HC Deb 19 February 1990 vol 167 cc640-1
2. Dr. Marek

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what are the specific reasons for the standard spending assessment per capita in the county of Clwyd being the lowest in Wales.

Mr. Peter Walker

Standard spending assessments for 1990–91 have been calculated to reflect as accurately as possible the relative position of every local authority in Wales.

Dr. Marek

Is the Secretary of State aware that although the consultations might have involved the county councils, no one in Clwyd, particularly on Clwyd county council, can see why the standard spending assessment should be so low? It is plain daft. This is a serious matter. Members of Clwyd county council want to see the Secretary of State and one of his Ministers about it. Will he agree to meet them?

Mr. Walker

It was not just a matter of discussions with the county councils; the standard spending assessments for 1990–91 were fully discussed and agreed by Welsh local authority associations. Clwyd might be dissatisfied with some factors, but, as a proportion of its relevant population, it has fewer pupils to teach and the second lowest unemployment rate in the counties. Clwyd county council should see how it can save by efficiency, instead of making extraordinary estimates, such as it is making now.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there will be general acceptance of his view that there is scope for increased efficiency, but that nevertheless Clwyd finds itself a victim of the change in formula? Is he further aware that within Clwyd, the district of Rhuddlan is simultaneously being hit in exactly the same way by the change in the method of calculating the formula? I hope that he will pay careful attention to that.

Mr. Walker

My hon. Friend will agree that, if the Government sit down with local authority associations to try to agree a formula to assess needs and those associations agree to that formula, the Government cannot do much more.