HC Deb 16 May 1973 vol 856 cc1482-4
5. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what further consultations he has had about the allowances to be paid to the members of the new local authorities under the Local Government Act 1972; and if he will make a statement.

47. Mrs. Doris Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why his announcement of the level of attendance allowances for councillors has been delayed; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)

This matter is being considered urgently in the light of the general economic situation and the action which is being taken to regulate prices and pay. My right hon. and learned Friend will announce the maximum rate of allowance as soon as he is able to do so.

Mr. Hughes

Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that he has been remiss in not making an announcement before the local government elections, as he originally promised? Does he appreciate that this has made it extremely difficult for hourly-paid work people who contested elections in making arrangements with their employers? Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the financial loss allowance is to go and that it will be replaced by an attendance allowance? Will he further confirm that the rates are to be £14 in respect of counties and £12 in respect of district areas?

Mr. Page

Dealing with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I agree with him, certainly. I regret that the good intentions of my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and myself were frustrated by the House's passing the Counter-Inflation Act. The attendance allowance is not a salary, but it is a matter which has to be taken into account in the prices and pay legislation, and in policy.

Dealing with the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, the financial loss allowance will continue for this year until 1st April 1974, when the attendance allowance will come into operation. The financial loss allowance at present is £4.75, and it is intended to increase that to £5.50.

Mr. Oakes

Is the right hon Gentleman saying that the payment to councillors will have to wait until phase 3? On the point of the attendance allowance, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many meetings are now taking place involving considerable financial sacrifice in setting up the new authorities caused by the Government's delay in bringing in the increase now?

Mr. Page

That does not affect the situation. The attendance allowance was not intended to come in until 1st April 1974. In the meantime, there will be the increase in the financial loss allowance. It was made clear that the attendance allowance would not start until 1st April 1974.