HC Deb 10 October 1946 vol 427 cc346-7
30. Major Guy Lloyd

asked the Minister of Health under what authority sanction is given to Co-operative members of local authorities to vote on matters affecting Co-operative interests; and how often such sanction has been given.

Mr. Bevan

The authority to grant these dispensations is conferred on me by Section 76 of the Local Government Act, 1933, and in respect of members of metropolitan borough councils by Section 52 of the London Government Act, 1939. The dispensations have been granted to the class of persons referred to on 205 occasions.

Major Lloyd

In view of the increased political power of this commercial organisation, will the Minister do his utmost to ensure that individual members of it do not unfairly exploit the power of their vested interests on local authorities?

Mr. Bevan

I am satisfied that, in almost every instance, the interest of the individuals concerned is very indirect indeed, and it is often very difficult to show any direct pecuniary interest in the decisions arrived at. However, these are powers conferred upon me by Parliament and I exercise them, I hope, with judicial impartiality. I can assure hon. Members that the law does place very rigid restrictions upon members of Co-operative societies.

Mr. H. Hynd

Is it not desirable that all members of local authorities should be members of their respective Co-operative Society?

Mr. Scollan

Will the Minister tell us whether the Government and his Department will consider some of these Cooperative people for bodies like the Coal Board and the Steel Board which have recently been appointed?

Mr. Bevan

I am afraid that is a much wider issue.

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