HC Deb 20 December 1971 vol 828 cc1096-8
14. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from local authority employees in Wales regarding the effect of local government reorganisation on their security of employment; and what assurances he was able to give.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I have received representations from N.A.L.G.O. and four individuals. The Local Government Bill provides comprehensive safeguards for staff and I have undertaken that a Welsh Local Government Staff Committee should be set up on an informal basis next spring.

Sir A. Meyer

I am most grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for that reassuring reply. However, is he aware that the anxieties, in particular, of the district councils are compounded by the fact that the Housing Finance Bill will possibly oblige them to take on additional staff in order to deal with rent questions 18 months before the streamlining which is to take place under the Local Government Bill? Will he consult the Secretary of State for the Environment to see whether there is some possibility of so rephasing matters that the Housing Finance Bill and the Local Government Bill come into operation at about the same time?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The reorganisation of local government is unlikely to give any scope for easing the pressure on local authority staff until well after 1st April, 1974. The main burden of work caused by the reorganisation of housing finance will arise from the fixing of fair rents, and this work cannot be held back until April, 1974.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that it was Members on this side of the House who pressed the then Labour Government for a staffing commission to be set up in accordance with their local government proposals? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman ensure that the local government trade unions are equally represented on the committee?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I am required to consult the staff and local authority associations before appointing the commission. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I intend to appoint a committee next year in advance of the appointment of the committee.

Mr. George Thomas

In view of the undoubted anxiety which any local government change is bound to cause among people who are uncertain of their future, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman endeavour not merely to consult the trade unions concerned but to seek their agreement on the personnel who will guide him in this matter?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I do not think that it would be right to say that I will do that. I will certainly consult the trade unions, and I hope that those appointed to the committee will be considered to be appropriate by all those who might consult it.