§ Mr. Latham
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement on the results of his Department in achieving the policy programme since his reply to a similar question by the hon. Member for Melton on 11 June 1980.
§ Mr. Younger
Since my reply to a similar question by the hon. Member, we have continued to give priority to the fight against crime and to support the police service both with resources and with strengthened powers. Since the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 we have already brought into operation the greater part of its provisions, including those on police powers. Additional resources have been made available for the National Health Service while the proportion devoted to management and administration has been reduced. The structure of the NHS has been reviewed and agreed changes will be put into effect shortly; and legislation has been introduced to fulfil the manifesto undertaking to halt the phasing out of pay beds. In addition, detailed guidance on the priorities for the Health Service in Scotland in the 1980s has been issued to health authorities.
The Education (Scotland) Bill has completed its passage through this House and is expected to become law later this year. The Bill includes provision to extend the opportunities of parents to exercise choice as to the schools their children attend, to make fresh provision as regards the special educational needs of children and young people and to establish an assisted places scheme to enable children to attend fee-paying schools which their families could not otherwise afford.
The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1981 has reinforced my power to reduce rate support grant payable to local authorities incurring excessive and unreasonable expenditure and I have laid reports before the House for that purpose.
The Stodart committee of inquiry into local government in Scotland has now reported, and I have made clear the Government's intention to legislate soon on its recommendations. Assistance to shipping firms operating within the Highlands and Islands area has been substantially increased in real terms, and increased assistance has also been made available towards the operating costs of seven aerodromes in the same area. Work has continued on the possibility of introducing assistance for shipping services based on road equivalent tariff. A programme of dualling schemes on the A94 road between Forfar and Stonehaven has been established, and work on the first of these schemes began earlier this year.317W
Following the inter-party talks, motions were laid before and approved by the House in June 1981 to improve the arrangements for the conduct of business in the Scottish Grand Committee.