HC Deb 26 April 1995 vol 258 cc851-2
13. Mr. Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he plans next to visit Aberdeenshire to discuss local government. [19581]

Mr. Kynoch

My right hon. Friend visits Aberdeenshire regularly to discuss local government and other subjects.

Mr. Bruce

The hon. Gentleman can tell the Secretary of State that, as and when he next visits Aberdeenshire, he will be warmly welcomed by the new Liberal Democrat administration on the unitary authority. It will be anxious to tell him, as has Grampian regional council, that it wants to know when the Government will give the capital consents needed to meet the education crisis that Grampian region faces.

May I draw the Under-Secretary's attention to an article in The Press and Journal today which talks about overcrowding at Oldmachar academy where 35 pupils are denied physical education next year because there are no facilities for them? Will he give an assurance and explanation? The hon. Gentleman said that he had cut £83,000 from Grampian's capital allocation for the current year. How will it be possible for us to build the extra academy, which he acknowledges is necessary, and to deal with the consequences of the redistribution of pupils as a result of reorganisation?

Mr. Kynoch

The hon. Gentleman is obviously aware that I am conscious of the situation in education in the new authority of Aberdeenshire. I am sure that not only the existing Grampian region but the new unitary authority of Aberdeenshire will continue to press the Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for education, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton), on the need within that area. In fact, in their allocations this year, those areas have fared proportionately better than many others in Scotland.

Mr. Raymond S. Robertson

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the recent local government elections in the city of Aberdeen, the Scottish National party and the Liberal Democrats paid a heavy price for the policies of their parties' administration on Grampian regional council, which wilfully hiked up council tax and sold prime chunks of the city of Aberdeen without any regard to local residents or, indeed, to the city or the hinterland?

Mr. Kynoch

My hon. Friend is right. That is absolutely typical of the Liberal Democrats, who are trying very hard to crow. What the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) did not say was that his party formed an administration in Aberdeenshire only because of the significant support of a number of independents on the council.

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