§ 6. Mr. Andrew Rowe (Faversham and Mid-Kent)
What steps he intends to take to regulate direct labour organisations. 
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Donald Dewar)
The Government will not tolerate incompetence or inefficiency. I expect all councils to look critically at whether direct provision is required, and to put performance and value for money at the centre of all that they do.
§ Mr. Rowe
What steps will the Secretary of State take to ensure that the appalling problems that have arisen in Scottish local government do not afflict the new Scottish Parliament?
§ Mr. Dewar
I remain an optimist about the Scottish Parliament, and I am sure that that optimism is shared by the hon. Gentleman, who always has the slight air of a rebel on the Conservative Benches. I do not believe that comparison with local government is relevant. At the end of the day, Westminster's powers will go to the Scottish Parliament; local government will not be raided. The Scottish Parliament will be a policy-making legislative body; local government, essentially, is involved in the provision of local services. I do not therefore believe that the machinery is the same, or that the parallel is relevant.
§ Mr. Malcolm Savidge (Aberdeen, North)
What effect does my right hon. Friend believe compulsory competitive tendering and local government reorganisation have had on the regulation of direct labour organisations?
§ Mr. Dewar
The consequences of the last reorganisation of local government—which was very much a pattern imposed by a Government who, however honourably they may have acted, did not command widespread support in Scotland—were undoubtedly a great deal of disruption, financial difficulties and unavoidable expenses that are still being met by council tax payers and taxpayers. That is perhaps an answer for Conservative Front-Bench spokesmen who now worry about such matters.