HC Deb 19 December 1995 vol 268 cc1341-2
15. Mr. Dykes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to discuss the standard spending assessment formula with representatives of the London boroughs. [4889]

Sir Paul Beresford

Standard spending assessments are discussed throughout the year with the local authority associations in the settlement working group and in the standard spending assessment sub-group. Currently, we are also available to meet authorities to hear their representations on our proposals for the 1996-97 settlement, including those for standard spending assessments.

Mr. Dykes

Does the Minister accept that the working of that complex formula can adversely affect outer London boroughs such as Harrow? Its proximity to Heathrow airport and its many ethnic minority communities mean that it has to bear extra costs of social provision, education, housing for the elderly and other services. Will my hon. Friend look again at the formula to see whether Harrow can have a fairer deal?

Sir Paul Beresford

I would dispute any suggestion that it has not had a fair deal. The shift of expenditure under the formula shows that Harrow has had a reasonable deal. I am sure that, with my hon. Friend's assistance, the local authority will be able to meet the demands well. A comparison of local authorities around the country shows a massive variation. Labour authorities, in particular, seem to spend an enormous amount of money for little value. I am sure that my hon. Friend can assist his local authority.