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Local Authority Executive Pay

Volume 526: debated on Monday 4 April 2011

17. What recent representations he has received on the levels of remuneration for local government executives. (50356)

Representations have been received from Members of Parliament, leaders of local authorities, trade union branches and members of the public. Although it is a matter for individual councils, we expect restraint and leadership to be shown locally when setting senior pay. We have introduced measures in the Localism Bill to increase local democratic accountability for decisions on senior pay. We have also been consulting on proposed new transparency arrangements for local government, including how public money is used in relation to senior pay.

Forty-three per cent. of chief executives are paid more than the Prime Minister, and their pay has increased by more than 78% in the past five years. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this culture of excessive pay is a direct result of the last Labour Government’s consistent ability to spend more than this country could afford?

I entirely agree. Chief executives’ pay has got completely out of kilter. There are now 800 local government employees in the top 1% of all earners according to Will Hutton’s figures. With regard to the chief executive of Suffolk, that county does many fine things and is an exemplar authority in many ways, but the chief executive’s refusal to take a pay cut has meant that she has detracted from Suffolk’s many fine achievements.

Will the Secretary of State look in particular at the case of Mr Nick Johnson, who for the past four years has supplemented his local government ill health retirement pension by being paid £1,000 a day by Hammersmith and Fulham council, so that when he leaves later this year he will have taken almost £1 million from taxpayers? In doing so, will the Secretary of State ignore the fact that the local Conservative party says that Mr Johnson is good value for money, and that he has advised the Tory party on housing policy?

I kind of understand that it has never been a glad morning since the hon. Gentleman lost his position as housing chairman at Hammersmith. Frankly, abusing somebody from the safety of this Chamber does him no credit at all.