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GEDDES HIGHLIGHTS DISADVANTAGE METED OUT TO SCOTLAND

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Disparity in the government's approach to relations with local government in England and in Scotland were highlight...
Disparity in the government's approach to relations with local government in England and in Scotland were highlighted yesterday at a meeting between associations and prime minister John Major.

Keith Geddes, senior vice-president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said after the meeting that the government seemed committed to developing good working relationships with councils in England and Wales. But this contrasted with the approach to Scotland.

'We see the Scottish Office removing and centralising powers that have traditionally been areas of local authority responsibility,' said Mr Geddes.

In England and Wales, in contrast: 'We see them working together to draw up new guidelines for the relationship aimed at building a constructive relationship based on partnership, mutual understanding and communication.'

Mr Geddes welcomed the chance to air the impact of the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act on Scottish local government.

'I would welcome the introduction in Scotland of guidelines similar to those proposed south of the border and I can only hope the spirit of co-operation the prime minister endorsed today will affect the Scottish Office,' he said.

Mr Geddes urged Mr Major to include provision in the parliamentary timetable for a Children (Scotland) Bill. Professional in the statutory and voluntary sectors believed new legislation was needed, he said.

'The Orkney and Fife inquiries have exposed shortcomings in the existing framework of law and practice,' he said.

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