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Local Government Staffs

Volume 885: debated on Monday 27 January 1975

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6.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many people were employed in local government in Wales in the years 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73 and 1973–74, respectively; and what were the total salaries and wage bills for those personnel in the same years.

The information is detailed and, with permission, I shall circulate it in the Official Report.

I cannot thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for a helpful answer. Do not the figures indicate an escalation in the number of people employed, and in the cost? Are not all the indications that the so-called reform of local government undertaken by the previous Government has been extremely expensive for Wales, with very few compensatory advantages?

The hon. and learned Gentleman is absolutely right. The numbers of staff and the cost have risen. There is public concern about increases in both. I want to make it abundantly clear that I share that concern. That is why the local authorities have been asked to limit any future increases in staff to those required to meet inescapable commitments. We are setting up a new system of monitoring.

Whilst I support the hon. and learned Gentleman's protest against the increase of bureaucracy in local government as a result of local government reorganisation, so hurriedly pushed through the House by the last Conservative Government, I find it difficult to reconcile it with his own party's support of British membership of the Common Market, which will further increase that bureaucracy. How can the hon. and learned Gentleman reconcile that contradiction in his argument?

I understand my hon. Friend's point. In due course we shall debate this issue, when we know what terms have emerged from the negotiations which, as my hon. Friend fully knows, are now taking place in Brussels.

Following is the information:

Information about the total numbers employed by local authorities in Wales is available for June each year.
The figures—excluding police forces—are:

1970120,726
1971126,061
1972129,824
1973137,637
1974138,339
Total local authority expenditure on wages and salaries—other than the police service—was:

£
1970–71142,506,000
1971–72163,532,000
1972–73203,349,000
Comparable figures for 1973–74 are not yet available.