HC Deb 27 April 1988 vol 132 c343
13. Mr. Wallace

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from Shetland Islands council regarding rates.

Mr. Lang

My right hon. and learned Friend has received a letter from the convenor of Shetland Islands council asking him to reconsider the council's rate support grant for 1988–89.

Mr. Wallace

I know that the Minister is well aware of the deep concern in Shetland among domestic and business ratepayers at the 85 per cent. increase in rates. Does he not accept that for many years the needs element awarded to Shetland Islands council under the rate support grant has been much less—indeed, only half—the assessed need of the islands' council? Given the substantial rates increase, what hope can he give for a review of the rate support grant so that domestic and non-domestic ratepayers will get some relief?

Mr. Lang

I accept that the circumstances of Shetland are exceptional. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we have always said that we would be willing to reconsider the position once the Sullom Voe valuation appeal was finally resolved. I am sure he will also appreciate that it is difficult to do this retrospectively when the grant has been fixed for a particular year and the cash has been distributed.