HC Deb 13 March 1951 vol 485 cc1282-3
38. Mr. Iain MacLeod

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning whether his attention has been drawn to a resolution of the Bermondsey Borough Council on 22nd November, 1950, in relation to the district auditor's report which criticised certain journeys in 1948 undertaken by the Mayor of Bermondsey at that time to the New Cross speedway track in the mayoral car; and, in view of aspersions cast in the Council's recommendation upon the integrity of the auditor, what action he proposes to take to investigate this accusation.

Mr. Dalton

The district auditor in his report commented on the use of the mayoral car as recorded by the log book. The Council in their observations upon the report doubt the veracity of the record, but have given instructions for future procedure. I do not propose to take any further action.

Mr. MacLeod

Is the Minister aware that the Council's recommendation included the words that the auditor's report lacked both intelligence and integrity? Does he not think that that accusation should be probed for the protection of the Council if it be true and for the protection of the district auditor if it be not true?

Mr. Dalton

I do not think so. I repeat that I think no further action is called for by me at this stage. If there is an appeal against any district auditor's report then I have jurisdiction. If there is not an appeal I let it be.

Mr. Mellish

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on the whole question of district auditing there has been discussion by Metropolitan boroughs, including Conservative councils, on the whole method of auditing but that there has been no intention at any time, in this case, of questioning the integrity of the officer himself?

Mr. Dalton

That is what I understand. As I said, it was the veracity of the record of the log book that was doubted.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Is there any time limit within which an appeal has to be lodged? If there is a limit is there still time to lodge an appeal?

Mr. Powell

Are we to understand from the Minister's reply that he condones the use of ratepayers' money for repeated visits to a speedway track?

Mr. Dalton

The hon. Member is to understand from my reply what is in my reply.

Mr. MacLeod

In view of the evident reluctance of the Minister to protect district auditors, or have the matter discussed, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter at the earliest possible opportunity.