HC Deb 04 November 1986 vol 103 cc390-1W
Mr. Cash

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, following his request for a special report on Newham's direct labour organisation, he has reached a decision on that organisation's future.

Dr. Boyson

The special report provided by the London borough of Newham shows that Newham's direct labour organisation made losses on major new construction schemes totalling some £3.3 million over the period 1982–83 to 1984–85 with a loss in 1984–85 alone of over £2 million. The council has stopped awarding new major construction projects to its DLO for the time being, but despite this anticipates a further loss of around £2 million in 1985–86.

Having considered the report my right hon. Friend has today informed the borough, in accordance with his powers under section 17(5) of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980, that with immediate effect its direct labour organisation shall no longer have power to undertake major new building work except as necessary to complete work already awarded to it.

Dr. Cunningham

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the total of local authorities' capital receipts at the end of each financial year from 1981–82 to 1985–86, showing the proportion of receipts backed by cash.

Mr. Ridley

Local authorities' capital receipts against the DOE-LA1 cash limit in each of the years 1981–82 to 1985–86, including receipts from health authorities and repayments of grants and advances, were as follows:

£ million
1981–82 1,335
1982–83 2,235
1983–84 2,230
1984–85 2,150
1985–86 2,318

Information on the accumulated capital receipts held by local authorities was not collected by the Government before 1984–85. At the end of that year the total of accumulated receipts giving rise to spending permission in later years was £6.2 billion. Some of these receipts were notional, such as leasing disposals. The cash from much of the remainder had been used for such purposes as repaying debt and financing capitalised housing repairs. After allowing for such factors only £3.7 billion out of the £6.2 billion spending permission could be converted into cash. But very little even of this £3.7 billion was actually held on deposit at a bank. Most of it had been temporarily lent for other purposes within the authority and could be turned into cash only if the authority undertook further external borrowing. The total external loan debt of English local authorities at 31 March 1986 was £33.6 billion.

Information on the position at the end of 1985–86 is being collected at present and will be published when available.