HC Deb 12 June 1991 vol 192 c906
22. Mr. Battle

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the review of local authorities' members' allowances will be included in the Government's review of local government; and if he will make a statement.

23. Mr. James Lamond

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to carry out consultations with local authority organisations on the councillors' allowances scheme; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Key

My Department has worked closely with the local authority associations in drawing up the new system of members' allowances which took effect from 1 April this year. The new system will be reviewed after a year's operation in consultation with the associations.

Mr. Battle

Is it the Government's intention to introduce allowances and full payments for councillors in line with the Secretary of State's proposals for new city-paid mayors? Is that the Government's policy, or do we have to wait for review after review?

Mr. Key

The consultation paper on internal management will be published when we have given due consideration to the issue and the role of councillors will be examined in that context.

Mr. James Lamond

Does the Minister realise that the dithering and delay that have been such features of this Government have extended even to the latest proposals for the compensation that is paid to councillors for attending council meetings? The present system, only recently introduced, is still unsatisfactory. There are many hundreds of councillors throughout the country who are giving their time—in many instances at their own expense—yet are being subjected to scorn and abuse, much of it being poured on them by Conservative Members and Ministers. Does the Minister recognise the work that councillors do for this country?

Mr. Key

I have no hesitation in praising councillors for the work that they do. The best councillors work extremely hard in the interests of their constituents. The regulations, which we discussed in Committee some while ago, were agreed by hon. Members of all parties without a Division. I am sure that the regulations represent the best way forward.