HC Deb 10 October 1939 vol 352 cc157-8
41. Mr. James Griffiths

asked the Secretary for Mines the number of fuel overseers appointed in the country; what is the scale of payment to these officers; and whether there is any provision in the regulations which debars a local authority appointing one of its members, who is otherwise qualified, to these posts?

Mr. Lloyd

A local fuel overseer has been appointed by each local authority, of whom there are about 1,800. No scale of payment has been laid down but my Department has undertaken to refund to local authorities reasonable expenditure incurred in the administration of the Fuel and Lighting Order and the Retail Prices Order. There is no provision in the Order which would debar a member of a local authority from appointment as local fuel overseer provided he is not interested in the supply of coal, gas or electricity.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with the appointment of a large number of these overseers, and will he consider the possibility of amalgamating some of these authorities?

Mr. Lloyd

My present information is that in order to cater for the wide variety of local needs it is wise to have a local man appointed.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that he is doing local authorities or the cause of local government no good service by taking up the attitude that it is good policy for local authorities to employ members of their own authority?

44. Mr. Watkins

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he took the opinion of the law officers of the Crown before issuing his circular letter of 20th September, 1939, to clerks to local authorities, in which it is stated that the Mines Department is advised that the Local Government Staffs (War Service) Act, 1939 does not apply to local fuel overseers; and whether he will introduce an amendment to that Act to remove any disqualification of a member of a local authority employed in the office of a local fuel overseer, as such disqualification has been removed in respect of the Civil Defence service?

Mr. Lloyd

The Department's legal advisers were consulted in regard to the circular letter to which the hon. Member refers. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.