HC Deb 30 July 1957 vol 574 cc1044-5
16. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, in view of doubts which have arisen as to the meaning of Section 73 of the Local Government (Scotland)Act, 1947, which enacts that if a member of a local authority has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any matter and is present at a meeting of the authority at which this matter is the subject of consideration, he must disclose the fact and thereafter not take part in the discussion or vote without a dispensation from the Secretary of State for Scotland subject to certain penalties. if he will now take steps to resolve those doubts by seeking legislation to enact that the restrictions thus placed on a member of a local authority who lives in a council house apply only to the actual house but not to any of the contents or amenities supplied by or through the agency of the local authority.

Mr. Maclay

No, Sir.

Mr. Hughes

Does not the Secretary of State realise that his letters to me admit that such doubts exist and should be resolved? Does he realise that, in the absence of resolving them, great injustice is being done not only to councillors but also to council tenants? Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to deal with this matter?

Mr. Maclay

As I have said, the advice that I have received is that Section 73 (1)of the Local Government (Scotland)Act, 1947, is properly interpreted as covering the provision of appliances as well as actual houses.

Mr. T. Fraser

Is my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes)not asking the Secretary of State to have a look at the whole of this business? Will the right hon. Gentleman do so? Is it not about time that we put some trust in councillors, duly elected, to represent objectively the interests and the well-being of those who elect them?

Mr. Maclay

This matter raises important questions. I will, of course, examine it, as I have done in the past and will continue to do in the future.