HC Deb 30 June 1955 vol 543 cc554-5

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

There is a rather obscure reference to Scotland in the Clause. Scottish Members would like the reference to the Local Government (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act, 1954, explained.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. Nixon Browne)

I am very glad to have the opportunity to say a word for Scotland. This is not an obscure reference; this is a very important Clause. There is some money going, and Scotland wants to get her fair share of it.

The Clause applies to Scotland in so far as it provides for the payment, out of moneys provided by Parliament, of any increase in the Exchequer equalisation grant or education grant attributable to the Bill. Paragraph (a) provides for adjustment of the equalisation grant as a result of the Bill, in both countries. So far as we are concerned, the reference to the Act of 1954 covers the Goschen formula—eleven-eightieths. Reference is made to Part II of the Act of 1948, because that provided the method of calculating the grant before the Goschen formula was used.

Adjustments will be required, therefore, partly arising from payments of rates on English police stations in the future and more especially as a result of the new method of valuing gas boards in England and Wales. The new arrangements for the payment of rates on gas undertakings are to be applied retrospectively as from 1st April, 1952. If, as a result, English local authorities become entitled to larger grants, payments already made for 1952–53 and subsequent years may have to be adjusted. It would follow that additional grants would have to be paid in Scotland also, because Scotland's equalisation grant is calculated on that paid in England and Wales.

The provisions relating to the effect of the gas board valuations on the equalisation grant are retrospective only, because for the future the new valuations would affect the grant automatically, without any special provision.

Paragraph (b) has no Scottish application. Paragraph (c) in its application to Scotland relates only to education grant. The total amount of education grant payable in England and Wales each year since 1952–53 may be altered as a result of the new rateable values placed on gas boards and, if so, the change will be reflected in the Scottish grant, because it amounts to eleven-eightieths of the English grant. I trust that that explains the situation and that hon. Members will therefore accept the Clause.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

It is very nice indeed to have this statement from the Minister that this is a very important reference to Scotland, but it makes it all the more mysterious why he was not here when he were discussing Clause 5, out of which most of these consequences arise because of the change in the rateable system with reference to gas boards. I hope that in future Members of the Scottish Office will take far greater interest in these important matters relating to Scotland.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 11, 12 and 13 ordered to stand part of the Bill.