Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
asked the President of the Local Government Board whether the Statutory Committee appointed under the Naval and Military War Pensions Act, 1915, has power on its own initiative, and not merely upon the motion of a county council or other local committee from time to time after a scheme has been framed and adopted, to require a revision of such scheme by the appointment of one or more additional local committees for a part or parts of the area comprised in the scheme or/and an additional district committee or committees, or/and the alteration of the powers of any one or more district committee or the alteration of the areas under the jurisdiction of any such local or district committees; whether the model form of scheme makes no such provision; and whether the Government will take steps to see that no scheme is approved by the Statutory Committee which does not provide for such powers being reserved to the Statutory Committee?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The model provides for a scheme being altered, with the consent of the Statutory Committee, by the local authority by whom it was made, but does not reserve to the Statutory Committee a right to alter the scheme on their own initiative. Any such reservation would be open to the objection that in effect it would enable the. Statutory Committee to make a new scheme, without the concurrence of the local authority, and I do not think it could be insisted upon. It would, however, be competent for a separate local committee to be established at any time for a borough or urban district with a population of less than 50,000, if on the application of the council of the area the Statutory Committee considered it desirable, having regard to the special circumstances of the case. To enable this to be done, it would not be necessary that the scheme for the county should be formally altered, though in some instances some modification of it might be expedient.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
asked the President of the Local Government Board whether numerous applications to the Statutory Committee, appointed under the Naval and Military War Pensions Act, 1915, have been made by boroughs and urban districts not having a population of more 2744W than 50,000 persons for the appointment of local committees for their respective areas; whether in all cases such applications have been refused by the Statutory Committee unless the county council for the county in which the applicant's area is situated have consented to or not opposed such application; whether in all cases the Statutory Committee refuses to recognise that special circumstances within the meaning of the Act exist, unless the county council consents or does not object to the application; and whether, having regard to the prevalent feeling of hostility existing in regard to local affairs between councils of agricultural counties and councils of boroughs and populous urban districts within their areas, and to the intention of Parliament that every such application should be adequately considered in a fair and impartial spirit, and so dealt with on its own intrinsic merits by the Statutory Committee, the Government will take steps to give effect to such intention, and require the Statutory Committee to consider such applications favourably and with due regard to every material circumstance, notwithstanding any opposition by the county council?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In dealing with applications of the kind referred to, the Statutory Committee have usually communicated with the council of the county in which the area concerned is situated, and have attached importance to the views expressed by the council, but they have not considered themselves bound by these views, and have not always acted in accordance with them. The Act requires that the Statutory Committee shall be satisfied that there are special circumstances in the case which render it desirable that a separate local committee shall be constituted before they give their consent to an application for this purpose. They deal with each case on its merits, and they regard the opinion of the county council as being only one of the factors to be taken into account in coming to a decision on the subject.