HC Deb 24 May 1966 vol 729 cc264-5
34. Mr. Wellbeloved

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will issue an explanatory booklet for the use of local councillors setting out the powers available to local authorities in respect of overcrowding, insanitary conditions and dilapidation of dwellings.

Mr. Mellish

Any simple explanation of the wide and complicated range of powers available would be liable to he misleading. Councillors would do better to rely on the advice of their officers in these matters.

Mr. Wellbeloved

Is my hon. Friend not aware that that is a most unsatisfactory reply? Is he aware that it is because the laws are complicated that it is absolutely imperative that local councillors are given some assistance by the Ministry so that they may understand the law in this respect a little better than is now the case and so that they may approach their local officials to get things done?

Mr. Mellish

We believe that a booklet could do more harm than good. It needs experts to say which statutory provisions would fit each particular case. There are dozens of Acts of Parliament which cover a whole range of activities here and on the strength of a booklet of this kind there is the danger that councillors might set themselves up as independent advisers to constituents, which might create more confusion than there is at present. It might well be the job of a councillor to know which officers of the council should be approached for advice in individual cases.