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Councillors (Voting Rights)

Volume 109: debated on Saturday 2 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why a Conservative party councillor in East Sussex county council who had declared an interest in respect of discretionary education awards was recently given a dispensation to vote at council meetings; and why it was not given in respect of that authority's party and resources committee.

This application for the Secretary of State's dispensation under section 97(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 was dealt with in accordance with the long-established policy contained in DOE circular 105/73. Where a member's declared interest is immediate, the prohibition on speaking and voting is generally strictly maintained. Where a declared interest is not immediate, dispensation to speak is readily given; and dispensation to vote is given (a) if at least half of the council or relevant committee would otherwise be disabled, or (b) elected party balance on the council or committee would otherwise be upset. In the case in question, the disabilities imposed by the member's declared interest, which was not an immediate one, would have affected party balance in the council but not in the policy and resources committee; dispensation was therefore granted to vote in the council but not in the committee.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the number of occasions by name of councillor, local authority and date when he exercised his powers under section 97(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 to remove a disability to vote.

The Secretary of State currently exercises his powers under section 97(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 to remove a disability to vote on approximately 1,000 occasions a year. Statistical monitoring of applications does not record information in the form requested by the hon. Member and the cost of meeting the request would therefore be disproportionate.