increase in their costs. This change has been accompanied by a reduction in local authority manpower of just under 4 per cent. since June 1979. More needs to be done, but the level of total expenditure suggested in the present settlement should be readily achievable. What the Government have asked for is some restraint and a drive for improved efficiency on a scale that I fear that other organisations will regard as all too modest against the background of world recession.

Members will be familiar with the main items of the settlement that I announced in the House in December and I do not intend to go over them again in detail. The most important features for local authorities are the totals of relevant expenditure accepted for grant purposes, particularly current expenditure and the aggregate Exchequer grant.

For relevant expenditure, the provision of £1,385 million is an increase of about £84 million or 6·5 per cent. on this year's provision, with current expenditure at £1,205 million being £79 million or about 7 per cent. more than for this year. This is a very reasonable level of provision. The £1,205 million for current expenditure is exactly what I announced provisionally last July and it has not been reduced despite the welcome reduction in inflation since then. Current expenditure provision, after allowing for the reduction in authorities' national insurance surcharge payments next April and a modest budget drift of 1 per cent., is about 5 per cent. more than authorities' present level of current expenditure as reported in revised budgets. I am satisfied that, provided pay settlements are kept low, this increase is sufficient to enable local authorities broadly to maintain their services at this year's level. It will require continuing efforts on their part to improve efficiency and thus reduce costs.

Aggregate Exchequer grant at £975 million is £32 million or about 3·4 per cent. more than the figure set out in the main report for the current year. To those hon. Members who made a comparison with England earlier, I would point out that that is a significantly higher percentage than the percentage increase in England. This figure must be seen in the context of the amount authorities plan to spend in the current year.

The revised budget exercise resulted in authorities reducing their original planned expenditure by £32 million, but authorities had already rated for this level of expenditure. They already have that money—they do not have to raise it again. In deciding on their rate level for the coming year, local authorities should therefore rememeber that the present rate level already allows for a total increase of £32 million over this year's expenditure as indicated by their revised budgets. They should also take into account that the excess rate income this year has contributed to an unplanned increase of about £60 million in their financial balances. Next year's current expenditure provision is about 5 per cent. more than the present level of current spending. Calculations accepted by the Welsh local authority associations show that on the basis of this provision and assuming broadly the same level of local authority services, there need be on average virtually no increase in rates next year. This is what must be borne in mind when considering the question of rate increases for the coming year.

The Secretary of State is talking in averages. As he knows, averages can be extremely dangerous. Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that there has been a significant increase in the specific grants for the improvement of houses—an increase of about £8 million—which, when taken out of the £32 million to which he referred, brings the rest of the increase to well below the increase that local authorities will have to face in wage inflation and cost inflation?

It is perfectly true that the position will vary from local authority to local authority. It is also true that certain specific grants have been increased more than the rest of the grant provision. But, to return again to the reserve that is already built into the system, I have pointed out that rate income in 1982–83 exceeds the amount required to finance the revised budgets' level of spending by £32 million. In addition, grant provision for 1983–84 is £50 million higher than the amount for 1982–83 assumed by local authorities when they originally compiled their budgets. As a consequence—I am dealing in averages at the moment—expenditure for Wales as a whole can rise by £82 million before the aggregate rate burden for Wales needs to rise at all. As the settlement and targets allow for a level of expenditure increase which is actually lower than that, I am justified in saying that there is no need on average, even without taking account of the increase in balances to which I have referred, for increases in rates.

For those reasons the settlement for next year is fair and will not require authorities to slash services as some have claimed. Indeed, some of the initial indications from local authorities—we have had a reference to Newport's plans—suggest that this is the case. Nor will it require authorities to make draconian cuts in staff provided that pay settlements are kept low. Hon. Members will be aware that there is an offer under consideration at the moment that is broadly in line with the type of figures we are discussing.

Hon. Members will understand that the pay factor is probably the most important issue in determining the level of services that can be provided within the settlement cash provision. The settlement provides a reasonable level of relevant expenditure for services and a substantial Exchequer grant in support of this expenditure. There need, on average, be virtually no rate increases next year. Total expenditure would need to rise by more than 6 per cent. compared with the revised budget levels before the aggregate rate call for Wales as a whole need rise at all or before any use is made of balances. I believe that many local authorities will think it reasonable to use some of the balances.

I turn now to other features of this year's settlement. First, I have strengthened the basic block grant mechanisms in order to put more pressure on the highest spenders above GRE. The ability to increase the ratepayer contribution for expenditure both above and below the threshold and therefore to ensure that the general taxpayer contributes less is, of course, an integral part of the block grant system. In this context strengthening the mechanisms to put greater pressure on the higher spenders is both logical and desirable. It is only right that authorities whose expenditure is well above GRE should make the greatest efforts to bring their expenditure down to more acceptable levels. In so doing they will leave more grant for authorities with lower levels of spending.

Secondly, I have set individual authority expenditure targets. The Local Government Finance Act 1982 requires me to do this if I am to withhold grant in a discriminate manner. I very much hope that there will be no need to effect grant withholding for the coming year. I hope that authorities' expenditure in aggregate will be in line with provision. But, if this is not the case, it is those authorities which have contributed towards the expenditure excess that should be required to face the consequences of their actions, and not shrug off some of the burden to other authorities which have kept their expenditure down.

The targets themselves are based on total expenditure and include components for current expenditure, capital charges and interest receipts and, for districts, rate fund contributions to the housing revenue account.

This last component takes account of the Government's decision that, for calculating housing subsidies, local authority income will be assumed to increase by 85p per dwelling per week. This increase of 6 per cent. on the average council house rent in Wales of £14 is broadly in line with inflation. The least well-off tenants will continue to be assisted, of course, by either rent rebates or supplementary benefit. More than half of tenants are in that position. In order that all authorities have an achievable target, I have decided to set the current expenditure component of targets in such a way that every authority will receive extra cash over and above its present level of current spending. Thus, no authority will receive a cash increase for current expenditure of less than 1½ per cent.; similarly no authority will receive a cash increase greater than 5½ per cent. When account is taken of the reduction in authorities' NIS payments next year and the modest amount of budget drift to which I have referred, these effectively become cash increases of 3 per cent. and 7 per cent. respectively. Higher spending authorities will have to make a real reduction in expenditure but none has been set an unrealistic or unattainable task: the lowest spenders will quite properly have the easiest job to do.

I have, under the provisions of the Local Government Finance Act 1982, to set out the maximum amount of grant which could be withheld if expenditure exceeds provision. Guidance on this is contained in appendix 12 of the 1983–84 report and shows that holdback as a percentage of expenditure excess starts at 40 per cent. for a 1 per cent. expenditure excess over target, rising to a maximum of 75 per cent. of the expenditure excess. Of course, if expenditure in aggregate for all authorities is at or below the level of rate support grant provision there will be no need at all to effect grant withholding: I very much hope that this will be the case.

The only other point that I need to mention is the safety net provision. I have set this at the same level as in the previous two years. It provides protection to ratepayers from changes arising in GREs and the residual effects of moving to the new block grant system. At the ratepayer level the protection is equivalent to 5p; that is 1p for the districts and 4p for the counties.

That, then, is the background to the reports we are debating today. They must be seen in the context of the Government's general expenditure objectives. There remains in our view an overriding need for economy in local authority expenditure. I am convinced that ample opportunities exist for expenditure reductions to be achieved without adversely affecting services. Many authorities have already demonstrated that that is possible and there is no reason why others should not be able to do the same. The Government recognise that some authorities have made efforts to reduce expenditure, and this has been reflected in the targets set for the coming year; equally, others must make a far greater effort.

At the end of the day, however, it remains the responsibility of local authorities to determine their own levels of expenditure and to set their rate levels. I trust that in doing so they will act responsibly. They should remember the very strong and legitimate feelings that exist among ratepayers about the burden of rates. They should especially realise the serious consequences for industry and for employment if they impose penal and destructive burdens on firms struggling to be competitive. It is significant that rates represent a charge of £240 a head on every person employed in Wales, or approximately £290 on every person employed in the manufacturing industry. If authorities were to overspend in 1983–84 by, say, 3 per cent., that would impose a direct job tax of £30 to £40 a head in their area.

The hon. Gentleman is always screaming about the need to improve the incentives for industry and to reduce job costs. To encourage, as he does—characteristically—from a sedentary position, such an additional burden on firms in his constituency merely shows his irresponsibility.

If the Secretary of State wishes to talk about my constituency, will he tell the House what percentage of costs in industry generally—or in a sample company in my constituency—can be attributed to rates?

No, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that only today I have read the correspondence that he has had about the relative costs of producing Hoover washing machines with those of Indesit. He suggests that everyone employed by Hoover should not worry if an additional tax burden is placed on that company. We need no longer take his representations seriously. We now understand exactly the way in which he cares about employment at Hoover.

There is no reason why rate levels should not be held. Some local authorities—Birmingham is a good example—have shown that they can be reduced. There has been a substantial and widespread increase in balances since authorities prepared their original budgets in the summer. They have increased from about £70 million to about £130 million. Even with the most prudent use of balances, that means that there is real scope for rate reductions. I can think of no greater contribution that authorities can make to the communities that they serve and to those who seek employment than by their containing or, better still, reducing the rate burden this year. That is what the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) should support.

10.53 pm

For a variety of reasons, we have not had an auspicious start to today's debate. We are dealing with three reports published on 20 December, and two supplementary reports published on 17 January, which were necessary because of errors—presumably technical errors—discovered by 6 January. I do not propose to make heavy weather of that, but someone at the Welsh Office had either a very busy Christmas or a very embarrassing Christmas when those errors were discovered. The supplementary reports confirm the view that the present system of calculating the rate support grant has, under the Government, become so complicated that few understand it and even the technical experts at the Welsh Office can make errors.

The two supplementary amendment reports show the extent of this Government's vendetta against local government. They give details of the amounts of grant witheld from local government in Wales over the past two years. Presumably the county of Clwyd, by the Secretary of State's criteria, is the biggest villain, because now it is to lose £650,000 in grant, while it wrestles with the problems associated with its particular difficulties.

Clwyd has a higher percentage of school-children, old-age pensioners, old people in residential homes and unemployment than the all-Wales average. It is still to be penalised for profligate overspending.

The right hon. Member is right in saying that Clwyd faces particular difficulties. I think that I am the only hon. Member for Clwyd here tonight. Clwyd faces severe difficulties, but those will be made worse unless the authorities in Clwyd make every effort to keep the rate burden low. The desperate need is for incoming industries, and a high rate burden will be the worse thing for attracting those jobs.

The hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) should not support a Government who are increasing that rate bill. I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman again while he continues to make abusive remarks about my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mr. Jones), when he knows where my hon. Friend is.

The Secretary of State constantly claims, as he did tonight, that expenditure decisions are matters for individual local authorities, when he knows that if a local authority makes a decision on spending that is not in accordance with his own diktats, it renders itself open to these penalties.

The main report is the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1983–84. There is a common feature in all the rate support grant settlements introduced by this Secretary of State. That is that there have been reductions in grant and added burdens on ratepayers in one form or another in every one that he has introduced. In 1982, he reduced the level of domestic rate relief from 36p to 18 ½p in the pound. Year after year under this Secretary of State we have seen cuts in the percentage of Government support. This year is certainly no exception.

Government support for local authority essential services such as education and social services, services that enhance the quality of life for most of the people in Wales, is again being cut, from 72·5 per cent. to 70·4 per cent., a cut of 2·1 per cent. This cut in the rate of grant means a loss of £28 million to Welsh ratepayers.

The Secretary of State earlier talked of his concern for industrial ratepayers, but the £28 million will have to be made good by the industrial ratepayers as well. He has reportedly said that it is the cash position that matters, and that the percentages are rather meaningless. The unpleasant truth is that ratepayers, who include the industrial ratepyers whom the Secretary of State is so determined to protect, will now have to find £28 million more next year than they would have if he had had the guts and ability to fight to maintain the rate grant at the previous level.

The Secretary of State has reasserted his claim that on average there need be hardly any increase in rates next year. He is living in cloud cuckoo land. That is not the view of local authority associations. I am convinced that local authority associations know a lot more about the matter than the Secretary of State.

Is it the Secretary of State's view that there need be hardly any rate increases next year is shared by the local authority associations that he consulted in the consultative committee? The associations' view—those are professional people who are engaged in this matter year in, year out—is that the cut in grant from 72·5 per cent. to 70·4 per cent. means that on average rate levels in Wales will be approximately 7 per cent. That is more than 10 per cent. higher than if the present grant had been retained. While individual local authorities face different sets of circumstances, the overall consequence of reducing the level of rate support grant to this extent must be an increase in rates.

If the Secretary of State has deliberately withdrawn by a reduction of grant £28 million from ratepayers in Wales, is he saying that the services in Wales now have to be cut back? The money will have to come from somewhere.

As that is less than the £32 million that was overprovided, that alone, without taking into account the other factors that I mentioned, does not mean that there is any need for an increase in rates.

That assumes that the local authorities will be content to see a continuation of their services being run down, as they have been run down in each of the past three years. If that is the Secretary of State's view of what local authorities should do, it is not shared by the people of Wales.

The Secretary of State refered to rents. He should have hidden his head in shame because of what he has allowed to happen to council rents in Wales since he became responsible. In 1979–80 rents were £6·50 a week, the weekly unrebated rent for council dwellings in Wales. The first increase was 24 per cent., to £8·09. The following year there was a 41 per cent. increase to £11·41. The following year there was a 22 per cent. increase to £13·91. Even assuming that only 85p is added, rents this year will be £14·76 a week, the highest they have ever been.

No, I shall not give way.

Council rents, under the Secretary of State's control, have risen by 127 per cent. in four years. I do not believe that any other section of our society in Wales has faced similar increases in housing costs.

Just over a year ago, in response to a parliamentary question, we were told that more than half of the housing authorities in Wales were in surplus on their housing revenue accounts. What is the position today and what use is being made of that surplus? Is it being used in local authorities collectively or individually to finance either other local government services or the reductions in the rate support grant imposed by the Secretary of State? Either of those methods would be totally unfair to council tenants, who have suffered the greatest increase in housing costs.

Like a good many people in local government and, I suspect, most hon. Members, I have become increasingly confused by the relationship, if there is any, between grant-related expenditure and the targets that have been set. By the Government's definition, grant-related expenditure for a particular authority is an assessment of how much it would cost that authority to provide a typical standard of service, having regard to the authority's circumstances and responsibilities.

That seems to be a reasonable definition. We now find that local authorities in Wales have been set targets, some below the GRE and some above the GRE.

At present, 25 district councils and four county councils in Wales have targets below their grant-related expenditure. If they attempt to provide the typical standard service envisaged in the Government's definition of GRE they must inevitably breach their targets and become subject to a reduction in their grants. Gwent county council is an example of this. It has a target of £2·5 million below the grant-related expenditure figure. Will it be penalised if it spends up to its GRE level by providing the same standard of service that applies in other parts of the country?

Gwynedd is in the same position. Its target is £86·25 million and the grant-related expenditure is £87·4 million. Does the right hon. Gentleman feel that it would be reasonable for the Government, even within their own parameters, not to penalise any authority unless the expenditure goes above the GRE and not just above the target?

If authorities knew where they stood, it would be of some help. The snag is that the situation has become so complicated and confused that some councils are cheering and saying, "Hurrah for targets," and others in different positions are saying, "Hurrah for GREs." That is ridiculous. If the GRE was intended to express the amount of money which a local authority ought to expend to provide a fairly uniform standard of service, I cannot see the logic of penalising local authorities that provide it.

On 20 December, when the Secretary of State made his announcement, he made some play about the position of Mid-Glamorgan. I have spent some time getting the figures from Mid-Glamorgan. I use Mid-Glamorgan as an example that has implications for most other councils in Wales. Mid-Glamorgan has a 1983–84 budget of £207·9 million. That is 4·4 per cent. above the target of £199·1 million. I should like to think that Government Departments such as the Ministry of Defence always got their expenditure to within 4·4 per cent.

The Secretary of State had this to say about targets to the Welsh Consultative Council last October:
"However they are viewed, targets are not cash limits for individual authorities and in no way reduce the right of an individual local authority to spend at the level it thinks appropriate".
When looking at Mid-Glamorgan, we must ask—this applies to other authorities—whether it is a profligate authority or whether its budget proposals are appropriate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]

It ill becomes anyone to say "Yes" until he has heard some of the facts about the area we are discussing. The facts clearly show that Mid-Glamorgan county council has made an appropriate decision.

Education in Mid-Glamorgan has suffered £10 million in cuts over the last three years. The authority has reduced its teaching force by 500, and only 160 of those were brought about by falling rolls. If it was to meet the Government's new target, it would need to cut a further £4 million from its standstill budget of last year.

The only realistic way of making such a cut in Mid-Glamorgan's education services would be to end totally the option of nursery education. That would make 400 teachers and other non-teaching staff redundant, close schools and mean that in 1983, under Tory Government, nursery education, which has continued in Rhondda for more than 70 years, would come to an end in an attempt to meet the target imposed by the Government.

The thought of a county such as Mid-Glamorgan, with its excessively high unemployment, without nursery education, is a monstrous proposition that no one would support. That high unemployment increases the demands on the education service.

As a consequence of the Government's economic policies, the number of free school meals in Mid-Glamorgan has increased from 14,054 to 25,018 a rise of 80 per cent. The number of clothing allowances has gone up from 2,765 to 9,300, an increase of 300 per cent. Maintenance allowances have gone up from 464 to 920, an increase of 100 per cent. Those are the extra demands made upon Mid-Glamorgan by this miserable Government.

Last March, that education authority received a report from Her Majesty's inspectors drawing attention to the considerable under-achievement by middle ability fourth and fifth year pupils in Welsh secondary schools. Faced with that report, the Mid-Glamorgan county council agreed to appoint 200 extra teachers in September and to restore the cuts in capitation. That is the correct decision, and I support the county council for taking it.

Social services is another of the county council's high-spending departments, but the extra money that has been earmarked has nothing to do with improved services. The county council is merely seeking to maintain the same level of service for the greater number of people who need it.

Industrial injury and disease is particularly high in Mid-Glamorgan. The death rate there is 17 per cent. higher than the average for England and Wales. Diseases of the respiratory system are 53 per cent. higher than the average for England and Wales. The percentage of people permanently unfit for employment is twice as great in Mid-Glamorgan as the percentage in England and Wales.

Those facts, coupled with the geographical difficulties associated with steep valley communities—where the number of houses lacking essential amenities is the highest in the country—create complex situations that often require considerable resources in staff time, building works and equipment to provide the minimum help necessary.

Today in Mid-Glamorgan, 1,200 disabled people are awaiting a first visit from county council officers for the physically impaired. An extra £400,000 is to be spent to help those people. That is not profligacy. It is an act of common decency and humanity.

Mid-Glamorgan and other local authorities should have regard to the services required by their citizens as well as a regard—despite the Secretary of State's views—to the unemployment arising from spending cuts. The right hon. Gentleman has again continued with his obsession for reducing local authority staff. If he knew more about the subject, he would know that as more and more staff have been cut, more and more services throughout Wales have deteriorated.

Since March 1979, the number of full-time staff has fallen by 15,500, and the number of part-time staff by a further 2,500.

In his opening remarks the Secretary of State said that more needs to be done. At what cost are the staff to be cut? The cutting of staff is already playing havoc with social services and others in local government. Cuts are causing unemployment and worsening local government services. Those facts should be taken into account, not just by Mid-Glamorgan but by all other Welsh local authorities.

Despite all the pious hopes of the Secretary of State for Wales, the present rate support grant settlement, like all his previous ones—this is a view shared by people who know a great deal more about this matter than almost anyone in the Chamber—will lead to higher rates and rents, increased unemployment and poorer services. For those reasons I trust that every Opposition Member will oppose the motion.

I remind the House that the debate must end shortly before midnight. It is evident that many hon. Members wish to speak.

11.15 pm

It is a remarkable achievement that, during a period in which responsible financial management has to be the Government's guideline, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State can provide a 5 per cent. increase in the rate support grant. The Government cannot be accused of being unreasonable in a difficult period.

I find a curious paradox in the dilemma of the control of local government expenditure. It is difficult for responsible councils—not all councils are responsible—to bring current expenditure under control, and that must be compared with the great difficulty in achieving desirable worthwhile capital expenditure. The capital expenditure record of every local council in Wales is distressingly poor. It is an area in which great doubts—not of a party political nature—are raised about the degree to which the constitutional system is geared to ensuring that type of expenditure is related to the appropriate long-term expenditure.

I have asked questions about the utilisation of the total resources available on housing expenditure by some of the more responsible Welsh local councils. I am glad to say that some of the more responsible are in mid-Wales. The amount that has been used is rarely more than half the total available.

I underline the paradox of the difficulty of controlling current expenditure with the difficulty of incurring responsible capital expenditure.

I have made what I believe is the appropriate comment about the generosity of the Welsh Office in the overall increase that has been provided for the coming year. I want now to concentrate, for the first time, on the inadequacy of the statistical machinery by which the assessment of the needs of counties and districts is made.

There was a false dawn early in this Parliament. I am a convinced supporter of the Government. I believe that the Government's record in mid-Wales is one of which we have reason to be proud. If there is one aspect of the performance of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his colleagues in the Welsh Office about which I am critical, it is the complacent and slow-moving action of the Welsh Office in the reassessment of the formulae on which the rate support grant is levied.

The system almost defies the abilities of ordinary humans to comprehend. It is a regression analysis formula which draws on over 300 factors, among which is sparsity of population. In a county which has the smallest population in England and Wales—barely 100,000 people live in Powys—yet one of the largest areas, the provision of local government services over a wide area puts a strain on the services which is disproportionate to the revenue which can be raised at the local base. I am describing in extreme form what can also be found in several other rural counties in Wales.

One hoped that when the control of the allocation of the rate support grant moved to the Welsh Office there would be more flexibility in analysing the needs of rural counties. I am distressed about the slowness of Welsh Office Ministers in responding to this situation.

Some situations are so obvious that they barely need to be described. I do not intend to take much of the time of the House, but I will give the obvious example: a fire engine can hardly be required to cover an area with a radius of 60 miles. It follows that the cost of providing a bare minimum of essential services is far greater in rural than in urban areas. The results for Powys are so absurd that in every year's settlement it is necessary for a note of grace to be brought into the decision by the Secretary of State and provision is then made for a discretionary allowance.

My hon. Friend should not imply that nothing is being done. Already in this year—these things are reviewed every year—adjustments have been made to the GRE to take account of sparsity factors in rural areas, particularly for transport. Powys gets about 90 per cent. in respect of particular allowances, while Mid-Glamorgan, say, gets only 60 per cent. There is a greater sparsity allowance built in to the GRE, and this has been altered this year.

I accept that there are particular places where adjustments have been made. What I am still driving at—I am not satisfied by my right hon. Friend's reply on this point—is that there is a basic built-in cost for all the rural councils, whether at county or district level, which is considerable. For example, public transport is virtually non existent in rural areas. The fire service I have mentioned. Then there is refuse collection, subject choice and computer studies in secondary schools, leisure centres, choice of library books and large museums within reasonable travelling distance. The list could go on endlessly, but I do not intend to go on endlessly.

It is interesting that, in the appendices relating to relevant expenditure, the proportion that is allowed out of the current expenditure for local transport has, indeed, fallen between 1982–83 and 1983–84. I agree with the hon. Gentleman about that particular aspect, which is extremely worrying for the people of my constituency, too.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that thoughtful and informative interjection.

I make no complaint about the degree to which my right hon. Friend and his colleagues have responded to problems which have been identified as arising from rural circumstances. Last winter was very bad. I hope we shall see nothing like it in the next few weeks. I cannot complain about the way in which allowance has been made in specific cases, but if there is one quality in country people that a Conservative Secretary of State ought to appreciate, it is their self-reliance and reluctance to seek additional help.

In this context it is absurd that Powys county council has to rely on a remarkable degree of charity—that is what it is—when it come to discretionary decisions by the Secretary of State on the allocation of a certain margin of funds. We are relying on the good will of the Secretary of State of the day, but the inhabitants of Powys would be content to rely upon objective criteria on the needs of specific areas.

Would my hon. Friend and neighbour care to comment on the glaring inconsistency that whereas Powys had £387 per head rate support grant at county level in 1981–82, which is ahead of the Welsh average, it had an average of only £61 per head at district level, which is 30 per cent. below the Welsh average? Does he agree that this is an unfair and manifestly glaring omission by the Welsh Office?

This is yet further evidence of the fact that the system in the Welsh Office computer is inadequate to reflect the problems not only of Powys but of Dyfed, of Gwynedd, and, for all I know, to some extent even of Clwyd.

I realise that there is a constitutional problem in the degree to which the association of local councils decides to review the allocation of the formula. This is the only area in which I am not satisfied with the excellent leadership in the Welsh Office. I am not satisfied that we have had a sufficient lead in re-examining the rate support grant formula with particular reference to the issue of sparsity. We need a more decisive commitment from the Welsh Office than we have so far received.

11.28 pm

I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Hooson). The points he has made are valid but difficult. The formula is complicated already. Much though I agree with him on the need to develop indicators that give the right reflection of the needs of rural and urban areas, one has to get a formula that is acceptable to both types of area and the right weighting of the various elements within that formula, such as sparsity and super-sparsity, the proportion of people over 75 who have a greater demand on services, the miles of road that have to be maintained and this sort of thing. The difficulty is deciding how a finite pool of money should be carved up.

I suspect that at the end of the day a political judgment has to be reached, although nobody would admit to that. That judgment may be reached before or after things are published. Then one can use a multi-parameter model to justify one's conclusions. If there are to be need indicators they should stand up on a local basis. There are some sort of need indicators developed in the Welsh formula but then we see at table 9.2 a rider:
"Since no part of the block grant is earmarked for particular services, the tables in this Appendix do not form a basis for calculating a notional allocation of either grant-related expenditure or grant to individual authorities for any particular service."
If there are to be need indicators, they must stand up for each service and in each authority and in Wales as a whole. At the moment, we have moved only half-way towards that position. I know the difficulties. I shall not press the point. If, however, there are to be these parameters, it would be preferable to have the whole package built up element by element. One would therefore know what was available for individual services in individual authority areas.

Does the hon. Gentleman consider, as we are dealing with matters in a much smaller Welsh context, that it might be useful to reduce the number of factors involved to 30 or 40, which would permit a manageable debate on the needs of different areas?

It is obvious that hon. Members are more likely to understand 40 factors than a number several times higher. The problem, I suspect, will be the size of the ultimate cake. We in Plaid Cymru will be arguing always to try and obtain as large a cake as possible.

The settlement can be discussed only in the context of the economic problems facing Wales and also facing individual ratepayers, commercial and industrial concerns and especially the worst off, those who depend on social services, school meals and, as the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis) says, school transport. The economy is in an almighty mess. The need is greater but the resources provided have not significantly increased and are not adequate.

For ratepayers, there are other additional costs. The water rate has been increased by 6 per cent. That is an average figure for all Welsh water authority customers. The increase will not, however, be applied for the water sold to Severn-Trent water authority. This means that the increase for Welsh domestic ratepayers will be greater than 6 per cent. It will be hard to bear. This settlement comes at a time when Wales may be missing out on European regional development fund grants. This fund is a finite sum, which is now to be redirected mainly to the inner cities, and the switch will be at the expense of areas that have benefited in the past.

A document issued by the Department of the Environment on 13 December states:
"The Government is concerned to present the case for ERDF aid to Inner Cities in ways which are least likely to generate opposition. … Indeed, we would like to minimise publicity at this stage".
One can understand that view if areas such as Wales are to miss out severely should ERDF funds be directed to inner city areas at their expense. I hope that the Secretary of State is putting up a determined fight on this issue in Cabinet.

In the planning of transport and buses, it is difficult to organise a programme for one year. There is a need to look two or three years ahead. A rolling programme is necessary in order to devise a coherent investment pattern for the purchase of buses to serve rural Wales. This cannot be done on the basis of a one-year settlement and better information is required for such planning.

The Secretary of State has said little about the capital programme. We had expected in Gwynedd to have a capital settlement in excess of £11 million. We appear to have £7¼ million, which is cutting matters to the knuckle. As a result, a vital project for the economy of Gwynedd, the link road to Llandudno, was axed from the programme today. It is, however, much needed because of the increased pressure of traffic with the building of the Conway bypass. The Welsh Office has been short-sighted in not providing additional funds to meet that requirement.

Given the increase in council house rents in recent years, I would have thought that there could have been a moratorium on increases this year. Council house rent payers have suffered enough.

When the Secretary of State announced this settlement on the Monday before Christmas, he underlined several times the point that "on average" local authorities need not increase rates. He talked in terms of averages again today. As the right hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Jones) said, there is to be a reduction in the proportion of the total relevant expenditure that is to be met by aggregate Exchequer grants. There is to be a reduction from 72·5 per cent. to 70·4 per cent. That is a reduction of 2·1 percentage points. That figure should be compared with the rate borne expenditure proportion of 27·5 percentage points on which the calculation was made last year. That means that we are losing 7·6 per cent. or, to put it another way, we need an additional 7·6 per cent. income from rates to retain the same expenditure.

I told the Secretary of State on the last Monday before Christmas that that meant that there would have to be a 9p increase in the rates in Gwynedd, to which anything else to meet inflation would have to be added. He disagreed, and said that, on average there would be no need for rate increases. In fact, the rates in Gwynedd have been increased today by 14p. That represents 9p to regain what it has lost and an additional 5p to keep them more or less in line with inflation.

I hope that the Secretary of State will accept that whereas on average he might have been right, when he applies that average to local circumstances, especially authorities such as Gwynedd,—the reserves of which at the end of the present financial year are expected to be virtually identical to the reserves at the beginning of the year—the formula does not work. The ratepayers in Gwynedd are facing a 14p increase in the rates because of the attempt to maintain services there. That is being done after Gwynedd has already, regrettably, cut 116 permanent staff and 187 part time employees. Those people were doing much-needed work in an authority that is not, by any stretch of the imagination, overstaffed.

I realise that the hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. Williams) would like to cut all services and leave people who rely on them without anything. He may be doing that in his constituency. Nevertheless, the services in Gwynedd are vital.

Another factor to which the Secretary of State has not referred is that the changing demographic pattern works in two ways. There may be a reduction in school rolls, but there is an increase in the elderly population that needs to be sustained. Whereas the Secretary of State is willing to accept the underspending that may have arisen because of falling school rolls—he uses that as a justification for not giving a greater settlement this year—he has not taken account of the increased costs at the other end of the age scale.

Will the Minister clarify whether there is a substantial transfer of resources from the county to the district in the way in which reserves are being used to justify a need not to cut services or increase rates? I suspect that reserves may have increased in those local councils with difficulties with their housing programme and that that increase in total reserves is being used as a justification for not giving the counties the money that they need.

Will the Minister also reaffirm what I said in an intervention in the speech of the hon. Member for Rhondda? Will he seriously consider not penalising any authority the expenditure of which does not exceed the GRE even though it may not meet the target? Gwynedd will spend £87·4 million—identical with the GRE and the budget that was passed today. If the Government penalise on the basis of the target, Gwynedd will be penalised. If the Government use common sense and say that Gwynedd has not spent above GRE, Gwynedd's settlement will be accepted.

11.38 pm

There can be little doubt that, in the past three years, the consitutional balance has swung heavily against local government in favour of central Government. The freedom that has been left to local government is the freedom to spend less and to avoid close ending and hold back.

The first two reports reduce grants for those authorities that have exceeded targets. The essential fallacy is the Government's assumption that the targets that they have set have some objective validity. As the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) said, they are arbitrary targets that often depend on political assessments, yet on the basis of these arbitrary tagets, the penalties have been set.

The 1982–83 targets were not announced until the end of May 1982, already into the budget year when expenditure decisions had been taken.

In an earlier intervention, I told the Secretary of State that Wales had been treated more harshly than England in penalties. His response was that it was simply a token. If it was a token, why did he proceed with the penalties? Other hon. Members properly said that for three years a reduced level of expenditure has been met by central Government grant, this time reduced by 2·1 per cent. to 70·4 per cent. Expenditure has increased by almost 7 per cent. and the block grant by almost 3 per cent. The shortfall must be met from some source, and it inevitably must mean a greater burden on ratepayers.

The Government, in their manifestos for the 1974 and 1979 general elections, spoke about the abolition of rates, yet are now adding greater burdens to the ratepayers—both domestic and industrial. They have added to the burden imposed by the halving of the domestic rate relief in Wales when the relief was put at 36p in the pound to compensate for higher water charges—

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that in South Glamorgan and Cardiff it is theoretically possible that, using balances held by the councils the rates could be reduced by between 10p and 20p in the pound this year?

That may be true for those authorities, but the balances are there for special reasons. The Government have paid insufficient regard to the revenue effects of the welcome increase in capital expenditure. For example, for the year 1983–84 Swansea will have a capital expenditure of £24 million, which will inevitably lead to an increase on the revenue budget of about 6 per cent. When we add to that 6 per cent. inflation of 5 or 6 per cent., it makes a mockery of the Government figures of an overall increase of 7 per cent.

There is uncertainty about the current system. It will be three years before the 1983–84 grant will be finalised, and the three-year period will inevitably lead to caution by city treasurers.

The real charge against the Secretary of State and his advisers on the rate support grant settlement is that they are living in a world of numbers, not people. In our world, we see the increase in unemployment, poverty, demands on the social services, the new calls on the welfare state and the decline in bus services and educational facilities. Yet the rate support grant settlement takes no account of that, but is consistent with the Government's overall monetarist policies.

11.43 pm

It is difficult to be brief when dealing with such a complex subject as the rate support grant. However, because of the limited time available I shall be brief. I shall try to concentrate on those aspects of the settlement that are especially relevant to Dyfed county council and the Ceredigion district council, which is part of my constituency.

This is the third year of the new system introduced by the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. A pattern has emerged for the methodology for calculating the grant entitlement of individual authorities. I am sure that the Secretary of State will be glad to hear that I have been informed that Ceredigion district council has been generally satisfied with the level of grant support that it has received.

That is not to say that all is well in Wales. An authority such as Ceredigion district council, with a target total 25 per cent. below the Government's own assessment of spending need GRE will find it far more difficult to keep within the target. Does the Minister agree that if that district council fails to meet the target and is classed as an overspender by the Welsh Office that will be a most unfair description of an authority with the fourth lowest district rate in Wales? What will be the effect of this different basis of assessment on a lower spending authority such as Ceredigion district council?

Finally, is the Minister satisfied that all the necessary services in Wales will be maintained as they have been in the past few years?

11.45 pm

The Opposition are convinced, for the following reasons, that we should oppose the motion.

First, the aggregate figure allowed in the settlement will not allow local authorities in Wales to maintain their existing services and certainly will not allow them to carry out any much-needed improvements.

We have already seen from the example given by the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) that rates in Wales will rise this year. His figure of 14p in the pound for Gwynedd excluded the rates that district councils themselves will add, so there is no doubt that rates will rise.

The Secretary of State himself accepted that council rents would rise. Indeed, he seemed to welcome that. The Government seem also to welcome the fact that if local authorities are to meet Government targets there will have to be further redundancies and poorer services by local authorities in Wales.

For those reasons, but above all because we regard the Government's attitude to local government as an assault on the very principle of local democracy, we oppose the motion. Whatever mandate the Government may have for national decisions, locally and democratically elected councillors have a mandate for their own decisions in their own localities. I fully accept that they must answer to their electorate. That is what local government is about. The Conservatives came to office on an election manifesto claiming that they would extend the role of local government, but all that they have done is to place it in ever tighter bonds.

I ask all my hon. Friends to support me in voting against the motion.

11.47 pm

The hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells) asked whether I believed that services could be maintained. As I said in opening the debate, I believe that they can.

The hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) referred to an increase in rates by Gwynedd county council. He will know that last year, for reasons that I understand, that authority cut its precept and cut balances. To some extent, therefore, its situation is rather different from that of many other authorities in that it is catching up on a previous decision. It is clear from what the hon. Gentleman said, however, that it intends to exceed the target and will therefore suffer a penalty. That is the decision that it has taken.

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong, however, to say that a political element enters into the actual formula of grant distribution. Every year since I have had responsibility I have accepted in total and without amendment the GRE formula proposed by the Welsh local authority associations.

Although the hon. Member for Caernarvon was wrong about that, he was absolutely right to point to the central dilemma of the debate. The right hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Jones) says that we should provide more for areas of urban deprivation such as Mid-Glamorgan while my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Hooson) says that we should provide more for rural areas with problems of sparsity.

I understand and sympathise with both views but sparsity factors are taken into account. They have been revised, not as a discretionary decision taken by me, or as a charitable decision as he implies, but because formulae have been worked out and agreed by negotiation within the local authority associations.

When all has been said about the suffering of the rural areas, it is fair to point out that the GRE per head in Powys is £433 compared with the Welsh county average of £366. Though, my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Williams) was right to draw attention to the lower figure for the districts, when he quoted £61 or £62 per head, I think that he was referring to the 1981–82 figure. That figure is up to £72 per head for 1983–84. The actual rates bills paid in Powys are about the lowest in Wales. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Hooson) will, from time to time, take a certain amount of credit for that instead of drawing down upon his head the blame that he appears, in a sense, to be attributing to me.

The right hon. Member for Rhondda and others implied that because there was a reduction in the rate percentage grant of £28 million, that must mean an increase in rates. But he and the hon. Member for Caernarvon entirely ignored the figures that I have spelt out, and the fact that the Welsh local authorities had over-provided previously by more than the amount that he quoted. The right hon. Gentleman asked me whether the associations accepted what I said about maintaining services and the level of rate increases. The associations fully accept that if they spend in line with the settlement there need be no rate increases. They entirely accept the mathematics of the formula. They argue, as the right hon. Gentleman has argued, that in many cases they will not be able to do so. Many of them have taken note of the point in my statement in December, and which I repeated today, about the substantial increase that has occurred in balances. Many local authorities will think that it is absolutely right to help industry as much as possible and to use some of those balances to hold down the rate burdens. I hope that they will do so.

The right hon. Member for Rhondda also referred to rents. He said that I should hang my head in shame because of what we have done with rents. The right hon. Gentleman was a member of a Government who wanted to do exactly what we have done but did not have the guts or the integrity to do it. The right hon. Gentleman is the one who should be hanging his head in shame. We do not need lectures from him.

As for the criticism that in some cases the targets are being set below GRE, the right hon. Gentleman appeared to be suggesting that Gwent, for example, was not providing a reasonable standard of service. Any individual local authority is perfectly free—Gwent and Gwynedd included—to judge what a reasonable standard of service is and whether it can be provided more economically. Individual local authorities have shown that it is possible to cut numbers and provide an adequate service. Birmingham, for example, has shown that substantial improvements can be made in refuse collecting services by making an agreement with its employees to provide as good a service as previously, but with fewer people. That is an example of what can be done.

The right hon. Gentleman then tried to have it the other way round. Having made the point about targets in some cases being below GRE, he then turned to the problems of Mid-Glamorgan. No one would have judged from what he had said that there the target is set by the Government above GRE in recognition of many of the problems to which he drew attention. The leader of the Mid-Glamorgan council made it clear in his speech before Christmas that he was not acting for the reasons that the right hon. Gentleman set out, but that he was making a deliberate political challenge. His words were widely reported, and he challenged me to hold back in an election year. I made it clear to him, and I make it clear again, that if he likes to issue political challenges of that sort I shall have no hesitation in holding back in an election year. Having set out the targets, we shall ensure that they are carried through.

Scaremongering nonsense has been talked. The right hon. Gentleman said that it would be a monstrous proposition to close all nursery schools in Mid-Glamorgan. I agree with him, but that is not my proposition. It is the proposition that is being advanced, apparently, by the Mid-Glamorgan county council. The county council has a free choice in the way it spends its money and the priorities that it selects.

The settlement that we have made is fair and reasonable. The over-assumptions made by the local authorities previously and the large balances that exist give a real opportunity for authorities not only to hold rates this year but to cut rates for industry and to do something that the right hon. Member for Rhondda says should be a priority, which is to provide jobs. However, he is not prepared to reinforce his words with action.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 260, Noes 199.

Division No. 48]

[11.56 pm

AYES

Adley, RobertArnold, Tom
Alexander, RichardAspinwall, Jack
Ancram, MichaelAtkins, Rt Hon H (S'thorne)

Atkins, Robert (Preston N)Grant, Sir Anthony
Atkinson, David (B'm'th, E)Gray, Rt Hon Hamish
Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone)Greenway, Harry
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds)
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Bendall, VivianGrist, Ian
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)Gummer, John Selwyn
Benyon, W. (Buckingham)Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Berry, Hon AnthonyHampson, Dr Keith
Best, KeithHannam, John
Bevan, David GilroyHaselhurst, Alan
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnHastings, Stephen
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Blackburn, JohnHawkins, Sir Paul
Blaker, PeterHayhoe, Barney
Body, RichardHeddle, John
Bonsor, Sir NicholasHenderson, Barry
Boscawen, Hon RobertHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Bowden, AndrewHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Boyson, Dr RhodesHolland, Philip (Carlton)
Braine, Sir BernardHooson, Tom
Bright, GrahamHordern, Peter
Brinton, TimHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Brittan, Rt. Hon. LeonHowell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Brooke, Hon PeterHowell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Brotherton, MichaelHunt, David (Wirral)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Browne, John (Winchester)Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant Godman
Bruce-Gardyne, JohnJessel, Toby
Buck, AntonyJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Budgen, NickJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Bulmer, EsmondJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Butcher, JohnKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Butler, Hon AdamKershaw, Sir Anthony
Carlisle, John (Luton West)King, Rt Hon Tom
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Knox, David
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)Lamont, Norman
Chalker, Mrs. LyndaLang, Ian
Channon, Rt. Hon. PaulLatham, Michael
Chapman, SydneyLawrence, Ivan
Churchill, W. S.Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)Lee, John
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Clegg, Sir WalterLloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Cockeram, EricLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Colvin, MichaelLoveridge, John
Cope, JohnLuce, Richard
Costain, Sir AlbertLyell, Nicholas
Cranborne, ViscountMcCrindle, Robert
Critchley, JulianMacfarlane, Neil
Crouch, DavidMacKay, John (Argyll)
Dickens, GeoffreyMcNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Dorrell, StephenMcNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.McQuarrie, Albert
Dunn, Robert (Dartford)Madel, David
Durant, TonyMajor, John
Dykes, HughMarland, Paul
Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnMarten, Rt Hon Neil
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)Mates, Michael
Eggar, TimMather, Carol
Elliott, Sir WilliamMaude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Emery, Sir PeterMawby, Ray
Eyre, ReginaldMawhinney, Dr Brian
Fairbairn, NicholasMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Fairgrieve, Sir RussellMayhew, Patrick
Faith, Mrs SheilaMellor, David
Fenner, Mrs PeggyMeyer, Sir Anthony
Finsberg, GeoffreyMiller, Hal (B'grove)
Fisher, Sir NigelMills, Iain (Meriden)
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Fookes, Miss JanetMiscampbell, Norman
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanMoate, Roger
Fox, MarcusMonro, Sir Hector
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Moore, John
Gardner, Sir EdwardMorgan, Geraint
Garel-Jones, TristanMorrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Glyn, Dr AlanMudd, David
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMurphy, Christopher

Myles, DavidSpeed, Keith
Neale, GerrardSpeller, Tony
Nelson, AnthonySpicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Neubert, MichaelSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Newton, TonySproat, Iain
Normanton, TomSquire, Robin
Onslow, CranleyStainton, Keith
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.Stanbrook, Ivor
Osborn, JohnStanley, John
Page, John (Harrow, West)Steen, Anthony
Page, Richard (SW Herts)Stevens, Martin
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilStewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Parris, MatthewStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Patten, John (Oxford)Stokes, John
Pattie, GeoffreyStradling Thomas, J.
Pawsey, JamesTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Percival, Sir IanTemple-Morris, Peter
Pink, R. BonnerThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Pollock, AlexanderThompson, Donald
Porter, BarryThorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Prentice, Rt Hon RegThornton, Malcolm
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Prior, Rt Hon JamesTownsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Proctor, K. HarveyTrippier, David
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyVaughan, Dr Gerard
Rathbone, TimViggers, Peter
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)Waddington, David
Rees-Davies, W. R.Wakeham, John
Renton, TimWaldegrave, Hon William
Rhodes James, RobertWalker, B. (Perth)
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonWaller, Gary
Ridley, Hon NicholasWard, John
Rippon, Rt Hon GeoffreyWarren, Kenneth
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)Watson, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conway)Wells, Bowen
Rossi, HughWells, John (Maidstone)
Rost, PeterWheeler, John
Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.Whitney, Raymond
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Wilkinson, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Williams, D. (Montgomery)
Shelton, William (Streatham)Winterton, Nicholas
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Wolfson, Mark
Shepherd, RichardYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Shersby, MichaelYounger, Rt Hon George
Silvester, Fred
Sims, RogerTellers for the Ayes:
Skeet, T. H. H.Mr. Alastair Goodlad and
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Mr. Archie Hamilton.

NOES

Abse, LeoCook, Robin F.
Adams, AllenCowans, Harry
Allaun, FrankCraigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)
Anderson, DonaldCrowther, Stan
Archer, Rt Hon PeterCryer, Bob
Ashley, Rt Hon JackCunliffe, Lawrence
Ashton, JoeCunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,)Dalyell, Tam
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Davidson, Arthur
Beith, A. J.Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Benn, Rt Hon TonyDavis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N)Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)
Booth, Rt Hon AlbertDeakins, Eric
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)Dewar, Donald
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)Dixon, Donald
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Dobson, Frank
Buchan, NormanDormand, Jack
Callaghan, Rt Hon J.Douglas, Dick
Campbell, IanDubs, Alfred
Campbell-Savours, DaleDunnett, Jack
Canavan, DennisDunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Carter-Jones, LewisEastham, Ken
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Clarke, Thomas (C'b'dge, A'rie)Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)Ennals, Rt Hon David
Cohen, StanleyEvans, loan (Aberdare)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.Evans, John (Newton)
Conlan, BernardFlannery, Martin

Ford, BenParker, John
Forrester, JohnParry, Robert
Foster, DerekPavitt, Laurie
Foulkes, GeorgePendry, Tom
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldPrescott, John
Garrett, John (Norwich S)Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Race, Reg
George, BruceRadice, Giles
Golding, JohnRees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Graham, TedRichardson, Jo
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hardy, PeterRoberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Harman, Harriet (Peckham)Robertson, George
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyRooker, J. W.
Haynes, FrankRoper, John
Heffer, Eric S.Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)Rowlands, Ted
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)Ryman, John
Home Robertson, JohnSever, John
Homewood, WilliamSheerman, Barry
Hooley, FrankSheldon, Rt Hon R.
Howells, GeraintShore, Rt Hon Peter
Hoyle, DouglasSilkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Huckfield, LesSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Silverman, Julius
Hughes, Roy (Newport)Skinner, Dennis
Janner, Hon GrevilleSmith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
John, BrynmorSnape, Peter
Johnson, James (Hull West)Soley, Clive
Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)Spearing, Nigel
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldSpellar, John Francis (B'ham)
Kerr, RussellSpriggs, Leslie
Kilroy-Silk, RobertStallard, A. W.
Kinnock, NeilSteel, Rt Hon David
Lambie, DavidStoddart, David
Lamond, JamesStott, Roger
Leadbitter, TedStrang, Gavin
Leighton, RonaldStraw, Jack
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Litherland, RobertTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Lofthouse, GeoffreyThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
McCartney, HughThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
McDonald, Dr OonaghThorne, Stan (Preston South)
McElhone, Mrs HelenTilley, John
McGuire, Michael (Ince)Tinn, James
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Torney, Tom
McKelvey, WilliamVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
MacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorWainwright, E. (Dearne V)
McNamara, KevinWalker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
McWilliam, JohnWardell, Gareth
Marks, KennethWatkins, David
Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton)Weetch, Ken
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Welsh, Michael
Martin, M (G'gow S'burn)White, Frank R.
Mason, Rt Hon RoyWhite, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Maxton, JohnWhitehead, Phillip
Maynard, Miss JoanWhitlock, William
Meacher, MichaelWigley, Dafydd
Mikardo, IanWilliams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)
Millan, Rt Hon BruceWilson, William (C'try SE)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Winnick, David
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)Woodall, Alec
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)Woolmer, Kenneth
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Wright, Sheila
Moyle, Rt Hon RolandYoung, David (Bolton E)
Newens, Stanley
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonTellers for the Noes:
O'Neill, MartinMr. George Morton and
Palmer, ArthurDr. Edmund Marshall.
Park, George

Question accordingly agree to

Resolved,

That the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1980 (Supplementary) (No. 2) (Amendment) Report 1982, which was laid before this House on 17th January, be approved.

Resolved,

That the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1982 (Supplementary) Report 1982, which was laid before this House on 20th December, be approved.
That the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1982 (Supplementary) (Amendment) Report 1982, which was laid before this House on 17th January, be approved.
That the Welsh Rate Support Grant Report 1983–84, which was laid before this House on 20th December, be approved.—[Mr. Nicholas Edwards.]