HC Deb 23 July 1957 vol 574 cc201-2
19. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the Educational Institute of Scotland concerning the proposals for the reform of local government finance.

Mr. N. Macpherson

The Institute has represented that the proposed general grant system would restrict essential educational development and has urged the retention of the percentage grant system for educational expenditure.

Mr. Hamilton

Can the hon. Gentleman say what the reply will be to that particular representation? Is he aware that almost all educational organisations, not only in Scotland but throughout the United Kingdom, are opposed to these proposals, and are the Government quite determined, despite these protestations from all these organisations, to go on with them?

Mr. Macpherson

My right hon. Friend has carefully considered the representations made but cannot share the view that the general grant will prejudice educational development in Scotland. Indeed, paragraphs 7 and 9 of the Scottish White Paper indicated clearly that adequate provision will be made in the general grant for the maintenance of the educational service.

Mr. Hoy

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that his right hon. Friend, in reply to a Question which I put down a fortnight ago, said that he would have a meeting with the Educational Institute of Scotland to discuss this very important matter? Is he now telling us that his right hon. Friend has pre-judged the decision by making a decision before the meeting is held?

Mr. Macpherson

It was my noble Friend the Minister of State who met representatives of the Institute on 15th July, and I have been asked what reply was given to them. My noble Friend listened to their representations and, as I said, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is considering their representations.

26. Mr. McInnes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has yet discussed with the local authority associations the findings of the departmental committee appointed to review all aspects of local government finance; and with what result.

Mr. J. N. Browne

My right hon. Friend and my noble Friend the Minister of State had three meetings with the principal Scottish local authority associations to discuss the Government's proposals between the announcement in Parliament on 12th February and the publication of the White Paper on 10th July. There have also been meetings between officials of my Department and local authority officials. All these meetings were confidential. My right hon. Friend has since asked the associations for their views on the White Paper, and he waits their replies.

Mr. McInnes

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Scottish local authorities are disturbed by the fact that no committee has ever reviewed the problem of Scottish local authority finance and that all that happened was that one or two officials were sent to Whitehall to be shown the English formula with a view to adapting it to Scotland with one or two minor adjustments?

Mr. Browne

I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman that the Scottish local authorities had not just the same treatment in this matter as the English local authorities.

Mr. T. Fraser

Has there been any review of local government finance in Scotland by a responsible committee?

Mr. Browne

If by "responsible committee" the hon. Gentleman means a committee of local officials—

Mr. Fraser

Not necessarily officials, but any other responsible persons. Was there a review of the relationship between the Government and local authorities in Scotland by any committee?

Mr. Browne

Of course; by my right hon. Friend and his officials.