§ 6.34 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
I beg to move,That the General Grant (Scotland) Order, 1960, dated 29th November, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 1st December, be approved.I understand that it is the desire to debate simultaneously with this Order the Prayer in the name of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), that the Local Government (General Grant Transitional Adjustments) (Scotland) Regulations be annulled.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
I am not sure whether there is any point in taking these two simultaneously. There is so little in the Prayer.
§ Mr. Maclay
I understood that it was the desire to take the two together, but I am content to do what the hon. Gentleman and the House feel is right. We will deal with them separately, if that is what the hon. Gentleman would prefer.
§ Mr. Maclay
It is two years ago almost to the day that the House was asked to approve the Order fixing the amounts of general grant payable to local authorities in Scotland for the years 1959–60 and 1960–61.
I confess at the outset of my speech that I have been somewhat concerned about the best form in which to present this White Paper. I will listen carefully to any comments made during the debate on this aspect of our business. It may be argued, as it was two years ago, that we should set out much more detail than we have in the White Paper, but the difficulty is what detail to include and what to exclude, bearing in mind that all the items covered in the White Paper, or at any rate most of them, can be debated in one way or another during the Parliamentary year. There is also the added problem that if I set out too much I do not know what to say in my speech.
§ Mr. Maclay
It is a problem, and I will listen to criticisms and comments on 1509 the method of presentation. I have examined the form in which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government set out his White Paper. It gives more detail, but I am not sure, if one studies it carefully, that it is very much more helpful than our method, and it is not a bad thing to have two methods and to see which works out the best.
The last Order was the beginning of the new system introduced by the Local Government and Miscellaneous Financial Provisions (Scotland) Act, 1958, under which specific grants for certain services, of which education is by far the most important, were replaced by a general grant whose total amount was fixed in relation to the estimated expenditure on those services but which local authorities were free to apply towards meeting any expenditure which would otherwise fall on the rates. The underlying purpose of this new system, as hon. Members know, is to give local authorities increased financial independence.
There were doubts expressed about this innovation, but I now feel that I can say with confidence that the first two years' experience has shown that the general grant is working, and working very well. I have the evidence of a leader in a Scottish newspaper a short time ago which made a very appreciative reference to this system, and I shall deal in a few moments with some of the developments that are now in hand in the services covered by the grant. It is against this background that I now ask the House to approve the General Grant (Scotland) Order, 1960, which fixes the amounts of grant payable to local authorities in Scotland for the two years 1961–62, and 1962–63.
In the first place, perhaps I should explain briefly how the amounts have been arrived at. The procedure to be followed, and the matters to be taken into consideration are laid down, as hon. Members know, in Section 2 of the 1958 Act, and have been set out in the Report which, as required by the Act, I have laid before the House along with the Order.
The first thing to be looked at is the latest information available about the rate of relevant expenditure, that is the expenditure on the services which have been covered by the general grant since 1510 16th May, 1959. These are listed in the First Schedule to the Act. Estimates of the expenditure to be incurred in the two years 1961–63 were supplied by the individual local authorities except for one or two of the smaller services for which estimates were made by my Departments. These were small services like road safety, traffic patrols, physical training and recreation, and welfare services for the disabled, and the estimates were subsequently discussed with the local authorities.
The local authorities' estimates were adjusted by my Departments to take account, as required by the Act, of future variation in the level of prices, costs, and remuneration such as could be foreseen, of any probable fluctuation in the demand for the services, and of the need for developing the services having regard to the extent which the country can afford such development.
The adjusted estimates were communicated to the local authority associations with a view to the formal consultations with them required by Section 1 of the Act. These consultations took the form of informal discussions between local authority officials and officials of my Departments, followed by a meeting between my noble Friend the Minister of State and elected representatives of the local authorities.
I am informed that these discussions, while protracted in the case of the official negotiations, took place in a friendly and cordial atmosphere. A number of points were put forward, as a result of which further adjustments were made, and as a result the final estimates of relevant expenditure were agreed at the figures quoted in the White Paper. Hon. Members will have seen that the totals are £91.454 million for 1961–62, and £94.335 million for 1962–63. Since no change in the nature of the services covered by the grant is foreseen such as might justify a change in the proportion of grant to relevant expenditure, my noble Friend the Minister of State proposed, and the local authority associations agreed, that the grant should bear broadly the same proportion to estimated expenditure, taking the two-year period as a whole, as it had done in the previous grant period taken as a whole. On this basis the Minister of State suggested, on the Government's behalf, that the grants should be fixed 1511 at the round sums of £57 million for 1961–62 and £59 million for 1962–63. The local authorities accepted these figures and they are incorporated in the Order which is now before the House. That is the history of the negotiations.
I should now like to deal with the developments which are foreseen in the relevant services and which are reflected in the increase of grant over the figures for the previous period. The estimates for education provide for the further development of the educational services, including new schools, maintenance of schools, additional teachers, the provision of a school health service and of aid to pupils by way of transport and bursaries, and the development of all forms of primary, secondary, technical and further education. Proposals for further development of the Youth Service have been reflected in a substantial increase in the provision under this head.
These developments were foreshadowed in two Government White Papers, "Education in Scotland—The Next Step" and "Technical Education". The first of these, which was published in December, 1958, dealt with primary and secondary education. With regard to buildings, it said that two tasks required to be put in hand at once: the modernisation or the replacement of out-of-date school buildings and the improvement of facilities in secondary schools to permit the development of the widest possible range of courses. For this purpose the Government would authorise capital expenditure totalling £65 million in the five years from 1960 to 1965.
As for the running of the schools, the Government intended to maintain and intensify their efforts to obtain more teachers by all practicable means. Since the equivalent debate two years ago the number of certificated teachers in Scottish schools has risen by 1,050, and we expect the number to rise by a further 1,300 in the next two years. As well as enabling the size of classes to be reduced and to cope with increased numbers of pupils, these teachers will be needed to cover new developments. These include the diversification of courses to ensure that all pupils are able to follow a course which really meets their needs, the introduction of new courses for pupils staying at school beyond the minimum age, in 1512 order to take the new fourth-year certificate, and new opportunities for the most able pupils to develop their talents.
The White Paper on Technical Education, which was published in February, 1956, envisaged a continuing programme of development of facilities for further education in local technical colleges run by educational authorities. In particular, these new facilities would be needed to enable a very substantial development to take place in day release. This matter was debated in the Scottish Grand Committee last Thursday. As I said in opening, we debate these matters continuously throughout the year.
A year ago I set up the Scottish Consultative Council for the Yourth Service in Scotland, with the object of encouraging the development of youth clubs and other opportunities for young people to train themselves outside the formal machinery of education. Since then the Report of the Albemarle Committee on the Youth Service in England and Wales has been published, and has been closely studied in Scotland. As a result the education authorities expect to spend substantial sums in the next two years on the Youth Service, and provision for this has been included in the estimate upon which the general grant was assessed.
The fire service estimate includes provision for some additions to strength. In local health services the main development is on the mental health side. The Mental Health (Scotland) Act, passed last Session, will require a considerable expansion of existing local authority mental health services and the initiation of new services. By the direction of the Secretary of State the provision of mental health services has already been made a duty of local health authorities, and they will shortly be asked to submit their proposals for carrying out that duty.
These proposals may be expected to cover an increase in the number of occupation centres and work centres provided for the training of mentally defective adults and of children whose mental disability is so severe that they must be excluded from the school system; the provision of residential homes and hostels where this is necessary, perhaps for patients leaving hospital or for mentally disordered people who do not need hospital care but have no suitable home of their own; the employment of suitable 1513 staff to provide supervision and aftercare by means of visits to patients at home, and other related services. The development of a really comprehensive community mental health service must take time, but it is hoped that there will be no delay in making a start, and provision is accordingly included in the grant.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
What provision is the right hon. Gentleman expecting to be made for 1960–61? As far as I can make out from the general grant, taking all the local health services together the increase will be only about £20,000. What will that meet in all these fine things about which the right hon. Gentleman has been speaking?
§ Mr. Maclay
If the hon. Lady will permit me, with the permission of the House I hope to wind up the debate, and I will then pick up some of the details. As to the point she raised, it is quite clear that that growth cannot be a very fast one. There is a lot of work to be done. We have only reached the stage of asking for schemes to be submitted. In our discussions with local authorities as to what is possible and practicable—which was one object of the discussions—this figure was not disputed by them.
§ Mr. Maclay
I do not want to give way. I am sure that the hon. Member has a good point to make, but I have learnt that these speeches are not helped by their being interrupted too often. However—
§ Mr. Willis
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I have been listening with great interest to what he has been saying. Can he give some indication of the sums which have been allowed in respect of the services he has referred to as being expanded? It would help us if he could give some such indication.
§ Mr. Maclay
That is a very difficult question. The hon. Member will realise that an immense amount of detail was gone into in our discussions with local authorities, and I do not have the precise sums available. During the course of 1514 the debate I shall try to obtain some figures so that I can give detailed answers, but one of the problems is that we are covering an enormous range of subjects in one Order, and it is very difficult to pick out every precise figure which an hon. Member may want. I should have to have several large volumes and do a good deal of research into the detailed negotiations we had with local authorities in order to be in a position to answer every question.
§ Mr. Maclay
I can assure the hon. Member that all these things were discussed in great detail with the local authorities, and that they are satisfied that the figures I have mentioned are realistic, and cover what is really practicable in the years to come. He will appreciate that we have done as much as possible to make certain that what is possible will be done. I appreciate hon. Members opposite wanting to know details of various items. As I said, that is the real problem of the debate. I shall see what I can do later on.
Allowance has been made for the continued growth of other services, in particular the welfare service for handicapped persons. Intensive efforts towards greater road safety will also involve increased expenditure by local authorities, on such objects as road safety propaganda and training and co-operation in campaigns conducted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. When I go into these details hon. Members opposite will realise what a problem it is to give precise figures for every item which may come under discussion in a debate of this kind.
I understand that it is not desired to go on now with a discussion of the Regulations, and I will leave them for the time being. I believe hon. Members will agree that the evidence of the General Grant Order and the information given in the White Paper show that the general grant, far from being a restrictive kind of operation—as some hon. Members feared during the passage 1515 of the Bill—is making possible the steady expansion of local government services. Relevant expenditure is rising, the grant is rising, and I do not think anyone can doubt that local authorities are taking an even more acute interest than before in making certain that the spending of the grant is done as economically as possible and to the best advantage of their communities and the ratepayers; and that there is real advantage in this method to give—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman is in the same trouble as was the Minister of Housing and Local Government. I am afraid that a discussion on the vices and virtues in principle of the general grant against those of a particular grant is out of order.
§ Mr. Maclay
I apologise, Mr. Speaker. This was to be a short peroration. I commend this excellent Order to the House with the greatest enthusiasm.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
If the right hon. Gentleman had been in the House during the debate on the English Order he would have heard that the first criticism made by almost every hon. Member who took part in the debate was that a hopelessly inadequate amount of time had been given to hon. Members to consider the Order. If that were a relevant criticism regarding England and Wales—and it was admitted to be by the Parliamentary Secretary who replied for the Government—I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the English Order was ordered to be printed on 30th November, which was Wednesday of last week, together with the Report. The Scottish General Grant Order was ordered to be printed one day later, on 1st December, which was Thursday of last week.
The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that Scottish Members of Parliament therefore went North last weekend without the General Grant Order at all. They came back to Westminster on Monday when they could get a copy together with the Report made by the Secretary of State. We are in the position of having our local authorities and their associations at least 400 miles away. The right hon. Gentleman must know 1516 that it was completely impossible for any hon. Member representing a Scottish constituency to have any discussions at all, either with individual local authorities or with a local authority association, regarding the Order. Hon. Members representing English constituencies made the same complaint although the relevant associations are here in London. How much more serious is our complaint that we have had this hopelessly inadequate amount of time to discuss the Order!
In the earlier debate, hon. Members were concerned about the inadequate information in the Report presented by the Minister. Someone must have informed the Secretary of State of this criticism because he started his speech by admitting that there was not very much information in our Report. Then the right hon. Gentleman invited us to make suggestions during the debate about what he might put in the Report. This Report is presented by the right hon. Gentleman under the provisions of Section 1 (5) of the Local Government and Miscellaneous Financial Provisions (Scotland) Act, 1958. Subsection (5)—I will quote only the relevant words—states:An Order … shall be laid before the Commons House of Parliament together with a report by the Secretary of State explaining the considerations leading to the provisions of the order.…Those were the words written into the Statute by the right hon. Gentleman. Now he wishes us to tell him what he meant when he wrote those words in 1958, which seems an extraordinary position. The right hon. Gentleman has certainly failed in his duty to Parliament to give a report explaining the considerations leading to the provisions of the Order. There is no attempt whatsoever to do that regarding the Order which has been presented to us.
When I was looking at these Orders and discussing them with an hon. Friend, he suggested to me that the Secretary of State must have thought we were still working to the Goschen formula so that his Report would be eleven-eightieths of the length of the English Report. But I called the attention of my hon. Friend to the fact that if we took out the whole of page 2 of the Report by the Secretary of State in which it merely stated that there is power to make a report, we find that the right hon. Gentleman's explanation is contained in half a page on 1517 page 3. That is far short of the eleven-eightieths of the explanation given by the Minister of Housing and Local Government.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is guilty of treating the House with contempt in asking us to approve that legislative provision, as he did in 1958, and then—having presented two Reports before now, and having been told on both the previous occasions that his Reports were totally inadequate and that we wanted some explanation of the considerations leading to the provisions of the Order—in asking what it is we really want. That is a bit thick. I hope that he will tell us what he meant when he forced those provisions through the House in 1958.
Oddly enough, in his speech the right hon. Gentleman gave some details of the developing services he anticipated in Scotland in the next two years, but when he was asked the cost of these developing services he said he would rather answer such questions at the end of the debate. These are questions which should be answered in the Report and not in the debate at all. They form the basis of the whole discussion.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member will realise that in nearly every case these matters are debated in great detail when, for example, we have an education debate, and on such occasions as that. It is not only on the Estimates; they are debated in many other ways throughout the year.
§ Mr. Fraser
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that we are then discussing them after the event, after Parliament has decided the amount of money to be devoted? Does not he realise that this General Grant Order, together with this tiny Report—which tells us nothing at all—takes the place of all the many pages of detailed Estimates we used to have published over the year in the Civil Estimates? Does not he realise that we were able to look at the education service and get an estimate of the cost of the different branches and aspects of education when those Estimates were published?
We expect the Secretary of State in presenting the Report, together with the General Grant Order, to give us similar information. Then we should know what the services were costing and how the 1518 different parts of the services were moving upwards and downwards, and at least be able to make some appreciation of the changes taking place in the services that give rise to the increase or, if hon. Members wish the decrease in expenditure on the services. But we have no such information, and I am astounded to find that it never occurred to the Secretary of State, until rather more than two years after the passing of the Act, that he might ask someone what he meant when he put in those words.
We do not know what the estimates were in the first place and to what extent they had to be modified twice after these "amicable discussions", as he described them, with the Scottish authorities. Nor do we know to what extent the local authority estimates were influenced by the knowledge that individual local authorities' expenditure would not of itself influence the amount of general grant. I hope that is not too complicated. It is well appreciated among local authorities now that they are to get the general grant under the formula irrespective of the cost of the services provided by the local authorities. Now in estimating expenditure for the next two years, a local authority has to bear in mind what the size of the general grant is likely to be and to take account of the burden which would be put on the rates if it endeavoured to carry through those services which it believes desirable in the interests of the ratepayers of that community.
The general grant has increased every year to keep pace, I agree, with the cost of the services actually provided. What we do not know is whether the services are expanding as they ought to expand. Are they expanding even as the local authorities which provide them would like to see them expand or would have expanded them had they been permitted to do so if we never had this system at all? What we do know is that costs are rising all the time. The fact that more money is being allocated one year than in preceding years does not mean that there is any expansion of the services at all.
Education accounts for at least 90 per cent. of the money in the general grant. Can any of us be satisfied that we are having the increase in expenditure on education provided so that the expanding service will meet the increasing school 1519 population demand? There are more school children every year. The Secretary of State reminded us in the debate in the Scottish Grand Committee a week ago, the debate to which he referred this afternoon:In 1959 80,000 boys and girls in Scotland reached the age of 15. In 1961 the number will rise to 91,000, and in 1962, the peak year, to 100,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Grand Committee, 1st December, 1960; c. 5.]There is an increase of 25 per cent. in the number of young people reaching 15 years of age in a period of three years. All those young people have to pass through our secondary schools. There is a great need for development of secondary education. Secondary education is more expensive than primary education. We have this great increase in the number of young people attending our secondary schools. Is it even matched by the increase in educational expenditure estimated in this General Grant Order, let alone providing for the expansion of the service about which the right hon. Gentleman talked in the debate last Thursday and on other occasions? These are the things to which we would very much like to have an answer.
In view of the impossibility of hon. Members from Scottish constituencies consulting their own local authorities—let alone local authority associations—in order to get the whole picture, I have to consider this matter against the background of information which is already available to me, pertaining particularly to the County of Lanark. I find that in Lanarkshire the increase in 1960 over 1946 in the number of secondary school pupils is no less than 77 per cent. I admit that there has been an increase in Lanarkshire of 10,600 secondary places since 1946. The Secretary of State will say that this is a wonderful achievement. That is fine until we find that we have 12,500 more secondary school pupils. So we are substantially worse off now than we were in 1946.
The service is costing more and, in fact, on these figures it is declining. Lanark education authority has been involved in capital expenditure on schools since 1946 which takes account of 13 per cent. of the Scottish total. We have slightly more than 10 per cent. of Scotland's population. It represents 1520 more than 10 per cent. of the money in general grant. Since 1946 Lanarkshire is seen not to have been a laggard education authority for it has accounted for 13 per cent. of all capital expenditure on building new schools and the education rate is very high. I do not know whether I need go into that at this time, but it is in fact 23s. 6d. in the £, less assistance from general grant. If we take that at 60 per cent., it still amounts to 9s. 5d. in the £.
Lanarkshire education authority believes that if the Secretary of State were to adhere to his present general grant arrangements contained in this Order and if the authority none the less were to go through with the school building programme it has in mind and has submitted to the Secretary of State for approval, the education rate in Lanarkshire would increase by no less than 3s. in the £. The right hon. Gentleman knows this—at least there have been discussions between Lanarkshire education authority and the Scottish Education Department, so the Secretary of State in his corporate capacity knows it.
The Government and the Secretary of State have decided to permit capital investment of £65 million on school buildings in the period 1960–65. Education authorities in Scotland have told the right hon. Gentleman that their needs to comply with standards which he himself has laid down and circulated to local education authorities are no less than £100 million in that same period. Lanarkshire has submitted proposals which suggest that it would require to spend £16 million on new schools in this five-year period in order to comply with the standards laid down by him. It is not surprising that the Scottish Education Department wondered whether Lanarkshire County Council had overestimated its requirement. A meeting took place and, at that meeting, the Education Department officials had to agree with Lanarkshire education authority that the whole of its programme of £16 million was, in fact, required if it were to comply with the standards laid down by the Secretary of State.
Lanarkshire's share of the £65 million would be round about £7 million. It is within the limit of the £65 million over the next five years that the present block 1521 grant has been worked out. The Secretary of State cannot deny that. If Lanarkshire education authority felt able to go ahead with its capital investment programme and got approval from the Secretary of State for the £16 million worth in five years, even though the Secretary of State says that he can allow only £65 million worth for the whole of Scotland, the education rate in Lanarkshire would be increased by no less than 3s. in the £.
This is not making a partnership between the Government and the local education authorities in the provision of important services in education. I honestly believe that the programme that is being attempted by the Lanarkshire education authority is not an overambitious one and is not going to provide a lot of the educational establishments which some of us have been led to believe are on the way. This does not include a new technical school for Motherwell and Wishaw, or the technical school for Hamilton, about which we have had a public statement by the Secretary of State. These are not in this programme that has been given to us by the Lanarkshire education authority, so that the Secretary of State will see that hon. Members for Lanarkshire constituencies—and I think this is also true of hon. Members for other parts of Scotland—cannot be satisfied with this general grant because it happens to provide more money than would have been available under the earlier grant.
May I turn to one other local service, included in these services, on which very little information is available? I refer to the fire service in Lanarkshire. I have had correspondence with the Secretary of State about the manpower position in the fire service in Lanarkshire. We understand that he issued a circular about three years ago laying down certain manpower requirements. I also understand that the Lanarkshire Fire Brigades Joint Committee has never been able to comply with the manpower requirements laid down by the Secretary of State. We have discussed this matter with the Fire Brigades Joint Committee, which told us that one of the reasons why it cannot comply with these manpower requirements is that the Secretary of State still refuses to make the necessary adjustments in the general grant 1522 to take account of the increased cost upon the local authority. Is that true or not true? That is what I want to know. The local authority and the Joint Committee tell me that that is the position.
This is the occasion—when we are discussing the general grant—when I have a duty to put these questions to the Secretary of State. Am I being correctly informed? Is this why the manpower requirements of the circular have not been complied with? Is this why he is not enforcing the circular as he is entitled to do? The right hon. Gentleman has the power to enforce those manpower standards.
§ Mr. Fraser
I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman at once if he wants to answer now. I do not want to keep the House any longer, but here is the position. We have had a hopelessly inadequate period of time in which to discuss this Order. We have had no opportunity of getting in touch either with the individual local authorities or the local authority associations since the Order became available. The Secretary of State has given us no information in the Report that he published together with the Order. He asked us to tell him what he should put in the Report, and I have told him what he put into the Act of 1948 about the purposes for which the Report was to be published.
I have shown the right hon. Gentleman that local authorities in preparing their estimates do not prepare them by reference to what they believe the people in their areas require in the way of expanded services, but have regard to what they believe to be the amount of money that will be available from Government sources and the effect upon their rates of any further expansion of the services beyond that initially suggested by the Secretary of State, like the £65 million for schools in the next five years. I doubt very much whether any increase in the grant in respect of a component of the total grant is seen to be for educational expenditure. I doubt very much whether this even takes care of the two things to which I have referred—the increased school population and the higher proportion of that population which is at the secondary stage, which is the more 1523 expensive stage. I doubt very much whether the increase in the grant takes account of these two factors, let alone provides for increased expansion in the education services, which, if we do not achieve it in the next few years, will leave us very much a second-class nation in Europe.
This seems to me to be a dreadful thing, because we in Scotland used to think that we were in the forefront in the provision of education for our young people. It seems now that we are already lagging behind, and within the limits of this General Grant Order there is very little prospect that we shall do anything to catch up in the next few years.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
I should like, first, to support what my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) has said about the total inadequacy of this Explanatory Memorandum. I do not wish to elaborate on this, because my hon. Friend has said a good deal about it, but there is no doubt at all in my opinion that the Secretary of State is in dereliction of his duty under Section 1 (5) of the 1950 Act by offering us very little explanation for the changes made in this Order.
I want to reinforce what my hon. Friend has said about education, because I know that in Midlothian, too, the position is almost exactly the same as in Lanarkshire. Here, we know, is a very progressive local authority anxious to provide a scheme—I would not call it ambitious—to meet the requirements of the ratepayers of Midlothian on education, but which has found itself up against the difficulty that if it does so it will increase the rates very much indeed. In other words, other people will benefit as a result of what it does. This is not the time to argue this matter. We argued it on another occasion at very great length, and I hope that the Secretary of State is beginning to appreciate the point.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in fact, when he considered the making of this General Grant Order he took into consideration the effect it might have on the development of our educational system. In the debate we had last Thursday, a shocking state of affairs was revealed in respect of the 1524 Government's programme for technical and further education. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman, when making this Order, took this into account, and also took into account the fact that if the local authorities proceed as quickly as they should in fulfilling their obligations in this connection they will be very considerably penalised. If so, what provision is made in this General Grant Order to overcome that? What provision is made to enable them to keep up to date with their educational programme?
This is exceedingly important, but the right hon. Gentleman gives us no facts or figures. He says that they are very difficult to work out. How does he expect us to be able to discuss it intelligently if we cannot be given these figures, if they are so difficult to ascertain that he cannot provide them? What way is this to treat hon. Members? It makes our job exceedingly difficult. We do our best by running around and trying to get such information as we can, but it is not very much.
There are one or two points, which my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton did not mention, which I want to raise. The first concerns the enormous development which the right hon. Gentleman promised us in the health service, in particular as a result of the Mental Health Act. Under the general grant proposals, the estimated increase in expenditure on the health service between 1960–61 and 1962–63 is £110,000. The right hon. Gentleman has appreciated what he is doing here. The estimated increase for England and Wales for the same period is from £66 million to £77 million, or £11 million.
§ Mr. Willis
The right hon. Gentleman has told us that his grand plans for the National Health Service in Scotland will cost £110,000. Why is the increase for England a hundred times as much? Surely he does not think that we can possibly be satisfied with one-hundredth of the increases being granted in England and Wales on the Health Service. It is a positive disgrace.
What is the right hon. Gentleman's estimate, for instance, for the hospital building programme and the development of mental health services? I read 1525 in the Scotsman today that the medical officer for Fife has drawn up a scheme for Fife alone which will cost £250,000. If we multiply that by the number of local authorities in Scotland we get some idea of what the implementation of the Mental Health Act will mean to the local authorities in Scotland. How much has the right hon. Gentleman allowed in the General Grant Order for the development of those services? We had great promises during the Committee stage of that Bill of what would be done, but as far as I can see not much has been done.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he would give us any figures for which we asked. We could give him a long list of the figures which we should like and a long list of the things which we should like to know. I should like to know how much of the general grant is due simply to increases in wages and costs. Unless we know that, we cannot estimate what expansion is going on. In my view the increase in wages and other costs is considerable. I read in the newspaper today that a recent wage award would increase the rates in Edinburgh by 2d. in the £, or a total of £66,000. What does that mean for the whole of Scotland? I suppose it means roughly ten times as much—£660,000. But we know nothing about this. There was an increase about a year ago.
How can we judge the development of these services and what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind if we do not know how much of the grant is attributable wholly to increasing costs and increasing wages, which represent no expansion in the services at all? The Bill lays it down that the right hon. Gentleman must take these things into consideration. Consequently, he should have a figure in mind as to what he allows for them, otherwise I do not see how he can take them into consideration.
In July I asked the right hon. Gentleman a Question in the House about the effect which the increasing cost of land was having upon local authorities We have passed legislation which makes it necessary for local authorities to pay the market price for land. At the same time, in some cities in Scotland, a certain amount of land speculation is going on, with the result, in my view, that there will be an increase in the sums which local authorities have to pay for land. 1526 How much has been allowed for that? I do not know.
When I asked my Question in July the right hon. Gentleman said that there was no evidence of any worthwhile increase in land values or that it was costing local authorities more to buy land, but on 23rd September, in a report of an appeal before the Edinburgh Planning Committee, I read that there has been an overall increase in land values in Scotland over the last two or three years of about 50 per cent. and that in Edinburgh there has been an increase of 300 per cent. I assume that the same increases are taking place in Glasgow and elsewhere, although I do not know. In the evidence before the Planning Committee on behalf of the appellant it was pointed out that the present high prices were particularly applicable to small areas of land and that if a local authority had to acquire a small centre or to clear a small centre, it must expect to pay these high prices. To what extent has that been taken into consideration? Has it been taken into consideration? What is the Government's intention? Does it affect the amount which the Government are paying?
I do not want to continue much longer on this subject, because some of my hon. Friends wish to raise other important matters. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was evidence that there was great satisfaction with this general grant scheme. He may take it from me that he has not inquired very closely from some of the more prominent local government officials if that is his view, because they are certainly not satisfied. It would be out of order for me to range wider than this scheme, but although the Government have increased the grant this time, the problem facing local authorities of the heavily increasing burden falling upon them is not being met. To the extent to which it is being met by the General Grant Order, it is being met in a fashion which penalises the most progressive, enthusiastic and vigorous local authorities.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)
I should like to follow up what my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) said about the information which it is necessary for us to have in order to understand this Order. 1527 If we were given figures to show the percentage contribution to the costs being made by local authorities compared with the percentage contribution from Government sources, we should have some idea of what has happened over the past few years and what is likely to happen in the future.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), I believe that the evidence is quite clear that the local authorities are not looking at the need and providing for it but at the amount of money which they are likely to receive and then making provision for the need as far as they can. This came out clearly from the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He indicated the main factors which went towards local government costs, such as education and the health service, and then turned to other matters and said that these were determined more by the Secretary of State.
During his speech the right hon. Gentleman gave the impression that everything in the garden was lovely. We gathered that improvements were taking place and that we could look forward to an increase in facilities for education, health services, and so on. I began to wonder whether, if all that was true, we could offer any criticism of the right hon. Gentleman. He was suddenly interrupted by my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), who brought him very rapidly down to earth. When cross-examined about what figures he could give us to indicate where the improvement would come from, we received the old answer that this was very difficult.
§ Mr. Steele
"Torpedoed" is perhaps a modern phrase to describe what is happening at present. We are always told that the matter is very difficult. If that is true, how did the Scottish Office arrive at the figures which have been provided? There must be some basis for arriving at the figures.
I discovered from looking at the long padding—I will not describe it as "explanation"—on page 3 that one of the reasons why an increase has taken place is that the Post Office is to be put on a fully commercial basis. It is odd that the Scottish grant has to be increased 1528 because another Government Department has been losing money. Paragraph 6 contains these words:so that in the next grant period charges will be made for the use of the mail in the registration of electors.Local authorities will now be saddled with the burden of paying for the correspondence. If this burden is placed on them, we know that they will not be fully reimbursed by the Government, because that is not the method which the Government adopt. It would be interesting to know how much the extra postage will cost.
The Secretary of State said that there were certain services where the basis of the grant was not fixed on estimates received from local authorities but that he decided what they should be. He went on to say that the amount for physical training was decided by him in reference to the need to develop the service in accordance with the country's ability to pay. It is apparent from the Appendix that no alteration has been made in the figure for physical training and recreation. For 1961–62 and 1962–63 it is to be the same as it was in 1959–60, namely, £0.01 million.
§ Mr. Steele
One imagines that nothing much has been happening. Why have the Government suddenly had to introduce increase of pay for the police force? Why have we seen an operation by the Government which trade unions would like to see applied in all the negotiations in which they take part? It has happened very quickly simply because there has been a need for it and because something has to be done quickly to look after the citizens.
Various reports—notably the Albemarle Report, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, and the excellent Report of the Wolfenden Committee—have indicated that something must be done if we are to provide proper facilities for physical recreation for the young.
Remembering all that, what provision has been made? There is no addition to the estimate right up to 1962–63. Hon. Members will agree that this is an important matter. With the natural assets of our countryside we should be 1529 able to provide our youth with the opportunity of having proper physical recreation. We should be able to give them the important healthy recreation they need, particularly in the summer.
The Wolfenden Committee made some excellent suggestions about what local authorities might do. If they were followed, it would not be terribly expensive. One suggestion was that landlords and others should be encouraged to make facilities available for camping sites.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I think that the hon. Member goes just outside the rules of order. I understand that an inquiry directed as to how the figures have been arrived at is appropriate, but I think that a detailed discussion of spending ventures which might be undertaken would be outside the scope of the order.
§ Mr. Steele
—and indignation at the fact that nothing was being done. I have pointed out that there is no alteration in the Estimates. In 1962–63 it will still be £0.01 million. I should like an explanation of why it will be the same.
I think that it will be in order to ask the right hon. Gentleman this question. As changes in the value of money have taken place and as salaries and other costs are rising, will there be a decrease, instead of an increase, in the service over the next four years?
There are many other questions which I should like to ask, but I will now content myself with hoping that the right hon. Gentleman can give me an explanation of why the figure has not altered. Does it mean that the Albemarle and Wolfenden Reports are being completely ignored in the calculations of the future provisions for the health and recreation of young people? If they are being completely ignored and if nothing is to be done about this, it is shameful. It is an indication that local authorities are being cribbed and cramped in their efforts to do something. It indicates that they cannot possibly do the things that they want to do, because they have to decide what they will spend on the basis of what they think they will receive from the Government. 1530 They cannot make their decision in accordance with the neds of the community, whose interests, health and welfare are their prime concern.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
By way of preface to my speech I want to protest at the manner in which the Secretary of State introduced the Order. He continually gives evidence of not having done his homework. He comes to the House and reads his brief very carefully, very often quoting the exact words of the Order which we already have in our possession. We can all read it. There is no need for him to come to the House and read it almost verbatim, plus a few remarks that his civil servants have provided him with. He must not think that he can get away with such conduct.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will have learned something from the speeches made from this side, particularly the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser). When the right hon. Gentleman comes here next year and in succeeding years, I hope that he will take a leaf out of the book of my hon. Friends and give us much more information, both in his speech and in the Order, than he gave us tonight.
The main reason for introducing this general grant was to set the local authorities free. Whatever the justification of that might be, it has certainly not set Members of Parliament free, because we are very much restricted both as to time and as to the manner of the presentation of the Order. We should have at least a full day to debate this Scottish Order, and a separate and additional day for the English Order.
We are now debating very important services, many of which we get no other opportunity than this to debate. The right hon. Gentleman ought to take account of that, and should also take account of the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton, and some of those who spoke in the debate on the English Order, who said that we ought to have at least a fortnight between presentation and debate to give us time to consult our local authorities.
Quite fortuitously, I was in the company of certain Fife officials yesterday in another capacity—which is linked with this. I will say more of that in a 1531 moment or two. The county treasurer said, "Of course, the general grant is all right, except that we should like the percentage grant reinstituted for education".
I accept that, of course. The basis of our argument has all along been that a service that is of national importance is increasingly being placed as a burden on the local authorities. In effect, the Secretary of State says, "If you want to increase this service you must do it out of the rates. We have decided what we shall give you, and anything beyond that must come from the rates".
My hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) spoke of the recent police pay increases. Those increases do not themselves come within the general grant, but when they are granted—and I say at once that we agree with them—we were told by the Home Secretary the other day that they will cost the local authorities another £10 million. I do not know whether that figure included the Scottish local authorities, or whether the right hon. Gentleman would care to give us a separate figure—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, particularly as I have only just taken the Chair, but the police do not come under the Order that we are now debating.
§ Mr. Hamilton
I am well aware of that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I said so, but there are consequential results to which I want to refer.
The increase in police pay will almost automatically mean that the teachers will demand an increase, and teachers' pay comes within the general grant. Teachers in Scotland and in England have pointed out that the teacher coming into the profession after two years of training, and after having had a grammar school education will, on entry, get less than a raw recruit to the police force. The teachers will certainly ask for a very substantial increase in pay, and will seek to bring pressure to bear on us—I hope that they will—and on the Government for retrospection in the same way as the police are to get retrospection.
If the Government accept education as a priority as high as the police they must 1532 give the teachers terms not less generous than those now being given to the police. We know that juvenile delinquency is increasing and must be tackled at the roots. The roots lie in the schools and in educational provision—the youth services have been mentioned. We can only tackle it by improving the lot of the teachers, because if we improve the lot of the police without improving the lot of the teachers we shall find that much of the good work that ought to be done by the teachers cannot be remedied by improvement in the police strength.
I have already made one or two criticisms of the educational service, and I should now like to ask a few questions that relate to the figures in the Order. If the teachers get the increase that they are bound to get now that the other increase has been given, will the right hon. Gentleman make an addition, as he is entitled to under the Act, to the block-grant proposals? If he is not prepared to do that, it is quite clear that local authority rates will have to be increased very substantially.
Looking at these figures, one finds some very important items that are not changed at all, or are increased only very slightly. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) referred to the figure for welfare services for the handicapped, and pointed out that the increase for 1961–62 is £20,000. The right hon. Gentleman talks about increased provision for occupational centres, increased provision for training centres, increased provision of personnel—how many of those things can we get for £20,000? A scheme has been drawn up for Fife which will cost at least ten or twelve times that amount. That is just for one county.
Lt is no good the right hon. Gentleman expressing all these noble sentiments, and then saying, in effect, "This is all very well, this work is wonderful, but if you provide these services you can jolly well pay for them—the Government won't". The sentiment is no use unless the wherewithal is also provided, provided by the Government, and to a greater degree than is shown here.
Provision for child care goes up by £20,000. Child care is an extremely important part of our social welfare services. No doubt, when he replies, the right hon. Gentleman will express similar 1533 noble sentiments about the need for it, but those sentiments are not matched by deeds—by £ s. d. from the Government.
I am interested in other services for children, and particularly in provision for physically-handicapped or mentally-handicapped children. Let us look at what is provided for school-crossing patrols. We hear a great deal about road safety and road accidents, but we find no increase in the provision for school-crossing patrols. Was that because the local authorities intimated that they were not interested in any increase in this service? For road safety it is the same thing. There is no increase whatever. There is little enough provision within the terms of the Order, but there is no increase on that all too inadequate provision.
Was that because the local authorities had intimated that they were not interested in increasing the provision? Did they say to the right hon. Gentleman that they were not interested in improving the school-crossing patrol service or road safety precautions, or did they say that they were and was the Government's reply that if they wanted to do anything they would have to bear it entirely on the rates? Is this a local responsibility or a national responsibility? We should be told something about these things within the documents before the debate starts. The debate would be curtailed somewhat if we had that information.
There is no separate provision, as I understand it, for the mental health service. This is an extremely important service. I have said many times in the House that the real test of a civilised society is how it treats minorities, particularly minorities which are not vocal, which have no political pressure group to speak for them in Parliament. The mentally handicapped come within that definition.
Nearly two years ago, before the General Election, I drew to the attention of the Department the case of a boy of 15 or 16 in Thornton in my constituency who is—I say this with all due regard to everyone concerned—someone who ought to be in a home in his own interest and in the interests of his parents. He is still at his own home. His parents have told me that he is sexually irresponsible. In his home he has 1534 a sister in her teens and the parents are frightened. That boy cannot be got out of that home because there is no provision for him in Fife. It is not the Fife County Council which is to blame. It is simply because there is overall quite inadequate provision for such people.
The Government cannot contract out of their responsibility for the inadequacy. I ask the right hon. Gentleman not only to express fine sentiments but to say that we shall have an explosive revolution in this work in Scotland and our sentiments will be matched with the cash. That is what counts.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke about increasing the freedom of local authorities. A case was brought to his notice yesterday. I wish to put it on record now, and I hope that what I say will not prejudice the Secretary of State's examination of the matter. The Fife County Council wishes to build a school. It wants to employ a certain contractor. The Secretary of State said that it must not employ that contractor but someone else should be employed. The difference between the contract prices is £142 in a contract for £52,000. When the Secretary of State says, "You will not use your contractor; you will use mine", is that the result of this Order? Is that what the right hon. Gentleman means when he talks about the freedom of local authorities to decide their own expenditure?
Representatives of the local authority came down to see the Secretary of State yesterday and informed him of facts of which he was not aware. As a result, he has very kindly said that he will reconsider the position. As I said before, I hope that what I have said now will not prejudice that examination. I put the matter in this context: if the Secretary of State wants to set the local authorities free, this is a test case. If they are not allowed freedom in such a matter as that, where are they now more free as a result of this system than they were before?
I think we have said enough in this debate already to convince the Secretary of State that we are not satisfied with this procedure. At the last election we were returned with a majority in Scotland on, among other things, the promise that we would reintroduce the percentage grant. The right hon. Gentleman had 1535 better understand that if we are to have the advances in education and the welfare services of which I have spoken and on which I feel very strongly, the Government cannot, whatever fine sentiments they express, contract out of their obligations by withholding the £ s. d. to enable the local authorities to get on with their work.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
I was amazed when I first looked at the Order and the White Paper. I thought my arithmetic had gone haywire. Starting at the bottom of the column in the Appendix to the White Paper, Local Government Finance (Scotland), we see the entry for physical training and recreation. The revised estimate for 1959–60 is £10,000. In 1962–63 it is still £10,000. That is all the Treasury is prepared to give to Scotland for physical training and recreation.
Under their new scales, that is the price of ten policemen. It is the price of one and a half judges or of two Secretaries of State for Scotland. It is shocking. The Lord Advocate's fees were nearly double that when he was at the Bar. I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice), without embarrassment to himself, would agree. Ten thousand pounds is all we are to have for physical training and recreation—
§ Mr. Bence
—for everybody. After the Licensing Bill has gone through, the brewers will spend more than that on building new pubs.
I turn next to police traffic patrols, £40,000 a year. I know that the police are not covered by the Order, but these are police traffic patrols and I assume that policemen will be doing the work. I say at once that I approve of their new salary scales. I shall be delighted when the miners, the engineers and the shipbuilders have scales of earnings reaching the same level. I hope that this will be an encouragement to the people who produce the nation's wealth to have their scales raised. All the State is prepared to pay for police traffic patrols in Scotland is £40,000 a year. 1536 Who is to pay all the increased costs of the police traffic patrols? Is it to be the local authorities? Will it go on the rates again?
I come now to the fire services. For protecting human life on the roads by police traffic patrols we are to have £40,000 a year. For the fire services, we are to have £500,000 extra. I have always been rather impressed by the readiness of the State to provide a great deal of money to protect real property from destruction by fire. I know very well what it costs insurance companies when a building is burnt down. The State is prepared to pay another £500,000 for fire protection, and no doubt the insurance companies are delighted. More premiums will be collected as profit instead of being paid as compensation for burnt out buildings. I am, however, the first to recognise that fires are also dangerous to human life.
For local health services there is to be an increase in 1961–62 of £20,000 and in 1962–63 an increase of £90,000—a total increase over two years of £110,000 for the whole of Scotland for the health functions performed under the local medical officer of health. The geriatric services in Scotland are hopelessly inadequate. Dumbarton is hopelessly short of geriatric services. I do not know what the Dunbartonshire County Council's share of the £20,000 will be, but it will be inadequate to bring the geriatric services up to the necessary standard in an affluent society.
For road safety in 1959–60 there is to be an increase of £20,000. For 1962–63 all that we are to get is another £10,000 a year, again the price of ten policemen. Apparently, road safety in Scotland is worth an increase of no more than the price of ten "coppers". This is shocking and ridiculous on today's monetary values. I should imagine that these estimates were drafted 50 years ago, when the value of the £ was different from what it is today. On current values they are absolutely hopeless.
As I said, the total sum for physical training and recreation is £10,000. It is doubtful whether a recreational centre in a small burgh could be built for less than £5,000 or £6,000. In a largely populated area, it would probably cost much more. These estimates should be 1537 taken back and there should be a re-examination of all the priorities in Scotland.
The estimate for child care is also inadequate. For 1961–62 expenditure is to go up by £60,000.
§ Mr. Bence
It is to go up from 1.89 to 1.95 million. That is an increase of £60,000. Perhaps the printers have made a mistake and it should be tens of millions.
These grants towards very important services for what has to be done in a modern society are absolutely ridiculous. We give more in the form of annual subsidies to all sorts of people for all sorts of purposes. This is chicken feed When one takes the annual budget of our society—
§ Mr. Bence
Lord Lovat got £100,000 for the loss of his salmon. I do not know how many salmon he lost, but that was the compensation he received. I cannot understand how intelligent people can bring to the House of Commons a document containing such stupid irrelevant figures when one considers the real situation in Scotland.
A comparison has been made between the educational services of England and Wales and those of Scotland. Greatly increased grants have been made in England and Wales compared with the footling increases in Scotland. I missed the first part of the Secretary of State's speech, but I should imagine that he did not have much to do with compiling these figures. I believe that he feels that we should considerably increase the amount of money we are spending as a society on facilities for recreation and leisure for our adolescents. The fact that we have not adequately provided these things for the mass of our people in urban districts is one of the reasons why we have to encourage more people to join the police force. I am convinced that society as a whole has not made a big enough effort in urban areas to encourage adolescent children to play their part in organisations and institutions so that in their leisure they may not be thrown back on their own rather immature resources. This is what leads to the delinquency about which we complain so much.
§ Mr. Willis
The figures for physical training and recreation do not include anything for increased wages, let alone expansion.
§ Mr. Bence
I thank my hon. Friend, because I had not realised that. This is a great part of a child's education. It is well known that in our structure of recreation and further education youth leaders are probably the worst paid. That is why we cannot get good youth leaders. It is a most difficult task. Recreation and physical training must be made attractive. It must be fun to young people. This cannot be so if all the State provides is £10,000 a year. It means that every local authority in every county is scrimping and saving to try to get young people interested, happy and keen to play their part. It is dangerous to tell young people that this is for their good, but we and the parents know that it is so. We shall never get it by stinginess and scrimping and scraping.
I know that there are many splendid ideas concerning physical training and recreation for adolescents, but the Dunbartonshire County Council will have great difficulty in finding money to further the enterprise of those concerned with physical training. I know that I cannot talk about that, but I do not think that it is necessary to do so because, whatever work a person does in any part of Scotland, he knows very well that we are inhibited from doing the things that we want to do because there is not enough money.
We have just had a Bank Rate cut to help America. I read about it on the placards. Let us have a bit of a Bank Rate cut to help Scotland. Charity begins at home. Instead, we get these fiddling items like £10,000 a year for physical training and £30,000 for road safety. This is the most amazing day in my life. Scotland's 5 million souls, who form a great part of the United Kingdom, have made a tremendous contribution, but the Secretary of State comes with a fiddling thing like this and the Chancellor of the Exchequer goes to the Bank of England and says, "We will cut the Bank Rate. The Yanks are broke." These proposals are all that Scotland is to get. I ask the Secretary of State immediately to withdraw them in view of current events, because this is an insult to Scotland.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I apologise to the Secretary of State for having missed his speech. It has had a pretty bad Press on this side of the House. Nevertheless, I am sorry that I was not present to hear it all. I share the surprise of many other people that the amount which we expect to spend is physical training and recreation is not expected to increase. Possibly, that is because it is thought to be too much already. Whatever the reason, it seems odd that it will remain at the same figure over the next five years. We have read that Scottish girls are now as strong as American boys. Nevertheless, it seems complacent not to allow any extension in this service.
The point I want to make strongly is that some local authorities, among them some of the smaller ones, and certainly one of those which I represent, find their finances a matter of increasing difficulty. To throw more and more burden on to the rating system is wholly wrong. It is an illogical and thoroughly unsatisfactory system and in certain parts of Scotland it will not bear more weight. The main part of the grant is concerned with education services. I am one of those who thinks that payment for education is a national liability, as was argued at some length when the Bill was before the House.
The question on which I should like the Secretary of State to give a definite answer is how much allowance he is making in the figures for salaries. It is difficult to judge how far he expects to be able to expand the services unless we know what estimate he has made of the salaries which are to be paid.
The question of salaries is of the greatest importance. More and more responsibilities are being thrown on public servants of all kinds, yet the payments to them lag further and further behind those offered in private industry. This is one of the most serious aspects of what I might call the Galbraith thesis. I refer not to the distinguished Joint Under-Secretary, who is a member of the Government, but to the more distinguished American Galbraith, who has pointed out that there has been a tendency for the public sector of modern society as a whole to lag behind the private sector. What has been underestimated 1540 is the importance of payments to the public sector if we are to get the right calibre of people to run not only education, but all the other services.
From time to time, we consider the separate services. We have just considered the police. What we do for the police affects the Army and the public services in general. It is high time that we had a general review of the kind of emoluments that we now have to offer and the effect which increasing the emoluments in certain services has upon other services.
I trust that when the Government reply to this debate, they will meet the innumerable points which have been made and will give consideration to how much extra money the Secretary of State expects to be absorbed simply in paying extra salaries and, therefore, how much, if any, is left over for any development of the services which are estimated for in the Order.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
I wanted to make the same point as that made by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) about salaries and priorities in regard to expenditure. It seems to me that the Government are not acting in accord with modern needs and with the advice which is given by those who are knowledgeable in these matters.
I want, first, to refer to the item of child-care and welfare services and to repeat part of what I said in an Adjournment debate not so long ago, when the Joint Under-Secretary replied, concerning the maternity services and the need to do something in the City of Glasgow.
It may come as something of a surprise to many hon. Members to realise that in the City of Glasgow, despite the valiant efforts of the welfare workers, there has been no marked reduction in infant mortality in the past five years. The figure has remained more or less static at thirty-five per thousand. Indeed, in 1959, the report of the medical officer of health indicated that the figure had increased slightly to 35.4 per thousand. This sort of figure nowadays, when we are talking in terms of thousands of millions of £s, is wrong. Indeed, the estimate contains an increase of only £20,000 in child-care services spread 1541 over the whole of Scotland at a time when almost thirty-six children out of every thousand in Glasgow lose their lives. This is something which the Secretary of State and the Department must examine.
One of the greatest weaknesses in Glasgow and a factor which contributes to the increase is, as the medical officer of health of Glasgow has said, the shortage of maternity beds. Only last week, the Joint Under-Secretary gave me a reply in detail which was no different from that which he gave me a year ago in an Adjournment debate. Not one additional bed has been provided during that time. Of course, we get plenty of promises. This is not good enough for the circumstances of today. There are prospects of increased accommodation at Yorkhill Hospital when the buildings go up. In the meantime, however, infants and their mothers are not receiving the attention that they should.
In the estimates there is something of an increase for the education services. Again, however, I join the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland in saying that in comparison with other countries, our education in the national setting—indeed, in the international setting—is quite insufficient for its purpose and should become a national charge. The whole purpose of the change in local Government expenditure was precisely that increased expenditure would be thrown upon the ratepayers. That was the whole purpose of the new method of grant.
Surely, the Secretary of State is aware of the estimate by his Education Department that to reduce over-size classes, to fill vacancies for teachers, to replace the number of unqualified teachers and to dispense with the services of re-employed teachers over the age of 70, we need 3,200 additional teachers. This is the estimate of the right hon. Gentleman's Department. How can this need be covered by figures such as those we now have before us?
At the moment the number of re-employed retired teachers over 70 years of age in Scotland is 231, which is an increase of thirty in 1959 over 1958. This is not the way to solve our educational problems. The number of uncertificated teachers has increased from 626 in 1958 to 1,936 in 1959. These are some of the aspects which are not being covered 1542 adequately in the estimates. These are two of the principal problems which I wanted to put to the House. If the Secretary of State really means to carry out a programme of better technical training for young people between 15 and 18 years of age, which on his own admission is the greatest task facing the Government in education, much more imagination and greater daring will be required in approaching the subject than the estimates seem to show.
Two-thirds of our young people between 15 and 18, during three of their most vital and impressionable years, do not receive adequate teaching and training. In a society that boasts that we have never had it so good, it seems to me that too much is already devoted to the vulgar and the shoddy and not enough to more desirable purposes.
I have drawn attention before to the fire service. As my hon. Friend Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) has suggested, the local authorities are really faced with a problem. More officers are required to deal with fire prevention and protection from fire. This aspect of the problem is not adequately covered. The Secretary of State knows that at the moment a committee is considering the great conflagrations that have taken place in distilleries and other places in Scotland. He may argue that he will await its report before dealing with the problem as a whole. In the meantime, local authorities are faced with the problem with quite inadequate resources to meet it. I ask the Secretary of State to review the estimates and to do what is possible to improve the situation.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Harry Gourlay (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
In his concluding remarks the Secretary of State for Scotland said that the relevant expenditure of the local authorities is rising. Then, with a rather beaming smile, he added, "So is the grant rising, too", giving the House the impression that he was completely self-satisfied about the extent of the increases mentioned in the Order. But does the right hon. Gentleman realise the enormous increase in the rate burdens on the ratepayers of Scotland?
Let us briefly examine the position. In 1945, about £25 million were collected from Scottish ratepayers. In 1951, £32 1543 million were collected, an increase over the six years of £7 million. The record for the following six years shows that in 1957 the ratepayers had to contribute £63 million to the cost of local authority services, an increase of £31 million in six years. This, of course, may be what we are told is controlled inflation as practised by the Tory Government. In May this year the local authority of Kirkcaldy increased the rates by 1s. 6d. If it had not raided a reserve fund at the instigation of some friends of the Secretary of State in that town, the increase would have been 2s. 6d.
But we need not be surprised at these figures. We were warned about this in Cmnd. Paper 208, in paragraph 17, headed, "Reduction in Grants" which reads:The Government's view is that this opportunity should be taken to make some reduction in the level of Exchequer grants.Yet, year after year, the Minister expounds and extols the virtues of increasing grants, and, of course, he must recognise that the increases are falling behind very largely the increase in local authority expenditure required to meet the expanding services that the authorities administer.
This Order proposes a grant of £57 million in 1961–62 and £59 million in 1962–63, but if we look back to the last three years in which we had specific percentage grants we find that the services covered by the block grant in this Order have shown an increase of £4¾ million a year. Therefore, on that basis, and assuming that local authority services were expanding at the same rate, whereas they should be expanding at even a greater developing rate at this time, the grants for 1961–62 would be £59¼ million, instead of £57 million and for 1962–63, £64 million instead of £59 million. When, therefore, we compare the present grant system with the previous system we are entitled to say that Scottish local authorities are having a very raw deal.
Is the Minister quite sure that he is being sufficiently generous in the grants that he is proposing to make for the next two years, or will he find himself this year in the same position as he was in 1959–60 when, shortly after the new grant system came into operation, he had to 1544 ask the authority of the House to alter the grant in an upward direction, as he had been previously warned from this side of the House would be necessary? Or does the right hon. Gentleman anticipate, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) did, that perhaps we are to have a reducing Bank Rate over the next two years. Will it be that by 1962–63 we shall have a Bank Rate of 3 per cent.? Is that the reason for not having a sufficiently large increase in the proposed grants?
The right hon. Gentleman referred to education and the reduction in the size of classes. We should very much welcome a reduction to the standard size laid down in the education code. Has any account been taken of that possibility? I know that we will be told of difficulties in recruiting teachers, but these are factors that will be taken into account in calculating the grant. After all, the quality of education is as important as the quantity. Has he taken account of increased university population and the greater numbers being attracted into the higher forms in the high schools?
The Secretary of State has also failed to provide, particularly in the East of Scotland, sufficient hospital accommodation for the old people and the chronic sick. This in itself is throwing a very heavy financial responsibility on the local authorities in the area, where they have to provide additional home helps and an increased number of health visitors. These factors affect my constituency, but they might not affect the whole of the Scottish local authorities, so to some extent Kirkcaldy is being penalised under this grant system whereas it would not have been penalised under the old percentage grant system.
I reinforce my argument with some figures. In the East Fife area there are only 4.5 beds per thousand of the population over the age of 65 compared with 11.2 beds per thousand of the population over 65 in England and Wales five years ago. There is a growing demand for provision by the Government for this.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the fire service and said that some regard had been paid to the increased strengths that were required. 1545 An examination into the fire service is required, particularly into wages and conditions, and especially in view of the latest increase to the police. As some of my hon. Friends have said, the new increase in police pay is bound to affect all other local authority services but none more than the fire service, particularly when we remember the danger to which firemen can be called at any moment, such as the disastrous fire in Glasgow recently.
I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) in deploring the lack of information contained in this Order, especially about the details of distribution of the grants. In the English Order discussed earlier, very full details were given, together with a comprehensive list of authorities and the grants they would receive. The Secretary of State is, in effect, asking us, without the necessary detailed information, to buy a pig in a poke. It might well be described as a most misleading prospectus.
Two years ago the right hon. Gentleman said:… we can fairly claim that we are fulfilling our promise to give local authorities increased financial independence and more freedom to manage their own affairs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th December, 1958; Vol. 597, c. 211.]If local authorities were enjoying increased freedom to the same extent as the small increases in grant proposed in the Order, that would be all right and they would no doubt accept this, but the practice is far removed from the theory which the right hon. Gentleman expounded on that occasion. I suggest that he issues a White Paper setting out the freedoms which have been given to the local authorities by this General Grant Order. I question whether they would cover even one page, let alone three pages, as this Report does.
Only yesterday I was, in company with certain officials land members of Fife County Council, interviewing the right hon. Gentleman about another matter in connection with school building. To some extent the question of the freedom of local authorities is tied up with that position. We deplore the inadequacy of the grants and regret the freedom which the right hon. Gentleman has given local authorities to increase the rates still further.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. William Small (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
In the short time available to me, I want to concentrate on the need for consultation with local authorities about general grants. While we have no real evidence about the consultations which took place between the Secretary of State and local authorities, it is clear from the table in the Appendix to the White Paper that it is the right hon. Gentleman who determines what the grants for each of the services shall be.
I am amazed by the smallness of the amount devoted to physical training and recreation. The figure of 0.01 appears five times in the estimates of expenditure for the five years 1959 to 1963 inclusive. There is not a penny increase in that figure of 0.01, which means £10,000 only to be spent on physical training and recreation. That small sum of money is all that is given for running classes, swimming classes and all the other forms of recreation and physical activity provided for Scotland's youth.
The nation has recently agreed that extra pay should be given to the police, because of the so-called crime wave. The recent report about the treatment of first offenders has also illustrated the need for action, and we have had to increase the pay of probation officers as well as that of the police, yet here is something which can be used to influence young people in our community.
Paragraph 2 (c) of the White Paper speaks ofthe need for developing those services and the extent to which, having regard to general economic conditions, it is reasonable to develop those services.We talk of having regard to general economic conditions when we should be considering social conditions. Here was an opportunity, which has now been lost, to affect the pattern of community life. Here was an opportunity for local authorities to influence young people in their areas. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the very low figure provided for physical training and recreation.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I am sure that by this time the Secretary of State will have regretted that he introduced the Order at such short notice. It must be obvious to him that hon. 1547 Members on this side of the House, vigilant as always in the affairs of local authorities and the wellbeing of the people of Scotland, would have liked much more information. However, with his hurried introduction of the Order and of this debate so soon after the publication of the terms of the general grant, he has not even had time to prepare a proper speech. Indeed, the debate has taken Tory Members from Scotland so completely by surprise that they are not even here.
§ Mr. Ross
Anyone who examines the Order and hopes to find any relevant information, even in the table in the White Paper, will look long and in vain. There are only two or three lines which would not be relevant to the Order introduced last year, or to an Order introduced next year. Everything on the first page is stereotyped and printing costs could have been saved by keeping the type set.
The next page refers to the rate of relevant expenditure and all that was required was a change of two or three figures. The only difference is thatlegislation to place the Post Office on a fully commercial basis is proposed; so that in the next grant period charges will be made for the use of the mail in the registration of electors.This is to slight the House of Commons. In view of what we were promised during the passing of the 1958 Measure and in view of the quotations by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), we are entitled to claim that we have not had any justification for a single figure in the table in the appendix, not even about the mechanics of the calculation of the general grant which is laid down in the Statute and repeated in the Order. How did the Secretary of State for Scotland arrive at this figure of general grant and what proportion of it relates to the education service?
The right hon. Gentleman has a considerable responsibility in this. He has no right to say that there is an awful lot of figures and he therefore cannot be expected to give them to the House. His Department asked the Scottish local authorities to send in their estimates. His Department changed those estimates in 1548 relation to the fluctuations that were expected in the demands for the various services and their probable development. His Department made the changes after its crystal-gazing act of estimating what the cost of living would be in 1962 and 1963. The right hon. Gentleman should have in his possession every figure that was considered, and those figures should be made available to the House.
The right hon. Gentleman asked for suggestions about what should be in the next Order. I suggest that he gives us as much information as possible. He should state the basis of his calculations, his estimate of the changes that may be expected in demand, his estimate of the probable development of the services, and his estimate of the increase of costs.
There must be a formula for working this out. If there had not been one, there would have been no final figure. If there is no formula, the figures are meaningless. The Order in its present form gives us little or no chance to examine the justification for the figures given by the Minister.
Let us consider what the right hon. Gentleman said about education. In his opening speech, which was supposed to be enlightening, he threw at us an amalgam of half a dozen perorations that he has used when winding up on education, on technical education, on mental health and on everything else. He did not give us a single fact. Everything he said was based on hope and there was no indication of the extent to which that hope would be realised in the two years under discussion.
We know that £20,000 is the figure for next year for the development of the mental health services. Some of the aspects of the mental health services are, and have been for a long time, the responsibility of local authorities. This is not something new which they have come upon by surprise. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the kind of thing for which he asked local authorities in relation to the last Mental Health Act was asked for and presented by local authorities in 1947.
In local services, the kind of progress we can expect is £20,000 next year, and in the following year only another £90,000. We can only guess at the effect 1549 on those figures of the current increases in salaries. They will probably eat up that £20,000 in the first year, and we do not know what will be the position in the second year. Evidently the right hon. Gentleman does not expect any development at all, yet we have all this window-dressing about the great changes that we can expect in services for the mentally handicapped and in providing residential accommodation for the mentally deficient for which we have been waiting for two years. There are more people waiting to get in than are presently in these institutions. This is a case of filling the shop window with goods that are not for sale, or with dummies.
Let us consider the fire service. More than six years ago, when I served on the Estimates Committee, it was evident not only that the fire service was not up to strength but that individual establishments required investigation in relation to modern fire risks. Es there any indication that by 1963 we shall spend about £160,000 more than we are now spending? I cannot see it. We just have not been told. It is no good the Secretary of State saying, "You should not ask me for these figures. I will give them to you at the end of the debate."
We have not been able to debate the youth service properly in relation to the many ways in which the Albemarle Report applies to Scotland. Will anything be done at all about this? The Department spent so much time discussing educational matters with the local authorities that it appears they had little time to discuss the question of recreation and physical training.
The Secretary of State said that he and his Department drew up the estimates for that. According to him they drew up three estimates, and I want the House to consider them. They drew up the estimates for road safety, police traffic patrols, and physical training and recreation. By 1963 we shall be spending £10,000 more on road safety than we are spending now. What is the basis of that estimate? They did not discuss that with the local authorities. There cannot be any question of local authorities having a confused picture in this respect, because this is a picture of the right hon. Gentleman's own painting. What is the fluctuation in the demand for this service? We shall require a little more 1550 for road safety, and I hope that we shall get it.
What about the problem of development? We need a little more action in respect of roads such as the A.8, and roads in those parts of Scotland which have been crying out for action in respect of road safety. What are we going to get by 1963? We shall have an extra £10,000.
In 1959–60 we spent £40,000 on police traffic patrols. In 1962–63 we shall spend exactly the same amount. Evidently costs have remained static there. The development of the service is apparently nil. Or is it merely a case of its being easier to put in the figure we thought of three of four years ago, without taking into account any other relevant factors?
In 1959–60 our actual expenditure on physical training and recreation was £10,000. Next year we shall spend £10,000. The year after that we shall spend £10,000. There will be no change, despite the weighty considerations involved in the increasing demand for the service. After all that we propose to do for the youth of the country there will apparently be no greater demand for physical training and recreation. This is not money coming from the Government; this is the estimated expenditure of local authorities, on which the Government grant is based.
When we come to what the grant contains we find, as compared with this year, that in two years' time local authorities will be spending an extra £13,750,000. Of that sum, which is, of course, in respect of just these services, the additional grant made is to be £7.7 million, leaving the local authorities in Scotland to face an additional expenditure of over £6 million within two years.
There are two things by which one should judge this Order. One is the adequacy of the financial provisions in relation to the services and the need for the services. In so far as we have any information, I do not think that the Government are meeting it in relation to this need. The other thing is in relation to the financial needs of the local authorities and their ability to bear the remaining share of the burden.
The Secretary of State knows that he is getting complaint after complaint from local authorities about the financial 1551 burdens upon them at the present time. Rates have been going up, they are going up this year and they will go up next year. The Secretary of State says, "I am doing well by you. The expenditure is going up by a certain amount and I will give a little more than half, leaving you to find the odd £6 million."
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. J. Henderson) has been a member of the town council in Glasgow and knows the headaches that any local authority has regarding this kind of thing. There is this £6 million when local authorities already know that outside these services they are faced with increased burdens relating to the 50 per cent. share of the increasing cost of the police. There is the new burden which the Secretary of State is placing on local authorities if they take steps to prevent floods, and there is the new burden with regard to the provision of caravan sites. Legislation is produced in this House and the financial "buck" is passed to the local authority.
We have heard that this is only part of the picture. The rest of the picture shows Scottish local authorities struggling in a financial morass, with the Government not prepared to provide adequate help for them to meet present services, far less to develop the new services and certain aspects of existing services upon which the nation depends. So because of these things, and because we cannot divide against this Order, we must express our dissatisfaction and hope that the Secretary of State will appreciate the gravity with which we view the position.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
I am sure that the Secretary of State will by this time have realised the strong feeling which exists among hon. Members on this side of the House. It has been created on two counts. The first is the fact that this Order and White Paper were produced so late that no Member representing a Scottish constituency has been able to contact his or her local authority or the bodies which negotiate with the Secretary of State, which to me is a serious matter. We are being asked to pass this Order with no idea at all about what our local athorities feel on the matter.
1552 The second reason for this strong feeling is the disgraceful lack of information on which we have to try to decide whether this Order be good or bad. When I compare this flimsy little Report presented to Scottish Members with what was received by hon. Members representing English and Welsh constituencies, I begin to wonder whether the Secretary of State feels that he can treat this House in such a scurvy manner.
The third cause for the strong feeling is the inadequacy of the grants outlined in the White Paper. Like some of my hon. Friends, I want to deal with a number of them. I remember how last year when we were dealing with that great social Measure, the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill, promises were made about the improvements which were to be made, particularly in community care for the mentally ill. Because of that, the first part of this Order at which I looked was that dealing with local health services. It was because I was extremely interested in that part that I intervened when the Minister spoke.
These local health services cover many sections of our Health Service. The Secretary of State said that we were looking forward to a considerable expansion in mental health provisions. Those were almost his own words. Then he told us that what we were aiming at was a comprehensive community service. In other words, this was not something which was to happen in the dim and distant future. He was speaking of this Order, which covers us only until 1962–63. In his words, we were to have a comprehensive community service. Then, when he was questioned, he said that what is right and possible in this field will be done.
What does the English Minister think is right? What does he suggest the Government are to do? In the English White Paper in paragraph 21 we find these words:There is a special need for an increase in the number of training centres provided for children and adults and in the amount of residential accommodation provided for patients who may need residential care but do not need, or no longer need, treatment as hospital in-patients.That outlines what the Minister in England felt would be proper community care and what we felt was right. I wonder whether our Secretary of State feels that that is possible in Scotland. 1553 If he thinks it is possible on the increase which is being given here, I say—and I am sure I shall be proved right—that when we come to the end of 1962–63 we shall be nowhere near an adequate community provision.
In 1961–62 we are to have an increase of £20,000 to cover the whole of the local authorities. I should imagine that they will be getting into their stride by then in providing these residential homes and training centres for those of our people who are mentally ill. In the following year, 1962–63, it will be £110,000. How many training centres shall we get for £110,000? How many residential places will there be for those who have been in hospital and who, according to the English Minister, will no longer need to remain in hospital, for £110,000—that is if we have no development in any other part of our local health services? That is the complete increase we are being given. The Secretary of State cannot tell me that during those years—particularly after the announcement, with which I agree, about police salaries—there will not be claims for increases in salary in these services.
Now I turn to what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health said, because we may get the same answer from the Secretary of State, although he told us at the beginning there was to be a comprehensive community service. Someone must have challenged the Minister of Health and his Parliamentary Secretary said that it was not the money or the buildings that was the limiting factor; it was the lack of social workers or people to do the job. If we turn to the Minister's Report for England and Wales, we find in paragraph 22:The same objectives are being pursued through the expansion of the health visiting and social work services (on both of which valuable advice has been received from working parties appointed by the Government), the provision of improved welfare services for mothers and young children,and so on. I wonder that the English Minister had the nerve to mention these two committees.
During the progress of the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill, we tried to move an amendment, which was ruled out of order, to get the Government to implement a little of the Younghusband Report. Only if the Government implement 1554 the recommendations of that Report shall we get the social workers who, the other Minister says, constitute the limiting factor. The Government cannot have it both ways. A very great responsibility rests with the Government, and a great deal of blame must lie on the Government, first, because they have taken no action yet on the Younghusband Report, and, secondly, because of the miserable increase in the estimates for local health services.
That is only one part of the local health services. Let me now turn to some of the others. I had the Convenor of the Lanarkshire County Council Health Committee speaking at a meeting of my constituents on Saturday. He is a most earnest young man, intensely interested in his work and determined to give to the people of Lanarkshire the very best local health service that can possibly be provided. One of the things that had perturbed him greatly was that this year there was an increase in the number of deaths per thousand live births. I was out of the Chamber at the time, but understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) said that there was a slight increase also in Glasgow.
Does the Secretary of State accept no responsibility for this? In the estimates that he has given us, has he allowed for better ante-natal and post-natal provision by the local authorities? If he has, how much of this £20,000 and this £110,000 is to be given to the maternity services of the local authorities?
The Convenor of the Lanarkshire County Council Health Committee told us on Saturday that it had decided almost to double the number of health visitors, because, being composed of good people, it had tried with the medical officers of health to find out why there had been an increase in infantile mortality. It had examined every aspect of the subject and had not found all the answers but had come to the conclusion that it would need to increase the number of health visitors. If Glasgow decides to do that, and if other local authorities in Scotland decide to do it, where is the money to come from, Out of these miserable amounts of £20,000 and £110,000? I have covered only two aspects of the health services, but I think that what I have said and what 1555 my hon. Friends have said shows how miserably inadequate the provision is.
I now turn to another matter—the education service. Again, we have no help from the Secretary of State's White Paper, but how glibly he spoke! If only his speech were reported and no one else's speech, we should think that everything in Scottish education was fine. He talked about the new schools, the extra teachers we already have and the extra teachers we shall get, and he said that, in the grant, provision had been made for all this, for transport facilities and for bursary facilities.
I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) gave the example of what the Lanarkshire Education Committee—because he could give no other example—thinks about the provisions. He spoke of a plan for five years. I understand that the Minister's own officials have said that this plan is needed to meet what the Secretary of State himself has asked. The cost is about £16 million, and the share of Lanarkshire, the second biggest education authority in Scotland, is about £7 million. What about Glasgow, such places as Orkney and Shetland and other areas where there are such great difficulties?
If we look at the figures for 1961–62 we see that we are to have an increase of £3.1 million for education and the following year an increase of £2.68 million. Will that cover all that we need in education in Scotland? We want to know. In our debate last Thursday it was made clear that in some instances we are falling very far behind England, and as a Scotswoman and a previous teacher that causes me great grief, as I think it does all my hon. Friends. What part of the estimate of £3.1 million and £2.68 million is for building? What part of it is for the increased number of teachers of which the Secretary of State spoke, leaving out the question of salaries—because if there were a salary increase we might have another Order?
What part of it is for bursaries? Has the Secretary of State given any thought at all to increasing the bursaries of those who are still at school between 15 and 18 years of age? He and the Minister of Education have spoken about what they intend to do about the Anderson 1556 Committee's Report. Many of us on this side of the House are anxious to know what the Secretary of State intends to do to enable more and more of our children to stay at school and then to benefit from technological and university education. That is where the grave weakness in the present bursary system lies. Is there included in these sums any figure for increases in senior school bursaries?
My hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) and others have drawn attention to the fact that no increase has been granted in respect of physical training and recreation. Yet we have had the Albemarle Report. The Secretary of State may tell us that any improvement they mean to make as a result of the Albemarle Report, which he himself mentioned, will come out of the education assessment, because that is what we find in the English White Paper. It looks as though anything the Government do under the Albemarle Report will come out of the education grant. Does that mean that this miserable sum will have to cover any improvements which will be made as a result of the Government accepting the recommendations of Albemarle? An examination of the details makes one realise how miserable is the amount proposed to be allocated to all the education authorities in Scotland.
Even if some attention will be paid to Albemarle, it still leaves us with physical training and recreation. Whatever else is covered, £10,000 a year are to suffice for the whole of Scotland. I am tired of reading in the Press each day about juvenile delinquency. I am tired of all the complaints which adults make about young people. Our young people are what adults make them. The parents' influence on their children is often a material factor. The school, the church, and the Sunday school play their part, but we as members of Parliament cannot shuffle away our responsibilities to the young people. We should ensure that recreation facilities are provided for them.
I should not be surprised if some big business firms spent more than £10,000 a year on entertainment alone. We are to spend £10,000 on physical training and recreation.
1557 I hope that when the Secretary of State replies he will be able to give us the information for which we have asked. He said that there had been discussions with the local authority associations and that agreement had been reached. We do not know the nature of the agreement. Is it rightly called an agreement if local authorities say what they think they should have, the officials state the length to which the Government can go, and there is then some discussion on it?
From what I have heard about my own local authority, there was not agreement as regards school building. If we had had time to contact the local authority associations and each Member of Parliament had contacted his local authority, we might have been presented with a very different picture.
When the right hon. Gentleman introduced these estimates he thought that he was doing very well by Scotland and that we should have a nice, pleasant, happy debate. We are too concerned about our people to allow these estimates to pass without the most minute examination. Our minute examination has been greatly hindered by lack of information.
Finally, I hope that the debate has taught the Secretary of State and his Under-Secretaries a lesson, namely that we want information and, above all, better provision to be made, particularly in those respects which have been mentioned.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Maclay
At the beginning of the debate I asked for advice. I seem to have got it, so I do not complain at all. I have received lots of advice. The interesting thing is that, as the advice has developed, it has more and more confirmed me in my original view, namely, that the type of information I have given in the White Paper, short as it may be, is the essential information for the major purpose of this discussion, unless the Government are to state every detailed figure about every item which goes to make up the expenditure.
The real point that I would commend to hon. Members is this. The principle of the general grant is that individual sums of money should not be hypothecated to individual services. The whole theory of it is that we build up the relevant expenditure. There must 1558 be some basis. We do not pluck a figure from the air—although after this discussion one is tempted to think that that is the the way to do it. One has to get a figure and build up. But if, after that, one goes into precise details of how much is intended for each service the money automatically gets hypothecated, or tends to get hypothecated, to those particular services.
As I tried to explain at the beginning, the method by which these figures are arrived at is that we start with the local authorities themselves sending in very detailed estimates, which are lumped together—and they have to be lumped together in order to produce the final lump sum figure. A good deal of today's attack has not really been so much on me and on the Government as on the local authorities themselves—
§ Mr. Maclay
Yes, because hon. Members opposite have been asking, "Why not more for this service and more for that service?" One hon. Member spoke of the "Chancellor of the Exchequer's mean little figure." It is not the Chancellor of the Exchequer's mean little figure, nor is it mine. What appear here as the estimates of relevant expenditure are figures built up as a result of the discussions I have described, and the agreement that was reached at the end as to what was proper. When the local authorities are asked to send in their estimates, they are not inhibited as to what they put in except by their own ideas of what is right and proper, having in mind all the considerations that local authorities, as well as the House of Commons and the Government must have in mind in deciding what is practicable and possible in providing services.
Hon. Members must appreciate that it is not possible for any Government, no matter how well-intentioned, to do everything at once for the country simultaneously, regardless of cost and regardless of the effect on the whole community. I know that it is right when in Opposition to try to chivvy—I nearly said more Government out of the money, and that is not a bad phrase—more money out of the Government. However, hon. Members must be responsible about this, because local authorities are very responsible bodies, too. They do 1559 not just plunge into anything and everything they would like to do if they had the money. Instead, they look at what is reasonable in the current conditions of the country and of their own local community. They know that they cannot ask for the moon, because they do not expect to get that either from the Government or from the rates.
Certain hon. Members ought to be careful in some of their criticisms, because they are really attacking local authorities—
§ Mr. Maclay
No, I will not give way. I am developing a perfectly good argument, and hon. Members must take it—
§ Mr. Maclay
No, the hon. Lady is wrong. I said that certain hon. Members, when criticising the extent of relevant expenditure were, in fact, criticising the figures put in by local authorities—
§ Mr. Maclay
I have a great many questions to answer, and prefer to debate this one hard because it is an important point, and the sooner we get clear where we stand on this question of how much detail can be expected in a debate on the general grant, the better.
At the risk of repeating myself, I say that the local authorities produce their estimates. Those estimates are aggregated and discussed—
§ Mr. Maclay
—and it is perfectly permissible for the local authorities to put in whatever they think is right and proper. Being responsible people, they do that.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) interjected the word "cut". In the process of discussion, some figures go up and some go down. The process of cutting is not the only process done by my Department in these negotiations. I can give hon. Members some figures of how it went; they are round figures, not broken down into detail. The whole discussion this time started with local authority estimates of relevant expenditure, 1560 aggregated, running for 1961–62 at £92.16 million and for 1962–63 at £95.7 million. I do not mind giving these figures.
My Department made certain additions for small services, as I said in my opening speech. That was done merely because they were services which it was not easy for the local authorities to estimate for, and it was quicker for my Department to estimate them and discuss them. They were not imposed on the local authorities; they were discussed and agreed.
§ Mr. Maclay
That was an addition. Then there were some deductions in the first instance by the Departments which took part in these talks, amounting to £2.21 million for the first period and £2.91 for the second period. There were then further discussions. There were restorations and additions made. These amounted to £1.09 million in the first period and £1.27 million in the second period. There were then further additions made when my noble Friend the Minister of State met the local authorities, and we finished with the finally agreed estimates in the White Paper, £91.45 million and £94.33 million.
This is a process of open discussion, and all this idea about ruthless cutting by the Department is, of course, just so much nonsense. It was not done on the basis of the money not being available but on the basis of finding out the realistic estimates of what was likely to be spent by the local authorities in total.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I have listened to the right hon. Gentleman's exposition with great interest. There is a point which seems not to be covered by what he is saying. A great deal has been made of the Government's promises about what they will do with regard to mental health and other things. When these programmes come forward, does the right hon. Gentleman take into account whether the local authorities are carrying through what he has promised the House will be done?
§ Mr. Maclay
An element in these discussions, of course, is the various Acts of Parliament which have been passed 1561 by the House which put certain obligations on the local authorities. A great deal of stress has been laid on mental health this evening. I must remind hon. Members that the Mental Health Act was passed not very long ago. There has to be time for the local authorities to estimate what they can do and assess it. We are running a year behind the English, anyway. I have detailed some of the things which will be in the minds of local authorities and, of course, they were in our minds when we were discussing the figures. I can say that on that particular item, at the suggestion of my Departments, the figures were put up a bit. That did happen.
I quite understand the attitude of hon. Members and I appreciate that it seems desirable to them that full details should be available. Probably, I should be saying the same thing about getting details if I were sitting on their benches. However, hon. Members must realise that the whole point of general grant—I repeat this—is not to have individual sums of money hypothecated to individual subjects. If we start going into the great detail that hon. Members have been asking for today, that is exactly what will happen.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Does not the right hon. Gentleman understand that the only way to build up the total sum is to get hold of all the individual sums? Does he not realise that we in the House of Commons, who have to consider these things, are just as much entitled to this information as he is? It may be that his hon. Friends who ought to be sitting around and behind him, are not interested in the subject at all and accordingly have not put in any appearance whatever today. We, on the other hand, are interested.
When the right hon. Gentleman speaks of the estimates as being the local authorities' own estimates, has he in mind what I had to tell him during my speech? Did he listen when I made it quite clear that I said what I did after having had conversations with the elected representatives in the County of Lanark? Were they misinforming me when they told me about the way in which they built up their estimates?
§ Mr. Maclay
Really now, this is my speech. The hon. Member has had his 1562 shot. I gave way once. He must not go on asking me to give way just because I gave way once. Now he has put out of my head what I was going to say to the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser). I shall have to be much more stern, if I may, Mr. Speaker, about interruptions.
I want to go through many of the points which have been raised.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member has had a long enough innings for the time being. No doubt he will have others. I will pick up many of the major points, because I want to answer a lot of detailed questions.
§ Mr. Maclay
If I miss the hon. Member's point, he can ask me about it again at the end of my speech and I will try to deal with it.
I want to come back to the speech of the hon. Member for Hamilton and get one fact straight. The White Paper and the Order were available in the House on 1st December. I have noted carefully the feeling that there was not enough time between the laying of the Order and the debate. The only thing that puzzles me is that I understand this was arranged between the usual channels.
§ Mr. Fraser
What the right hon. Gentleman is saying is important. These things necessarily had to be agreed through the usual channels before the White Paper and the Order were available. They had to be agreed before the Leader of the House announced this business last Thursday, when these documents were not available to hon. Members.
§ Mr. Maclay
I am not certain that I understand the hon. Member's point, but I agree that there was a very short time between the laying of the Order and the debate. I think that it has put me in certain difficulties, but there it is. There is a timetable for all things and there are usual channels, but they do not always produce the ideal timetable and the ideal result.
I now come to the second point of the hon. Member for Hamilton which I think was very much emphasised by 1563 the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), and that was the length and detail of the Report. Hon. Members who have studied the English Report will know that a good deal of it was taken up by matter on the distribution formula which is not relevant to this debate.
§ Mr. Maclay
I was coming to that. The hon. Member must wait. If hon. Members study the rest of the English document which is relevant, they will see that it spells out a certain amount more than is given in the Scottish White Paper. Hon. Members, such as the hon. Lady, picked out pieces of the English document and at once attacked it like mad. They criticise me for, in my opening speech, repeating things that I had said in other debates. That is bound to happen in a speech or in a White Paper. This is merely the result of policy determined by Acts of Parliament which relate to local authorities. I have taken the point that hon. Members think that we could expand this a bit, but I do not want them to be under any illusions. I do not think that it will be practicable even in future years to go into great detail as to precisely which sums of money are involved in which detailed services.
The hon. Member for Hamilton asked what were the local authority estimates. I dealt with that when I gave the picture early in my speech of how the discussions started and what relevant expenditure figures were put in by local authorities. First, I think that I should deal with the fire services, as hon. Members were interested in that. The figures in the Appendix of the White Paper were accepted by local authorities and they made no suggestion in the negotiation about the grant that they were unable to carry out the requirements of the circular concerning standards of manning. That was the specific question which the hon. Gentleman asked and that is the information which I have.
I now turn to the Lanarkshire building programme and how it fits into the general scene. We have not available at the moment figures about Lanarkshire over a long period, but returns from authorities just completed show that the 1564 work done in the six months from April to September, 1960, totals just under £6 million, of which Lanarkshire's share was £0.64 million, which was 10.7 per cent. of the total. Strangely enough, the county's population is also 10.7 per cent. of Scotland's total population. The speed of what has happened is not because of Government restrictions. A good deal more work would have been done in recent periods had it not been for bad weather. [Interruption.] That is an element. Hon. Members must realise that we live in a world in which there is rain, hail and snow, as well as hon. Members opposite screaming for the moon.
§ Miss Herbison
The Minister ought not to be so thin-skinned when my hon. Friends jeer at the weather. What about 1947 and what we got all over the country about the shortage of coal from people who ought to have known better? It is far better for the right hon. Gentleman to keep his temper.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I have great difficulty in relating the troubles of the winter of 1947 to this Order. Let us get on.
§ Mr. Maclay
I am disappointed, but not surprised, by your intervention, Mr. Speaker, because I was looking forward to following that one up, although I did not think that it would be a proper thing to do. I assure the hon. Lady that I was far from losing my temper. I was trying to encourage an hon. Member opposite who made the interjection.
§ Mr. Maclay
The moon is not in our terms of reference either. I apologise for introducing that irrelevancy.
Various figures have been given for Lanarkshire's school-building programme. I am still studying them with my Department. I do not quite understand the figures given by the hon. Member, but I do not doubt them. What I have understood all along is that in the timing of the programme there is an element of optimism as to what is and is not practicable however desirable it may be. This may have led to a difference of view on Lanarkshire's problem.
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) raised one or 1565 two points and referred particularly to the rate burden in his part of the world. I do not wish in any way to sound as if I am being over-complacent, but it is necessary to realise what happens in the hon. Member's constituency under the present arrangements for assistance. I understand that in 1959–60, the general grant to Zetland represented a rate of over £3 in the £ and in the same year the equalisation grant represented 87.3 per cent. of the county's net expenditure after receiving other grants and receipts, which is roughly equivalent, I am informed—I could not work this out myself in a hurry—to a rate of over £7 in the £. I mention these figures to show that the various systems of grant aid to local authorities produce that result in an area which badly needs that assistance. I know that the hon. Member realises this.
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland raised a point concerning salaries, a subject which was touched on by one or two other hon. Members. If there are changes of salary in the future, they can come under consideration under Section 2 (2) of the Act, as happened previously. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Gourlay), I think unintentionally, chided me for being wrong in our earlier grant estimates because we had to come back later to alter them. That was what I thought the hon. Member said. What happened was that under the specific provision in the Act, we came back when new considerations had to be taken into account. It was, I believe, surprising to hon. Members opposite that that happened.
The question of salaries and their relativity to all the various functions opens up a wide and fascinating subject, on which, even with the greatest ingenuity, I could not keep strictly within the terms of order, because it raises the question of the relativity of a policeman to a teacher and to a local authority official and that is not appropriate to this debate.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) raised the matter of postage and electoral registration, which is a small but interesting point. This is a figure which, having been taken for the first time, is available in a form in which I can give it to the hon. Member. It is estimated that the cost of postage is 1566 £16,500 a year and in the general grant Order about £20,000 was included for relevant expenditure. It is easy to give that kind of figure for something that has happened for the first time.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member is very lucky, because this is one that comes in for the first time and it is possible to sort it out.
I have been asked about the proportion of grant to relevant expenditure. In the last debate on this subject I gave some figures and tonight I can say—and it is perfectly easy for hon. Members to work it out—that the proportion is even higher now, and is running at 62.4 per cent. I hope that there are not many English hon. Members present. If hon. Members are going to talk about what the English are getting and we are not getting I warn them to go pretty carefully, because if they study the whole background of general grant and the figures that I have given they will find that we did not come out of it very badly.
§ Mr. Maclay
As to the development of local health services, the figures in the appendix to the White Paper are, of course, based on the estimates of the local authorities themselves. A deduction was made during the negotiations in respect of the boarding out of mental defectives. This was because this service has been taken over by the National Assistance Board. On the other hand, a small addition was made to the local authority figures for 1962–63 in respect of the growth of the mental health services.
§ Mr. Willis
I am exceedingly grateful for at last being allowed to ask once again why there is the fantastic difference between the increase for the health services in Scotland of £110,000 compared with a figure of £11 million for England.
§ Mr. Maclay
I have not looked up that point, and not because I think that it would be unwise to do so. I do not spend my whole life saying "Me, too" or getting excited because England has something which we have not. It does not make sense to do so. I do not know the reason for this discrepancy. There 1567 obviously is one, though it cannot bear the implication that the hon. Member puts on it. It is deplorable to go through every figure, not on the basis of what we need and could use properly but because some one else is getting more. I dislike that approach intensely and I do not propose to follow it.
There is some misunderstanding about physical training and recreation, though the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North got her finger near it. The sum of £10,000 is for expenditure by counties and burghs under the Physical Training and Recreation Act, 1937. The expenditure under that Act has been very small indeed and a good deal less than that figure, but the great proportion of the provision for physical training and recreation for young people is made under the education powers. All the mournful statements made by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), speaking as if this meant that nothing was being done for the physical training and recreation of children, are absolute nonsense.
This is only a relatively small part of the whole. An enormous amount of work goes on and various Acts are used to help provide physical training and recreation. I am informed that this particular power is largely used for items of relatively small capital expenditure dealing with village halls and some facilities in the lonelier places.
The hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) puzzles me. To meet him casually on the street, he is pleasant and charming and diffident and nice, but when he speaks in this Chamber—and I say this with all seriousness—he makes extraordinarily offensive remarks, and he does himself no credit because he does not even get his facts right. He would do much better to conduct himself in the Chamber as he does outside. I am sorry that he raised the matter I discussed with a deputation which came to me two days ago. It is under very careful consideration and it was unfortunate that it should be produced in this debate. It was not a good thing to do that.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member should not provoke me to go into details of that today. If he is not satisfied with what I decide he can raise the matter on an Adjournment debate if he wishes. I am sorry that he raised it. I do not think that we could go into it this evening.
I have now exhausted my extensive notes in answering the question put to me. I hope Members are getting that way also. I want to make clear, on the question of proper development of the welfare services, that it is worth realising that no grant was payable for welfare services before the general grant was introduced, but expenditure incurred after 1958–59 in developing these services is relevant expenditure for purposes of general grant.
I have given a long and detailed reply and hon. Members will appreciate that it would virtually defeat the purpose of the general grant if the extremely detailed financial information for which they are pressing was available in written form. It would need a calculating machine or an electronic computer to produce answers to all the various combinations of questions that could be asked with extreme detail. I trust that this Order will now be approved by the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the General Grant (Scotland) Order, 1960, dated 29th November, 1960, a copy of which was paid before this House on 1st December, be approved.
§ 9.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Willis
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Local Government (General Grant Transitional Adjustments) (Scotland) Regulations, 1960, dated 28th November, 1960, a copy of which was laid before this House on 1st December, be annulled.In doing so I want, first, to congratulate English Members on the very great interest which they are showing in our affairs—a far greater interest than Conservative Scottish Members are displaying. We find that most welcome.
My purpose in moving this Motion is to seek information, but I do so with misgiving after the right hon. Gentleman's speech which we have just heard. A great number of questions asked during 1569 the last debate were not answered. I do not think that any of the questions I put were answered. I hope that we shall be given some information about what the Secretary of State has in mind about these transitional payments.
This Order is made under Section 18 of the 1958 Act. That Section lays down certain rules which the Secretary of State must follow in computing these payments. It also gives him power to make modifications and exceptions and so on, and I wonder whether it is his intention to do that later on.
I ask that question because the Regulations apply to the year commencing on 16th May, 1961, and also to the year beginning on 16th May, 1962. In 1961, we shall enter a new era of rating and valuation in Scotland and we shall have before us a completely new basis of assessment and valuation. That new basis could be much fairer than the old as between different localities of Scotland. Would it not, therefore, be better if these transitional adjustments were made on that basis rather than on the basis of the 1957 figures, as at present?
I ask that because part of the formula upon which the calculations are made is the estimated rate required for a locality for the year 1957 and the rateable value of the area of the local authority in 1957. There is to be a big change next year, and the new basis will probably be fairer for comparison of what local authorities lose or gain.
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman is wise to include Regulation 5, which makes arrangements for the year beginning 16th May, 1962. That date gives him time to make alterations if he intends to do so—and I do not know whether he does. If he does, I should have thought that it would be better to limit the Regulations to one year, issuing further Regulations for the year 1961–62.
There is another question which arises in connection with the rateable valuation of the areas concerned, which is that sooner or later, I presume, we shall have a Bill for industrial rating. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman can tell us tonight when he intends to introduce such a Bill for Scotland.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. That question is not in order on this Motion. This is a very narrow point and I must ask the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) to adhere to it.
§ Mr. Willis
I am discussing Regulation 5 which deals with the year beginning 16th May, 1962, and suggesting that it should not have been included because of what may happen. I ask whether there will be any change before 1962, as I think there must in view of what has happened in England. If it does, should not the basis of the calculation be changed? There may be very good arguments for not changing it and I am not arguing the case one way or the other, but those are considerations which concern those of us who are interested in Scottish local government finance.
There is a great deal of speculation in Scotland about what will happen. This is one of the matters which have been discussed. Before we leave it, we ought to be given some information by the right hon. Gentleman, if not about the year beginning 16th May, 1961, at least about the year beginning 16th May, 1962.
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Gentleman wondered what I had in mind when I laid this Order before the House. I know what I had in mind when I moved it—that I would get away to get something to eat, but the hon. Gentleman has asked questions about Regulation 5.
It is desirable that local authorities should know two years ahead what to expect, and that is my main answer. It does not mean that if something arises in the interval which makes it desirable to change the basis of distribution of grants that this could not be looked at again. It would mean legislation, but one of the advantages of this method of operation is that there is reasonable certainty two years ahead of what local authorities can count on. If for any reason what the hon. Gentleman has in mind proves to be desirable, it could possibly be done. I hope that with that explanation we can conclude the business.
§ Mr. Willis
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for answering at least one of the questions. On the assumption that it will be looked into, and in 1571 the light of what will happen next year, I beg to ask leave to withdrew the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.