HC Deb 19 April 1995 vol 258 c208
19. Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the impact of delegated legislation on the numbers of staff employed by local authorities in each of the last three years. [17924]

Mr. Curry

Changes in requirements arising from transfers of responsibilities, as well as changes in costs through efficiency, are discussed with local authority associations. The consequences for staffing is a matter for councils.

Mr. Steen

Is not the whole problem that we pass legislation and expect local authorities to observe the duties that we impose on them, without properly working out how much money they need? Surely the right way forward is a cost compliance assessment of all legislation passed, such as yesterday's Environment Bill, so that we do not impose on local authorities duties that they cannot afford to observe. Is that not the nub of the problem?

Mr. Curry

My hon. Friend will be aware that there is a constant demand that we entrust local authorities to do more. There are complaints whenever it is suggested that we are asking them to do less. It is important, therefore, that when they get new responsibilities the costs of them are evaluated properly. We undertake such evaluations with the local authority associations. The SSA system is designed to enable that to be done. If responsibilities are transferred within Government, transfers will follow that. We are following my hon. Friend's injunction.