§ 10. Mr. Ray Powell
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities are incurring holdback on the basis of their 1984–85 budgets.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
There are currently 139 English local authorities incurring holdback on the basis of the 1984–85 budgets.
§ Mr. Powell
Is the Minister aware that hundreds of billions of pounds are being taken away from local authorities by the holdback policy? Should he not now consider giving local authorities the power to spend some of their own money without so much restriction? Is the Minister aware that authorities such as Mid-Glamorgan will have to cut essential services such as nursery provision as a direct result of the Government's holdback policies? Is it not time for the Government to give serious consideration to helping such authorities, so that they can retain essential and legal responsibilities?
§ Mr. Baker
Mid-Glamorgan's position is a matter for the Secretary of State for Wales. I have enough problems with English authorities. Every Government since the war have taken a view on the aggregate total amount of local expenditure. We have introduced a system which ensures that Government spending at local level is constrained. Even so, there will be an overspend this year of about £848 million, 75 per cent. of which involves only 12 councils.