HC Deb 30 January 1998 vol 305 cc409-10W
Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many local government staff in Scotland are restricted from standing for the Scottish Parliament elections in 1999 under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989(a) on grounds of salary levels in excess of £25,000 per annum and (b) on other grounds. [25680]

Mr. Macdonald

[holding answer 29 January 1998]: Figures provided by the Local Government Political Restrictions Exemptions Adjudicator, collated from lists provided by local authorities, show that: (a) an estimated 4,978 posts are politically restricted under the 1989 Act by virtue of salary; (b) an estimated 265.5 posts have been identified as being below the relevant point on the APT&C salary spine point 44 (currently £26,391), but meeting the criteria of the Act.

Heads of paid service, chief officers, deputy chief officers, monitoring officers and other officers specified at Section 2(1) of the 1989 Act are politically restricted by virtue of their office; the Political Restrictions Exemptions Adjudicator does not hold figures for the numbers of these officers, but a number of these officers are likely to be included in the figures given above.

The Government believe that it is important that councils and the people they serve can rely on politically disinterested service from their officials. This principle was recently upheld by the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life on local government conduct. To that end, the Government intend that those local government officials who are in the most senior or sensitive positions should not be able to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament. The Government do, however, intend to consult on the possible reduction in the numbers or categories of officer who are affected by political restriction under the 1989 Act.