HC Deb 12 April 1976 vol 909 cc365-7W
Mr. Lawrence

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what consideration he has given to the claims made by charter trustees for the same powers and duties as members of local authorities enjoying successor parish status; and if he will make a statement of his policy towards charter trustees;

(2) what representations he has received from bodies or individuals seeking for charter trustees the same powers and duties as successor parish councils;

(3) if he will list the statutory provisions regarding the powers and duties of (a) charter trustees and (b) local authorities enjoying successor parish status;

(4) if he will list the local authorities with elected members who are charter trustees, indicating those authorities where charter trustees are in a majority.

Mr. John Silkin

Under the Local Government Act 1972 and the Charter Trustees Order 1974 the functions of charter trustees are broadly to elect the city or town mayor, make appointments to offices of dignity, hold historic and ceremonial property such as charters, insignia and plate, and to make the necessary ancillary provision in connection with these functions. Successor parish councils have the same powers as other parish councils and are, under the 1972 Act, local authorities. They have many of the attributes of other local authorities including the power to tax property in their area—by precept on the district council—to spend up to a 2p rate in the interests of the parish and its inhabitants, to represent their inhabitants and to provide local facilities and amenities such as playing fields. As with the larger local authorities, they have acquired many of their powers under various Acts passed through the years.

I have received, and have considered, representations from the Association of Charter Trustees and from charter trustees of individual towns asking that charter trustees should not be disbanded where the district as a whole is granted a borough charter; for a right to be consulted on planning and other local issues; and for power to spend in the interests of the area and its inhabitants.

These proposals would change the concept of charter trustees fundamentally. Charter trustees were created solely to safeguard the historic and ceremonial attributes of former boroughs which were considered too big to become successor parishes and were included in districts which chose not to apply for borough status. Where a district becomes a borough the council takes over these functions and there is no further need for separate charter trustees. Most groups of charter trustees comprise a large proportion of the district councillors and should be able to influence the council on local issues and spending in the interests of the area and its inhabitants. I have no proposals to extend the powers of charter trustees.

District councils will be carrying out parish reviews of their areas in time for the Local Government Boundary Commission to consider proposals after it has completed its post-reorganisation electoral reviews in 1977. Guidelines will be issued meanwhile to assist district councils in this task. They will deal, inter alia, with the criteria for the creation of parish in unparished areas.

A list of towns with charter trustees is below. Those asterisked have a majority representation on their district councils.

District and Town with charter trustees


South Bedfordshire—Dunstable.


Aylesbury Vale—Aylesbury.

Wycombe—High Wycombe.

Pen with—Penzance.






New Forest—Lymington.

Test Valley—Andover.

Wyre Forest—Kidderminster*.

Dacorum—Hemel Hempstead*.



Dover—Deal and Dover.



Thanet—Margate and Ramsgate.

Pendle—Colne and Nelson.

South Kesteven—Grantham.

West Norfolk—King's Lynn.


Bassetlaw—East Retford and Worksop.






East Staffordshire—Burton upon Trent*.

Lichfield—Lichfield (City).


Warwick—Royal Leamington Spa.

North Wiltshire—Chippenham.

Salisbury—New Sarum (i.e. Salisbury) (City).