§ 2. Mr. Simon Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of the aggregate Exchequer grant settled on local authorities in England for 1986–87 will be paid to (a) local authorities in London, (b) Liverpool and (c) Leeds; and what difference this is from the percentage of the same three areas for 1985–86.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mrs. Angela Rumbold)
The amount of grant to be paid to the authorities will depend on their own decisions on spending in 1986–87.
§ Mr. Hughes
No one can thank the Minister for that most unhelpful answer. I shall now ask her a 289 supplementary question which I hope she will answer. First, will she give the lie to the fact that the Government's rate support grant settlement has resulted in a reduction in the moneys given to the metropolitan districts outside London? The Library document confirms that fact. Secondly, will she confirm that Leeds will be £40 million short on the Government's own estimate of need, and that if Liverpool imposes the rate-capped settlement it will be unable to do other than cut services? The money has gone, not to the inner cities as a whole, but only to those where there are to be elections next May.
§ Mrs. Rumbold
It is incontrovertible, from the document that is available in the Library, that such money as has been diverted has been diverted to the cities. I am sure that many of my right hon. and hon. Friends will confirm that fact.
The hon. Gentleman asked for figures relating to Liverpool and Leeds. Last year, Leeds city council received a block grant of £111.9 million. This year it is expected to receive £124.5 million. Last year, Liverpool city council received £119.4 million. this year it will receive £137.6 million.
§ Dr. Hampson
When my hon. Friend made that response, I am sure that she was not trying to mislead the House. Does she agree that as Leeds has inherited many of the county council's functions, about 2.5 per cent. less than last year is coming to Leeds from Government resources? Although some cities have benefited—and we believe that that is right — many cities under Conservative control have not.
§ Mrs. Rumbold
The inner city problems that face Leeds are already taken into account in its grant-related expenditure assessment. It loses grant-related expenditure overall in its 1986–87 settlement because of the technical improvements that we have made to the education and personal social services grant-related expenditure. However,the resulting grant loss is more than balanced by the grant gains to Leeds as a result of the abolition of targets and the consequent changes in the block grant mechanism.
§ Mr. Fatchett
Will the Minister confirm that the amount of money that the Government are making available to Leeds does not adequately take into account the transfer of services from the West Yorkshire metropolitan county council? Will the Minister confirm the when that is taken into account, Leeds will be facing a cut?
§ Mrs. Rumbold
I repeat that the resulting grant loss which I analysed for my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) is more than balanced by the grant gains which go to Leeds as a result of the abolition of targets and the consequent changes in the block grant mechanism. The money that has been allocated to Leeds will more than adequately take up the effects of abolition.
§ Mr. Forman
I welcome my hon. Friend to her new appointment. Is she aware that many of my right hon. and hon. Friends and I are very grateful for the measures that were taken to make some important concessions to the 290 outer London boroughs in connection with the London arrangements after the demise of the Greater London council?
§ Mrs. Rumbold
I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words. The aim of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment was to ensure that the financial effect of abolition per se was as neutral as possible on all successor authorities. Therefore, the successor authorities have received block grant support for their spending through the reattributed grant-related expenditure that comes from the metropolitan authorities and the Greater London council, which are to be abolished.