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Column 650Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Johnston, Sir Russell
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Lynne, Ms Liz
Maddock, Mrs Diana
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Pike, Peter L.
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Reid, Dr John
Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Strang, Dr. Gavin
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Gordon McMaster and
Mr. John Spellar.
Question accordingly agreed to.
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill ("the Act"), it is expedient to authorise--
(a) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of
(i) any expenses of the Secretary of State incurred in consequence of the provisions (other than any provision authorising payments out of the National Loans Fund) of the Act ; and
(ii) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under any other enactment ;
(b) the charging on and issuing out of the Consolidated Fund of sums required by the Secretary of State for fulfilling guarantees given by him for the discharge of any financial obligations in connection with sums borrowed by any water and sewerage authority established by the Act ; and
(c) the payment out of the National Loans Fund of any sums required by the Secretary of State for the purpose of making loans to any water and sewerage authority established by the Act.
That for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill ("the Act"), it is expedient-- (
(a) to authorise the Secretary of State to direct a water and sewerage authority established by the Act to pay him such sums as he may direct, being sums not required for them for the exercise of their functions, nor otherwise payable by them under or by virtue of any provision of the Act ;
(b) to authorise the payment into the Consolidated Fund of any sums paid to the Secretary of State, otherwise than in repayment of any loans made by him, in consequence of any provision of the Act ; and (
(c) to authorise the payment into the National Loans Fund of any sums paid to the Secretary of State in repayment of loans made by him to any water and sewerage authority established by the Act.-- [Mr. Michael Brown.]
Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart) : I have not spoken in the debate so far, and certainly I shall not serve on the Standing Committee. That gives me the opportunity to say a few words about the parts of the Bill that deal with water and sewerage, to which the motion refers.
Paragraph (a) authorises the Secretary of State
"to direct a water and sewerage authority"--
hon. Members should remember that there will be only three in the whole of Scotland--
"established by the Act to pay him such sums as he may direct"
Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I object to the hubbub being created by English Tory Members at the Bar of the House. Will you warn them that if they do not leave the Chamber they will be asked to serve on the Standing Committee?
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse) : The hon. Gentleman is right : there is quite a noise going on, not only at the Bar of the House but in the rest of the Chamber. I hope that hon. Members will note what has been said.
Mr. Maxton : As I was saying, the Secretary of State is authorised to direct one of those three authorities
"to pay him such sums as he may direct, being sums not required by them for the exercise of their functions".
The Bill will take all water and sewerage powers away from local authorities, many of which have had such powers for a very long time. Glasgow, for instance, has had the water supply to Loch Katrine for well over 100 years. Now the Government are removing all that from Strathclyde region and putting it into the hands of a quango whose members will, presumably, be placemen of the Secretary of State--his Tory friends. Presumably they will be paid substantial salaries. The Government are taking away from the local authorities many assets that are not necessarily directly related to the supply of water or the disposal of sewage.
Much of the land owned by local authorities that will be affected by the water provisions comprises some of the most beautiful countryside in Scotland--certainly in Strathclyde region. Loch Katrine, for example, is a very beautiful part of the country, as anyone who has sailed up it will confirm. I do not know whether the boat still travels up the loch, but it certainly used to.
According to clauses 93 to 95 of the Bill, the boards will have the right to sell off any land that they consider to be
Column 652surplus, or do not require for their functioning. If that is the case, the Secretary of State can instruct those boards to hand all the money over to him. He is then obliged to add it to the Consolidated Fund, which means that it becomes part of the general money that the Government spend on various items.
The people who will not receive any benefit from any sale are those who have paid their local rates and taxes over the years to purchase and develop the land for the water and sewerage services. If the boards sell off parts of the beautiful Scottish countryside to developers for tourist purposes--perhaps cheap, shoddy hotels will be shoved up, offering all sorts of leisure activities, which the local people do not particularly want--the local authorities will be unable to do anything about it. Even if they tried to refuse planning permission, the developers could appeal to the Secretary of State, who presumably would overrule those local authorities.
Some of the most beautiful countryside in Scotland will be under threat as a result of the Bill. The money gained from any sale of such countryside will not be--
Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West) : Here comes an experienced salesman.
Mr. Maxton : Yes. The hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan) is an expert on selling things.
The land will be sold off, but the people to whom it rightfully belongs, the Scottish people, will not get any benefit, because the money will eventually be added to the Consolidated Fund. That money will then pay for the services of the constituents of those hon. Members who voted for a Bill that will gerrymander local government in Scotland. Because of the terms of the Ways and Means resolution, it will be possible for the Secretary of State to take money from the new boards, arising from the sale of land, and not to use it for the benefit of those who originally paid for that land.
The resolution also states that boards should pay the Secretary of State
"sums not required by them for the exercise of their functions". I presume that the "exercise of their functions" includes the salaries of board members. Can the Minister tell us what sort of salaries will be paid to the chairmen of the new boards ? What will each board member receive ?