§ Mr. Raymond S. Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he intends to cap any Scottish local authorities this year. 
§ Mr. Lang
No. All Scottish local authorities, with the exception of Strathclyde regional council, have set budgets for 1995–96 at or below the expenditure limits implied by the provisional capping principles which I announced on 29 November 1994,Official Report, columns 687–88.
In the case of Strathclyde, I have considered the representations which the regional council has made to me and also the strategy the council adopted in budgeting and setting its council tax for 1995–96. I have noted, in particular, that the council has taken action to reduce capital funded from current revenue expenditure in both 1994–95 and 1995–96 which has had a direct impact on the level of its 1995–96 council tax. Having considered very carefully all the circumstances, I have decided not to cap the council.
Overall, this is a very satisfactory outcome and again confirms the effectiveness of my capping powers in protecting local taxpayers from excessive spending by their councils.
Later this year, I shall be laying before the House a report in terms of section 24 of the Local Government Etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 specifying the amount for each of the new local authorities which will be used as the baseline for considering capping action in 1996–97. These amounts, which will effectively be notional 1995–96 budgets for the new councils, will be prepared in full consultation with COSLA and will reflect the actual level of planned expenditure by the existing local authorities in 1995–96.
It is also my intention to announce in the autumn provisional capping principles for 1996–97.