HC Deb 17 February 1982 vol 18 c284
20. Mr. McWilliam

asked the Secretary of Stale for the Environment whether he is considering the abolition of the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance.

Mr. Heseltine

No, Sir.

Mr. McWilliam

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the description"consultative council" is inaccurate as applied to this body, given the delay in convening statutory meetings to announce the rate support grant order and the use of diktats rather than consultation? Does he agree that the lack of consultation is evidenced by the opposition of the three local authority associations to the 1980 Act and to the Local Government Finance (No. 2) Bill?

Mr. Heseltine

The hon. Gentleman does not follow the deliberations of the consultative council very closely. Following discussions, I increased aggregate local government expenditure in 1982–83 by £1 billion.

Mr. Hardy

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider with the consultative council the position of the Rotherham metropolitan authority, which he commended yesterday, which can demonstrate that it has complied with the law and operates with both efficiency and economy? However, in the next financial year it will suffer enormous disadvantage for so doing. Does that not illustrate that the right hon. Gentleman's arrangements are inadequate and need further revision by himself in consultation with the council?

Mr. Heseltine

I admire the ingenuity of the hon. Gentleman in introducing the Rotherham authority into the question. I am sure that the local authority associations would be delighted to hold discussions about his authority. The difficulty is that 419 other authorities would want similar discussions.