§ Mr. Conlan
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the level of local road maintenance expenditure accepted for grant purposes in 1980–81 and 1981–82 at November 1969 prices; what reduction the 1981–82 level represents in percentage terms; what factors led him to reduce the real level of resources available for maintenance; and whether he is satisfied, in view of the continuing decline in maintenance resources during the last decade, that further cuts will not lead to reduced maintenance standards.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
Technical difficulties make it impracticable to produce figures for local road maintenance expenditure at 1969 prices. At November 1979 prices expenditure accepted for 1981–82 is £517.2 million compared with £561.7 million for 1980£81. After allowing for a change in definition, under which expenditure on new maintenance vehicles and machinery is transferred from current to capital expenditure accepted expenditure decreased by 5.3 per cent. between 1980–81 and 1981–82. Local authorities should be able to avoid reducing standards of maintenance if they take advantage of the scope for reducing operating costs and increasing efficiency by careful management. The distribution of accepted expenditure is designed to protect those counties who are already planning to make significant savings on maintenance or who have particularly high needs.