HL Deb 14 May 1963 vol 249 cc1266-93

7.8 p.m.

House again in Committee.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]


This Amendment is purely drafting. The words concerned were inserted as a paving Amendment for an Amendment inserted in another place but removed on Report stage. Therefore, they are no longer necessary. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 111, line 47, leave out from ("and") to ("shall").—(Lord Hastings.)


May I just ask the noble Lord, Lord Latham, something which is worrying me somewhat? I was told that we were to go on until 7.30, but I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Champion, was not here to move his Amendment. I was wondering whether there was any hitch in the arrangements. It is agreed by all concerned, is it, that we should go on?



On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD LATHAM moved, after paragraph 12, to insert: 12A. As from 1st April, 1965, and until such time as other terms and conditions of service under the Council in relation to persons whose duties are wholly or mainly administrative, professional, technical or clerical (such persons being in this paragraph referred to as 'officers') are settled by agreement or award and come into force, the conditions of service, the method of grading offices and the scales of salaries or remuneration and emoluments applicable to officers transferred under or by virtue of this Act to the employment of the Council immediately before they were so transferred shall continue to apply to them.

The noble Lord said: This is a long Amendment. It is also a very important one for it relates to the interests of the administrative, professional, technical and clerical grades who will take employment with the new Council when it comes into existence. This Amendment is in contrast in its subject matter to Clause 82, which we shall later have to consider, in that the Amendment deals with groups of staff in the various categories which I have recited, as distinct from dealing with them as individuals.

The staff to be transferred to the service of the Greater London Council are likely to be in five groups with different conditions of service, different conditions of grading and different salary structures. There will be the former London County Council staff, the former Middlesex County Council staff, and the county borough and metropolitan borough council staff If the Water Board is transferred there will be the former staff of the Metropolitan Water Board. There will also be civil servants from the Ministry of Transport. It is estimated that upwards of 80 per cent.—in the region of 12,500—of the administrative, professional, technical and clerical staff of the Greater London Council will be former London County Council staff, whose conditions, gradings and salary structures are particular to the London County Council. The next largest group will be about 1,500 coming from the Metropolitan Water Board, whose conditions are different again. About 10 per cent. will come from the local authorities other than the London County Council, and they will be on conditions, salaries and gradings laid down by the National Joint Council for Local Authorities, dealing with the administrative, professional and technical staff, which I shall henceforth refer to as A.P.T., if I may. Only a small number of civil servants are likely to come from the Ministry of Transport.

There is at this stage, therefore, no certainty about the service conditions in the Greater London Council, and it may prove difficult to negotiate them before that body comes into existence or even in the early stages of its life. There is accordingly a distinct possibility that as a result of the Bill as it now stands the existing staffs of the London County Council and the Metropolitan Water Board would suffer a worsening in the standards on which they were employed. The possibility derives from the radically different staffing structures of the London County Council and the Metropolitan Water Board from that adopted by other local authorities. The service conditions on which the London County Council staff are employed are in general superior and reflect the higher educational standards which are demanded for entry to the London County Council service. For example, the intake of the London County Council basic administrative grade ranges between 50 and 60 per cent. from honours graduates, whereas the recruitment of graduates to the local government service elsewhere is of a much lower order. By stating that, which is a fact, I am not in any way casting any reflection upon the staff of other local authorities.

The difference between the L.C.C.'s and other staffing structures may be illustrated by examples. The London County Council administrative officer Grade 3, has a salary scale which goes from £655 to £1,295, and spans four of the total of five administrative grades of other local government authorities. If the general local government structure were adopted by the Greater London Council, a London County Council officer, Grade 3 on transfer would have to be placed in one or other of these, and, although he might be allowed to advance in salary to his present maximum of £1,295 on an individual basis, he would find himself in a post graded as A.P.T.3, with a normal maximum salary of £1,040. This would mean that the transferred L.C.C. administrative officers Grade 3 would find themselves at various points in the A.P.T. structure related to what was considered to be the appropriate grading of the post occupied, but would all be paid on the same salary scale. The difficulty would be even more acute among the professional grades, whose basic London County Council grade has a career run-through from £860 to £1,555, which would range over A.P.T. 1, 2, and 3, the whole of 4, and most of 5. Similar difficulties would arise throughout the whole of the London County Council's A.P.T. and C. structure.

It is not the purpose of the Amendment to substitute ministerial powers for the normal negotiating procedures, once these have been established. All that this Amendment proposes is that the present vacuum should be filled by a statutory prescription that the service conditions, gradings and salary structures of the various groups of staff coming to the Greater London Council shall continue until such time as the authority and the staff organisations have got together and reached agreement between themselves in the matter. It does nothing to fetter negotiations, or to prejudice the form of negotiating machinery for settling service conditions of the Greater London Council; nor does it prejudice the issue itself. It does no more than provide an interim structural basis and leaves the parties concerned—namely, the Greater London Council and the representatives of its staff—free to vary them as time goes on.

It will, however, make clear to the staff likely to be transferred to the employment of the Greater London Council that the interim arrangements which will apply to them will be those operative under their existing authorities. It will thus help to remove some of the uncertainty which exists in the minds of the staff who are liable to transfer. It will help to dispel the apprehension that they may suffer a worsening in their standards of pay and prospects, and it will assist them in reaching their personal decisions as to where their futures lie. The staff are no doubt, and understandably so, anxious as to the future. The Amendment will remove the anxiety in these respects. The Government will wish, I am sure, to treat the staff fairly, and therefore it would be helpful if the Government could say so in definitive terms by accepting this Amendment, which has the purpose that I have indicated. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 112, line 14, at end insert the said sub-paragraph.—(Lord Latham.)


In any big redistribution of functions and work there is bound to be disturbance of staff. In regard to the Beeching proposals we have just been through problems arising on the railways. Therefore I have more than a normal feeling for the staffs concerned in these jobs. I think it is very probable—in fact, more than probable—that every person now employed within the local government service, particularly within the L.C.C., who wants to transfer to one authority or another will be able to do so. Therefore the question of just a job does not arise: a job will be available somewhere. But for somebody who has accepted the responsibility of a mortgage, perhaps, or even hire-purchase payments and the rest, the possibility of a change in status, standing and income is very disturbing, not only to the man or the woman but to those who associate with them in their families.

As I understand the Amendment which my noble friend Lord Latham has moved, it is just a simple request: that here is a disturbance of staff through no fault of their own. They had every reason to believe that their jobs would continue undisturbed so long as they behaved themselves; and it is not unreasonable, in those circumstances, that they should not only be guaranteed a job but should also be guaranteed, at least until things have settled down, the same standing and status—perhaps "standing and status" is not the correct term, but the same financial position—that they have now. In other words, having been transferred to other work their present gradings and salaries, at least, should carry on. If the man is promoted to a job carrying a higher rate of pay and greater responsibility, then he should get the rate for the job. That is the simple point. It will very likely happen, but if we in this Committee could say to those engaged in the local government staff of London, "Whatever happens, your present salaries will continue when you are absorbed; of course, the question of the job, gradings and all the rest of it will have to be righted, but for the time being things remain as they are", then not only would the transfer be made easier but the minds of the staff would certainly be much easier as to their general conditions.

7.23 p.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Latham, has raised a very important subject, and we wish to deal with it in a most sympathetic manner. As the noble Lord pointed out, these problems connected with staff are really divided into two main parts. First of all, there are the safeguards to be given to employees as individuals. The safeguards of this kind are dealt with in Part IX of the Bill, especially in Clause 82. Part IX of the Bill is the right place for such safeguards, because they must give equal protection to all local government employees, irrespective of which council employs them now or which will employ them in the future. These safeguards will be discussed fully when we reach Part IX. I should, however, just like to refer to my right honourable friend's undertaking during the Report stage in the other place, when he promised to give further consideration to the possibility of strengthening the safeguards set out in Clause 82. I cannot say anything further about that just yet, but the Government expect to be able to put down Amendments which will commend themselves to the Committee when we reach that stage in the Bill.

The second main group is the one with which the noble Lords opposite have been dealing, and that is connected with staffing matters in relation to the terms and conditions of service on which future staff of the Greater London Council will be employed. Here we are looking at the terms and conditions of service which will attach to posts rather than to individuals. I think the noble Lord referred to it as "groups".




Categories: to posts which, in the course of events, will fall vacant as the years go by. Also, we are concerned with new posts created to meet the Council's need. The Government's view is that the staffing structure of a local authority—that is to say, the grading of 'the jobs it offers and the terms and conditions of service which attach to those jobs—ought properly to be left to the local authority to settle in discussion and consultation with the appropriate negotiating bodies in the local government field. But, as your Lordships have been made aware by the noble Lord, Lord Latham, the London County Council has special arrangements negotiated separately from those which apply to other authorities. Now the fundamental question raised is really whether, and to what extent, the Bill should indicate to the Greater London Council that they should follow the L.C.C. staffing arrangements or some other.

Admittedly, the Amendment does not say that the L.C.C. terms and conditions should apply to all posts under the Greater London Council, but I think what it does intend to ensure, if I understand the noble Lord aright, is that where a post under the Greater London Council is initially filled by a former employee of the L.C.C., then that post shall be graded according to the L.C.C. arrangements until other arrangements are negotiated or settled. Similarly, posts under the Greater London Council initially filled by former employees of the Middlesex County Council or the Civil Service, for instance, would be graded according to the positions pertaining in the Middlesex County Council. That could lead to some curious anomalies in practical operation, because if during the transitional stage those posts were to be vacated in some cases, and the people who were then employed in them came from a different organisation, they would be going into a category which had been originally negotiated by the Middlesex County Council or, say, the London County Council, and it might not give them the same grade. I hope the noble Lord sees what I mean. That could happen.

Now the Government well recognise that one of the main purposes of the Amendment is, as the noble Lord said, to provide a way in which the present staff employed by London authorities can be reassured about their future prospects and be told how the posts under the new authorities will be graded. The Government hope that the preliminary discussions on the joint committees to be set up under Clause 83 and Clause 83(2), will enable early decisions to be taken by the new councils. However, Her Majesty's Government regard it as a matter of principle and of some importance that staffing matters in the field of local government should as far as possible be settled through the local government negotiating machinery, without any interference from outside.

I should like to make a suggestion to the noble Lords opposite. There are, as we agree, two parts to this problem—the individual aspect and the one we are now discussing relating to posts or categories. It is perhaps difficult to see the whole matter in perspective at this stage. When we come to Clause 82, as I have said, the Government expect to table Amendments bringing about improvements as a result of comments in another place, and perhaps when we see those Amendments noble Lords opposite may be able to see the whole matter more completely. Then, if it is necessary to come back, in the light of those Amendments, to this particular aspect of the problem, perhaps we can do so at a later stage. It would probably be a matter, if necessary—and I do not say it will be—of inserting a new clause in the Bill under Miscellaneous Provisions, and not trying to deal with it under this Schedule. If that is agreeable to the Committee, I hope that what I shall have to say on a later occasion will meet the requirements of noble Lords opposite.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. I think his proposal, which was made in a very co-operative spirit, should help in resolving what is a very difficult problem. As one who was a member of the Staff Committee representing the London County Council when I was Leader of the Council, I know how complex these categories can get. I think the statement made by the noble Lord will bring some comfort and will allay the anxiety which is naturally felt by those concerned in the transfers. In those circumstances, with the understanding that we can come back to it at a later stage, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I think it might be convenient now to adjourn until 8.30, as was agreed, and I beg to move that the Committee adjourn during pleasure until 8.30.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

The Sitting was suspended from half-past seven and resumed at half-past eight o'clock.

EARL JELLICOE moved to leave out paragraph 13. The noble Earl said: This Amendment is designed purely to pave the way for Amendment No. 251A. The Opposition Amendment, No. 77, which immediately follows, is also linked with this subject. I understand that the Opposition have now transferred their No. 77 to an Amendment to No. 251A, which appears as No. 251B. I should like to move Amendment No. 76A formally, on the understanding that our substantive discussion of the whole matter will be deferred until we get to No. 251A later on. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 112, line 15, leave out paragraph 13.—(Earl Jellicoe.)


On behalf of noble Lords on these Benches, I accept the suggestion which the noble Earl has just made. Directly I saw the noble Earl's new Amendment I took the precaution of putting down an Amendment, to which he has referred. I am sure the noble Earl appreciates what his right honourable friend said in Committee in another place: that the Government felt that in the acceptance of the words contained in Amendment No. 77 there was a grave risk that they might be accepting a principle which applied to the whole of local government service throughout the country. They were prepared to accept in principle, if they could, what had been suggested in another place, but not in respect of the whole country. I am referring to the discussion in another place merely to remind your Lordships that the Opposition were given to understand that the Government were going to be helpful on this matter. Having put down Amendment No. 251B, it may be that the noble Earl will be able to tell us in advance whether our form of words pleases the Government. If it does not, I should like to assure the noble Earl that I should be happy to co-operate, on behalf of noble Lords on these Benches, in trying to get what we should all like. I think that our Amendment No. 77 will automatically fall on the passing of the noble Earl's Amendment.


This Amendment has been put down by the noble Earl, following representations made in another place on behalf of the National Association of Local Government Officers. I am authorised to say that the Association is thankful that the Minister has accepted those recommendations and put down this Amendment, which will be rounded off by the Amendments to be moved later. I feel that the Minister is entitled to that commendation, in view of the action he has taken.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

8.35 p.m.


This Amendment is linked with Amendments Nos. 81 to 84, and it may be convenient to take them together. The effect of the Amendments is to exclude borrowing from the scope of the annual Money Bill to be promoted by the Greater London Council which will be confined to authorising capital expenditure and lending to other bodies and persons. Borrowing for these purposes will be directly authorised by paragraph 29 of Schedule 2, as amended. The procedure for the Greater London Council will be identical with that followed by the London County Council. The importance of this Amendment lies in the fact that the annual Money Bill relates to a financial period of eighteen months. Because of the timing of stock issues and so on, it may not be convenient for the Greater London Council to borrow within that period the whole amount necessary to finance the expenditure and the loans authorised for the same period. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 115, line 2, leave out from ("expenditure") to end of line 3 and insert ("by the Council on capital account or on lending to other persons").—(Lord Hastings.)


I gather that the noble Lord assures the Committee that this Amendment does not in any way diminish the powers of the Greater London Council in comparison with those possessed by the London County Council as regards capital expenditure authorisation and the like. In those circumstances, we can support the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD HASTINGS moved, after paragraph 28, to insert:

"28A.—(1) If the whole of the amount authorised by an annual money Act to be expended for any authorised purpose in the first twelve or last six months of the relevant financial period aforesaid is not required to be so expended, the Council may with the approval of the Treasury expend for any other authorised purpose in those twelve or, as the case may be, six months (in addition to the amount authorised in relation to that other purpose) an amount not exceeding the unexpended portion of the first-mentioned amount.

(2) If by reason of unforeseen circumstances the amount authorised by an annual money Act to be expended for any authorised purpose in the first twelve or last six months of the relevant financial period aforesaid is found to be insufficient, the Treasury may on the application of the Council authorise the Council to expend for that purpose such further sums as it is shown to the satisfaction of the Treasury to be necessary or desirable for the Council so to expend, not exceeding in the aggregate such amount as may be authorised in that behalf by that Act in relation to those twelve or, as the case may be, six months.

(3) In ascertaining for the purposes of paragraph 27(2) or 28(3) of this Schedule the amount which may be expended for any authorised purpose in the last six months of the financial period aforesaid to which an annual money Act relates, there shall be taken into account the extent to which the sum authorised to be expended for that purpose in the first twelve months of that period has been expended under sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph for any other authorised purpose.

(4) The provisions of paragraph 28(6) to (8) of this Schedule shall apply to any loan under this paragraph as they apply to any loan under that paragraph.

(5) In this paragraph references in connection with an annual money Act to expenditure for an authorised purpose are references to expenditure—

  1. (a) on capital account for a purpose mentioned in that Act; or
  2. (b) on loans to persons of a class either mentioned in paragraph 28(2)(a) to (f) of this Schedule or specified in that Act."

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to give the Greater London Council power to re-allocate expenditure on capital account of lending authorised by the annual Money Bill from purposes where there is a surplus to purposes where insufficient provision has been made, and to enable the Treasury, within limits laid down in the Money Bill, to authorise further expenditure by the Greater London Council beyond the amount stated in the annual Money Bill. The London County Council already have a comparable power in the London County Council (Loans) Act, 1955. The Amendment is proposed at their request and has been agreed in detail with their officers. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 116, line 31, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Hastings.)


Generally speaking this Amendment preserves the right of what is known as the procedure of virement as regards expenditure, and the Committee can accept it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This Amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 79. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 116, line 34, leave out from ("of") to ("authorised") in line 36 and insert ("expenditure on capital account or on lending if, but only if, the expenditure is").—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This again is a consequential Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 116, line 37, leave out ("borrowing") and insert ("expenditure").—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This is also a consequential Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 116, line 37, leave out ("thereto").(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This is another consequential Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 116, line 39, at end insert ("to any borrowing for the purpose thereof").—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

8.42 p.m.

LORD LINDGREN moved to add to paragraph 29: The Council shall pay, out of the General Fund, such scale of salaries to its members as the Minister shall from time to time prescribe".

The noble Lord said: I admit at once that this is perhaps one of the most difficult problems associated with local government at the present time. As I shave said on a number of occasions in this House, I have been associated with local government now for 40 years. In my early days we received neither travelling expenses nor any contribution towards loss of pay. I must admit that in those days it was very difficult indeed for those of us who were dependent upon our weekly wage or salary, when we lost time in order to carry on local government.

Many times I have wondered whether I was doing the right thing as an individual to lower the standard of life of my wife and family in order to carry out the functions of local government. On some of those occasions, when husbands and wives have little arguments, my wife has often told me that I was carrying on local government work to the detriment of the standard of life of her and the children. That is an unfair condition to put upon people. That situation has been improved, inasmuch as there is now a contribution towards the loss of salary or wage when the individual attends meetings. There is also a subsistence allowance, if a person is away from home for more than four hours attending local government meetings. Again, that does not meet the loss under present-day standards of wages and salaries, and there is not a person engaged in local government who, if he has to lose time and charge the allowance against the council, covers himself in regard to the actual loss.

This is a difficult situation. After all, if we started to pay a salary for local government service it would tend to require a much greater degree of attendance, and definite attendance, than it does at the moment. The employee now has to make the decision himself. If he has a meeting at 10.30 to-morrow morning, if he wishes to attend he has to ask for time off. If he does not think his working arrangements can allow it he does not attend and does not apply. I am mentioning councillors, because, frankly, I appreciate that if this Amendment were passed and were applied to the Greater London Council there would be no argument whatever against its being applied to other bodies—Hertfordshire County Council, Kent County Council, Surrey County Council, indeed any county council—many of whose members have to travel long distances, far greater distances than any of those associated with the Greater London Council will have to travel. And, of course, travelling to and from a meeting takes time and it means time off from the work they are doing. I refer to councillors because although this Amendment is proposed for insertion in this Bill, I appreciate that if it were passed there would be an obligation and it would have to apply to other persons as well. That may be one of the problems.

There are certain difficulties. I referred in an earlier Amendment to the fact that we were getting into local government a greater number of married women, and they are performing a valuable function. I was going to say that married women are their own masters; but that would not be quite true, or at least it would not be politic, to say it. At any rate, married women do not have to ask for time off and do not lose pay. Therefore in local government they do not suffer any of the loss of remuneration that applies to the male wage earner or the female wage earner. But it is equally true that in a large number of cases where married women are engaged in local government there are added costs in covering certain household duties that have to be paid for and which they would normally be doing themselves. Therefore, if we had a payment it would not have to be a payment in regard to loss of pay but payment for the councillor as a councillor.

The Amendment is put down to this Bill because it seems to many of us that the duties arising from the Greater London Council are likely to be very heavy. Whether they will be as extensive and as arduous as, for instance, are the duties of the existing members of the London County Council it is hard to say, until we see this new Council in operation. My own view is that, with questions of sub-committees that are likely to arise, the time and thought and energy these people will have to give will be even greater than that associated with the London County Council. There may be members of the London County Council who, seeing the division of functions, will say it is less. But, whatever it is, it means a considerable time must be given to this work.

We have said that the difficulty of getting people to come into local government because of its effect on chances of promotion, and the reluctance of employers to give extensive time off to local government members, all militates against suitable persons; and if you are going to get them then you must see that they are paid. As many Tory councillors have reason to believe to-day, as compared with last week, even local government politics is hazardous. Many of them who were elected three years ago as Tory councillors can now no longer call themselves "Mr. Councillor". If you are going to get people who are required to give two-thirds of their time to local government and pay in relation to that, I doubt very much whether it is going to improve the standard of service.

But we have to face these problems. While I put down the Amendment, I have no authority to speak for my colleagues on this side of the House. This is one of those problems which I think deserves investigation—not by a Royal Commission, of course, but by a committee of persons who could study the problem extensively in the whole field of local Government. One of the problems is that we see only the field in which we ourselves operate. My suggestion is that a group of persons experienced in local government, in the Civil Service and in administration, should look at this problem. It is admitted that the present system is not satisfactory, and that there has to be something much more satisfactory, if we are going to get the right type of person into local government. Whether this is the correct way to do it, I am not quite sure; but, in any case, in order that we can can have a discussion in which perhaps other noble Lords will join, and to which certainly the Minister will reply, I beg to move this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 116, line 39, at end insert the said words.—(Lord Lindgren.)

8.52 p.m.


My noble friend Lord Lindgren has moved this Amendment in a sensible, balanced and able speech. At the end he said that there are problems about this. There are difficulties about what to do about this problem, and he suggested some sort of impartial inquiry which would take evidence, would look at the pros and cons and at various ways in which the problem could be met, and at the objections to those solutions and other ways. If I may say so, I think that that was a sensible course for my noble friend to take. I admit that I start with something in the nature of a puritanical bias. I went on to local government in 1920, as Mayor of the Borough of Hackney, and later as alderman. I later went on to the London County Council, which was a heavy job, in due course became Leader of the Labour Party, and then Leader of the Council; and somehow I got a snobbish pride out of doing, all this work for nothing.

The job of Leader of the London County Council, as my noble friend Lord Latham, who has held this position, would agree, is not far short of the office of a Cabinet Minister who gets £5,000 a year. My noble friend and I got nothing, but I must say that I got a rather snobbish "kick" out of doing this job, worth nearly £5,000, for nothing at all. It pleased my spirit, which was a Socialist spirit, of voluntary public service, just as it could a Conservative spirit. On the other hand, I was working as Secretary to the London Labour Party, and there I got a modest salary, starting at £1 a week, part-time, finally getting £500 a year maximum. That is all I got. But I had nothing for the County Council work—nothing at all; but, as I say, if got a "kick" out of it, and of doing a glorious job for no reward whatever. In a way I wish we could all do it; even here, we cannot quite manage it. We get three guineas a day. I hope we shall never get a salary here; I would sooner we put up the three guineas to something else, because it is a more satisfactory way of checking on people who come and those who do not come.

I agree that this is putting the other side of the coin to that which my noble friend put. I admit that you may get the case of a workman on the bench, or an the railway, or in the factory, indeed some other people, too, who may be brain-workers, who are asked, at any rate, to go on to a major public authority. I am not talking about a borough council, where they may be able to manage; but these London boroughs are going to have duties as heavy as, and possibly in some respects heavier than, those of the Greater London councillors, and they may have to meet in the day time. That is one objection to the Bill, but we will let that go for the moment. It is hard on the workman at the bench, unless he has an employer who is generous—as the railways were not but have since become, and so with some other employers. It may make it very difficult for a working class man or woman to become a member of a local authority unless some special provision is made.

The late Mr. Aneurin Bevan brought in under the Labour Government a provision whereby expenses could be paid; that is to say, travelling expenses, a more or less fixed payment which varied in accordance with the hours involved, and then a payment for loss of remunerative time. It is not easy to discriminate between the working engineer on the one hand and a skilled and popular barrister on the other. In fact, they both got the same because there was a maximum. Then there was a provision whereby a married woman could get compensation for the employment of domestic help—and a few of them have stretched that a little bit from what was originally intended. Indeed, a number of them, both male and female, have "gone the pace" a little bit.

I have tried to persuade the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to require local authorities to publish, say quarterly, a return of the expenses claimed, splitting them up into three or four columns, so that the public knows what is being claimed. They have not had the courage to do it, neither have the local authorities, but I think that it is right and proper that it should be done. So there are problems both ways, so to speak.

There is a good deal to be said for a salary: it is paid, and there is no argument about it, because it is laid down. From that point of view the idea of a salary is simpler and more straightforward. But then there arises the problem, what should the salary be? The work of a councillor, even on the Greater London Council, is not going to be such that it will reasonably demand a substantial salary, such as, for example, that paid to a Member of another place—not that they, poor souls! are getting enough; nor are we. It is true that neither of us is getting enough, especially in view of the way we have been going on lately.


It is unpaid overtime.


And it is not only on this matter that we have sat late. There have been late Sittings on other matters, too. We are increasingly getting into the bad habits of the House of Commons in respect of long hours—a thing which I would not encourage.


Hear, hear!


I am glad to hear those considerable murmurs opposite, because they may produce some sympathy. You could not expect the members of a local authority to be given the salary of a Member of Parliament, even though that salary at the moment is, I think, inadequate.

How is it to be fixed? If it is £500 a year—which it could be—then the poor chap has got to make up some more. Where is he going to get it? There are possible temptations here as to ways in which he can get it. Or he might eke out a rather miserable existence on the £500 a year, or even £750 a year, and not do too well out of it. So the question of what is the proper salary will be a real problem. Then there is the question of whether he should attend a reasonable minimum number of committees and council meetings. I do not know whether or not he should; it is not required in the House of Commons. A Member could attend that House on one day a year but he would still draw the salary. Mind you! he would be "rumbled" by his constituents sooner or later. But here is another problem.

I entirely agree with my noble friend that there is here a real problem, partly related to the efficiency of local government and partly related to democracy in its application to local government. I agree with the conclusion of my noble friend Lord Lindgren, who has a long and valuable experience of local government, that you could get some sort of departmental committee—it is hardly worth the while of a Royal Commission; and anyway we have had one Royal Commission too many—of sensible, public-spirited, impartial persons, to go into all these difficulties, on both sides, and to make recommendations and proposals after they have surveyed the problem and brought out the facts. I think my noble friend is right in saying that there is a great deal to be said for handling the matter in that way. If the Government could say that they will give consideration to that proposition, that would save us the embarrassment of voting for or against an Amendment for immediate application. I do not think we have yet found the right solution to this problem. But I hope the Minister will undertake that the Government will at any rate give consideration to the proposition of having some sort of informed, objective, impartial inquiry by a mixed body of people, some of whom, but not all, should be experienced in local government. I think that would be a sensible and useful thing to do.


I have listened with the greatest possible interest to the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren and Lord Morrison of Lambeth, and I agree with them that this is a very difficult problem. I have been faced with it myself. In one of our Northern Ireland factories, one of my friends (because I call all of them in those factories my friends) was a maintenance fitter in a tobacco factory. He was also a Senator in the Northern Ireland Parliament. When I last heard of him he was P.P.S. to the late Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. So you can see that besides being a jolly good fitter he had also made quite a name for himself for political service in Northern Ireland. When he took on this job I saw him myself, and we gave him leave of absence from the factory. My firm gave him pretty liberal treatment about time off, and I think I am right in saying that I satisfied myself that he, at any rate, suffered no out-of-pocket expenses, because the Northern Ireland Parliament gave him travel expenses or something like that. I cannot remember the details now.

The only reason I rise to my feet tonight is to say that I agree with the noble Lords opposite. This is a very difficult problem, and I personally do not know the answer. I am torn in two about the idea of an expense arrangement. My own view is that it is very difficult. Because who is to check the time off? Who is to check the out-of-pocket expenses? On the whole I think that a salary is probably the right answer. But what should the salary be? I do not know. I think there is great merit in the suggestion of both noble Lords opposite that there should be some sort of departmental inquiry; because, frankly, I think that people who have been in the same position as myself do not know what is the right answer and what is the fair thing to do.

9.5 p.m.


I think I shall not be far wrong if I say that the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, is of a somewhat exploratory nature. I think he himself said that he had put it down in order, not so much that it will be accepted, because he knows the inherent difficulties in accepting it in its present form., but so as to initiate a discussion on this problem and to gain recognition that the problem exists. That, of course, has been reinforced, as we have just heard, by my noble friend Lord Ampthill behind me, and in between those two speeches we listened to a discussion by and the reminiscences of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, which I am sure interested everybody in the Committee and which I think had a great fascination, if I may say so with respect. He said at the outset how, after many years' service, he got a snobbish "kick" out of doing good public service for nothing—and that, of course, is and always has been one of the most valuable assets of local government service. On the other hand, he recognised and asked us to face up to the problem of modern days, when it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to give public service for absolutely nothing: and there is no doubt that here is a problem which has got to be faced.

I am not familiar enough with the subject, and I have not myself had the sort of experience, to enable me to follow the noble Lords in a long discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of pay. There is no doubt at all but that it does raise a fundamental problem, and not only in local government service: it is a problem of the society in which we live, of democracy itself, and is something which must be gone into most thoroughly. I think noble Lords are probably aware—and I am quite certain that the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, who moved the Amendment, would be aware—that there was a similar Amendment which was carefully considered in another place at Recommittal stage, and which was withdrawn following my right honourable friend's statement. I should just like to remind your Lordships of what my right honourable friend said on that occasion—and I quote: The Government have recognised that while the present system of travelling and subsistence expenses and financial loss allowances where members have incurred a loss is, on the whole, working well, there are a number of difficulties that justify a reconsideration of the whole problem. I have therefore asked the local authority associations to prepare for a full discussion with my Ministry on the whole question of the present method of making good either expenses or financial losses of local authority members. My right honourable friend said that he did not begin this with any great liking for the idea of paying members of local authorities, but that if, out of the discussions, there emerged a need for a radical change, it would be considered, and he undertook to report back.

I am afraid that at this stage I have nothing new to report, but I think that at least it will interest members of the Committee to know that the associations which he has notified of his intentions and with which he intends to confer as soon as may be are the County Councils Association, the Association of Municipal Corporations, the Urban District Councils Association, the Rural District Councils Association, the London County Council and the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee. Of course, they are all technical people or (shall we say?) professional people in the business which we are talking about; and I think the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, in particular, suggested that there might be some sort of more independent inquiry. I think, in the first place, it cannot be but a good thing to have a general conference of all the people directly concerned in this matter to try to assess the position, the facts, and to analyse them. After that, I cannot say what might happen; but I think perhaps this is a good start in any case. I therefore suggest that, meanwhile, it would not be wise to attempt to make special provisions in this Bill in the case of the Greater London Council in advance of the decision of local government as a whole; but I cannot predict exactly the course these discussions will take or what might follow after. But we are certainly embarking on this project and we shall see what comes out of it.


May we assume that this consultation with the local authorities' associations would be consultation with councillors—that is to say, members of local authorities rather than officers of local authorities?—because officers are in a different category. They get a recognised and reasonably adequate salary. I presume this will be consultation with councillors. The only doubt I have is whether it would be better to have a departmental committee; say, a mixture of 50–50 between people of responsible local government experience spread among various categories of local authorities (which would not be too much) and some public-spirited, intelligent men and women. I am wondering whether that would not be better than to take it on the basis of evidence from local authorities' associations.


Certainly this is a most complicated and vital problem and I will certainly talk to my right honourable friend and tell him what the noble Lord has said in respect of this particular matter. I cannot answer it immediately, but I think probably he is right in this case that there must be elected members. But I should be glad to let him know about that. Full note of his other suggestions will, of course, be taken.


I thank the noble Lord for his reply and I agree with him entirely that this is a most difficult problem. I think it is a good first step to get local authority associations thinking about the problem. I do not think they will come to any satisfactory conclusion, because there is bound to be conflicting opinion by reason of the different spheres of influence. But I agree that it is a first step. I hope it will be successful. I agree that this is not the right place to put it in. We really put it down for discussion. I appreciate that if we apply it here, then it must be applied to other authorities. Therefore, I feel the Minister's suggestion that it should be discussed is really correct; and I should like to ask permission to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.14 p.m.


This is an Amendment to apply Part XII of the Local Government Act, 1933 to this Bill and to the power of the Greater London Council. It really is giving the Greater London Council the opportunity to make by-laws for good government and to give authority to other persons to enforce these by-laws for good government. It also sets out the procedure and determines the penalties. This Amendment is put down because it is one of those very good sections of the 1933 Act without which local government bodies would not be able to do many of the good regulatory jobs which they do now, and because it has been missing from this Bill. There may be some good reason for it, but at the moment I cannot see it. In order that we can be given an explanation of the reason, or told that there was an oversight on the part of the Ministry, I beg to move this Amendment.

Amendment moved—

Page 118, line 24, at end insert— ("(i) Part XII of the Local Government Act 1933;").—(Lord Lindgren.)


I think that I can put the noble Lord's mind at rest straight away by saying that it was not an oversight on the part of the Government. Frankly, I am not very enamoured of the Amendment, and I will explain why we have omitted this section. I would remind your Lordships that by-laws made under Section 249 of the Act of 1933, which is the operative section of Part XII of the Act, deals with minor matters. I think they can be described briefly as good conduct by-laws. We feel that borough councils are the right people to deal with local nuisances. In any event, it is to the borough councils that complaints are usually made. In our view, these by-laws are better made by the borough councils than by the Greater London Council. The need for by-laws, especially of this type, can vary very much from area to area. Every borough can make by-laws on subjects which particularly affect its area and in the form most suitable for its area.

The third reason is that we feel that the delegation of by-law-making powers is confusing to the public and is unnecessary. Fourthly, we have been guided by the fact that this delegation does not exist in any other part of the country at the moment.


I interrupt the noble Lord so that he will look at his notes again. Surely that does not apply now. The 1933 Act applies to county councils, who give authority to urban district councils to apply by-laws within their areas. It is the county councils who have the power now.


I understand that that position does not apply in the L.C.C. area. In the L.C.C. area, this by-law-making power is operated concurrently by the L.C.C. and the metropolitan boroughs. But I speak subject to correction on this point. It is our view, on my assumption that these were concurrent powers, that the omission from the authority of the Greater London Council would bring London into line on this matter with the rest of the country. Perhaps I might mention, as a matter of interest, that the L.C.C. have exercised their by-law-making powers only very occasionally—to be precise, only four times—in the last 30 years. That being so, it would not seem that the omission of this by-law-making power from the authority of the Greater London Council is stripping the Council of an important and much-exercised power.

Those were the reasons why, not as a matter of oversight, but quite deliberately, we omitted this power from amongst those which we propose to confer on the Greater London Council, and those are the reasons why, at least at first sight, I am not particularly enamoured of the noble Lord's Amendment.


I entirely disagree with the noble Earl on this occasion. I agree that there is a difference between area and area in the requirement for the application of by-laws. Therefore, I think the present system, which operates under the 1933 Act, where the major authority which is the county council has the power under the Act, and if one of the minor authorities in the area applies for the power to apply and administer the by-law within their area, it is looked at and granted by the county council, is far the better way of doing it. Here I think it will be better, so far as the London area is concerned, if the Greater London Council has the general power, so far as by-laws are concerned, and then, in so far as the boroughs are concerned, they apply to the Greater London Council for authority to operate within their area, if they think it necessary, that being given together with the power of enforcement within the area. However, this is not one of those things for which I would die in the last ditch. I agree that in the main it is associated with nuisances, such as dogs on footpaths and things like that, which are somewhat disagreeable. At this late hour I would not ask my noble friends to divide on the Amendment. I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Parliamentary and Local Government Elections in and around Greater London]:

9.23 p.m.

EARL JELLICOE moved, in paragraph 6(1), to leave out "any existing county" and insert: the county of London or of Middlesex or of any existing".

The noble Earl said: I apologise for the slight delay, but I have lost my notes for the moment. Speaking from memory, I can say that this is a drafting Amendment. It is rather technical in nature, but if noble Lords would like me to explain its purpose, I will gladly do so.


Could the noble Earl indicate briefly what it is?


Yes. The intention of paragraph 6(1) of the Schedule is that, so far as county council elections are concerned, there should be no elections in 1964 of councillors for those counties which will cease to exist—namely London and Middlesex.


They will not cease to exist; they will cease to be. The councillors will not cease to exist.


The counties will cease to exist, not the councillors. If such elections were held in 1964 the councillors elected would serve only until April 1, 1965. The Bill therefore provides that the county councillors in office on the passing of the Bill should main in office until April 1, 1965. That is quite straightforward.

Paragraph 6(1) of the Schedule as drafted refers to the election of councillors of any existing county…wholly within Greater London. This does not, however, catch Middlesex, because Middlesex will not be wholly within Greater London: the urban district of Potters Bar, as the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, remarked some moments ago, is to become part of Hertfordshire; and Staines and Sunbury are to become parts of Surrey. The Amendment will achieve what was the original purpose. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 120, line 25, leave out ("any existing county") and insert the said new words.—(Earl Jellicoe.)


This shows the dangers and risks of moving too quickly. We have come along at such speed that we have overtaken the Minister of State, Home Office, with the result that he has not had time to grasp the meaning of the Amendment. I confess that I have not had time either, but I have been looking at it, and my impression is that, whereas the wording of the Bill, by bad drafting, refers to existing counties and metropolitan boroughs, by the time the Bill becomes an Act two whole counties and chunks of others and the metropolitan boroughs will be missing. I may be wrong; and the noble Earl will correct me if he has better information. My impression is that by the time this Bill becomes an Act, they will be dead. Therefore, the Government have had to put some more words in in order to make the situation intelligible, if and when the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. That is my interpretation, but I may be wrong, just as the noble Earl realises that he may be wrong. So we can sympathise with each other and hope to goodness that what we are doing will make sense at the end of the day.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3, Part I, as amended, agreed to.

Parts II and III agreed to.


I think we have reached the point at which it was agreed we should aim this evening. I also feel that, judging by post progress on this Bill, we have made very good progress indeed. In view of that, I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved, That the House do now resume.—(Earl Jellicoe.)


I am much obliged to the Minister of State for the Home Office for having moved as he has done, I must say that we have got along more quickly than we thought we should. It could be argued that we have got along more quickly than we should have done, but I hope that will not be held in evidence against us in trying to exploit our honest labour on any future occasion. As a matter of fact, both sides deserve credit that we were a little quicker to-day. The Government have been more forthcoming. They have been a little more reasonable and more willing to undertake to give consideration, rather more than as a matter of form, in a number of directions. That helps. As a matter of fact, we are entitled to the credit for that, because over the days we have been teaching the Government good Parliamentary conduct. Now you know that you can get along more quickly if you are kind, and if people do not get sore and bad tempered about it—and I think the Front Bench, in the shape of these two gentlemen, the Minister of State, Home Office, and the Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Local Government, have learned something about the business. They are getting on. The trouble with the Lord Chancellor and the Leader of the House is—this is a very controversial, large and technical Bill and I sympathise with those two noble Lords—that it is obvious, in so far as they have talked about it, that they do not understand the Bill or the problems behind it. I am not saying that in any superior or even invertedly snobbish way. I sympathise with them. Even the Leader of the House cannot know everything, and neither can the Lord Chancellor.

But we have got on more quickly, partly because the Government have learned better Parliamentary handling, and partly because out of the charity of our Christian hearts on this side we have responded to that improved spirit on the part of the Government; and so we have reached the end of the day an hour before the contract of service. But I only say I hope that will not be held in evidence against us and that the Government will not add an hour to our labours on another day because we have beaten the clock on this occasion. In any event, it has been a remarkably smooth and kindly day. None of us can promise on either side that this kindliness will continue into every day for the consideration of this beastly Bill. But it has been a nice day, and I think everybody is to be congratulated, both on the other side and ourselves—I would only add, particularly ourselves.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.