HC Deb 05 August 1943 vol 391 cc2454-6
45. Major Petherick

asked the Prime Minister which of the normal functions of local authorities have been taken over by the central Government since the outbreak of war; which of these will be handed back to them after the war; and which of their remaining functions it is proposed to take over?

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

Apart from the National Fire Service, the only normal functions of local authorities Which have been taken over by the central Government since the outbreak of war are certain functions in relation to agriculture. As regards the second and third parts of the Question, I cannot add to the reply which I gave my hon. and gallant Friend on 29th July.

Major Petheriek

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the local authorities are very alarmed at the taking-over of many of their powers piecemeal by the central Government? Is he further aware of the grave fear they have that the vesting of those powers in the central Government will make it very difficult for the central Government not to refuse to hand them back after the war? Could he allay that fear?

Mr. Attlee

As I have explained, the only functions that have been taken over are certain functions in respect of agriculture apart from the Fire Service. I think my reply to-day and the previous reply will do away with those fears of the local authorities.

47. Mr. Hutchinson

asked the Minister without Portfolio whether he is aware of the apprehension for the future efficiency of local administration aroused amongst the local authorities by recent modifications and proposed modifications of the responsibilities now entrusted to them, expressed in the memorandum recently published by the Association of Municipal Corporations and the County Councils Association; and whether he will give an assurance that the effect of such modifications and proposed modifications, as a whole, upon the future efficiency of local administration will be considered by public investigation, or in conjunction with representatives of the local authorities before further changes are made in their existing powers?

The Minister without Portfolio (Mr. William Jowitt)

With regard to the first part of the Question, I have received the memorandum referred to. With regard to the second part, I have nothing to add to to the answer given by the Deputy Prime Minister to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Major Petherick) on 29th July.

Mr. Hutchinson

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that it is the cumulative effect of these proposed modifications which is causing anxiety? Can he not give some assurance that that aspect of the matter will be investigated before this process of piecemeal modification is carried further?

Sir W. Jowitt

Yes, Sir, I agree with the hon. and learned Member. In considering each of these reforms we also consider its widest aspects and the cumulative effects.

Mr. De la Bère

Is not this bureaucracy at its very worst?