HC Deb 31 July 1974 vol 878 cc786-7
14. Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if his Department will give advice to the new local authorities in Scotland with a view to curtailing expenditure on council office development.

Mr. Millan

Authorities are already aware that approval can be given only for office building that my right hon. Friend considers essential.

Mr. Steel

Does the Minister agree that the people of Scotland will express astonishment if the creation of fewer local authorities is to be accompanied by an orgy of council office building? Will the Minister use his powers in granting loan sanction and look carefully at applications, such as that from the Ettrick and Lauderdale District Council for a building at present costing over £600,000 when existing accommodation could possibly be improved and made satisfactory?

Mr. Millan

I know of the situation to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. I can only repeat that this application, like any other applications for council buildings, will be rigorously examined. Only essential projects will be allowed to go ahead.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Will the Minister also bear in mind the concern being expressed in some areas of Scotland, particularly the Tayside region, about the policy of the new regional authority in proceeding to appoint a large number of salaried posts beyond those which were initially recommended by the advisory commission?

Mr. Millan

That is rather a different question, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of State in the Lords has already spoken to the local authority associations about the need for economy, asking them not to build up excessive numbers of staff. I have no reason to suppose that the generality of new local authorities in Scotland are unaware of the Government's view about the need for economy.