HC Deb 04 August 1966 vol 733 cc666-7
20. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he proposes to extend the term of election of members of the councils of London boroughs elected in 1964.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Because of the low polls which would be likely to result from two local government elections being held in successive months in 1967; and because of the administrative difficulties and the risk of confusion to the electors likely to result from elections for both tier authorities being held on the same day in later years.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is it not a very dubious principle to extend the mandate of people who have been elected for a fixed term? Is not the real reason for this the desire of the Labour Party to retain control of boroughs which it will lose at the next election for a year during which they can impose comprehensive education?

Mr. Jenkins

No, not at all. I received representations in favour of the change from 27 out of 32 London borough councils, by no means all of which were Labour-controlled.

Mr. Freeson

Would my right hon. Friend remind and educate right hon. and hon. Members opposite that, by the London Government Act, they created new powers extending the authority of the elected members of local councils?

Mr. Hogg

Is it a fact that out of the 27 boroughs to which the Secretary of State referred 20 were Labour-controlled? Is it only a merciful dispensation of providence that their political interest happened to coincide with what they regarded as their public duty, or is it just another case of Socialist fiddle and fix?

Mr. Jenkins

In considering the representations from London boroughs, I have to take into account the fact that the electorate of London boroughs have, in their wisdom, given very large majorities to Labour representatives. But, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman made clear, seven Conservative boroughs requested this change with equal enthusiasm.