HC Deb 05 November 1979 vol 973 cc10-1
6. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what information he has received identifying the areas of services which would be affected should a 5 per cent. cut in resources apply to the budgets of the county councils and district councils in Wales for 1980–81.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

I understand that authorities are considering a variety of options in relation to the revised expenditure targets representing a 5 per cent. reduction in the last Government's planned expenditure. It is for authorities to decide their priorities, and I would not expect them, at this stage, to be making comprehensive information available to the Welsh Office.

Mr. Evans

Does the Minister agree that it is up to local authorities to alert the general public if the Government are to persist with their campaign of slashing public expenditure? Is he aware that the Mid-Glamorgan authority has already identified the closure of all adult education centres, the abandonment of the youth service, the non-admittance of children under 4 to nursery education, the withdrawal of clothing grants and an increase in the teacher-pupil ratio, which will mean the sacking of 259 teachers, if these cuts go ahead? Those apply just to education. Cuts will be made elsewhere in other Departments. Is that not regrettable, and will the Minister reconsider the amount of rate support grant to be given to Wales so as to avoid the slashing of the Welfare State in the Principality?

Mr. Roberts

We certainly do not intend to stand by if some local authorities, having no regard to the nation's economic circumstances, and at the expense of the great majority of responsible authorities, refuse to implement the spending cuts. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Environmental Services has already indicated to the House that measures will be announced shortly to bring home to such authorities the consequences of their behaviour.

Mr. Alan Williams

How does the Minister reconcile that statement with giving greater freedom to local authorities?

Mr. Roberts

I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman is so sensitive on this issue. Listening to him one would not think that he had been a member of a Government who slashed expenditure between 1976–77 and 1977–78. There is nothing new in reducing public expenditure.

Mr. Evans

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.