HC Deb 22 November 1976 vol 919 cc839-40W
Mr. Edge

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make an announcement on the subject of allowances payable to members of local authorities.

Mr. Shore

There have been widespread criticisms, by local authority members and others, of the attendance allowance system introduced under the Local Government Act 1972 and the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. The Government have considered very carefully the report of the review carried out last year into the new system. The review yielded some useful and interesting information, but its conclusions are not themselves sufficient to support long-term decisions about the remuneration of members of local authorities. There is a pressing need for a wider-ranging and independent inquiry into this matter. I have therefore invited Mr. Derek Robinson to chair a committee to report on what should be done.

The terms of reference will be: To examine all aspects, other than travelling and subsistence allowances, of the present system of payment under the Local Government Act 1972 and the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 of local authority elected and co-opted members, including any anomalies in the system, consideration of its alleged abuses and its social security implications; to consider alternative systems and their consequences: and, having regard to the requirements of pay policy and the present severe constraints on local authority expenditure, to make recommendations".

The, previous review commented on the arrangements for travelling and subsistence allowances. These matters will now be pursued by discussions between Government Departments, and with the local authority associations.

The Government have reluctantly decided that in the present economic situation, involving as it does severe measures to contain local government expenditure, no immediate increase can be granted in the prescribed maximum rate of attendance allowance.

1 shall announce the other members of the committee shortly.