HC Deb 15 November 1979 vol 973 c1484
7. Mr. Marks

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultation he has had with regard to the need for local authorities to maintain their expenditure on all aspects of the maintenance of law and order, including after-care services to courts and those education and social services which help to prevent crime.

Mr. Brittan

The Government have made clear to local authorities the priority they attach to expenditure on the law and order services, and that in particular the plans for courts, police and probation services should not suffer any reduction.

Mr. Marks

Is the Home Secretary satisfied, then, that there will be no cuts in the staffs dealing with truancy in schools and in the social services departments which give counselling to young people?

Mr. Brittan

These are matters for the local authorities. We have indicated that we think it right that priority should be given to matters concerned in the broadest sense with the maintenance and improvement of law and order. I have no doubt that the local authorities concerned will, because of their own public opinion, wish to give to these matters the priority that the Government attach to them.

Mr. John Townend

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the level of expenditure is not necessarily an indication of the effectiveness of a service, and that, although law and order is the first priority, there is scope for reduction in bureaucracy in this as in every other area of local Government.

Mr. Brittan

I agree that that is so. My hon. Friend, with his very great experience of these matters, has shown that that is absolutely the case.