§ Mr. Davidson
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the estimated costs, in the first year, of his proposed re-organisation of Scottish local government; what is the resultant average cost per council tax payer in Scotland; and if he will explain how these figures are arrived at.
§ Mr. Stewart
The Government's White Paper "Shaping the Future-The New Councils" estimated that transitional costs in the range £120 million to £196 million will be incurred over 15 years, but that these will be quickly offset by ongoing savings of between £21 million and £65 million per year. The precise level of costs and savings incurred in the first year of reorganisation will depend on decisions yet to be taken by the new councils. The funding of these costs will be the subject of consultation with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities in the normal way and it is not therefore possible or sensible or meaningful to estimate their effects upon council tax levels at this stage. Recent speculation about the effects of reorganisation on council tax levels has therefore been entirely without substance. The savings arising from the new local government structure should give rise to significant reductions for council tax payers.