HC Deb 30 June 1986 vol 100 c683
2. Mr. Raffan

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the redistribution of the underclaimed rate support grant.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Edwards)

Following discussions with leaders of local authorities in Wales, I announced on 20 February that £13 million of underclaimed grant would be recycled to county councils. Rate bills in Wales were reduced as a result by 5p in the pound on average. I have now decided to recycle the remaining balance of underclaimed grant which presently amounts to £5 million. I expect this to be used to reduce the rate call in 1987–88.

Mr. Raffan

Bearing in mind my right hon. Friend's words, that those county councils that succeed in making savings will receive a higher proportion of the remaining grant, and as Clwyd alone has co-operated and done so, how much will Clwyd receive?

Mr. Edwards

Clwyd increased its overall share of the total grant available, and my decision to recycle in full will give the county £2.6 million more grant than it initially claimed.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Secretary of State aware that there is a crying need, particularly in the rural counties of Wales, for more resources to be made available to maintain the county roads, which are in a tremenduously bad state as a result of recent bad winters? In allocating any future resources, will the right hon. Gentleman bear that in mind?

Mr. Edwards

We continue to keep under review the allocation of resources between the various competing local authorities. The hon. Gentleman knows full well that if, say, the rural authorities put in a bid, it is promptly matched by a bid from, say, an area of urban deprivation. It is a question of allocating resources in a way that is agreed by the local authorities as a whole.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that local authorities in Wales which have acted responsibly throughout are rather disgusted by the arbitrary way in which he has treated them? Will he at least ensure when he next reports on these matters that the redistribution between the two tiers of local government will not be affected?

Mr. Edwards

District councils in Wales have, on average, spent in line with the settlement and have therefore claimed the amount of block grant to which they are entitled. For district councils, therefore, there is no unclaimed grant to recycle. The announcement that I made about recycling concerns solely the counties.