HL Deb 01 March 1984 vol 448 cc1441-4WA
Lord Boyd-Carpenter

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have anything to add to the proposals in the White Paper, Streamlining the Cities, Cmnd 9063, on the implications of its plans to abolish the Greater London Council and the metropolitan county councils for staff at present employed by those authorities.

Lord Bellwin

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has had two useful meetings with the TUC's Local Government Committee. Detailed discussions have not yet begun on the proposals in Chapter 4 of the White Paper; but there are three matters on which I can provide further details of the Government's intentions.

First, we recognise that a Staff Commission will have a particularly important role to play in this reorganisation. There has been widespread support for its establishment at the earliest opportunity. We propose therefore to include provision for such a body in the Bill to be introduced in the current Session. This will enable the commission to begin more quickly the process of consultation with interested bodies, and to provide me with general advice on staffing issues.

In previous reorganisations, Staff Commissions have supervised ring-fencing arrangements. Such arrangements do not require successor bodies to recruit; they do, however, ensure that, if they decide to do so, they have to look first at candidates from the expiring authorities. One of the commission's early tasks would be to consider the introduction of ring-fencing arrangements to ensure that GLC/MCC staffs affected have a proper opportunity to obtain jobs with new authorities.

Secondly, we propose that any compensation for detriment—where an employee moves to a new job on lower terms and conditions—will be paid in the form of a lump sum; we intend to consult on the detailed arrangements for determining this. We accept also that the costs of this compensation should not be borne by individual boroughs and districts who take on former GLC/MCC staff, but should be recouped from the ratepayers of each area as a whole.

Thirdly, there has been concern that some authorities might give staff artificial pay increases or regradings in the lead-up to abolition. This would be unfair: it would lead to inequitable treatment between staff. We intend, therefore, to include a provision along the lines of Section 261 of the Local Government Act 1972 in the Bill to be introduced in the next Session. This would enable us to appoint a body to look into cases of allegedly unjustified increases made after 1st March 1984 and to advise Her Majesty's Government. We should be able to act on that advice and direct an authority to withdraw an increase found to be unjustified. The following note sets out this proposal in more detail. This will not preclude authorities who wish to do so from paying temporary personal pay supplements to staff who face considerably increased responsibilities.

We hope that both employers and unions will come and discuss with us the proposals which we have outlined today and other matters of concern. It is clearly in the interests of the staff concerned that these matters are settled as soon as possible.

Proposed abolition of the Greater London Council and the Metropolitan County Councils: Measure to prevent unjustified increases in pay/grading

In earlier reorganisations, particularly the reorganisation of London government in 1964, some local authorities awarded extensive increase in pay or accelerated increments, or upgraded their staff when in the ordinary course of events this would not have been justified, so that these staff gained advantages in competing for jobs with the new authorities, or in claiming compensation for redundancy or for loss of remuneration on transfer to the new structure.

In 1969, the Royal Commission on Local Government in England (Cmnd 4040) took the view that steps should be taken to safeguard against such inequitable action; a power to prevent abuses was subsequently included in the legislation for the 1974 reorganisation. This was Section 261 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Concern has been expressed that artificial increases in pay/gradings might occur in the period leading up to the Government's proposed restructuring of local government in London and the other metropolitan areas. Wherever they occur, such increases are unfair. Not only do they place some staff at an advantage over others, but they place unreasonable burdens on ratepayers. The Government propose therefore to include a provision on the lines of Section 261 of the 1972 Act in the Bill to abolish the GLC and the MCCs which will be introduced in the next Session.

The measure will apply to local increases in remuneration of staff (other than teachers) in any authority affected by the proposed reorganisation (including both the authorities to be abolished and the London boroughs and metropolitan districts) which come into effect after 1st March 1984. As in 1974, it is not the intention to interfere with the normal established practice of regrading reviews nor with the justifiable provision of extra payments for any unusual burdens of work or responsibilities. Nor will the provision interfere in any way with the normal negotiating arrangements under which general increases in local authority remuneration are determined.

The provision will include:

  • (i) a power for the Secretary of State to designate/appoint an advisory body to look into cases of allegedly unjustified increases in remuneration;
  • (ii) a power for the Secretary of State to instruct an authority to supply information necessary for the advisory body to carry out its statutory responsibilities;
  • (iii) a duty on the advisory body, where it finds that an unjustified increase has taken place, to recommend to the authority concerned a more suitable rate of remuneration;
  • (iv) a power for the Secretary of State to direct an authority to implement the advisory body's advice;
  • (v) a duty on authorities to comply with such a direction; and
  • (vi) arrangements to ensure that any late increases awarded by the expiring authorities immeditely before 1st April 1986 which have not been investigated by that date, can be dealt with.