HC Deb 22 December 1927 vol 212 cc565-6

asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to a resolution passed by the County Councils Association asking that some restriction should be observed in legislation which imposes upon local authorities duties involving new and substantial local expenditure; and whether he will consider the desirability of laying down the principle that legislation which has the effect of imposing burdens on local authorities shall receive the direct sanction of Parliament as to the extent of those burdens and not leave it open to the public departments of the State to demand expenditure by local authorities by means of Orders in Council or Departmental Regulations?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

I have every sympathy with the object which my hon. and gallant Friend and the County Councils Association have in view, but I am very doubtful as to the practicability of his suggestions. In certain cases in the past Parliament has limited the power of expenditure of local authorities on a new service, but the arrangement has not proved a success, and I do not think it is the best method of securing the necessary economy in local administration. The system, moreover, of Departmental Regulations involving expenditure could only be avoided by throwing a very large amount of extra work upon this already overburdened House. I think that the House full recognises that it is a legislative and not an administrative body and that its control over Departmental administration must rest in the main on the individual and collective responsibility to it of His Majesty's Ministers.


Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with Departments of the Government to stop the practice which sometimes prevails of requiring increased expenditure by the local authorities as a condition of paying Government grants?


I will look into that question.

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