HC Deb 09 October 1941 vol 374 cc1106-7
33. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Home Secretary whether he will inform all appropriate local authorities, in view of the fact that it has been found undesirable for members of local authorities to hold paid appointments in Civil Defence where they become subordinate to the staff of the authority, that as soon as they can be replaced these members should have their paid appointments terminated?

Mr. H. Morrison

I would remind my hon. Friend that provision was made by the Local Government Staffs (War Service) Act, 1939, that a person shall not be disqualified for being a member of a local authority by reason only of his being employed in a civil defence service for reward. I recognise that there is an important point of principle involved, especially where appointments to administrative posts are concerned, and it is not my policy to encourage such appointments save in exceptional circumstances where the public interest so requires.

Mr. Simmonds

Is it not a fact that the Act to which the right hon. Gentleman refers was one of many put through in a very few minutes under extreme pressure, and has it not been a canon of local government that this situation of an elected member being employed by the stipendiary head of the local authority is most undesirable? Is he aware that several most unpleasant cases have arisen under this Act, and will he therefore consider whether some more formal action is not required by him?

Mr. Morrison

Although it is the case that this was an Act passed with many others in one day, I am faced with the fact that it is on the Statute Book, and I cannot set it aside. Nevertheless, I have great sympathy with what the hon. Member says, and he has the sympathy of the House, and I will keep the matter in mind.