HC Deb 18 December 1986 vol 107 cc1343-4
12. Mr. Simon Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from voluntary groups concerning problems encountered following the abolition of the metropolitan local authorities.

Mr. Mellor

None, but we are keeping in touch with developments as they may affect the funding of voluntary groups in the areas concerned.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister realise that there is increasing concern among voluntary bodies in the six former metropolitan counties and in London, which are partly funded by the Department, and which are at risk of having their buildings transferred over their heads in a way that will substantially increase their rents, rates and other running costs? At the end of the day, there is no net advantage to the Exchequer. Will the Minister hold discussions with the relevant residuary bodies in order to protect worthwhile voluntary organisations from the unnecessary and unjustified increases that are believed to be in the pipeline?

Mr. Mellor

The hon. Gentleman has made a cogent case, as I would expect of him, and I shall look carefully at what he has said.

Mr. Favell

Given the furore when the metropolitan counties were abolished, what conclusion does my hon. Friend draw from the fact that he has received no representations whatever from voluntary bodies expressing concern about what has happened since?

Mr. Mellor

I can only speak from a Greater London perspective, but the entirely spurious ratepayer-funded GLC campaign, which tried to instil in Londoners the belief that civilised life in London would come to an end with the GLC's demise, has been shown to have been totally and utterly without merit.

Mr. Ashley

Is the Minister aware that there is abundant evidence that many voluntary organisations will be badly hit unless he takes action very quickly?

Mr. Mellor

Action is being taken. The Government have made substantial sums of money available in order to allow transitional support for such bodies, but it was always anticipated that some voluntary bodies that were funded by organisations such as the GLC on an entirely reckless basis, right at the end of their mandate, and in a way calculated to try to embarrass successor authorities, would not continue to be so funded. That was inevitable and is not necessarily at all undesirable.

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