HC Deb 07 February 1947 vol 432 cc2120-1

Order for Second Reading read.

12.13 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Key)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This is a very short Bill indeed, and my explanation of it will also be very short. Its purpose is to enable county councils in England and Wales to increase the maximum amount of their annual subscriptions to the County Councils Association. Again, this is a case in which Scotland has led, and already this has been done for the Association of County Councils in Scotland, in that case, the Bill receiving the Royal Assent last November. Other associations of local authorities have the power to increase their subscriptions without special statutory authority for so doing, because they do it under what is generally called the quid pro quo doctrine by which, when the accounts of the local authority are audited, if it can be shown that valuable consideration or benefit has been received as a result of the increase in that subscription, the accounts are passed.

In this case, the County Councils Association sought statutory authority for their subscription, and, therefore, alteration of that subscripion can only be made by legislation. The amount originally fixed for the county council's contribution was £31 10s. by the Act of 1890. That was raised to £42 in 1920. A further increase was found necessary in 1937, and the figure at present is £157 10s. per county council. This sum has now been found to be inadequate for the Association's needs, because of the increase in business falling upon it, and, of course, legislation has recently been passed increasing the functions of county councils, and, therefore, increasing the duties which have to be performed by the County Councils Association.

The first Clause in the Bill accordingly fixes the maximum annual sum which can be subscribed by, any county council to the Association at £262 10s., a sum which has been agreed with the Association. That will result in a total income of about £8,500 to the County Councils Association, and will be equivalent over the whole of the country to an extra county council rate of one-seventieth of a penny Clause 1 enables any subsequent revision of this amount to be made by Order in Council, and so obviates the necessity for fresh legislation.

12.16 p.m.

Mr. Osbert Peake (Leeds, North)

The Government are to be congratulated on having had an excellent day. When hon. Members opposite visit their constituencies this weekend, they will be able to say, "On Friday we passed three harmless, necessary and even useful Measures through the House of Commons, and the last, if not the least, of these Measures was the County Councils Association Expenses (Amendment) Bill."

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House, for Monday next.—[Mr. Simmons.]