§ 3. Mr. Abse
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he has yet received the report of the Working Committee on the law concerning pecuniary interests of members of local authorities; if he is aware of the difficulties caused to many authorities by the inability of councillors who are council house tenants to vote on housing matters; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Sir Keith Joseph)
I have this Report. Members who are council house tenants may take a full part in housing questions in which they have no pecuniary interest. Where they have such an interest, the general rule is that they should not vote. I am sure this rule should be maintained, but I am prepared to consider applications for removal of the disability to vote in cases where otherwise a policy to which the majority of a council are opposed seems likely to be adopted.
§ Mr. Abse
Is not the Minister aware that he is merely repeating what has already been said on very many occasions? Assurances were given by the previous Minister that he was looking at a report from a Working Committee which held out some hope to local authorities. Will the Minister consider getting rid of this anomalous law so that we will not have a position, as we have now, Where one rule apparently is applies to local councillors and a totally different rule is being applied to Ministers who leave the Front Bench and take up City appointments? [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]
§ Sir K. Joseph
I must defer any statement until I have completed the study of this report, but I should not like to hold out any hope that any changes in my policy on voting by council house tenants is probable.