HC Deb 11 July 1977 vol 935 cc9-11
6. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has had any recent consultations with the Chairman of the Land Authority for Wales concerning staff appointments.

10. Mr. Gould

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on appointments to the Welsh Land Authority.

Mr. Alec Jones

My right hon. and learned Friend has no general responsibility for the appointment of staff to the Land Authority for Wales. The only appointment to this Authority which needs my right hon and learned Friend's specific approval is that of the chief executive.

Mr. Hughes

Does not my hon. Friend agree that, if the information revealed about the appointment of Mr. Johnson as legal officer for the Land Authority is correct, it reveals the most blatant misuse of public funds that it is possible to imagine? Does not my hon. Friend feel that there is a necessity for a full investigation into this matter, particularly into the nature of the illness from which Mr. Johnson allegedly suffered? Finally, does not my hon. Friend agree that it is now time that the Government set about rectifying the extravagant reorganisation of local government carried out in Wales by the last Government?

Mr. Alec Jones

I am certainly aware that the reorganisation of local government as carried out by the last Government has not met with unanimous approval throughout Wales, nor is it yet functioning properly and efficiently. With regard to the specific case mentioned by my hon. Friend, I must say that the circumstances of the termination of any former employment of Land Authority for Wales officers is principally a matter for the person concerned and his former employers. My right hon. and learned Friend has no powers whatever in this matter. The Land Authority, like many other public sector bodies, requires potential employees to provide a medical certificate, and that practice was followed in this case.

Mr. Gould

Does service with the Land Authority for Wales count as local government employment? If so, is it permissible for one person to draw a pension from one local government employment and a salary from another? Will my hon. Friend use his influence to persuade the public authorities concerned to make a clear public statement about the circumstances under which Mr. Johnson left his former employment?

Mr. Alec Jones

The circumstances under which Mr. Johnson left his previous employment must be a matter for Mr. Johnson and that authority. My right hon. and learned Friend has certainly no responsibilities in that matter. He has, however, made it clear that we shall not sanction any arrangements which avoid the need for a reassessment of the earlier award if that would otherwise be required under the prescribed arrangements.

Mr. Hooson

Is not the Minister aware that this matter is causing grave public concern? Although the Welsh Office has no direct responsibility, does not the Minister agree that there is a need for a public statement on this matter? Is it right that this officer has a full pension, has obtained a golden handshake of five figures from one authority and is now appointed to another public authority on the basis that he is fully fit?

Mr. Alec Jones

The hon. and learned Gentleman is asking me to make a statement to the House concerning the conditions relating to a former employee of a local authority in England. I must say to the hon. and learned Gentleman that I do not believe that this is properly a matter for me.

Sir Raymond Gower

What information has the Land Authority obtained from this gentleman about his contributions record for the basis of superannuation? Has he been granted terms for new superannuation or pension for which he will qualify in due course, thus ensuring himself in future a very large second pension?

Mr. Alec Jones

As I said previously, and as my right hon. and learned Friend has already said, if there were any question of the need for reassessment of the earlier award we would certainly not countenance anything to prevent its taking place.