HC Deb 20 March 1974 vol 870 cc1017-8
17. Mr. Gourlay

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will estimate the number of days per year on which a member of the new regional councils and a member of the area health boards, respectively, will be required to attend meetings.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Health boards have not yet established a fixed pattern of meetings, nor have they decided on their committee structures. It is estimated, however, that, on average, members may be expected to attend at least two meetings each month.

It is impossible to estimate the number of meetings to be held by regional councils and their committees, as this will have to be determined by the councils themselves after election; it is likely to vary widely because of the differing size and work load of the regions.

Mr. Gourlay

Is my hon. Friend aware that a Tory local authority in London has reduced the £10 daily allowance to 5p, thus eliminating, or attempting to eliminate, the membership of Labour Members from that authority? Will my hon. Friend either make this allowance mandatory in Scotland or introduce a full-time payment for regional councils? Will he also take steps to ensure that local authorities in Scotland provide adequate unpaid leave of absence to employees who undertake public duties?

Mr. Hughes

I am disappointed to hear of the case in England, but I hope that Scottish local authorities will bear in mind that it is up to 10 per 24-hour absence and will make this as reasonable as possible and not attempt to cut the figure to a bare minimum.

As regards the absence of local authority employees for health board duties, I hope that local authority members will be generous in this provision and will bear in mind that a good example of this is the way in which nationalised industries and other public bodies allow time off.