HC Deb 18 June 1973 vol 858 cc328-30
Mr. Mackintosh

I beg to move Amendment No. 77, in page 30, line 6, after 'by', insert 'a designated elected councillor'.

Mr. Mackintosh

It is far too early in the morning to raise a large issue about the structure of local government. I shall explain the amendment and let it go at that. At page 30, Clause 56, the Bill says: a local authority may arrange for the discharge of any of their functions…". That can be done in four ways: first, by a committee of the authority; second, by a sub-committee; third, by an officer of the authority; and, fourthly, by any other local authority in Scotland

. In the thinking which has been going on about the reorganisation and internal structure of the new local authorities one of the possible methods which has been held open by the various reports has been what is called the Cabinet system, by which a convener or chairman, who would normally run a committee, acts himself on behalf of the local authority.

At paragraphs 956 and 959 the Wheatley Report says that it refrains from making any pronouncement as to which is the best system. It merely sets out the four different schemes. The Wheatley Report commented on the scheme put forward in the Maud Report. That is not the report on English local government but the one on management of local government which appeared in 1966.

The Maud Report said that committees should cease to be executive or administrative bodies save for some exceptional purpose, that their main function should be deliberative, that there should be as few committees as possible, perhaps not even half a dozen, and that the work of the major authorities should be conducted by a planning committee composed of five to nine committees of those major authorities.

That was an attempt to policise local authorities to put matters into the hands of elected councillors—for example, one in charge of health, one in charge of education, one in charge of rates and one in charge of sewage. In that way there would be, in effect, a Cabinet of senior elected members, each responsible as a Minister is responsible for running his Department.

I do not necessarily wish to impose the adoption of this scheme upon local authorities. The amendment leaves the possibility open. The functions of a local authority should either be conducted by itself or through a senior official. I wanted to keep that other possibility open.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education, Scottish Office (Mr. Hector Monro)

Over many years chairmen and vice-chairmen have been given authority by committees during holiday periods and so on to discharge certain functions. That can continue under Clause 56 in that any committee can authorise a sub-committee of its own election to do so. The amendment is unnecessary.

Mr. Mackintosh

In view of what the Minister has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The next amendment is Amendment No. 79—

Mr. Ross

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I thought that this would be a suitable time at which we could adjourn. From what I was led to understand we have reached the point agreed with the government. I think it is important that we keep our deliberations within reason.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

That is my understanding. I also heard that the next two Government amendments might have been taken. This is the moment at which we had roughly agreed we would come to an end.

Further consideration of the Bill, as amended, adjourned.—[Mr. Gordon Campbell.]

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered this day.

  1. ADJOURNMENT 12 words
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