HC Deb 23 February 1977 vol 926 cc1392-3
6. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the estimated level of rates in the current year.

Mr. Millan

For the present financial year I have nothing to add to the information given to the hon. Gentleman on 21st October 1976. For the next financial year I am confident that local authorities will react responsibly to the Government's advice that expenditure should be stringently controlled and rate increases kept to the minimum compatible with maintenance of reasonable standards.

Mr. Taylor

Is the Minister aware that the present level of rates is causing immense hardship to individuals, to industry and to commerce? As the Government only yesterday announced new proposals to restrict increases in prices, and as we already have controls on dividends, wages and rents, can he tell the ratepayers of Scotland why he has not put a ceiling on rate increases for next year?

Mr. Millan

It has been interesting, as information has come forward in recent weeks about proposed rate increases for next year, that the increases on the whole—although, of course, the situation varies from one authority to another—have been rather less than was originally forecast. For example, Glasgow yesterday stated that the proposed rate increase there might be only 3p in the pound and Monkland district said that there would be a reduction of 1p in the pound. I believe, therefore, that authorities are paying attention to the exhortations that they have had from the Goverment to exercise due economy in the coming year and that that is the best way to proceed.

Mr. MacCormick

First, does the Secretary of State agree that he has a duty to explain to the people of Scotland that it was the Scottish Conservative Party which created the regional tier of local government in Scotland which has caused many of these problems? Secondly, does he agree that one of the worst features of Strathclyde at present is that it is run by the Labour Party? Thirdly, does he agree that the most successful local authority in Scotland to keep down the rates is the Cumbernauld district, which is run by the Scottish National Party?

Mr. Milan

I do not agree with the last two of those questions. On the first, I do not think that it is necessary for me to explain to the House such iniquities as are in the Local Government Act 1973 since the hon. Gentleman does it so coherently.