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Elected Members (Financial Hardship)

Volume 720: debated on Tuesday 16 November 1965

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2.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government, if he will request the Maud Committee to make an interim report, to relieve the financial hardship being experienced by elected members of the larger municipal authorities.

11.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will instruct the Maud Committee to review as a matter of urgency the present maximum loss of earnings per diem allowance of £2 10s. payable to elected representatives of local authorities, and make an interim award to relieve financial hardship at present incurred by councillors and aldermen of the larger municipal authorities in discharging their public duties.

13.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when it is intended to review the loss of earnings allowance payable to elected members of local authorities.

16.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will request the Maud Committee to make an interim report, to relieve the financial hardship being experienced by elected members.

26.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will request the Maud Committee to make an interim report, to relieve the financial hardship being experienced by elected members of the larger municipal authorities.

27.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will request the Maud Committee to make an interim report, to relieve the financial hardship being experienced by elected members of the larger municipal authorities.

As my hon. Friend explained on 4th November, the Government have decided that it would not be right to increase the rates of financial loss allowance at the present time but the position will be reviewed next year. A decision on this matter is not dependent on a report from the Maud Committee. I understand that the Committee do intend to make an interim report on allowances to members of local authorities, but that what they are considering is the basis on which these payments are made rather than the actual amount.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask him if he will agree that it is unfortunate as well as destructive of good local government that working men who are councillors, even including the chairmen of major committees in the big authorities, have to work overtime at weekends to recoup their losses from the present maximum loss of earnings allowance of £2 10s. a day, and even some very dedicated people are beginning to call local government service a mug's game?

Yes, I am aware of the very great strain and difficulty in recruiting personnel of the quality recruited 20 or 30 years ago, and this is something to which the Maud Committee is giving its attention. However, I would say that the reference my hon. Friend made to the chairmen of key committees, with the implication that they might be paid differential rates, is something with which in principle I do not really concur.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Is he aware that since May, 1962, when the present maximum of £2 10s. was fixed, average weekly earnings have bounded from £15 12s. 10d. to £18 18s. 2d.—in other words, we have seen an increase in average weekly earnings of 21 per cent. and this burden is intolerable—

Order. The hon. Member must try to put his supplementary question more quickly.

The position of the wage-earning councillor is serious, but in my view it is not so serious as the position of those councillors, such as housewives and professional people, who cannot get anything for broken time. This is why I want the whole position of the allowance for a councillor to be reviewed whether he is a wage earner or a salary earner.

While appreciating my right hon. Friend's remarks, would he not agree that it would be better simply to pay people what they lose instead of the present limited allowances which are actually not subject to tax? Would it not be better to pay them and tax them?

These are all matters on which no dobut the Maud Committee will advise me on the basis of need. When dealing with professional people and housewives this is an even more difficult basis of estimation.