HC Deb 07 February 1962 vol 653 cc412-3
20. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what complaints he has received concerning allegations of maladministration in the burgh of Culross, Fife; whether he will investigate such charges; and whether he will reply to the complainants to that effect.

Mr. Maclay

I have received representations about certain payments claimed by contractors and allegations that councillors have contravened certain statutory provisions. I can determine the legality of payments by a local authority only if they are reported to me by the auditor; and any person who has reason to believe that an offence has been committed should report the circumstances to the criminal authorities. I am sending copies of the hon. Member's Question and of this Answer to the town clerk, the auditor and the persons who made the representations.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am very much obliged for that Answer? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is rather strange. But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that two of the contractors were councillors or in one case an ex-councillor? Is not the case for prosecution abundantly made by reference to the relevant Section of the Local Government Act? Would the right hon. Gentleman undertake to eliminate the impression created at Culross that he and his Department have been stalling on this matter for political purposes?

Mr. Maclay

That is really a most preposterous suggestion for the hon. Member to make, and I have not heard it made by anybody else until this minute. I would refer the hon. Member to the original Answer which I gave, which sets out the position as it stands and explains the action I am taking.