§ 2. Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to review the finances and value-for-money record of Scottish local authorities.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Ian Lang)
The Commission for Local Authority Accounts in Scotland is statutorily responsible for ensuring financial propriety and that value for money is achieved in Scottish local government. I have at present no plans to review that position.
§ Mr. Shaw
Would my right hon. Friend consider it appropriate for the commission to investigate the allegations of corruption against Monklands district council? Those allegations relate to serious matters which include nepotism, the employment of perhaps 30 close relatives of councillors, religious discrimination, and political favouritism in the direct works operation and the housing departments. Does not he think that there is real concern about bias in expenditure between the constituencies of Monklands, West and Monklands, East? Is he aware that one councillor who endeavoured to expose all the wrongdoing in that council was wrongly accused of being involved in a criminal act but has now been exonerated and the allegations against him found to be totally false and fraudulent?
§ Mr. Lang
I understand that the Comptroller of Audit is presently investigating to see whether there has been any improper use of public funds by Monklands district council. I am not aware of any evidence of any breach of any statutory obligation on the part of the council. Certainly the kind of charges to which my hon. Friend refers are serious. The right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) said on Thursday:It is a time of growing disillusion and increasing cynicism which if it continues unchecked will eventually corrode public confidence in our whole political system.The Labour party is right to set up its own in-depth inquiry, which I understand it has done, into the affairs of Monklands district council.