HC Deb 01 November 1966 vol 735 cc216-7
2. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what explanation he has now received from the Greater London Council of their announced intention to set up a new Public Relations Office at an annual cost in excess of £600,000 a year; and whether he is now satisfied that such an increase in local authority expenditure by such a proposal is in accordance with Government policy.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Robert Mellish)

The Greater London Council do not owe my right hon. Friend any explanation in this matter. But he understands that the appropriate Committees of the Council have now reviewed their current and future programme in the light of Government policy and have determined on considerable economies in their estimates for various services, including the public information service.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does that Answer mean that the new project is shelved in toto, or is it merely to be reduced in size? Has the hon. Gentleman obtained from the Council any information about its sense of priorities in introducing this service at this time when the Government themselves are reducing local authority health and welfare services by £3 million a year?

Mr. Mellish

The right hon. Gentleman's prejudice against the Greater London Council is well known. It is not only the largest authority in Britain but the largest in the world. I should have thought that the fact that it intended to have a public relations service would be welcomed, even by him. However, this is a matter entirely for the Council and not one in which my right hon. Friend can interfere.