§ 67. Mr. Gourlay
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he received a letter from Kirkcaldy Town Council regarding the lack of uniformity of valuation throughout Scotland, the consequent withdrawal of Exchequer Equalisation Grant from Kirkcaldy, and the inadequacy of the General Grant: what was the nature of his reply; and what action he will take in the matter.
§ Mr. Maclay
I have received two letters from the Town Clerk of Kirkcaldy about revaluation for rating and the exchequer equalisation and general grants. They reached me on 10th and 12th July, respectively. I am circulating below a copy of my reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
17th July, 1961.
I am writing on behalf of the Secretary of State to reply to your letter of 7th July in which you ask him to meet a deputation to your further letter of the 11th July conveying a protest by your Town Council against the withdrawal of Exchequer Equalisation Grant as a result of the revaluation and against the small increase in the General Grant payable for 1961–62.
Mr. Maclay appreciates the concern felt by local authorities in Fife and in several other areas where substantial increases in valuation are likely to result in the withdrawal or reduction of equalisation grant and in higher apportionments of joint expenditure. As you will appreciate, he has no authority to intervene in the machinery of valuation as laid down in the Valuation (Scotland) Acts. It was, however, to be expected that the increase in valuation would vary widely as between different areas having regard to the different levels of valuation that have obtained in the past and the varying periods that have elapsed since different properties were last revalued. The machinery for valuation of course includes provision for appeals, and the Secretary of State has no doubt that any local authority which considers that the intentions of the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Act, 1956, have not been adequately carried out in its area could properly consider lodging appeals or complaints about the rateable values of properties within the area. As you know, the last day for lodging appeals is the 31st July, but appeals may be lodged pro forma provided that the alternative value proposed is stated.
The Secretary of State intends to review the equalisation grant arrangements in the light of 117W the revaluation, in consultation with the local authority Associations, as soon as full information about its outcome, including the results of appeals, is available. There is. however, no action that he could take in this matter meanwhile, and he has therefore asked me to say, with regret, that no useful purpose would appear to be served by his discussing the question with representatives of the Fife local authorities.
As regards the general grant there is provision for increasing the aggregate amount of the grants during a grant period in the light of any unforeseen increase in the level of prices, costs or remuneration; and for consulting the local authority Associations before making an Order for this purpose. The Secretary of State proposes to consult the Associations regarding the effect on the grant of the increase in teachers' salaries and of other changes, but a radical change in the grant system such as would he involved in your Town Council's suggestion that teachers' salaries should be taken out of the scope of the grant would require legislation, and he cannot hold out any hope of any such change in the law.
S. SCOTT WHYTE,
The Depute Town Clerk,
Town House, Kirkcaldy.