HC Deb 22 January 1992 vol 202 cc443-63

12.7 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Allan Stewart)

I beg to move,

That the Revenue Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1992, dated 16th January 1992, a copy of which was laid before this House on 16th January, be approved.

The order has two purposes. First, it marks the final stage of the local government settlement for 1992–93, details of which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State first announced to the House last July, when he emphasised that the settlement included £50 million from other programmes within the Scottish Office because of high local authority current expenditure in Scotland. Secondly, it redetermines the amount of revenue support grant for each Scottish local authority for 1990–91 in the light of the actual level of non-domestic rate income for that year.

I deal first with 1992–93. My right hon. Friend announced to the House that the aggregate external finance for that year had been set at £5,130 million—6.1 per cent. more than the corresponding figure for 1991–92. The House will recognise that that figure is well above the rate of inflation.

The AEF figure has three components. The first is non-domestic rate income. On the basis of the rate poundages which my right hon. Friend announced on 23 December and which are prescribed in the Non-Domestic Rate (Scotland) Regulations 1992 which were laid before this House on 15 January, we estimate that the total level of NDRI in 1992–93 will be just under £1,263 million. The rate poundages for 1992–93 do, of course, take account of the reduction of £60 million which I announced on behalf of my right hon. Friend last November as the third stage of the Government's unified business rate policy.

The second component of AEF is the provision for specific grants which will be paid in 1992–93. That is estimated at just over £333 million. A breakdown of that figure is given in the report. I am glad that the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) is appreciative of the publicity which Stephen Hendry and I received for the new jobs in his constituency.

Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

The hon. Gentleman knows more about politics than the Minister.

Mr. Stewart

He certainly knows a lot more about snooker than I do.

The third component is revenue support grant. For 1992-93 this totals almost £3,534 million, including £7.5 million which will be provided to the authorities which since 1989–90 have benefited from the revenue support grant safety net. The main purpose of the order is to specify how this total amount of RSG is allocated among Scottish authorities. A full explanation of how AEF for 1992–93 has been distributed to authorities is contained in the report to the order.

I shall summarise the procedure. There are broadly two stages in the process. The first stage is to equalise differences in authorities' spending needs as determined by the client group assessment methodology. Just over £736 million of the total amount of RSG and NDRI—just over 15 per cent. of the total—is used to equalise spending needs. The second stage is straightforward. It is to distribute the rest of RSG and NDRI, excluding the safety netting amount to which I referred—that is, a sum of just under £4,790 million—on a straight per capita basis.

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

Will the Minister explain why the Government are imposing the technical adjustment in the aggregate external finance in the way that it will affect the Highlands, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway? It will mean that some district councils in those regions will have to pay more in impost and community charge—Roxburgh, for example, will have to pay £12 more. Is there no provision in the various stages for a phasing-in of that technical adjustment to ameliorate its effect on the coming year's community charge in those districts?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman is right. There is a technical adjustment and the three regional councils—the Highlands, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway—benefit from it. In the past, those three regions have provided services such as libraries and building control but that RSG went to the district councils. The hon. Gentleman makes the reasonable suggestion that the change, which no one disputes is correct, should be phased. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities that if the regions and districts agreed and COSLA put a phasing proposal to him he would consider it positively. I do not especially blame or attack COSLA for it, but the problem was that its members were unable to reach an agreement.

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that there is a problem here, he should consult Borders regional council. It was one of the authorities which, for understandable reasons, could not reach an agreement. This is an important matter for the districts concerned, and I can tell the hon. Gentleman that there should be no additional community charge for the charge payer.

Mr. Kirkwood

We shall see.

Mr. Stewart

Obviously, the hon. Gentleman does not trust Borders regional council to pass on the money.

Mr. Kirkwood

I do not trust the Government to give Borders regional council the grant.

Mr. Stewart

The council has the grant. There is a straight transfer, which is agreed to be reasonable, between the regions and the districts. There is no reason why any individual community charge payer in any of the 16 districts should pay any more than he or she would otherwise pay. I shall share the outrage of the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) if the saving made by Borders regional council is not transferred automatically to the community charge payer.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

If the council does not do that, will the hon. Gentleman shave his whiskers off?

Mr. Stewart

I shall not respond to any personal criticism coming from the general direction of the hon. and learned Gentleman.

I return to explaining the order in detail. The £7.5 million safety netting amount has been distributed to all authorities that have benefited from the safety net since its inception in 1989–90. They will each receive 50 per cent. of the amount that they are receiving in the current year. The main beneficiaries are, therefore, Strathclyde region and Glasgow. As the House knows from previous debates, 1992–93 will be the final year of the safety net.

Hon. Members representing constituencies in Lothian have made a claim—I do not criticise the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Griffiths) for not being here, but I had intended to quote from his constituency newsletter—have claimed for some time that Lothian is somehow being cheated over the distribution of Government support. If I recall correctly, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) made the same allegation in a recent Committee debate on the Local Government Finance Bill[Interruption.] Perhaps he did not. If my memory is not accurate I shall not press the point.

Mr. Maxton

When people get to the Minister's age—

Mr. Stewart

This week the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley celebrated his 60th birthday, and people said to me that I look almost as old as he does.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

I am not normally allowed to speak from the Dispatch Box in Scottish debates. The Minister has a digit wrong, yet again.

Mr. Stewart

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman who, this week, celebrated his 65th birthday.

The claim by hon. Members with Lothian constituencies is absolute nonsense. The allocation under the grant-aided assessment system is the result of the client group methodology which is agreed and which is regularly reviewed with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. I hope that the hon. Member for Cathcart will not follow the view that Lothian has somehow been disadvantaged under the system that is agreed with COSLA. I am sure that if he were to take that view, his good friend, councillor Pat Lally, would immediately correct him.

Mr. Maxton

He normally does.

Mr. Stewart

Yes, he normally does.

As I said, the second purpose of the order is to redetermine revenue support grant for 1990–91. It may be helpful to the House for me to explain briefly the background to the redetermination. In view of the difficulty of estimating the amount of non-domestic rate income that an authority will receive in a particular year as a result of, for example, valuation appeals, agreement was reached last year with COSLA to guarantee the combined RSG and NDRI figure issued to each authority at the time of the original distribution proposals for the year in question. The year 1990–91 is the first to which the guarantee applied.

The agreement with COSLA was on the basis of swings and roundabouts. If an authority's actual level of non-domestic rate income for the year in question is above the original estimate, its RSG figure will be reduced. If NDRI is below the original estimate, its RSG will be increased. Local authorities have, I think, welcomed the arrangement as providing stability for their Government-determined support. I must tell the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) that Cunninghame benefits to the tune of £3.6 million as a result of the agreement and of the positive Government response to the reasonable representations that he and his hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie) made—I know that he cannot be here this evening because he is on legitimate Council of Europe business—to the Government. The readjustment has been accepted by COSLA.

As I said, the settlement is well above the rate of inflation. It is fair and reasonable. I recommend the order to the House.

12.22 am
Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

I prefer the Minister when he is being slightly more rumbustious rather than drearying his way through the details of the revenue support grant. He was lucky because he managed to get the details before the end of last week. The rest of us could not because the Government appeared to be unable to lay the details before the House earlier than that. It is disgraceful that we are expected to discuss such orders with our local authorities and with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities when they are not laid before the House a week before the debate.

Mr. Allan Stewart

The hon. Gentleman will accept that the local authorities had the figures in essence on 11 November. I hope that he is not speaking for the entire Labour party in saying that it and the local authorities do not speak to each other over such a long period.

Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West)

That was not the final document.

Mr. Maxton

That is right. It was not the final document, as my hon. Friend makes clear. The simple fact is that we had not got the order. We should have had it long before it was laid.

I also found the Minister's speech remarkable for the fact that, having met Western Isles council today to discuss its specific problems, he did not refer to that matter, as one might have expected. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) will have the opportunity to make the case for the council.

On the surface, the Minister's claim that this year's revenue support grant settlement is generous seems reasonable—inflation stands at 4.3 per cent. and the increase in the settlement is just over 6 per cent. But the Minister blandly and deliberately avoided the real position facing local authorities in the coming financial year.

First, the assumptions made about the level of next year's pay increases in the local government sector are, in the view of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Scottish local authorities and myself, totally unrealistic. The inflation in local government costs has been consistently above that of the retail price index, largely because pay accounts for nearly two thirds of local government costs, and the rate of wage increases has been higher in the main than inflation. As a result, local authorities have a finance shortfall.

Secondly, local authorities have calculated that they require an extra £80 million a year simply to cater for the extra burdens which the Government have imposed upon them. The extra duties include the setting up of the system for the collection of the new council tax, the extension of community care, protecting the environment and the control of dogs. All those add to the sums which local authorities have to spend over and above their existing statutory obligations. Little account has been taken of those extra duties in the revenue support grant.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the Government have refused to take any account of the crisis that the poll tax has brought to local authorities. When the poll tax was introduced in 1989–90, local authorities budgeted for a collection rate of 94 per cent. against the collection rate of 98 per cent. which they had achieved under the old rating system.

In Committee, Ministers believed that, in putting the rate as low as 94 per cent., local authorities were being pessimistic. My hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson), who served with me in Committee, will remember that he and I, and our colleagues, consistently said that 94 per cent. was wildly optimistic. During the passage of the legislation, my hon. Friend and I predicted that 85 per cent. was more likely. Two years on, 12 per cent. of the 1989–90 poll tax is still uncollected; 20 per cent. of last year's poll tax is still outstanding. As a result, local authorities face a shortfall of £343 million in income for the first two years of the operation of the poll tax.

Eight months into this financial year, £447 million, or 57.6 per cent., still requires to be collected, and local authorities are undertaking the biggest debt collection exercise in history. Despite what Ministers say, local authorities are making every effort to collect the money, but the task is enormous and is almost beyond their ability. Much of the outstanding debt is owed by people who are very poor but who, because of the absurd rule that the Government insisted on laying down for a minimum 20 per cent. payment, have to try to find the money. By law, local authorities must try to collect that money, even though the Audit Commission has said that it costs two and a half times more to collect that 20 per cent. than is raised by it.

It was interesting to note in The Guardian this morning a suggestion that the Chancellor, in his Budget on 10 March, intends to abolish the 20 per cent. minimum payment from 1 April this year rather than wait for the introduction of the council tax on 1 April 1993. I gather that he will also increase VAT again to try further to reduce next year's poll tax figures. It would appear that, yet again, Scottish Office Ministers, including the Secretary of State, will be kicked in the teeth by their Cabinet colleagues—[Interruption.] The Chancellor of the Exchequer. Having stoutly defended the poll tax through thick and thin, Scottish Office Ministers had to surrender and accept a return to a property tax which they had viciously attacked for five years, or a return to a roof tax, having condemned the Labour party for trying to introduce it. They had to stand on their heads, they had to squirm and they had to twist, but somehow they managed to do it.

Having repeatedly said that the 20 per cent. rule would remain—the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), said it in the Committee when he was trying to quote recently—the Minister said that the 20 per cent. rule would remain as long as the poll tax was on the statute book. It again appears that the Government may have to eat their words and that the Chancellor will intervene. Of course, we have been demanding that very sensible move month after month, year after year. Let us hope that at least one member of the Cabinet has been listening—the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hope that he finds his glasses, for which he was looking earlier, and will be able to read his Budget speech, when he will announce that very sensible amendment.

Mr. Ernie Ross

Given what my hon. Friend just said, how are the changes likely to help local authorities with collection? Some local authorities are well ahead with the new demands for the tax. Will the measure mean that, once again, they will have to shred them?

Mr. Maxton

That is exactly the point. The Government should have made an announcement at least seven or eight months ago. They should never have introduced the 20 per cent. minimum payment at all, but to do it as a cheap election ploy in the Budget 20 days before bills have to go out and be paid is entirely cynical and something that the Government should not indulge in.

The Government should not indulge in cheap political electioneering. They should have got rid of the 20 per cent. rule months ago. It would have made sense—it still makes sense—to do so. Local authorities will have an enormous burden placed upon them. The Government cannot walk away from their responsibility for the poll tax and try to put all the blame on local authorities. They introduced the absurd system. I notice Conservative Members who served on the Committee and vigorously voted for the measure. Every finance expert said that the system simply would not work. The Government have now been forced to admit that we were right—the system will not work.

Why should local authorities, Scottish poll tax payers and the users of local government services have to pay the price of Ministers' crass stupidity? The Government should not continue to hide behind the smokescreen that was usefully given to them by those who advocated the non-payment campaign. Over the past few months, Scottish nationalists have tried to claim that the end of the poll tax was the result of their non-payment campaign. When they realised that non-payment was creating a major crisis for local authorities, with 3 million outstanding warrants, and local authorities facing cuts in services and imposing more than 30 per cent. increases on their poll tax payers next year, it became obvious even to them that they were in trouble over the issue of non-payment.

Then Scottish nationalists tried to claim that the deliberate non-payment campaign had had little effect and that it was the 70-odd per cent. of non-payers who could not pay who were the problem, not them at all. They were so mixed up that I have at times heard hon. Members using both arguments in the same speech, claiming, on the one hand, great success for the poll tax campaign and, on the other, that it was not really anything to do with them.

The fact is that their campaign has allowed the Government to dodge their responsibilities by putting the blame on the deliberate non-payers. The poll tax was always a crazy, unworkable system that would inevitably collapse under the weight of its own absurdities. What Scottish National party members and supporters have done is increase the problems for local authorities by not paying their taxes; they have given the Government an excuse for evading their true responsibility; and, most immorally, they have left thousands of poor people who mistakenly followed them with a burden of debt that will be round their necks for years. Scottish National party members—

Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)

Is my hon. Friend aware that Inverclyde district council recently declared that it would increase the poll tax by £60 and reckoned that roughly half that came about because of non-payment? Is he aware also that a recent university study showed that Inverclyde was one of the poorest places in Europe? The Minister did not consider that when it came to the poll tax.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)


Mr. Maxton

I will allow the hon. Gentleman to intervene in a moment; I am quite happy to do so. The members of the SNP, including the hon. Gentleman, called off their non-payment campaign as soon as the Government announced that the poll tax would be withdrawn. They were not concerned about what would replace it; in fact, they went into the Lobbies, when the vote eventually took place on the council tax, against that very council tax over which they had withdrawn their non-payment of poll tax campaign. Meanwhile, they took out their cheque books, paid their debts and left many of their supporters in dire straits, seemingly without feeling the slightest pang of remorse for the problems that they had caused these poor people.

Mr. Salmond

I should have thought that that was a rather better action than that of the nine colleagues of the hon. Gentleman who abandoned their non-payment campaign before the Government announced the demise of the tax, or the three colleagues who continued their non-payment campaign after the Government had announced the demise of the tax, or indeed the hon. Gentleman himself who surrendered before the battle was even joined.

When it comes to confusion, does the hon. Gentleman recall arguing to the House on 17 October 1990 that the non-payment campaign was irrelevant to the crisis in local authority finance? I have the quotation here if the hon. Gentleman wants me to read it into the record. Can he please explain why, during the non-payment campaign, he thought that it was irrelevant but, after the non-payment was over, all of a sudden he thought that it was substantial?

Mr. Maxton

The hon. Gentleman tries to pretend that he is a clever man, but he has never understood my position on the non-payment campaign. I have always believed that there would be a large non-payment of the poll tax by those who could not afford to pay it. His campaign and that of his hon. Friends had been a dangerous diversion which has given the Government an excuse. That has always been my argument on non-payment. I do not think that their campaign had a major impact on local government finances, but it gave the Minister and his hon. Friends that excuse. I would argue strongly that, but for that excuse, the sheer absurdities of the poll tax would have brought about its end six months earlier, and would have brought about the resignation of the ex-Prime Minister six months earlier as well. They extended the poll tax by giving the Government the excuse that the problems and failures of the poll tax were due to deliberate non-payment.

It was always a farce. What is so immoral about the approach is that the SNP has left thousands and thousands of poor people in debt, without a single pang of remorse. The Scottish National party is a bunch, as it has proved in case after case, of political chancers who are interested only in cheap political games.

The revenue support grant order, despite its apparent generosity, will do nothing to help local authorities with the crisis caused by non-payment of the poll tax. Services will be cut and there will be redundancies. Poll taxes will increase well above inflation. Luckily, the election is not far away. The electors in Scotland will not forget the important part played by the Government and by the arm-chair martyrs in the SNP in the poll tax mess. After the election, we will have a Government who understand local government and who will be able to work with local government to solve the problems facing it. The sooner that election comes, the better.

12.39 am
Sir Hector Monro ( Dumfries)

I have heard some political chancers in my time, but that effort from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) was the best. In our earlier debate on housing and also in this debate, the hon. Member for Cathcart, who has been so full of himself, did not tell us what he proposes to do were he to be in government in the summer.

The hon. Member for Cathcart began by saying that local authorities needed 20 per cent. more revenue support grant. Would he give them that? The hon. Gentleman thought that he had made a case for extensive expenditure by local authorities in housing and on the revenue side, but he gave us no hint of what Labour would do—perhaps in a few months' time. Pehaps he is so lacking in confidence that he is worried about having to make any promises.

The hon. Member for Cathcart was irresponsible to the House and to Scotland by his reluctance to tell us what he proposes to do. People who read our debates and those who read reports in the press and see them on television will draw their own conclusions: they will decide that, as ever, the Labour party would allow rip-oaring expenditure in local authorities, which would inevitably be followed by high inflation and high unemployment. The proposals—or lack of proposals—of the hon. Member for Cathcart contain the usual socialist cycle.

The hon. Member for Cathcart highlighted the difficulties of some local authorities in collecting the community charge. I offer praise now to my regional council—although I shall criticise it in a moment—for budgeting for the coming year on a 95.5 per cent. collection rate. It believes that it can achieve that rate without difficulty. That shows what can be achieved if local authorities are determined and have the right policies.

In this debate, we must highlight the steady annual increase in local government expenditure, which has been far above the rate of inflation. Unless that is taken into account, we will inevitably fall once more into an inflationary cycle.

In the four years from 1988–89 to 1991–92, inflation rose by 23.6 per cent. Dumfries and Galloway region increased its expenditure by 36 per cent. Annandale and Eskdale district increased it by 88 per cent.; Nithsdale increased it by 40 per cent.; Stewartry increased it by 77 per cent.; and Wigtown also increased it by 77 per cent.

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)

The hon. Gentleman has just referred to a list of councils that have increased their expenditure from between 40 per cent. and 70 per cent. Why have none of them been capped by the Secretary of State for Scotland, when Tayside region, which increased its poll tax by 7.9 per cent., is being capped?

Sir Hector Monro

The hon. Gentleman cannot abide a second. He has no patience to wait for hon. Members to contribute to the debate. He spends half his time intervening, sometimes in the most unnecessary way. If he would only sit down and listen, he might be able to comment later.

Given the tremendous increases in expenditure of local authorities, one might be under the impression that they had not received a generous revenue support grant. Over the same period, however, there was a 70 per cent. increase in RSG in the region which I represent. Annandale and Eskdale received an increase of 146 per cent. In round figures, the increases for Nithsdale, Stewartry and Wigtown were 170 per cent., 216 per cent. and 211 per cent. respectively.

There has been a vast increase in local government expenditure—there are no cuts in its expenditure. The cuts that are headlined by the press and taken up by the media relate to the exorbitant budgets that are presented by socialist councillors, who say, "Because we cannot spend to the extent of our budget, we are suffering a cut." In fact, they are spending more year on year. Socialist councils' expenditure is not being cut. It is high time that the nation began to understand that it is only budgets that could never be contemplated by anyone with any common sense that are being cut.

This year, the Government are providing 89 per cent. of the expenditure—

Mr. Maxton

They are controlling 89 per cent. of the expenditure, not providing it.

Sir Hector Monro

It is coming from the taxpayer, which is the most important factor. The hon. Gentleman has raised a quibble that is on a par with that of the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion).

Local authorities are controlling, to use the nomenclature of the hon. Member for Cathcart, 11 per cent. of overall expenditure. Revenue support grant has increased on average by 6 per cent., yet the expenditure of the regional council of Dumfries and Galloway has increased by 8.3 per cent. There is no reason to take grant-related expenditure to the maximum when good housekeeping could maintain it at the level of inflation. It is because of expenditure beyond the rate of inflation that the community charge of the regional council in my constituency is increasing by £39, or 29.5 per cent.

The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) did not remain in his place for very long to listen to the debate, but he referred earlier to libraries and building controls. I should be surprised if the regional council had taken those factors into account when it increased the community charge so substantially. It has done so when interest rates and inflation have been reduced and the revenue support grant has been increased. That example of local authority expenditure is, sadly, reflected so frequently in Scotland. Those who are on low incomes and those who are struggling to run businesses or commercial enterprises generally should be supported by smaller increases in the community charge.

Everyone should be prepared to engage in some tight budgeting at times when the nation's economy is difficult. We know that economies are difficult also elsewhere in Europe and throughout the world. Local authorities have a duty to keep down the rate of inflation. Every item of expenditure must be controlled.

I am disappointed that proposed reductions in community charge have been thwarted by socialists, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish nationalists who vote for more expenditure irrespective of whether it is required.

Of course, as Members of Parliament, we want to give our local authorities all the help we can where there have been complications, such as the transfer problem that has been mentioned, or if they have particular problems and want to put particular emphasis on, for example, school building repairs. However, the message that should go out from the House tonight is that local authorities are spending too much money; they are not cutting back. Year on year on year, they are spending more and more.

The only way to achieve sensible spending is through the policy of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to cap those councils that go a good deal too far. I hope that that will not be necessary. I hope that councils will realise that they have a duty to be responsible and to set budgets below grant-aided expenditure if they possibly can.

I support the order, and I hope that my words will have some impact on some local authorities in Scotland.

12.50 am
Mr. Calum Macdonald (Western Isles)

The day that has just ended has been a sad one for the Western Isles. It is certainly the saddest day that I have known since I came to the House. Next week, the Western Isles council will have to make a truly calamitous choice between increasing the poll tax in the islands many fold or introducing steep cuts in its budget.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) said that there had been a delegation from the Western Isles today. In fact, there were two. There was one from the Western Isles council and one from the trades council—the largest delegation that I have seen during my time in the House. We had a meeting with the Minister, but I regret that we left it empty handed. We did not get the support for which we had hoped.

Since last July, the islands have been reeling in the face of a financial crisis—£24 million would have been a major loss for any community, but especially so for one such as the Western Isles. It is not just a case of almost half of the revenue budget being lost, but of that happening against an economic background already at a very low ebb. Over the past two or three years, almost all the industries in the islands have suffered extremely bad times, and the economy is very low by national standards.

Gross domestic product per capita in the islands is half that of the country as a whole. Income per household is two thirds of the national average. That is the background against which that calamity has to be considered, and the background that has led to a unique outcry from every sector of the community and to the joint delegation today.

The local council, which has to deal with this appalling position, has appealed for aid. The trades council has mounted a unique campaign, not just on behalf of those in work—either with the council or in the private sector, which will also be affected—but on behalf of the whole community of the Western Isles, especially the most vulnerable who will be hit hardest by this crisis.

All sorts of other groups have added their voices to the campaign. I have received representations from the local health council which refer to the ramifications the crisis will have, not just within the economy, but throughout society. Members of the local branch of the Scottish Society for the Mentally Handicapped have also raised their voices. They include relatives of people who will be hit by the crisis and are protective and concerned about those who are truly the most vulnerable in a community, and the innocents in the affair—the mentally handicapped.

Thousands of other individual voices have made representations to me directly. Every weekend when I go about the constituency and walk the streets I am told that the matter is of ever-pressing concern to people, and has been since last July. That worry was made manifest in the petition signed by thousands of people that was handed in to the Scottish Office.

The Government may say that the council has brought the crisis on itself through some form of financial management. However, it is not the council, as an entity, that will be directly affected, but the people of the Western Isles—the community. Those people did not participate at any level in the decisions that led to the present problem.

If the council is to blame for aspects of mismanagement, why should the resulting problems be visited on the people, particularly when the council, whatever errors it may have made, was not unique in doing so? Its members acted on advice that they received and, in the months to come, when the Bingham inquiry reports, the chain of errors will be shown to go much higher than the Western Isles council. It will be seen that the key mistakes were made by those responsible for regulating this country's financial system—the Bank of England and the Government.

Mr. Salmond

Many hon. Members will find it extraordinary that, as the poll tax is such a small percentage of the finance of the Western Isles council, that authority should be expected to bear the burden of such a gigantic loss. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in discussions that I have had with the Minister about my local authority, the Minister made the extraordinary statement that, even if the Bingham inquiry were to find the Bank of England or the Treasury culpable for what happened with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, that would not necessarily affect local finance in Scotland? Given that the Government seem to be disowning any culpability of their own, how can they use the culpability argument as an excuse for not providing help for the Western Isles?

Mr. Macdonald

The Government's argument in that instance is untenable. The case of Barlow Clowes shows that, where a Government Department has been found to have fallen down on its job and that has resulted in people losing their savings, the moral responsibility lies with the Government, who should respond to the problem and pay compensation, which they did in that case. They will have to do so in the case of the Western Isles if the chain can be traced back to where I suspect it can.

It would be interesting to have before us the testimony and evidence that the Prime Minister and the other Ministers involved will present to the Bingham inquiry. I understand that some of it has already been submitted, but we shall not be able to have access for a number of months—probably, coincidentally, not until after the general election.

Perhaps the most perverse aspect of the whole affair is the fact that, when the truth finally comes to light and the real burden of blame can be assessed, those who are shown to be ultimately guilty and to have fallen down on their responsibilities and duties will no longer be there to clear up the mess, having been discharged from office by the people.

Let me illustrate the impact that the cuts would have. A number of secondary schools in my constituency would close—Leurbost, Scalpay, Leverburgh, Eriskay and Uig schools. All those schools serve small, remote communities, for whom a school is not simply a place of learning where youngsters can develop skills and talents and then move on, but a community centre. Not only education, but whole communities would be hit by the proposed cuts.

Community workshops would close, and the number of teaching posts would be reduced. Some 50 jobs in the Western Isles education department could be lost. Library and text book provision would also be reduced. Something that I find especially poignant, although it is not included in the list from which I am quoting, is the likely reduction in the already paltry provision of special education for children with learning disabilities. They cannot travel to another nearby town; they are stranded on the Western Isles. If the education that they need is not supplied by the council there, it will not be supplied at all. It is when considering such details that we truly appreciate the consequences of the proposed cuts for the islands' community.

Social services will suffer as well. There will be no grant for playgroups, daycare clubs and voluntary organisations; centres for the physically and mentally handicapped will also be hit. Innocent people will be caught up in an international banking scandal and crisis.

Lucky people will suffer too: people, that is, who are lucky in comparison with those who lack work and incomes. An estimated 300 job losses will result from the cuts in one of the three Scottish travel-to-work areas with the most unemployment. That estimate is based on the Fraser of Allander Institute's computer model, which was completed last year with Scottish Office help; in other words, it is based on an independent study. It will have an impact not just in one year; it will happen year after year, for 30 years. Almost £3 million a year is to be squeezed out of the community, for no productive purpose, for that period of time. About £90 million will be squeezed out of a community of 30,000 people. It is intolerable.

A Government with imagination and a constructive will could do something to help. They could do a number of things. A variety of capital programmes could be brought forward. Certain projects deserve support on their merits. For example, there is no direct Government funding for a trunk road network on the islands. Any funding that is made available has to go through the local authority. The Government could provide help for that. In the long term, it would save revenue. There would be a saving on repairs and maintenance.

Houses need to be built. Schools need to be refurbished. The economic infrastructure ought to be built up. Various European Community projects would be beneficial, if the Government were prepared to become involved in them. A leader project has already been awarded to the Western Isles, in conjuction with Skye and Lochalsh. Bruce Millan recently announced a new programme specifically targeted at declining textile industries. That would be of great help to the Western Isles, by virtue of the Harris tweed industry. If all that is to happen, the Government have to show a positive will to assist.

Today we have asked for help on the revenue, the cash flow side. Again the Government, with a little imagination, could assist. For example, the revenue side of the council's budget contains a special islands element. The Government ought to look at that closely. I await an undertaking from them. My hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) referred earlier to lifting the burden of the police and fire brigade requisition which the Minister knows has increased this year and is totally outwith the council's control. The Government could, if they were willing, see whether it could be rearranged in such a way as to lift that additional burden from the shoulders of the islands community.

There is a rare mood of dismay and despair in the islands. I have not experienced that mood since I was a young boy in the 1950s and early 1960s. There was a mood of gloom in the islands then. That has lifted since the early 1970s. It was lifted by the very council that now faces so much criticism and mockery. It was a pioneering and imaginative council throughout those years. It made a tremendous difference to the islands community. It restored hope and optimism throughout the community. Even when things were not going too well economically, people still felt that things were improving. The tragedy is that their morale has been devastated by the impact of this loss. People are looking for a signal of help from this Government to give them hope and raise their morale. They want to be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel. We got a no today, but we shall be back month after month and year after year until we get assistance.

The Government will have to change their attitude. Otherwise, I fear that their failure to appreciate and sympathise with them and to help positively will not only affect the opinions of people in the Western Isles but have an impact on people throughout Scotland who are watching the situation. They, at the end of the day, will change the Government.

1.9 am

Mr. Nicol Stephen (Kincardine and Deeside)

It has been said already that the 6 per cent. increase in grant is generous on the face of it, but that it is misleading. It is also misleading to suggest some spurious reasons why the grant should be more generous. For example, the funds that the Government have made available for the introduction of the new council tax legislation total more than the entire accumulated bids from all the local authorities. That proves that even the Government are prepared to throw money at problems, certainly when those problems are writ as large as the poll tax.

The amount of grant available is misleading in the sense that the total forecast increases that poll tax payers in Scotland will pay are nothing like 6 per cent. Taking even the Government's figures, it is likely that the increases will average about 10 per cent. On the basis of the figures provided by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, we could well face an average increase of 25 per cent. At a time of serious economic recession, with unemployment increasing and major closures such as that at Ravenscraig, that will put a terrible additional tax burden on the people of Scotland. It should be prevented.

Let us take a moderate, well-managed council, such as Grampian regional council, which is likely to fix the lowest poll tax of any regional council in Scotland. Despite that, Grampian's personal community charge will rise by about 12.5 per cent. That is unacceptably large, with inflation at current levels. Why is that happening? It is certainly not because Grampian region is spending excessively on essential services. Grampian is spending about £5 million less than the Government say that it requires to spend to provide essential services. That is true of many other local authorities in Scotland. If Grampian spent up to the Government's limit, the increase in the poll tax would be roughly double what poll tax payers in the region face.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) said that the Government's allowance for inflation and increases in wages was inadequate. That argument is put every year and, indeed, every year the Government underestimate. Apart from that, there are two closely related reasons why the 6 per cent. increase in grant will lead to such a big increase in the poll tax.

The first reason is the gearing effect. Aggregate external finance has been reduced this year—placing a huge additional burden on the poll tax payer—from 88.9 per cent. to 88.4 per cent. That sounds like only a small amount. However, when one looks at it the other way round, the poll tax payer has to fund 11.6 per cent. instead of 11.1 per cent. of expenditure. Immediately, the poll tax payer is hit by a 4.5 per cent. increase, before we have even begun to look at inflation and other factors. That, in a nutshell, is the gearing effect. It means that any small shift in Government grant puts a huge burden on the poll tax payer. That is because the poll tax created such a narrow tax base. That must be changed.

The second reason is closely related but is perhaps more interesting. Last year, the Government announced a £140 per head reduction in poll tax bills, to be funded by increases in value added tax. The £140 reduction is still included in the calculation of this year's figures, but not a penny more, not a penny less. In the past year, inflation has continued apace, eroding the value of that £140. To compensate the poll tax payer for that erosion, the figure would have to be increased to £146.

Mr. Allan Stewart

I am trying to follow the hon. Gentleman's argument, but if the Government were to accept his suggestion, the gearing effect which he has criticised would be worse.

Mr. Stephen

If the Government were to do what I suggest, the effects of gearing would be mitigated because additional funds would be made available through grant, which would reduce the impact on the poll tax payer. My party advocates radical overhaul of the system, which would remove the gearing effect, but as long as we have it the impact of small changes in the grant system are significant to the poll tax payer, as evidenced by the £140 payment.

VAT is a buoyant tax and Government income has increased as a result of the increase to 17.5 per cent., but there has been no extra benefit for the poll tax payer. I plead with the Government to make some extra cash available. They should meet local authorities' demands so that those authorities can plan ahead more thoroughly. If the Minister intends to abolish the 20 per cent. payment for people on low or no incomes, then do so tonight. If he wants to change the system, tell us now. Local authorities will prepare demand notices in late February and early March. If the Government delayed an announcement until the Budget on 10 March, it would be a blatant attempt to buy votes at the expense of hundreds of thousands of pounds being wasted on preparing and then destroying millions of poll tax demand notices.

That approach could delay the issuing of demand notices, the electoral advantage of which might not have escaped the Government. The Minister should prevent that delay, prevent a few trees from being destroyed and prevent justifiable accusations of cynical manipulation of the Scottish voters.

If the Government are to announce any reduction in the Scottish poll tax, whether it be in the £140 payment or the abolition of the 20 per cent. rule, they should announce it here and now.

My hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) mentioned the added difficulties faced by 16 district councils. The Scottish Office's late and rather inept transfer of grant from district councils to regional councils is causing severe difficulties. Sutherland district council is one of the worst affected. It faces a 76 per cent. increase in its poll tax. That is through no fault of its own and is largely as a result of the transfer of grant, again putting the burden on the poll tax payer.

Mr. Allan Stewart

If the hon. Gentleman listened to my reply to the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, he would recognise, first, that there is a genuine anomaly and, secondly, that there is no personal increase for the community charge payer because one council gets more and another council gets less.

Mr. Stephen

The Minister may not be aware, but the Highlands region has made it clear that it does not intend to reduce its poll tax to take into account the additional grant that it will receive. I have received representations on this matter and copies of correspondence from my hon. Friends the Members for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy) and for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan).

The important point is that the Minister well knows that he could intervene to solve the problem. I ask him to give a reassurance that he will intervene if he discovers that regional councils are avoiding their responsibility to reduce the poll tax to compensate and balance out the increase from district councils. As the Minister said, the district and regional councils have failed to agree. He has not received clear advice from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, but it did not prevent him acting before if he wanted to do so. I urge him to act now to protect the poll tax payers who live in those district council areas.

The business taxation system in local authority areas is a related issue. There has been some equalisation. Businesses in Scotland used to be taxed an average of 60 per cent. more than those in England and Wales, but I understand that that figure is now down to 40 per cent. more. The Minister is making £60 million of additional funds available this year to allow for that equalisation—£11.5 million is supposed to come from local authorities through so-called efficiency savings. If local authorities continue to make the savings that the Government seek, I assure the Minister that the authorities will be very lean and efficient indeed. The remainder will come from central Government.

After the coming fiscal year, there are only two fiscal years in which to make the fiscal adjustment—£60 million this year means that £200 million will be required over the following two years. I ask the Minister to make a commitment that he still intends to achieve equalisation by 1995.

I finish by dealing with the Government's capping powers. The Government said that capping would not be required in respect of the poll tax, but the powers remain as draconian and as centralist as ever. Does the Minister intend to us the capping powers in the coming fiscal year? If the Government truly wished to avoid doing so, they could have introduced a fair voting system for local authorities, with elections based on proportional representation. They could also have introduced a local income tax to raise local government revenues, based on a system under which ability to pay is taken into account.

1.21 am
Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)

When we debated housing support grants, hon. Members expressed strong views about the appalling state of affairs and the impact on people's lives. It was a pity that we did not have more time for that debate.

This debate is about the level of services provided, which seriously affect people's lives in other ways. We are talking about the price of emptying bins and cleaning the streets, of providing libraries and swimming pools, cleaners for council buildings, school dinners, home helps, education and social services, water, sewerage, roads and much else besides. We know what impact massive cuts will have on such services and on people's lives.

It has already been said that, although a 6 per cent. increase might have been regarded as reasonable if everything else was equal, we know that everything else is not equal. Although such an increase is well above the rate of inflation, it in no way compensates local authorities for their financial position since the introduction of the poll tax. The Government know that there is no less than £334 million outstanding from the first two years of the poll tax.

In refusing to pay heed to the lack of that enormous amount of money, the Government are not facing their responsibilities. Jobs will be lost—that is what it comes down to. The Government will be morally responsible for the loss of £334 million-worth of jobs because they introduced the poll tax. They are refusing to give the councils any credit for their efforts to cope, and refusing to face widespread poverty, especially in areas such as Strathclyde, where the system of paying for local government is unjustifiable, unjust and unworkable. They have refused to acknowledge that the provision will be required to meet several other types of increase which, although more minor, are still important—for example, pay and price increases next year. Teachers alone have won a commitment to 9.2 per cent., and the education bill accounts for a large slice of the expenditure of any regional council. That alone will lead to an enormous increase, which the Government ignore.

There is also the cost of introducing the council tax, and the responsibilities for community care and other matters that have been mentioned by COSLA. They are all being disregarded, too. If we add all those costs together, it is clear that the settlement is about 3 per cent. short of what local authorities will require.

The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) talked in terms of local authorities having to be controlled because they kept going in for vast expenditure and were all terribly unreasonable. But if he bothered to pay any attention to the estimates of local authorities anywhere in Scotland, he would see for himself that that idea is laughably far from the truth.

Councils such as Glasgow may introduce the odd improvement in service here and there, but those are more than offset by the cuts in services caused by the need to balance something like a decent level of service against the amount that the council has to call upon its poll tax payers to pay. Even when substantial cuts are made, the people of Glasgow still face an enormous increase in poll tax.

If there were such a human being as a Tory Member of Parliament for a Glasgow seat, such a person would have to sit on the Government Back Benches tonight looking very embarrassed.

Mr. Gordon McMaster (Paisley, South)

We shall never see it.

Mrs. Fyfe

No, we shall never see it—not in a million years. But if there were a Tory representing a Glasgow seat, that person would have to admit shamefacedly that what the Government say about councils such as Glasgow—and all the other Scottish local authorities—is absolute nonsense. Hon. Members can simply open the books and see for themselves that there is no such thing as those vast increases that Conservative Members parrot about, hoping that people will believe them.

Do people come to our surgeries on a Friday night and say, "Stop wasting our money—your services are far too good"? Do they hell. They want services improved, and a Labour Government will deliver that.

1.26 am
Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

I shall be brief, because I hope that there will be an opportunity for the Minister to reply—at least to the speech of the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald). We should try to get an undertaking from the Government this evening if we can.

We know that local government finance is in a mess, and the Scottish National party will not let the Government off the hook on that issue. We opposed the poll tax on clear and stringent grounds. We have always argued that the poorer sections of the community—those who pay 20 per cent.—should have the tax remitted. That should be done now, as a matter of urgency.

Figures have been quoted about the indebtedness of such people to the local authorities. I shall spend a minute trying to examine the convoluted reasoning of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton). He said that there would be only about an 86 per cent. pay-up, yet now he complains because his predictions have been fulfilled. He blames the Scottish National party and others for that. That is the reasoning that someone uses when he has been educated at a fee-paying school—[Interruption.] I ask hon. Members not to interrupt. I only have a few minutes left, and I want to be fair to the hon. Member for Cathcart.

At the beginning, the Labour Front-Bench spokesman argued that the non-payment campaign would have a marginal impact—[Interruption.] What a murmur. Then, when the hon. Member for Cathcart sees that people who really cannot pay compose the bulk of the non-payers, he argues about what people such as myself have done. We were frequently supported by members of the Labour party, such as the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan), who was a stringent non-payer. In those circumstances, the Labour party deserted the poorest section of the population and said to them, "Pay up, stump up and go cap in hand." That is on the Labour party's conscience and it will have to answer for that in areas such as Cathcart and Garscadden. I know from going round constituencies such as Dumfermline, West and Glasgow, Garscadden that no criticism is levelled at the Scottish National party. The criticism from the poorest section of the population is levelled at the Labour party.

The Labour party hopes to inherit office at the general election. If that happens, there will not be the current level of non-payment. Very few people will pay, and Labour has no answer to that problem. I hope that the Minister will reply to the points about Western Isles.

1.30 am
Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) on his moving submission on behalf of his local authority and of the people he represents about the plight in which the Western Isles council now finds itself.

I address remarks to the Government and to the Government who will come to power in 12 weeks' time, when my Front-Bench colleagues will be Ministers. No Government, whether Conservative or Labour, are entitled to abandon a community because of mistakes made by others and not by the community. No Government are entitled to expect the community—in this case Western Isles council—to tell people that they must lose their jobs to pay the penalty that should be borne by others.

The Government have a social responsibility here. It would be easy for the Conservative party to write off Western Isles politically because it will not make any impact there. It would be easy, but immoral. The moral case is plain. As a mainland Member of Parliament, I plead the case of the community of Western Isles, because the suffering that those people will endure must be beyond our comprehension. They will suffer not only for the next few months, but for years ahead because of mistakes made by others. They should not be made to pay, and I plead with the Government to look on Western Isles as a special case.

It has always struck me as nonsense that we should discuss the revenue implications without discussing capital expenditure as well, and I refer especially to policing. We have seen a massive increase in crime in Scotland. I speak with some pride as a former Minister, because, when I left the post in which I was responsible for police and crime prevention in Scotland, there was a reduction of 13 per cent. in crime levels in Scotland.

We have now seen an explosion of crime in Scotland. The resources must be made available, either through revenue expenditure or through capital expenditure, to allow our police forces to deal with that explosion of crime. If that does not happen, we shall pay the cost in terms of human life and of human misery for many years to come.

1.33 am
Mr. Allan Stewart

The House will recognise that there is a limited time left—I make no complaint about that—in which to reply to the debate. I may wish to write after the debate to the hon. Member for Kincardine and Deeside (Mr. Stephen) about his detailed points. I say to the hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) that I want to spend a few moments on the question of the Western Isles, as the House would expect.

I say to the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) that, when I opened the debate, I set out the general position in relation to all local authorities. As he has told the House, I met two delegations today. I saw no point in being other than absolutely clear with the Western Isles council.

My right hon. Friend has agreed to extra borrowing consent of some £24 million to keep essential services going, but the Government must have regard to the position not only of other local authorities but of the large numbers of other depositors in BCCI. Of course, the Government are not in the position, which might have been possible, where COSLA came and said to us, "Here is a general formula which we are prepared to put forward." I am not criticising COSLA for that.

I must also point out that the personal community charge in Western Isles is £26. That compares with the Scottish average of £247. I fully recognise that the Western Isles council will have to face some very hard decisions. I say two things in response to the hon. Member for the Western Isles. I recognise what he said about capital and roads, and we will take that into account.

The hon. Gentleman also referred to the island needs allowance, which was raised by the delegation this afternoon. We have this year helped Western Isles to the extent of £1.4 million through a change in that allowance, but I am prepared to make a commitment to an independent study of the island needs allowance, both in total and in its distribution among Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, because I think that the dissatisfaction of the Western Isles about the distribution has considerable merit.

Opposition Members have made a fairly ritual complaint about the level of the revenue support grant. I must correct the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas), who attacked the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) for having attended a fee-paying school. The hon. Member for Cathcart was a teacher at a fee-paying school; the person who attended the school was the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar).

What was important was that there was no commitment by the Labour party to increase the level of the order which I commend to the House.

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 ( Exempted business).

The House divided: Ayes 150, Noes 107.

Division No. 52] [1.37 am
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Allason, Rupert Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Amess, David King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Kirkhope, Timothy
Arnold, Sir Thomas Knapman, Roger
Ashby, David Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Atkins, Robert Knowles, Michael
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Knox, David
Batiste, Spencer Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Bellingham, Henry Lawrence, Ivan
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Lightbown, David
Bottomley, Peter Lord, Michael
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Bowls, John MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter McLoughlin, Patrick
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Buck, Sir Antony McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Burt, Alistair Malins, Humfrey
Carrington, Matthew Mans, Keith
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Mariand, Paul
Chapman, Sydney Maude, Hon Francis
Chope, Christopher Maxwell-Hyslop, Sir Robin
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Miller, Sir Hal
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Mills, lain
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Mitchell, Sir David
cran, James Moate, Roger
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Monro, Sir Hector
Davis, David (Boothferry) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Day, Stephen Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Devlin, Tim Morrison, Sir Charles
Dickens, Geoffrey Neale, Sir Gerrard
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Nelson, Anthony
Dover, Den Neubert, Sir Michael
Dunn, Bob Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Durant, Sir Anthony Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Dykes, Hugh Norris, Steve
Emery, Sir Peter Paice, James
Fallon, Michael Price, Sir David
Favell, Tony Raffan, Keith
Fenner, Dame Peggy Redwood, John
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Fishburn, John Dudley Riddick, Graham
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Rowe, Andrew
Franks, Cecil Sackville, Hon Tom
Freeman, Roger Shaw, David (Dover)
French, Douglas Skeet, Sir Trevor
Gale, Roger Stevens, Lewis
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Taylor, Sir Teddy
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Temple-Morris, Peter
Gregory, Conal Thompson,Sir D. (Calder valley)
Grist, Ian
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Hague, William Thurnham, Peter
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Trippier, David
Hannam, Sir John Trotter, Neville
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Twinn, Dr Ian
Harris, David Walden, George
Hayes, Jerry Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Waller, Gary
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Ward, John
Hind, Kenneth Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Watts, John
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Hunter, Andrew Wells, Bowen
Irvine, Michael Whitney, Ray
Jack, Michael Whitney. Ray
Janman, Tim Widdecombe, Ann
Jessel, Toby Winterton, Nicholas
Wood, Timothy Tellers for the Ayes:
Yeo, Tim Mr. Irvine Patrick and
Young, Sir George (Acton) Mr. Tim Boswell.
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.) Kirkwood, Archy
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Lamond, James
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Leadbitter, Ted
Battle, John Leighton, Ron
Bradley, Keith Lewis, Terry
Bray, Dr Jeremy Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Loyden, Eddie
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) McAllion, John
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Macdonald, Calum A.
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) McFall, John
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Canavan, Dennis McKelvey, William
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) McMaster, Gordon
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) McWilliam, John
Clelland, David Mahon, Mrs Alice
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Maxton, John
Cryer, Bob Michael, Alun
Cummings, John Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Moonie, Dr Lewis
Darling, Alistair Morgan, Rhodri
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Mullin, Chris
Dewar, Donald Nellist, Dave
Dixon, Don O'Brien, William
Doran, Frank O'Hara, Edward
Douglas, Dick O'Neill, Martin
Dunnachie, Jimmy Primarolo, Dawn
Eadie, Alexander Quin, Ms Joyce
Eastham, Ken Reid, Dr John
Enright, Derek Robertson, George
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Rooney, Terence
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Fisher, Mark Salmond, Alex
Foster, Derek Skinner, Dennis
Foulkes, George Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Fyfe, Maria Spearing, Nigel
Galloway, George Stephen, Nicol
George, Bruce Stott, Roger
Godman, Dr Norman A. Strang, Gavin
Golding, Mrs Llin Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Graham, Thomas Turner, Dennis
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Vaz, Keith
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Wallace, James
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Walley, Joan
Grocott, Bruce Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Hardy, Peter Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Haynes, Frank Wilson, Brian
Home Robertson, John Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hood, Jimmy Worthington, Tony
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Wray, Jimmy
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Illsley, Eric Tellers for the Noes:
Ingram, Adam Mr. Robert N. Wareing and
Kennedy, Charles Mr. Thomas McAvoy.
Kilfoyle, Peter

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the Revenue Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1992, dated 16th January 1992, a copy of which was laid before this House on 16th January, be approved.

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