§ (1) Any elected member of a regional council shall be entitled to receive a salary of £2,000 a year paid monthly for as long as he or she is a member of the regional council.
§ (2) Any elected member of a district council shall be entitled to receive a salary of £1,000 a year paid monthly for as long as he or she is a member of the district council.39
§ (3) Regional and district councils may decide to augment these salaries up to but not exceeding 100 per cent. of their value for councillors who are chairmen of committees or who have special executive functions.
§ (4) These salaries shall be reviewed every four years and increased by the same percentage as the cost of living has risen during the period since the last review.—[Mr. Mackintosh.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
With the new clause we are to consider the following amendments:
§ No. 70, in page 23, line 25, leave out Clause 45.
No. 249, in Clause 45, page 23, line 25, after Members 'insert:
'of regional councils shall be paid a salary. Members of other councils'.
No. 377, in page 23, line 25, after authority insert:
not being a member of a regional authority'.
No. 378, in page 24, line 5, at end insert:
(5) Any elected member of a regional council shall be entitled to be paid a salary of an amount to be prescribed from time to time for each regional council by the Secretary of State.
(6) The provisions of subsection (5) above are without prejudice to any other financial claim which might be made by an elected member of a regional council.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
On a point of order Mr. Deputy Speaker. Are you passing by New Clause 4 without any comment?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Yes. Mr. Speaker has not selected that new clause, so there is nothing I can do.
§ Mr. Baxter
I emphatically protest against this terrible procedure. This is the negation of democracy. This is a very important and topical question. It has a great bearing upon the well being—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. May I interrupt the hon. Member again? Of course I understand the point he is making very well and of course this is a situation in which the House often finds itself, but were it not for the rule of the House which gives the selection of amendments into the hands of Mr. 40 Speaker, no Government on either side would ever make much progress. The House has also laid it down that the Chair in deciding not to select an amendment does not give reasons for non-selection.
There are ways and means by which hon. Members can find out for themselves why these things happen, but there is nothing the Chair can do. Of course if an amendment is out of order, that is a different matter. In such an event the Chair can and generally does give some reason. No explanation is given for non-selection.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I cannot take a point of order on the question of selection and I must ask the hon. Member not to try to insist that I take it because there is nothing that can be done here and there is no question of my being able to explain why the Chair should or should not select any amendment. I should like to think that we shall have no unpleasantness or anything of that kind. I am bound by the rules of the House and I must see them adhered to. In continuing the hon. Member will only be wasting the time of the House.
§ Mr. Baxter
I regret wasting the time of the House but this is a provisional selection of amendments and as I understand it the House is surely its own master. There should be no need for it to be told by some person or persons unknown what it shall or shall not do. I submit that in his provisional selection of amendments Mr. Speaker has made a grave error of judgment in that this—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. It is impossible for the Chair to accept such a submission. The hon. Member's remedy is of course to put down a motion, but the Chair cannot accept any criticism of anything that the Chair does in that sense.
§ Mr. Baxter
Be that as it may. Whether the Chair accepts or rejects criticism is a matter for the Chair. I submit that the clause that I wish to have discussed was put down on the Order Paper when the Bill was in Committee. Many other 41 amendments which have now been selected were not selected for discussion in Committee and did not have the opportunity of being scrutinised by members of that Committee. I understand from some of the members of the Committee that they did not move this and other suggested new clauses or amendments which I put forward because they thought that it would be better for matters of such importance to be debated on the Floor of the House. I should like to know on what authority and why my new clause has not been selected.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The best thing for the hon. Member to do is to await the return of Mr. Speaker. As Mr. Speaker makes the selection and as it is not carried out by myself or my deputies it would be better for Mr. Speaker to deal with the matter. My task is to administer the rules of the House as they are at any particular moment.
§ Mr. Baxter
Further to my point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have the greatest respect for you as Deputy Speaker, but if you are unable to make a ruling on this the best thing for you to do is to call for Mr. Speaker to come back to the Chair. He is the servant of the House, not the ruler of it, and if he has a reason to give to this House why the new clause has not been selected, I respectfully suggest that he be brought back here to give it.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I am seized of the hon. Member's point and I understand it. I hope that not for a moment will he think that I do not understand his feelings in the matter. But Mr. Speaker's hands are tied on this also. He is unable to give a reason for non-selection of amendments because he is expressly precluded from so doing by the rules of the House whose servant, indeed, he is and whose servant I am. We must enforce the rules which the House in its wisdom provides for us to enforce.
§ Mr. Baxter
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You have stated that neither Mr. Speaker nor yourself can say why the new clause has not been selected. May I therefore give you reasons why it should be selected?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I am afraid not, because to do so would be to get around 42 the rules which the House has made for itself, namely that the whole question of selection shall be in the hands of Mr. Speaker. I repeat that if hon. Members or the House feel that Mr. Speaker is not carrying out the duties laid upon him the remedy is clear.
§ Mr. Baxter
It is, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall carry out that remedy, I can assure you. I shall put down a motion on the Order Paper about the confidence I have in Mr. Speaker for what he has done on this occasion. It is my submission that this is probably one of the most important new clauses that could be added to the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I gathered that that was the hon. Member's opinion, but I am not prepared to accept from him now why he holds it. He has stated his opinion and from my point of view that is sufficient. That is all I can accept in my position as Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member will be outside the rules of the House in going on and he will be in disobedience of the Chair if he does not now leave the matter.
§ Mr. Baxter
I am afraid, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I must ask you to call Mr. Speaker. I want an explanation from the servant of the House that you have indicated him to be. I want him here to explain why the clause has not been selected. So far no one has indicated to me in any way whatsoever that there was anything fundamentally wrong with the clause. No one has had the courtesy to nod or whisper from the Chair and none of the officials of the House has told me. This is fantastic and the height of bad manners, if nothing else.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I understand all that, but I should like to remind the hon. Member that Mr. Speaker is at the moment in the chair in the Conference on Electoral Law which is an important matter and which will come to an end if he has to leave the chair. Quite apart from that, it is not customary in these circumstances for Mr. Speaker to be recalled. All that has to be done is for whoever happens to be in charge at the time to state the rules and regulations of the House. Almost without exception, hon. Members—perhaps sometimes reluctantly—accept what the Chair says 43 because they know that the Chair is acting in the interests of all. I should now like respectfully to ask the hon. Member to await the return of Mr. Speaker so that he may raise his protest with Mr. Speaker, or to take the action which is open to all hon. Members. I ask him now to desist from raising further points of order on this because I am not prepared to take them. Mr. Mackintosh.
§ Mr. Baxter
On a point of order. I submit that you are misleading the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, when you state that Mr. Speaker is at this moment in a committee in the House. That committee is to start its deliberations at 4.30 this afternoon, if I am informed correctly, and there is no reason why Mr. Speaker should not be asked to come along here and explain why the new clause is not being called.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Mr. Speaker has to prepare his work before that meeting, and, as I told the hon. Member, I need not even have conceded that point. It is not customary for the Chair to recall Mr. Speaker or anyone else to explain these matters. The House must accept the law as it is at any particular moment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I do not want to have to take any unpleasant action, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want me to do so. We are much too good friends for that. But I now ask him to accept what I say and not to provoke further trouble. Mr. Mackintosh—
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. David Steel
On a point of order. Arising from these exchanges, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I submit one point to you? Before you took the Chair raised with Mr. Speaker on a point of order the fact that we had only recently had the assembled list of amendments. It is normal practice for hon. Members to make private representations to the Chair on the provisional selection, and we have not been able to do that because of the difficulties that we all know about. I put to Mr. Speaker the point, which I thought he accepted fairly, that 44 because of the difficulties the Chair might be lenient in accepting late submissions about the provisional selection. Is it your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that only Mr. Speaker himself can deal with changes in the selection? If that is so, the House will clearly be in difficulty not just in the present case but possibly on later amendments.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
What the hon. Gentleman said is correct. Under the recent changes in Standing Orders, almost the only power which has been kept from the Deputy Speaker is the power of selection of amendments on Report. Therefore, only Mr. Speaker can make that selection.
§ Mr. Mackintosh—
§ Mr. Dick Douglas (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Further to the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel). I do not wish to detain the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but it might be appropriate if hon. Members on both sides received clarification about the type of representation that might be made, in view of the difficulties. Although Mr. Speaker might be the only person who can rule or comment on the selection of amendments, he might not be the only person who can receive representations.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is right, and that is a perfectly reasonable submission. Hon. Members are often disappointed by the selection, and go either to Mr. Speaker or to the Table to give reasons why what is, after all, a provisional selection should be changed. The difference in the present case is that the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Baxter) is seeking to do on the Floor of the House something that the Standing Orders expressly preclude him from doing. That is why I must ask him not to persist. Otherwise, I shall be thrown on to the only sanction that I have in order to get on with the business of the House, which is to ask him to leave the House.
§ Mr. John Smith (Lanarkshire, North)
On a point of order. I am deeply aggrieved about the non-selection of an amendment affecting my constituency. It seems to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you are saying that if I am lucky enough 45 to make my protest when Mr. Speaker is in the Chair I can be heard, but that if by chance my amendment comes up when you or another of Mr. Speaker's deputies is in the Chair I cannot protest. That seems most unfair. There should be a way of resolving the matter, so that we all have an equal opportunity to argue about non-selection.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Generally, it is easy, because things do not come up immediately. The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire is unfortunate in that his new clause has come right at the beginning, so that, with the difficulties over printing and so on, he perhaps did not have enough time to see what was happening. It is unfortunate, but I still have to obey the rules of the House.
§ Mr. John Smith
May we have clarification of the matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker? If the amendments about which I am aggrieved, Amendments Nos. 329 and 330, come up while you are in the Chair, have I to stay silent, although I am able to protest if Mr. Speaker is in the Chair?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
That is not correct. The hon. Gentleman can make representations to the Table, and Mr. Speaker can be asked to make a decision. The Conference on Electoral Law can even be interrupted for a few moments while he does. Therefore, there is a way of overcoming the difficulty of which the hon. Gentleman speaks. What I cannot do is to go on hearing about the matter now from the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire, whom I must ask, in the interests of the House as a whole, to allow me to call the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh).
§ Mr. Baxter
I am very sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I must, on a point of order, ask you to carry out my request that Mr. Speaker be recalled to the Chair. This is a matter of paramount importance. I should not have come down here today, because I profoundly disagree with the contents of the Bill, if I had known that my new clause was not to be selected. Nobody informed me. There is nothing here to indicate that that was to be so.
I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to call Mr. Speaker to the Chair for the 46 purpose of giving us a reasoned explanation of this method of procedure. He is no greater personality than the least of us in the House. He is appointed to the Chair by the will of the House. He is the servant of the House. He is not the master of the House. He is entitled to come here and make a clear statement why the amendment has not been called.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I am not prepared to do that. I am going by the precedent of all occupants of the Chair. We do not send for Mr. Speaker in these instances. If the hon. Gentleman will not accept that, I must ask him to leave his place.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
The House is in some difficulty about your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because, if I may say so with respect, it has not been delivered with your usual pellucid clarity. The problem is that if an amendment has not been selected by Mr. Speaker, and Mr. Speaker is not in the Chair when we might have expected the amendment to be called, it seems that it is not open to the hon. Members concerned to make representations about it. It clearly cannot have been the import and intention of your guidance that the question whether representations can be made about amendments or new clauses should be determined by whether the amendments happen to have been called at the beginning of our proceedings this afternoon. This is an important point which may affect other hon. Members as well.
Does it follow from your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Baxter) may not make representations in the Chamber, that we are now to move to new Clause 5, and that his opportunity to make representations to Mr. Speaker is lost finally, or is it open to Mr. Speaker to hear those representations and to permit the new clause to be called later?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Gentlemon's deduction is correct. The clause is lost, because it is too late to bring it back in its present form, though, in view of the ingenuity of the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire, I should not say that it is beyond him to devise something else which may achieve his object, and 47 which he may then endeavour to persuade Mr. Speaker to accept.
In all fairness, I must say that the problem is not quite as instantaneous as hon. Members perhaps think. The selections have been posted in the Lobby since about one o'clock, and therefore hon. Members have had a chance to see what was happening.
I am sorry about the situation. Perhaps the House, through the Procedure Committee, will consider whether something should be done in the future, but the present situation is as I have stated it.
Now we must get on, and I must ask the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire to let the matter drop for the moment.
§ Mr. Baxter
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I very much regret your last words suggesting that I should see Mr. Speaker. I shall not go and see Mr. Speaker under any circumstances to discuss the clause, nor shall I find devious ways to get round the problem and to reintroduce the clause. That is not my manner of approach.
I asked the Vote Office for a list of the amendments and all the papers appertaining to today's debate. There was no indication in them that New Clause 4 was to be deleted. Therefore, I entered the Chamber with the impression that the new clause would be called. It appears on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
If the hon. Gentleman had looked in the Lobby at the selection—I am sure that he will agree that that is the normal thing which hon. Members do—he would have seen that the new clause was not selected. If he had taken the trouble—I do not mean in an offensive way the statement that he should have taken the trouble to do so—and had looked at the selection he would have seen for himself. Having explained the situation to the hon. Gentleman I hope that he will allow us to proceed. I want to be definite about this. If the hon. Gentleman goes on any further with matter I must ask him to leave this place for the remainder of today's sitting. That I should very much dislike having to do. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not drive me to that.
§ Mr. Baxter
I am bound to proceed to the logical conclusion. With respect, 48 I am not accepting this from any other hon. Member, be he a Deputy Speaker or Mr. Speaker. I resigned from the Speakers' Panel on a question of principle. I do not mind being put out of this House on the question of principle. The new clause which has been presented to the House was not debated in Committee and it is right that it should be debated now.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I must now ask the hon. Gentleman formally to leave his place for the rest of today's sitting. If he does not do so he knows the remedy which I shall immediately take. Will the hon. Gentleman be so good as to leave his place for the rest of today's sitting?
§ Mr. Baxter
I shall leave with a feeling of disgust and dissatisfaction about the method of procedure which has been adopted by Parliament in the name of democracy. It is a disgrace to the very word "democracy".
§ The hon. Member, having conducted himself in a grossly disorderly manner, was ordered by Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to Standing Order No. 23 (Disorderly conduct), to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of this day's Sitting, and he withdrew accordingly.
§ Mr. Mackintosh
We have a great deal of business before us and I do not wish to take very long as there was a short debate in Committee about salaries for members of the new regional and district councils. In that debate the Under-Secretary of State was good enough to say that he would consider the matter. He said that he would look at the suggestion made by his hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) about payment partly by salary and partly by allowance. He said that he would make an announcement.
That concession having been given, there followed a Division on whether a salary should be included. That led to 12 votes for and 12 votes against. The clause was defeated by the Chairman's casting vote.
It is appropriate that we should reconsider the matter. Those of us who believe in proper payment for regional and district councils should insist that there should not be discretionary payment at a later stage 49 but that provisions for proper payment should be inserted in the Bill. The point is well put in the Wheatley Report, which pointed out that under the old theory people were being compensated for taking time off from their work for doing important duties on behalf of the community.
We are now suggesting that in Scotland there should be a small number of powerful regional councils with tremendous powers of expenditure. The Western Regional Council will be greater than the Glasgow Council. We are proposing that there should be a local authority which will have an annual revenue greater than many members of the United Nations. We are proposing that it should have a great deal of power and a great deal to do. We must consider seriously the kind of people we shall have as councillors and the kind of remuneration which we wish them to receive.
It was well put by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) when he said, as the Wheatley Report said, that we should change our attitude from compensation for time or money lost to remuneration for work done on behalf of the public. The Wheatley Report said:In other words, it is quite proper to think in terms of remuneration in the context of local government service.The report said that to keep on using the argument that what we want is to put in claims and to get allowances and travelling expenses is, in effect, a way of keeping people out of local government and not of bringing them in.
The report continued:There is a job to be done, and the labourer is worthy of his hire.Therefore, Wheatley recommended a salary. The only thing which Wheatley did not do was to specify the rate of the salary. It discussed what the rate should be and pointed out that the rate will depend in part of whether we keep the committee system, and make it obligatory that councillors should make a tremendous number of attendances, or whether we move to the ministerial system of local government.
If that move were made a salary would certainly be necessary for the chairman in each service—for example, education, housing and rates. A salary might not be 50 necessary at the same rate but it would still be necessary for general councillors operating in local government. The Wheatley Report's conclusion was that it would not recommend the rate of salary. The report said:Clearly it should be a substantial figure.The commission also pointed out that there should be a salary for district councillors. It said that such salaries should not necessarily be as great as for those for regional councillors. The commission at paragraph 929, said:Councillors holding special responsibility should clearly get special treatment.That is why I put in the clause that regional councils may increase the allowance up to 100 per cent. for councillors with ministerial, executive or chairmanship duties which will require virtually full-time attendance at the regional or district councils.
Wheatley concluded:We believe that to pay a salary is the simplest, least invidious and generally most satisfactory way of dealing with a real problem. It removes any tendency which may exist at present to stretch out meetings…I do not want to discuss whether that happens. The fact is that we are now asking men and women to do a very important job on behalf of the public. We must not think of them as doing that job during time off from other duties. We must consider it to be a job which requires a tremendous amount of full-time attention.
I ask hon. Members to think of other countries which have adopted salaries for local government work. That system has not produced a group of hacks or people who are interested in only remuneration. It has, in fact, produced people who have rapidly become national figures and who have moved from local government to the national scene. Some have led their countries. If we think of Germany today, we must think of Willy Brandt, who was burgomaster of Berlin. Adenauer began as burgomaster of Cologne, and Helmut Schmidt was prominent in Hamburg. Kiesinger was a leader in local affairs. The same situation applies to men who have been operating at the kind of local government level which we are now instituting. One regional council in Scotland will look after the wellbeing of two and a half million people. That requires full-time attention and at least 51 the knowledge and ability in application which is required in this House.
Therefore, a salary seems to be appropriate. The Under-Secretary of State, who has now left the Chamber, who was dealing with the matter in Committee, said that none of us wants full-time councillors. I should be alarmed to think that in our larger regions we might have men handling, for example, education matters who were not full time. We should treat the question seriously. If councillors are not full time, who will be full time? In that event the full-time person will be the official. We do not want the new regions run by the officials. That is what will happen if we do not have able men who are prepared to give five or 10 years of their working life and to turn, if necessary, to full-time council work. That is why I suggest that regional councillors should have a salary which is enough for people to live on. Such a salary would not reduce the incentive for them, if they felt able to do so, to continue, as do many hon. Members, with some part-time work or other paid activity.
If we want the best people to serve in local government, we must pay a salary and not merely a compensation for time off. I believe that three things would most likely produce a successful new system of local government—although my hope is now fading for such a system. The first is the cutting out of the committee system and going more for a direct ministerial system of responsibility. The second is to get away from the guiding strings exercised by St. Andrew's House and into a situation which, as Wheatley recommended, cuts a large number of leading controls on local authorities. The third is to get the kind of people in local government that we want and hope for, and for that they must have adequate remuneration.
This is why I suggest £2,000 a year for members of regional councils and £1,000 for members of district councils, with up to double if a person becomes a chairman or a minister or takes on responsibility of this kind at the behest of the council. Of course, it will depend very much on the type and size of the regions, varying as they do from 52 100,000 to two and a half million people, in deciding what is appropriate. Again, as Wheatley pointed out, the cost of living and other factors could change.
The question we have to ask ourselves now is whether Scottish local government is to have a life and vigour and force of its own. Are we prepared to give to people who are ready to give up a period of their lives in order to look after the community's interests a salary adequate to the circumstances? I believe that we should be so prepared. As the Wheatley Report said, the labourer is worthy of his hire.
§ Mr. Michael Noble (Argyll)
When this question was discussed in Committee. I was, unfortunately, absent in Scotland. If I had been present, and my pair had voted the same way, the result in Committee would have been different. I gave evidence to the Wheatley Commission, and still believe, that in the case of the big new regions it is essential that the members of the new authorities should be paid as whole-time members. I am not entirely convinced that the same is true of the districts, but I am prepared to be open-minded about that, and on my present knowledge I would not say that their members ought not to be paid.
If Scottish local government is to make the great stride forward for which we are hoping, we have to get away from the committee system. I believe that we have to move to some kind of ministerial system. If that is so, I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) that the members of the regional councils will be virtually full-time. They may not have, as Ministers and Members of this House so often have, a seven-day-a-week job. But it will be a four-and-a-half or five-day-a-week job and I do not see how it is possible, with the best will in the world, in the conditions which exist in Scotland and throughout Britain, to find the sort of person of the right age group, of the right energy and so on who can give up that amount of time, however, public spirited he is, without doing enormous damage to his family life and everything else.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will accept New Clause 5 or its principle and 53 consider most carefully whether something of the sort should not be done. I do not believe that there is any alternative. One may not be forced to lay down exactly what should happen at this stage, but the power must exist to pay people where it is necessary. If we are to move to a ministerial system in local government, or something of the sort, there must be power to pay a reasonable rate for the job which members of regional councils will most certainly have to do if they are to succeed in their efforts.
§ Mr. John Smith
The region of Strathclyde is to have one of the biggest local government organisations in the United Kingdom. In terms of area, if not of population, it must be larger than the Greater London Council area. Indeed, the Strathclyde region is half of Scotland in terms of population and is almost half of Scotland geographically. It is immense. One is not here dealing with a normal local government creature. Strathclyde will not be local or even regional government but deminational government.
I wonder whether we are wise to create such a monster in such a small country as Scotland, but if we are to create it and to give it huge responsibilities in education, planning, housing and so on, the responsibilities which will be put upon its elected members are immense. They are probably in total half the responsibilities for Scotland laid upon the central government.
There is here a distinction between Members of Parliament and members of such a local authority. We are, quite rightly, paid. We are legislators. But I think that the job of being an executive arm of government, which is how a member of a local authority may be described, is in many cases more difficult and onerous than being a legislator. These people have to take day-to-day decisions and their attendance at committee meetings is fat more demanding than our attendance here. They have to take decisions about very large sums of money, on the awarding of contracts and many other important items.
The idea behind this proposal is that if we do not pay people a proper salary so that they can remain independent and their own men, they are a prey to corruption. The number of councillors in Scot- 54 land who resist corruption is remarkable. Local government in Scotland abounds with public-spirited people who staunchly resist all the temptations put their way, but I would like to see in such a job a man who, whatever his income or background, has a salary and an independence and does not have to worry about his family's financial position or about his job or promotion. He could face all of these things as we here are able to face them because we have a sufficient income to look after ourselves and our families. That is not often said in public debate but it is the core of this issue. The job of the convenor of planning or of housing in the new Strathclyde region will involve making decisions involving millions of pounds, and therefore it is only sensible to pay him a thousand or two for his trouble.
It was clear in Committee that the feeling that members of regional authorities at least should be paid was shared on both sides. But that was not reflected in the voting, which went pretty well on party lines. I hope that hon. Members, having had an opportunity to think more extensively about the issue since then, will be freed from any Whip or suggestion that people should support the Government in this matter. Surely, in this aspect at least of local government, we can take a non-party view, because it is in the interests of all of us that local government should work well.
It may be said that because the English and Welsh decided not to pay their councillors, the decision has been taken, in effect, for Scotland, because the Secretary of State could not very well argue such a case in Cabinet. But that sort of argument is a mockery of democracy. I hope that the House will take its courage in its hands. We are legislating for vast changes in Scottish local government. If we are willing to make such changes, how can we deny making proper provision for those who will carry those changes out? If we deny the sentiment behind New Clause 5 we shall be doing just that.
I do not recommend New Clause 5 as it stands, however. This is because I am not convinced that we need to pay district councillors. But I am convinced that we need to pay regional councillors. I suggest, therefore, that Amendment No. 378 is probably better than New Clause 55 5. But that is a minor matter. If there is a dispute here, it is whether we should pay members of these councils in principle. I hope that we do decide to pay them in principle. If we do not, we shall live to regret it.
§ 4.30 p.m.
Mr. Edward Taylor
I find myself very much in sympathy with what has been said so far, certainly from my experience as a member of a large town council. Those who were on Glasgow Town Council with me and those who have sat on some of the larger county councils appreciate the one big problem of local government—attracting the right calibre of councillor. The main reason why it is difficult is that so many people, because of their jobs, their responsibilities or even because of their poverty, find that they cannot give the necessary time to council work. For that reason if for no other it is important that at least in the larger areas where there is a great deal of work salaries should be paid so that all who wish will be able to stand for election.
Many people cannot afford the time away from work. Many have been forced to give up council work, not because they were losing the taste for it but because of the pressures of business or pressures from their bosses or because they were being passed over for promotion. It is important that this principle should be accepted.
On the other hand, it is certainly not a black and white issue. I am concerned about the fact that some of the massive regions, in particular the West of Scotland, will involve an enormous amount of work. With the committee system there will be meetings every day for people who will have to travel large distances. This will be virtually full-time employment. On the other hand, some of the smaller districts will not involve anything like the same amount of work. Some of the work could be done in the evenings. I am concerned about setting a hard-and-fast rule for a specified salary for all regional and district councillors.
It is clear that the work involved is different. Apart from that, some authorities will be able to manage by having a number of meetings in the evenings, 56 especially if it is a small district. It seems difficult to justify having the same basic salary for a member of the Greater Glasgow District Council and for the member of a small council which may involve few people and a minimum commitment to expenditure. It would be extremely difficult to lay down differentials in the statute. Might there not be some way of finding differentials?
I think the easiest way to do it is to follow the advice of the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith) and to say that at this stage we can all agree that membership of a regional council requires a salary but that some of us would have grave reservations about the justification of a salary for every district. This would probably be a step which could command general acceptance.
There are two minor points to be borne in mind. If we are to have substantial salaries for what at present we would call conveners of committees but who might operate under a different name in the new structure suggested by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh), there may be a danger that some of our major departments which have, by and large, operated pretty efficiently will be placed in the position of having two managing directors instead of a chairman and a managing director.
It could be dangerous if the convener, a highly salaried person with immense powers, were to find himself operating a department with two managing directors instead of having someone in charge of the major projects and the other dealing with policies.
We have to decide what we are to do about a Scottish Assembly. This is relevant to the question whether we have salaried regional councillors. It is not the simple proposition whether we have a particular kind of Assembly, but whether we are to have a directly elected Assembly or whether we are to have an Assembly of elected Scotsmen with, as has been suggested, the conveners of all the regions coming together from time to time in Edinburgh to discuss Scottish questions, to question Ministers, to look at Bills in the pipeline. It is important to have some general indication of what the House and the Government feel, not about devolution and all that goes with it, but about whether we are thinking long term of an Assembly of elected Scots 57 or something much different, of a directly elected Assembly of Scotsmen.
In these circumstances my sentiments would be to go along in the meantime with the proposition that regional councillors should be salaried so that we can say that we want good local government and that we want the job to be open to as many people as possible. Under the present arrangements many people cannot afford to stand for a council because it might mean a loss of income or because it would mean the end of possible promotion prospects. I hope that we shall at least agree to payment for regional councillors.
§ Mr. David Steel
The more I listen the more I am persuaded of the virtues of Amendment No. 249 standing in the name of myself and my hon. and right hon. Friends. It simply says that members of regional councils shall be paid a salary, which I think meets the point made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) and the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith). I have doubts about paying a salary to district councillors, particularly in the Border area, and I am sure that the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) will accept that. I agree it is important that we should attach some significance to New Clause 5 and should regard it as a slightly wider issue than the simple payment or otherwise of councillors. I suspect that the decision about whether to pay councillors will in itself reflect the attitude we adopt towards the new members of the local authorities.
I agree with all that has been said—that as these new groupings will be larger than the present ones it is important that the power lies effectively in the hands of elected members and that they be organised much more on a Cabinet basis, on a sound administration basis, than is the case in the present system, which is highly dependent on officials. Everything I hear leads me to believe that the opposite will happen. There is a general feeling in some parts of Scotland that the working parties of officials concerned with preparing the way for the changes in local government are already taking the decisions before this Bill has become law.
58 The clause is extremely important and one which I support on principle. Having read the Committee proceedings on this topic I hope that even if the Government resist the principle of paying councillors they will be more forthcoming than they were in Committee about what they do propose. We are presumably less than a year away from the elections, and I imagine we have all had the experience of approaching people who we think would be worthy candidates for the new local government authorities only to find it extremely difficult to give them chapter and verse about what will be expected of them and what sacrifices they will have to make. In Committee the Government were not nearly sufficiently specific about the financial arrangements. Now is the opportunity for them to spell out what is intended. I remain convinced of the merits of paying councillors in the new regions.
One important additional argument which has not been thoroughly rehearsed is that it is essential to make sure that we get the right spread of candidates from different backgrounds, occupations and walks of life and that we end the system under which those who enter local government are either the well-meaning or the well-to-do, with no one else having a chance. We must support the clause, and if it is supported by members of different parties so much the better.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) made reference to the limitation of service in local government to the well-meaning or the well-to-do. I am sure he will agree that nothing said in this debate should be regarded as being in any way a reflection on those who have served so well in local government. While it is true that there are some local councillors who are well-meaning and well-to-do, there are others who are well-meaning but not well-to-do. It is that group of persons that concerns me. In Committee I tabled amendments proposing that regional councillors should be paid a salary. I still adhere to that view.
§ Mr. MacArthur
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop the argument he will see why. I hope that he will be more sympathetic to my view today than he was on that occasion. I did not vote for my amendments on that occasion because they were probing amendments, as I explained. They were designed to find out what was in the Government's mind and what sort of attendance allowance was proposed.
At that time I did not mind whether payment to the regional councillor was made by attendance allowance or salary provided that the remuneration was adequate to enable him to perform the function assigned to him. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Development, Scottish Office, gave certain assurances which I accepted and which I still accept.
Between that debate and today many more representations have been made to me by people who seek to serve the local community as councillors in the regions and who feel that the assurances then given are inadequate. On reflection, I think that they are right. Much as I sympathise with the clause I cannot go all the way with it for two reasons. First, I am not convinced that there is an overwhelming case for providing a salary for district councillors. Secondly, I am not certain that the proposed salary of £2,000 for regional councillors is adequate.
Several hon. Members have said that we must open the doors as widely as we can so that no one will lose unreasonably by offering himself for election to a regional council, and I agree. A new geographical problem arises in regional organisation. One only has to look at Strathclyde region and the responsibilities which will fall on the Strathclyde regional councillors to see that they will carry the heaviest possible local responsibilities, for which I believe they need to be compensated in salary terms. I have often said that a regional councillor on the education authority in Strathclyde will carry a responsibility which no regional councillor anywhere in his previous guise has ever carried. He will be responsible for half the children of school age in Scotland. In many other aspects of local government a similar weight of responsibility will rest on his shoulders. If this rôle is to be properly fulfilled it is essential to 60 provide a proper remuneration for those whom we call upon to perform it.
Elections will take place next year and, in the normal turning of the party wheels, about now and in the next few months potential candidates are being interviewed and selected. They need to know what will be their position. In the last few weeks I have heard of several potential candidates in my area who would make excellent regional councillors but will be unable to accept the responsibility of standing for regional government unless they are assured that their income in total will not be over-adversely affected. They are prepared, as is every Member of Parliament, to make a certain sacrifice, but there is a point beyond which they are not prepared to go, and in today's terms they are right.
In Committee I said that I was looking for reasonable remuneration and I did not mind whether it was by way of attendance allowance or salary. I asked my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to give an indication of the payment that the Government had in mind. I will repeat the critical paragraph of my speech:It surely must be our wish to attract more young people into local government work. The heavy responsibilities of local government, particularly at regional level, will be such that I think membership of a local authority will become even more attractive than it is today to young people, but I fear that we may deter many of these potential and able recruits to local government unless they receive a reasonable remuneration for the extensive and demanding work they will have to do; and a remuneration, too, for the time spent in travelling, which, in some of the Scottish regions, will be great. It is possible that a reasonably generous allowance system could provide an adequate level of remuneration. I accept that, but I am a little concerned—and I do not want to elabor ate this point—that payment by way of allowance might possibly encourage some proliferation of committee work, which we would want to avoid.The information given to me since that date is that that point has more substance in it than I realised at the time. There is a real risk that attendance allowances could lead to proliferation of committee work.
In his courteous and helpful reply, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State made a number of comments, one of 61 which was that we should assume that both forms of remuneration—by way of salary or allowance—will produce the same amount on average. He said:We can then make a fair choice between the two methods.I asked my hon. Friend:I hope that my hon. Friend will tell the Committee on what basis he makes that assumption.The Minister said:I am making that assumption on the basis that I do not think that, whichever method is decided on, the amount of money which councillors, on average, will get will be substantially different."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, First Scottish' Standing Committee, 3rd April 1973; c. 1421–8.]I do not challenge my hon. Friend on that, but I should like more information on what the amount is likely to be. Only when we know that can we determine whether the allowance system is likely to be as helpful to a regional councillor as is remuneration based on salary. I pressed my hon. Friend and in reply he said:At this stage I cannot say anything about the actual amount. It is a considerable time before councillors will be paid.I agree, because it is a year or so before the elections take place, but it is now that the parties are interviewing and selecting candidates, and the candiates need to know what will be their position. My hon. Friend went on, with his usual generosity:have tried to give as many assurances as I can that we intend to pay councillors thoroughly and well. We believe that the payment by attendance allowance is a better method of recognising the work that they do, and I urge the Committee to reject the amendments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, First Scottish Standing Committee, 3rd April 1973; c. 1460.]On that occasion, on balance, I accepted what my hon. Friend said and supported the Government's view. Since then I have had more information and I still look in vain for guidance from the Government on the amount of the attendance allowance at regional level. We need to know. We cannot expect people to come forward to serve local government in their present state of total ignorance. I still believe that there is a risk that the attendance allowance system would lead to a proliferation of committee work which we all wish to avoid. After looking at the report of the proceedings in Committee and having heard the de- 62 bate this afternoon, I am still firmly convinced that a salary paid to regional councillors is the way in which we need to solve this question, which has not yet been adequately met by governmental replies.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I wish to make a short intervention. I support the principle of the proposals that we discuss today and in particular the amendment spoken to by my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel).
I will not repeat the arguments for the general proposition that representatives on the new bodies will need payment. However, I should like the Secretary of State, while examining the matter, to bear in mind the position of people who represent scattered areas.
Admittedly transport is improving and, indeed, local air transport is coming in in my constituency. However, a man who represents an outlying island on what will be the islands authority will have to spend possibly one day and two nights—or more—in Lerwick or Kirkwall much more frequently than anyone at present serving on an existing authority.
It is important that we get genuinely local representation. There is already some difficulty in getting such people in my constituency and in other parts of the Highlands. Excellent though many retired people are, on the whole there are too many of them on local authorities, and we should encourage younger people and people in active employment to join these authorities. That aim will be more important because what are at present called district councils will virtually be abolished. Many of the communities feel themselves to be separate communities. They will be more affected than ever by decisions taken in Lerwick, and we have to keep in mind the considerable gaps between it and the outlying areas.
I am sure our proposals will be received more happily if the representatives of these outlying areas are seen to be more active members of the community and we get a proper panel of people who may want to represent them from whom a choice can be made. I hope that the Secretary of State, when he considers the matter—which I do not deny is difficult—will keep that in mind.
Mr. Michael Clark-Hutchison (Edinburgh, South)
I think regional councillors should be paid a salary of about £2,000 a year. I do not think district councillors should be paid.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
The Secretary of State must have been impressed by the arguments put forward today and must now understand and realise the degree of concern especially among local authority people in Scotland, particularly those prepared to submit themselves to election on these regional and district council bodies.
At the time we seek to move into a new form of local government, it is almost inconceivable that the Government appear to be intent on holding on to what can only be described as a relic of the past.
I support the clause, although I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith) that Amendment No. 249 seems to offer a more reasonable approach to the problem. I say that for a good reason. It would appear that £2,000 a year in 1973 and 1974 is not the very attractive financial proposition that many Members of the House of Commons have set it out to be. It would probably only continue the problem that we are trying to solve if, by paying someone £2.000 a year, we merely forced them into finding some other part-time employment. Surely the Secretary of State agrees that this would only continue the problem.
What concerns me about the debate and the tenor of it is the seeming acceptance that if we paid councillors we could attract a better calibre than was the case when we did not pay them. I do not accept that. The prime reason why I support payment, especially for members of regional councils, is so as not to attract those new professional people who seem to be standing on the sidelines waiting to be invited and lured in by the prospect of payment. We should retain some of the very good calibre and quality people already existing in our local authorities. Because of the new duties and onerous tasks these people will be asked to perform, there is a great danger that they will be lost to local government.
I am more concerned to retain the first-class quality that we have at present than many hon. Members seem to be 64 when they seek to open the doors of local government by payment to a long queue of professional people like doctors and ministers—one has only to name them, and they will be in the queue if payment is available.
I shall be supporting the new clause in the Division Lobby, but I wish to qualify my support with those few remarks. I want to make it clear that my confidence and faith is in the quality of the men and women at present running our local authorities. It is for them that I speak today.
§ Mr. Gregor Mackenzie (Rutherglen)
I too support the concept of the new clause, and I agree with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Ewing). We are not necessarily trying to cast the net a bit wider. We seek to give proper rewards to those who at present are doing the job and possibly to ensure that others come in as well.
I speak with personal experience of membership of a large local authority. I refer to Glasgow Corporation. No one will deny that that is a large local authority, although it is not as large as the new Strathclyde authority will be.
I became a councillor at the age of 23 when I was not married and had no family responsibilities. Money was not quite so important to me at that age as it was later on. Eventually when I married and had a family clearly I had more responsibilities in my council work. I was the convener of a major committee and I had to spend much more time working in Glasgow Corporation by the time I was 30 than I had to when I was 23.
In circumstances of that kind one of two things happens. Either a man decides that he does not want to hold an important post in a region. Alternatively he leans very heavily on the officials in his department. I was responsible for the initiation of the Glasgow overspill programme a number of years ago. That involved my being in St. Andrew's House almost as frequently as the Secretary of State. In those days as a young councillor I was more often consulted by the Secretary of State than I have ever been in the past three years. I spent a considerable amount of time in his 65 Department and going round with his officials all over Scotland selling the concept of overspill. If I had not been prepared to sacrifice promotion in my business life, I could not have done the job.
When I was doing that job I resented one thing deeply. On one occasion I went to see the city of Copenhagen. Incidentally, I went there on holiday and at my own expense and not that of the Glasgow Corporation. I found that my opposite number in Copenhagen received a salary of about £2,000 a year and had a secretariat available to him. I envied him enormously. When I returned to Glasgow I considered my position. I was responsible for running the overspill programme. I used to look at other appointments. I saw that people who served as part-time members of the White Fish Authority, the South of Scotland Electricity Board or of a new town board received a remuneration of some kind or another. I considered that I worked a great deal harder as a senior councillor than any of these people, yet they were getting £1,500 or £1,700 to do their jobs.
The Secretary of State makes dozens of appointments in the course of a year to new towns, electricity boards and all kinds of authorities. If it is good enough to pay someone £1,000 a year to serve on a new town board on a part-time basis with one meeting a week or one meeting a month, it is good enough to pay those who serve on local authorities. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to think about this because it is a matter which irks members of local authorities. From my personal experience of work in planning and overspill in Glasgow I know, like my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller) who preceded me in those responsibilities, that it is almost a full-time job.
The people who will be responsible for planning in the Strathclyde region will have a more onerous job than any of the Under-Secretaries of State at the Scottish Office. It is said that next to the President of the United States the Mayor of New York has the most onerous job in that country. Similarly, the person who will have the responsibility of looking after one of the major depart- 66 ments of the new Strathclyde region will have one of the most difficult tasks in the country. He should be properly rewarded. Certainly he should not be impeded from doing the job that he sets out to do.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
I seek to elicit from the Secretary of State first a fact and secondly a value judgment.
Taking the fact first, when the Scottish Office was thinking about this matter how much time was it reckoned that the holder of a key position in a major region would spend on his local authority work? Is it to be two days, two and a half days, three days, three and a half days, four days, four and a half days, or five days? A certain assumption must have been made. I want specifically to know what assumption has been made as to the amount of time that, say, a chairman of planning will spend on his work. Until we know that, I do not see how we can come to a sensible conclusion.
As to the value judgment, if councillors are not to get some fair remuneration, who does the Scottish Office think it will get in those important positions? I should be appalled if there had not been detailed consideration of this point. That detailed consideration must have arrived at a conclusion. If the conclusion is that there will not be a vast number of retired army officers, people who have worked in trade unions and businesses and such few people as have the leisure to do this kind of work, who on earth will the Scottish Office get?
I put those two specific questions: first, the time which will be spent by the individual selected; and, secondly, what Scottish Office thinking is about the type of person who will be recruited for these jobs. I look forward to answers to those questions.
§ Mr. David Lambie (Central Ayrshire)
I support the principle of and the sentiments behind the clause. However, in the present context it is unrealistic in both magnitude and scope until we know what the Government intend to pay by way of attendance allowance. Until we know that, we cannot equate which will be the better payment—the £2,000 annual salary proposed in the clause or the attendance allowance offered by the Government. 67 Before we take a vote on this matter the Secretary of State must come clean and tell us what the Government propose by way of the attendance allowance.
We know the Government's thinking on this matter. The reorganisation of local government in England and Wales is a year ahead. The Government have put forward figures for attendance allowances for local government units in England and Wales corresponding to our regional and district authorities. We know that the Government propose a daily allowance of £14 for a regional authority and £12 for a district authority.
§ Mr. Lambie
I shall be coming to that point.
The proposals in the clause are unrealistic in their scope because of the imbalance between region and district in Scotland. I am not to blame for that. Many hon. Members who served on the Committee are to blame for that imbalance. In a situation where more than half the people of Scotland are in one region with a handful of people and two or three cows and goats in other regions, we cannot have a figure covering the whole of Scotland. Strathclyde must be given special consideration.
Anyone who understands the work of major counties and cities in Scotland knows that local authority representatives, if they are doing their jobs properly, work five days a week, Monday to Friday. Every convener on Ayr County Council is either at the county buildings or doing corresponding work in some other area for his committee from Monday to Friday.
If the Government are thinking of an attendance allowance of £14 a day, calculated on a five-day week that is £70 a week. On a four-week month it is £280. If these councillors work every month in the year, with the exception of August, their total income by way of attendance allowance will be £3,080. The clause is offering only £2,000. I agree that for Berwick and East Lothian, the Border areas and the Highlands and Islands—the Tory and Liberal areas of Scotland—that is good enough, but it is not good enough for the Labour people who will be representing the Strathclyde area.
68 How little hon. Members know about the work of local councillors when they suggest that the functions allocated to district authorities are of no importance. The suggestion is that district councillors should not be paid because they will be doing nothing. Anyone who has any connection with the local government family knows that housing is the major problem affecting local authorities and councils. Out of every hundred people who come to one's door with a local government problem, 90 are concerned with housing or associated problems. The numbers who come dealing with education, planning, roads and drainage are very small compared with the numbers who are worried about modernisation, allocations, exchanges and rents. These are the important matters. That is why I cannot understand or accept the suggestion that there should be no payment for district councillors.
If the Government's proposal goes through and we get Cunninghame as one of the districts of Northern Ayrshire it will be a major area from a population point of view. It is an area with a large number of local authorities where 90 per cent. of the people live in municipal houses. Again, we are not dealing with the Highlands and Islands, where there are very few municipal houses, but with the traditional Labour areas of the West of Scotland, where the majority of people live in municipal houses. Therefore, the majority of people are more directly concerned with the district than the regional councillor.
I hope that the people who are lucky enough to be elected to the Cunninghame district of Northern Ayrshire—I trust that they will be Labour councillors—will not accept the £1,000 proposed in the clause, bearing in mind what the Government are proposing for England and Wales. I understand that they propose for areas corresponding to district authorities in Scotland an attendance allowance of £12 a day. According to the calculation that I did a couple of minutes ago—I was never very good at doing this on the blackboard when I was a teacher, but I hope that I am correct now—if we divide £1,000 by £12 we get approximately 84 days. So a person in England and Wales has to attend council business at district level for only 84 days a year to get £1,000. Yet my hon. Friend the Member 69 for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) wants a district councillor in Scotland to spend two or three days almost every week in the year on council business to get that amount. A district council area in Ayrshire and the West of Scotland contains a large number of people. It is not like Moray and Nairn, an area represented by the Secretary of State, where councillors deal with only a handful of people. Our representatives will be dealing with thousands of people in areas where there are large numbers of municipal houses. Therefore, district councillors in Cunninghame and the other districts in the West of Scotland will, if they do their work properly, be on district council work for two or three days in each week for most months of the year just like the regional councillors. Therefore, the figure of £1,000 is unrealistic in the context of the Strathclyde area.
I can support the clause only if I am given an assurance that the Government will take heed of further amendments and break up the Strathclyde area. The problem will not then be so great. If the Government stick to the large area, I shall not he able to support the clause or the amendments associated with it because they are not fair to people who are willing to become Scottish councillors compared with what the Government are proposing to do in England and Wales. This is one occasion when I am pro-English. I want the conditions available to local government areas in England and Wales because they are double what is proposed for Scottish councillors.
§ Mr. Maclennan
Although my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) looked at the clause very much from the point of view of West Central Scotland, I do not think he dissented from the general consensus that has been expressed about it being important that the members of the new local authorities should be paid salaries. He was seeking to elicit further clarity from the Government about the appropriate sum.
I support the clause and the associated amendments very much from the point of view of one representing a Highlands constituency, the problems of which, in my judgment, are no less in importance and difficulty than those of West Central 70 Scotland, about which my hon. Friend spoke.
Looking at the burdensome responsibilities imposed on local authorities in the Highlands concerning the structural planning for the development of the oil industry alone, we must recognise the scope and scale of the problems that they are being called upon to consider. I cannot believe that the Government consider that the conveners of the new planning committee in the Highlands region dealing with the structural planning of this new industry should be worth a salary less than that of a part-time member of the Highlands and Islands Development Board. Indeed, in my judgment, it would be reasonable to expect the members of the new regional authority to be paid substantially more to reflect their greater responsibility for finance and their greater difficulties in attending meetings.
I think it is right to express to the Secretary of State the wide and deep concern in the Highlands region that only the wrong people will be able to come forward to participate in regional government there because of the immense time which will be taken by serving on the regional authority.
My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire spoke of the amount of time that would be given to local government by people in his part of the country, but those who sit for a region which constitutes almost half the land mass of Scotland will have immense distances to travel and will have to take a great deal of time off work in order to perform their public duties. In those circumstances, it is unsatisfactory that it has been left until so late in the day to tell the people of Scotland what the remuneration is to be.
People have been asking me whether they can reasonably expect their expenses to be covered. As the right hon. Gentleman realises, this is a matter for the individual. It is not a matter that can apply across the board. Each member of a new regional authority will have to do his own arithmetic when the figures become clear, but what is imperative is that a substantial salary is paid to members of the new regional councils if we are to attract and retain the services of top calibre people.
71 A number of people in my constituency who have served long and well in local authorities have the gravest doubts about their capacity to sustain the financial loss that will be involved in serving on a regional council, even on the assumption that quite generous allowances will be paid, because of the enormous amount of time that will be entailed in travelling round the regions to which they will belong.
I hope that the House will accept the new clause, that before the right hon. Gentleman responds to the debate he will give due weight to all the representations that have been made, and that he will be forthcoming about the financial consequences of standing for election to a regional authority.
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell
It might be convenient if I intervened now, as those who made clear that they intended to take part in the debate have done so.
The whole question of salaries for councillors was debated in Standing Committee, but it might be helpful if I restated the arguments which the Government then put forward through my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger).
There is nothing between those who are putting forward the new clause and the amendments and the Government's proposals in the Bill from the point of view of the results that we are trying to achieve. We are all trying to provide remuneration on a scale that will relieve the hardship that exists under the present situation in some cases, and that might exist for people holding office as councillors under the future system.
In addition, we are seeking a means that will establish payment as of right, without having to go through the niggling procedures that are required by the system of loss of earnings. Further, we want to encourage candidates of all kinds to enter local government. What is at issue is the best method of achieving those aims, and not whether one system is more or less generous than another.
The main advantage of the salary system which has been put forward in the new clause by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) is its recognition that a councillor is doing important managerial 72 and representational work on behalf of the community. That was the point of view put forward by the Wheatley Commission. For the ordinary councillor working on a part-time basis—and I believe that ordinary councillors' service will continue to be part-time, although some who have special duties will clearly have a great deal of their time taken up by them—the level might not seem very impressive, and it all comes back to the method of payment. The attendance allowance system has certain advantages over the salary method, and these can be illustrated.
§ Mr. Mackintosh
The right hon. Gentleman will notice that in the clause I make special reference to chairman of committees and councillors who have special executive functions. I am not suggesting a uniform salary.
§ Mr. Campbell
I shall come to that, as I shall to the points made by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell).
Both proposed alterations find it necessary to make a distinction between regional and district councillors. Under New Clause 5, regional councillors would get the double the amount of salary of district councillors. Under Amendment No. 70, regional councillors would get a salary, and district councillors would not. The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian proposes a special allowance for councillors carrying special responsibilities. The hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Gregor Mackenzie) said that there would be onerous jobs to be done under the new system of local government, and he cited membership of a planning committee as an example.
The attendance allowance system would mean that it would not be necessary to make special decisions on who should get extra salary. No special machinery would be needed to recompense those who had specially onerous tasks to perform, whereas under the clause it would be necessary for the authority itself to decide which councillors had special executive functions and by how much their salaries should be augmented. That would be likely to be a source of embarrassing debate in the local authority, and the Government's 73 system has clear advantages in those respects.
The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian and my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) said that an attendance allowance system might lead to the unnecessary protracting and multiplying meetings, and that that would not happen if salaries were paid, but I believe that a daily rate of attendance allowances would not lead to that result. There would be no reason for continuing the meeting, as I believe there can be under the present system. The incentive would be to complete the business as efficiently and expeditiously as possible.
§ Mr. Campbell
That is what I call the proliferation side of the matter. I agree that, whereas there would be no incentive to prolong individual meetings, there might be a tendency—I am not suggesting councillors would do this—to multiply meetings in certain instances. There would be no temptation to do that if salaries were paid.
I am very much aware of the views of my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), because he has expressed them to me as well as putting them forward in this debate. I agree with him that it is important to get suitable candidates for the new system of local government. I am not seeking to defend the present system. The attendance allowance system would be a great improvement on the present system, which is based on the loss of earnings, and I am sure we all agree that it must be changed.
We have looked at the whole question again since the Second Reading and the debate in Committee, but our conclusion is still that, while the Wheatley arguments in favour of a salary have a lot of force—and I concede that—and that the commission did a valuable service by opening up the whole subject for discussion, the practical advantages are on the side of a generous system of attendance allowances for all councillors as of right.
§ Mr. Campbell
The amount has not been decided, but it is a matter of having a generous system of attendance allowances. We believe that such a system, besides meeting the requirements of the district and islands authorities, which apparently many hon. Members agree would be the case, would also be appropriate for the requirements of the new regional authorities.
I should now like to deal briefly with another proposition put forward in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) who I know cannot be present at this debate because he is engaged on other parliamentary duties. My hon. Friend suggested that councillors might be paid partly by salary and partly by an attendance allowance. We said that we would look at this. The Government have examined it closely but have reached the conclusion that it would not be practicable.
The idea was that the fixed costs involved in being a councillor would be met by salary, while the attendance allowance would compensate for attendances at meetings and on approved duties. But to arrive at a level of salary it would be necessary to evaluate the fixed costs on the basis of objective factors such as were discussed in committee—postage, telephones, secretarial assistance and similar expenses. When these are costed in annual payment terms they amount to little more than a retainer, which is not the sort of sum which is consonant with the notion of a salary.
It seems more appropriate that these fixed costs should be recognised in the fixing of the rate of attendance allowance and this is how we propose to deal with the problem.
§ Mr. David Steel
Would the right hon Gentleman be more forthcoming? He is shooting down many ideas which have been put to him by hon. Members but he has not told us, and he needs to clarify, what is proposed by the Government for new councillors.
§ Mr. Campbell
I am about to come to the matter raised by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire. The right hon. Member for Orkney and 75 Shetland (Mr. Grimond) asked whether the Government could say more about what we proposed in response to questions raised in Committee, to which the Under-Secretary said we would be giving further thought.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland raised a matter regarding travelling. In the case of a council member travelling a considerable distance and having, in particular, to be away from home overnight for the purpose of attending a council meeting or carrying out some other approved duty, the kind of attendance allowance payable would have regard not merely to the duration of the approved duty but to the time spent in getting to and from his home. For those travelling long distances the necessity of being away from home overnight could continue into a second day, and that would be the reason for an attendance allowance being paid for another day.
Under the new system of local government it will not be necessary for councillors from the more remote parts of Scotland to travel such long distances as they do at present. This is because councillors will not have to travel to the mainland from Orkney or Shetland, or from the Western Isles, as they do at present. One advantage of the reform of local government will be that such long journeys will not be necessary.
Under Clause 46 of the Bill a councillor would be entitled, in addition to the attendance allowance, to claim travelling and subsistence allowance in respect of journeys.
The hon. Member for West Lothian raised two points. The first was whether it was possible to work out an average time which a councillor was likely to spend, in terms of days or weeks, or in any other way, in doing his job. Conditions vary so greatly, with different types of councillor, and in different parts of Scotland, that it is not possible to answer this. It is recognised that a councillor with a special task, such as chairman of a planning committee, would be expected to spend more time on the job than would the ordinary members of the council or committee. The attendance allowance system automatically provides a solution to that problem.
76 The hon. Gentleman also asked whether we could indicate particular categories of persons who were likely to be candidates for councils, or whom we were contemplating as candidates. We hope that all types of person will be available. I am sure this would be the aim of the whole House. Council work should not be confined to persons who are retired. We do not believe that an attendance allowance need be a deterrent to a candidate. The present system of loss of earnings allowance can be, and is, a deterrent to some candidates who might otherwise have entered local government. But I do not think that there is such a difference between an attendance allowance of the kind that we are proposing, and of which I have given more details today, and a salary as to discourage people from coming into local government who would otherwise come forward.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Would the right hon. Gentleman not recognise that his answer to my second question is so vague as to be meaningless? It was a totally unacceptable generality in answer to a very fair and real issue. On the first question, would it not be more candid with the House to say that there are certain key councillors who will have to work five days a week at least if they are to be effective?
§ Mr. Campbell
Yes, and if that is the case—I suggested that some people with special responsibilities will have to give up more time than committee members who do not have those responsibilities—this is met by an attendance allowance system in a way in which it would not be if they were all paid an equal salary or had to go through the procedure prescribed in the clause, whereby the council itself would then have to work out how much extra should be given to particular members.
§ Mr. Ross
The right hon. Gentleman has more than once mentioned an allowance. Once he ventured to say that it would be a generous allowance. Can he not tell us what this allowance will be? If he cannot tell us today, when shall we know? The parties have begun the process of selecting candidates, and this situation is a handicap.
§ Mr. Campbell
I have told the House that I am not in a position to give figures 77 today. It will be a long time before the new councils come into office—
§ Mr. Campbell
Yes, but I recognise also that there is an interest in the figures. I am as anxious as anyone else that this matter should be settled soon and announced. But I am not in a position to give figures today. However, I have said that our proposals depend upon this being a generous attendance allowance. I cannot go further than that.
§ Mr. Noble
I am trying to get my right hon. Friend to help me. I am convinced that this matter should be on a salaried basis. I am prepared to support my right hon. Friend if I can, but I find myself in a quite impossible position.
An attendance allowance can be a generous one, and in the terms that we are thinking about at the moment, of the heads of important departments in the big new regional areas, where I believe they will be doing four-and-a-half or five days a week, if we said that the attendance allowance would certainly not be less than £20 that is coming to the figure that I think they should get as a salary. Therefore, I could then say "If the Government feel strongly that that is how it should be done, for various administrative reasons, I am prepared to support my right hon. Friend." But I cannot support my right hon. Friend when I have no idea whether his conception of a generous allowance is £10 or £20.
Surely the benefit of the salary and perhaps of the attendance allowance is that it can be varied according to the regions concerned and the responsibilities of those affected. But, if I understand my right hon. Friend correctly, his idea is that there should be an attendance allowance of £5, £10, £20 or £30—we must try to get people now on this basis, without knowing what it is—and he is asking us to support him, hoping that he will be generous. If he is not, people will feel gravely let down. I find myself in great difficulty.
§ Mr. Campbell
I recognise the difficulty about my not being able to give precise figures for an attendance allowance, but I am in the same position as regards a salary. Although the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian suggests a salary of £2,000 for regional£ 78 councillors and £1,000 for district councillors, that is not agreed by some hon. Members on the same side. If I were proposing a salaried system, I should still not be able today to tell my right hon. Friend what the proposed salaries would be, nor the differentials, if there were to be a differential system as suggested for those who are chairmen of important committees. I recognise that my right hon. Friend would have liked a figure and I am sorry that I am unable to give a figure today, but it would be exactly the same if we were discussing salaries.
I approach this on the basis, when comparing a possible salary system with an attendance allowance system, that, so far as possible, the total amount paid to councillors would be about the same and, therefore, that there would not be a greater amount paid out by the Exchequer under a salary system than under an attendance allowance system.
Mr. Edward Taylor
On the same point, could my right hon. Friend at least tell us the principle of the allowance? Is it to be for attendance at a Committee meting in the course of a day? If someone attends five meetings of one hour each in a week, would he get five attendance allowances? But if he attended two meetings which totalled five hours, would he get only two allowances? Would this be an allowance for a day if the councillor clocked in or would it be calculated from the number of hours spent on the job? Some councils might arrange their meetings over a week so as to provide a living wage, whereas efficiency might dictate that they should take the work in two or three days. Will the allowance be a clocking-in allowance or an hourly allowance?
§ Mr. Campbell
I should not like to call it a clocking-in allowance, but it would be for approved duties of various kinds, and it would be for the day. That is to say, if an approved duty were performed on a day and it only took up half a day, the daily allowance would be paid. But there would be no question of dividing up the day into different parts. As my hon. Friend suggested, this would be far too complicated.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
Figures have been quoted today of allowances to be paid to comparable authorities in 79 England and Wales. Are those figures accurate? If they are, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that the allowances paid to councillors in Scotland will not be less than those paid in England and Wales?
§ Mr. Campbell
So far as I know, nothing has been decided about England and Wales. Figures have been bandied about, as they have been bandied about for Scotland, but, so far as I know, nothing has been decided.
§ Mr. Maclennan
A very important democratic point is at issue here. Is this not a matter on which the House of Commons should express its view? We wish to express a view that is as helpful as possible in these circumstances, but if the Secretary of State arrogates to himself the right to determine the quantity and formulation of the attendance allowance after the Bill has passed from the House, the House will have absolutely no power of review. It is extraordinary that after months and even years of debate the Government cannot give the House some facts on this point. Why has the right hon. Gentleman waited so long to come to a decision on what is surely a supremely straightforward and simple matter?
§ Mr. Campbell
These matters are still being worked on. Although it has been suggested that figures have been decided on for England and Wales, this is not so. Some figures may have been discussed informally, but nothing has yet been decided upon or announced. The English Bill went through in the last Session. This matter is still open and must clearly take into account the position when the councils are set up.
I should have liked to be able to give the House a figure today. It would clearly have been easier for me, and I am sorry that I cannot.
§ Mr. Lambie
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely the Secretary of State does not intend to give way only to his hon. Friends? Surely he will give way to hon. Members on this side?
§ Mr. MacArthur
My right hon. Friend has been more than generous in giving way to both sides, and both sides appreciate this very much. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) said, the Secretary of State, I know unwillingly, has put us into a great difficulty. The difficulty is not only for us but for the many people in Scotland who are wondering whether to stand for regional government or not. They must know how they will be placed financially. Their jobs may be in jeopardy. Their family life may be made more difficult. They must know how they stand.
I raised this matter, together with other hon. Members, at the beginning of April. We were told then that the Government could give us no information. My right hon. Friend cannot give any information today. When shall we get this information? We need it to make our plans for the future.
§ Mr. Campbell
I recognise my hon. Friend's point. But if the system were a salaried system I would still not be in a position to give my hon. Friend the figures, although I hope that we shall be able to make an announcement as soon as we can on this matter.
§ Mr. Campbell
No. I must press on.
My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire is right to raise this matter. But it would apply to a salaried system as well as the system that the Government are proposing. It is a matter of figures. The salaried system would be more difficult because of the differentials which the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian has put into the new clause.
The new clause proposes that there should be payment of salaries for both regional and district councillors. It has been criticised because it proposes amounts. The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) disagrees about the amount put in for district councillors, and many of those who have taken part in the debate believe that salaries should be paid to regional councillors only and not to all councillors.
81 The Government recognise the arguments put forward. There are strong arguments in favour of salaries. We believe that the arguments in favour of attendance allowances are stronger. We would not defend the present system of loss of earnings allowance. We seek to replace that, recognising that it has faults. But we see that there are arguments, concerning the regions particularly, for a salary.
For the reasons that I have given, however, we believe that these amendments should not be accepted and that the system of attendance allowance does not have the disadvantage which some hon. Members have connected with the present system. We believe that it is the appropriate way for both regional and district councillors.
§ Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Does the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes) has been called to speak mean that the debate is now being wound up and that other hon. Members who are anxious to speak are not likely to catch your eye?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I appreciate that there may be other hon. Members who wish to speak. Mr. Hughes.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) moved the clause very succinctly and persuasively. Almost every hon. Member who has spoken in the debate, excluding the Secretary of State, has spoken in favour, basically, of the new clause as a principle.
Everyone will be extremely disappointed at the inadequate response of the Secretary of State. It is not good enough for the right hon. Gentleman, after we have had a very long debate in Committee going over these points of principle, to say that he is not in a position to tell us how much the attendance allowance will be. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman's reply showed no new thinking on the problem that we had before us in Committee.
What is at stake here is a matter of principle—whether we decide on paying a straightforward salary or decide on an 82 attendance allowance. There is no doubt that we are changing the system. No one is under any illusion that we are continuing the loss of earnings allowance which exists. We are all aware that this is being changed and that the attendance allowance is to be a considerable payment per day, or as the case may be determined. This is certainly a big improvement on the existing system.
My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian committed perhaps the cardinal of sins in the clause: he suggested something positive. Apparently, as long as one flannels in one's amendments they are acceptable. It is unfortunate that this has been seized upon by some, especially by the Secretary of State, as an excuse to say "£2,000 is the figure that has been mentioned, but it is not known whether or not that will be adequate".
The great advantage of paying salaries to all councillors is that they would be treated as equals. The tendency would be to spread the load around among councillors and to see that they all got a share of the jobs to be done. There would be no room for petty jealousy or for people to suggest that someone was on a committee only because of the additional attendance allowance that was being paid. I regret the idea throughout that an attendance allowance will mean a tendency for the proliferation of meetings, and so on. That is a denigration of our councillors.
I do not know how those who serve in local government have stuck it for so long. They have often lost a great deal of money. Often they have had problems in their family lives with no reward. Members of Parliament may often be kicked around. But people in local government are not paid and receive very little in the way of good words. Much should be said in favour of them.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sterling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Ewing) made one of the most important points. It is not by providing a salary or a generous attendance allowance that we shall attract new people into local government. We shall still attract young, enthusiastic and vigorous people. It is not difficult to get people on to councils. The difficulty is in keeping them and seeing that they do not suffer as a result 83 of their attendance at meetings by missing promotion or in their family life.
§ Mr. MacArthur
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that it is not simply a question of keeping people on existing bodies but trying to encourage those on existing bodies to move to new bodies? This may well mean larger responsibilities involving more travelling and more time. Those are the people who today are asking whether they can afford it. Until that question is answered, we shall be in ignorance, and on this occasion the ignorance is not blissful.
§ Mr. Hughes
There is nothing between between the hon. Member and myself on this matter. He is speaking of people thinking of what new council to join. I am speaking of the general case where people have joined local authorities and find that the financial sacrifice is far too much to bear and feel that they have to give it up.
Just as many of us come to Parliament, when people come to local government they often think that they know all the answers. But it takes them three or four years, and possibly longer, to pick up the threads. Very often local government loses people at just the point when they are beginning to make an impact and beginning to take over the responsible jobs. We must not forget that in terms of efficiency.
It is especially unfortunate that the Secretary of State is unable to change his mind on this matter, particularly as he was telling us in our debate on new Clause 3 that he was relaxing the control which the Secretary of State for Scotland has over a whole range of duties that local government should have. I take that with a pinch of salt, bearing in mind other actions taken by the Secretary of State on education and on housing finance to direct what local authorities can do.
Leaving that aside, however, if the Secretary of State is serious in saying that he wants to delegate more and more authority to local government he ought to be prepared to see that those concerned have he necessary salaries.
I shall not detain the House for long. I am impressed by the way in which every hon. Member in Committee and 84 virtually every hon. Member in the House has spoken in favour of a salaried service. I am particularly impressed by the change of mind of the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), who has obviously given a great deal of thought to this matter. He was no wholly convinced in Committee. Now he is thoroughly convinced of the principle that we ought to have a salaried service.
When we are dealing with later amendments, I hope that the Secretary of State will not tell us that, after the length of time for which we have discussed local government reforms and after the discussions that there must have been at Cabinet level about allowances, he is unable to say what the attendance allowance will be.
There may have been misunderstanding on the Secretary of State's part when I intervened. I ask him, first, if a figure had been decided upon for England and Wales. He tells me—I am prepared to accept his word—that no decision has been taken. I asked him, secondly, whether he would guarantee that the allowances paid to regional and district councillors in Scotland would not be less than those paid in England and Wales. I received no answer, perhaps due to an oversight. If it was not an oversight and if the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to give me that guarantee, every hon. Member should unhesitatingly go into the Lobby in favour of the clause.
§ Mr. Dempsey
The problem posed by the clause is well known to those with local government experience. I am surprised at the Secretary of State's naivety. He says that he does not know the figures. We all know that the figures have been announced—£14 for regional councillors and £12 for district councillors. We merely await the date in England and Wales.
We are attempting to elect what might be called a mini-parliament in the Strathclyde region. Northern Ireland has six counties, a population of 1½ million, and its own full-time Assembly. Strathclyde has six counties, a population of 2 million, and is to get a voluntary Assembly. I have never heard anything so indefensible.
85 One way of electing a mini-parliament is to ensure that a salary is paid. Another way is to arrange for allowances. The Secretary of State overlooked a most important element. Perhaps it was due to his inexperience, for I think that he has never served on a council, otherwise he would know the pitfalls of operating a system of allowances or compensation for loss of earnings. There is no security. Security is the important thing—the right to receive a salary, the right to be superannuated, the right to security for one's wife and family if one falls sick. There will be no such security under the allowance system, because anyone who falls sick will not be able to attend.
Employers will not allow their employees to be away for four to six days a week and pay them full salary or sick pay during their absence. I can recall that some of our people at Lanark county council contracted food poisoning after having had a hotel meal. They were unable to attend work for the next two days. They received no wages from their employers and nothing from the county council because they were unfit to attend council meetings.
What up and coming young person will be willing to make such a sacrifice and serve on a council when he realises that his home, his family and his own future will be jeopardised through lack of security? That is not propaganda. This happens to local government members, as those with experience of the lack of security know full well.
I ask the Secretary of State to reconsider his attitude. I know outstanding councillors who have already made up their minds not to stand for the regions because they cannot afford to do so. It is not possible for anyone to say at this stage how many days' council activity will be involved. Only the council can determine its system of committee management, its rota of meetings, and how many visits will be made to sites and projects. Therefore, it would be mere conjecture to forecast how many days councillors would spend on council duty and thus qualify for allowances.
The Labour Party has its circulars out calling for the nomination of suitable persons for a panel of local government candidates from which new candidates 86 will be chosen. Before such candidates would opt for selection they are entitled to know the economic consequences of any such action. If the Secretary of State cannot tell us now, he should tell us tomorrow at the latest what the scheme of allowances will be.
Take a council like Strathclyde for a region stretching from the West Coast of Scotland and part of Argyllshire to Beatock well down into the South. I heard of a senior traffic police officer who said that under the new region he could lose himself for a week by visiting all his police stations before he ever thought of taking a holiday. That will give hon. Members an idea of the size of the region. I do not expect ever to see a director of education, a medical officer of health, a chief constable or any such senior officer. They will be able to live in an ivory tower for the rest of their lives, because the region is so widely scattered.
Either the officials or the councillors are to be given more power. If the councillors take power after having gone to the hustings and been elected to do so, they will be engaged for a number of days per week on council administration in the Strathclyde region. They are entitled to know the rate for the job.
After all, if in accordance with all the Press rumours the Secretary of State loses his job he will not apply for another job without knowing the rate. Neither would anyone else in this building. Neither should we expect a candidate for a regional or district council to do so.
Elected local government work is one of the most insecure steps a man can take in life. The job is guaranteed for only four years. What happens after that is in the lap of the gods. Councillors are entitled to security during those four years. There activities on the council will involve their giving up their employment for most days a week. I need not impress upon the Secretary of State that a man who is not attending his work regularly is hardly likely to get promotion. The security of their wives and families is jeopardised and the question of their future is put in doubt. This is a hazardous and inevitable consequence for anyone who decides to stand for representation on any council, including the regional and district councils.
87 6.0 p.m.
The least that the Secretary of State could do would be to reconsider his attitude on the matter. I believe that we shall live to regret the steps we are taking in forming these new regions. The new regions are too big and too unwieldy and they will cultivate bureaucracy. We should, therefore, set out to recruit the best people we can to serve on them.
In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Ewing) I say that of course we are anxious to retain the best people in local authority administration but we are equally anxious to attract others of the same calibre to serve on the new councils. We want the best type of men and women so that we make a success of the new regions and the new local authority organisations. Irrespective of their size and their impersonality, which is an important element in determining the structure, the new regional councils exist and we have to accept them. We have to make sure that they will be democratically controlled, that consumers will have a first-class service and that only the best people serve as representatives on them. That is why we should guarantee a decent salary with security.
§ Mr. Mackintosh
With the leave of the House I should like to make a couple of points in concluding the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) drew attention to a very important weakness in the attendance allowance; namely, that a person would not get it if he were sick or could not attend. There is no security. It is vitally important to give a clear-cut indication of what people will get if they take this step. There is a tremendous weakness in the whole attendance allowance system in that people will attempt to push the allowance up by doing one meeting a day and spreading their work over a number of days if they can, rather than concentrating their work and providing a snappy and efficient service, which they would provide if they were paid a proper salary.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) raised the question of how the clause will affect Clause 46, which deals with travel and subsistence. I can assure him that it 88 will have no effect on Clause 46. Every hon. Member who has contributed to the debate has favoured a salary for local councillors. Some have favoured the Wheatley argument that there should be a lesser salary for district councillors. We cannot advocate that there should be a salary for those serving on the regional councils and yet say that district councillors, for example, responsible for 1.1 million people in Glasgow, should get nothing at all. In a rural area, why pay regional councillors for the borders a salary for dealing with 97,000 people and yet pay district councillors in an area like Angus and Kincardine, with almost the same population, nothing. It is much easier to arrange for payment by category of authority.
My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) said that there was a rumour of payments of £14 and £12—
§ Mr. Lambie
It has been stated in the House that these figures are only rumours, but they are the actual figures. The Government are arguing about the date of their application—whether they should be applied now or on 1st January next year. These are not rumours.
§ Mr. Mackintosh
Let us assume that they are the correct figures. It has not been explained how they are to apply and how much work will have to be done to qualify for them. However, if the Government have the opportunity through this system of paying councillors £3,500 I can bet my bottom dollar that the Secretary of State would accept the amendment providing for £2,000 and he would be clutched by the Treasury and kissed on both cheeks tomorrow. I doubt whether that is a possible explanation. We are arguing not for clocking up £3,500 by constant attendance and spreading the job day by day but for the security of a proper salary for a job well done. The proposal is clear-cut. I hope that every hon. Member who has been strong enough to speak in the debate—supported by the Scottish community, the local authorities and the Wheatley Commission—will vote for it tonight.
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell
With the leave of the House, I should like to clarify two points. The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) said that rates 89 had been decided upon for England and that there had been reports that an attendance payment of £14 for counties and £12 for districts had been decided for England. But there is no basis for the reports which have been circulating. I can assure the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes) that it is definitely not proposed that attendance allowances in Scotland should be less than in England and Wales.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
The relevant part of the Bill concerning allowances is Clause 45. Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the council will be responsible—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I do not believe the hon. Member is confining his question to the clause which is before the House.
§ Dr. Miller
The new clause relates to Clause 45, which concerns allowances to members of local authorities. I want to know who is responsible for determination. Is it the local authority or the Government, because the section does not make it clear'? Subsection (3) says:The amount of any allowance determined by a local authority".Is it the amount that is determined or is it the principle in paying the allowance which is determined?
§ Mr. Campbell
I dealt with this earlier. It is explained in the clause. It is an amount which can be decided by the council.
§ Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 163, Noes 169.91
|Division No. 158.]||AYES||[6.7 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Fool, Michael||Marquand, David|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Ford, Ben||Meacher, Michael|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Freeson, Reginald||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Gilbert, Dr. John||Mikardo, Ian|
|Ashton, Joe||Golding, John||Millan, Bruce|
|Atkinson, Norman||Gourlay, Harry||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Moyle, Roland|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hardy, Peter||Murray, Ronald King|
|Booth, Albert||Harper, Joseph||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Boothroyd, Miss B.||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Oakes, Gordon|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Horam, John||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Bradley, Tom||Huckfield, Leslie||O'Malley, Brian|
|Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne,W.)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Orme, Stanley|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Buchan, Norman||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Hunter, Adam||Paget, R. T.|
|Carmichael, Neil||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||John, Brynmor||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Coleman, Donald||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Radice, Giles|
|Concannon, J. D.||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Kaufman, Gerald||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Kelley, Richard||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Cronin, John||Kerr, Russell||Rose, Paul B.|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Kinnock, Neil||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Lambie, David||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Lamborn, Harry||Short, Rt.Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Lamond, James||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Latham, Arthur||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Lawson, George||Sillars, James|
|Deakins, Eric||Leadbitter, Ted||Silverman, Julius|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Leonard, Dick||Skinner, Dennis|
|Dempsey, James||Lestor, Miss Joan||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Doig, Peter||Lipton, Marcus||Spearing, Nigel|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lomas, Kenneth||Stallard, A. W.|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Loughlin, Charles||Steel, David|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||MacArthur, Ian||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||McBride, Neil||Storehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Eadie, Alex||McCartney, Hugh||Stott, Roger|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McElhone, Frank||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Ellis, Tom||Machin, George||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Evans, Fred||Mackenzie, Gregor||Tinn, James|
|Ewing, Harry||Mackie, John||Torney, Tom|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham, Ladywood)||Mackintosh, John P.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Maclennan, Robert||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Wallace, George|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Watkins, David|
|Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)||Mr. Walter Harrison and Mr. James Hamilton.|
|Whitehead, Phillip||Woof, Robert|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Green, Alan||Neave, Airey|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Grylls, Michael||Normanton, Tom|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Gummer, J. Selwyn||Nott, John|
|Awdry, Daniel||Gurden, Harold||Onslow, Cranley|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Bell, Ronald||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)|
|Benyon, W. R.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Haselhurst, Alan||Percival, Ian|
|Biffen, John||Havers, Sir Michael||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hicks, Robert||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Body, Richard||Hornby, Richard||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Hornsby-Smith, Rt.Hn. Dame Patricia||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Raison, Timothy|
|Bowden, Andrew||Iremonger, T. L.||Redmond, Robert|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Bray, Ronald||James, David||Rost, Peter|
|Brewis, John||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Jessel, Toby||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Jopling, Michael||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)||Kershaw, Anthony||Shersby, Michael|
|Buck, Antony||Kimball, Marcus||Simeons, Charles|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. G.(Moray & Nairn)||Kirk, Peter||Soref, Harold|
|Carlisle, Mark||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Speed, Keith|
|Channon, Paul||Knox, David||Spence, John|
|Chapman, Sydney||Lamont, Norman||Sproat, Iain|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Lane, David||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Le Marchant, Spencer||Stokes, John|
|Clegg, Walter||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Cockeram, Eric||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Sutcliffe, John|
|Coombs, Derek||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Tapsell, Peter|
|Cordle, John||McCrindle, R. A.||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Crouch, David||McLaren, Martin||Tebbit, Norman|
|d'Avigdor- Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham)||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Dean, Paul||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Maddan, Martin||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Dixon, Piers||Madel, David||Tilney, John|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Mather, Carol||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Drayson, G. B.||Maude, Angus||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Dykes, Hugh||Mawby, Ray||Waddington, David|
|Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Miscampbell, Norman||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Moate, Roger||Wilkinson, John|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Money, Ernie||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Fortescue, Tim||Monro, Hector||Worsley, Marcus|
|Fowler, Norman||Montgomery, Fergus||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Fox, Marcus||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gower, Raymond||Mudd, David||Mr. Paul Hawkins and Mr. Kenneth Clarke.|
|Gray, Hamish||Murton, Oscar|
|Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
§ Question accordingly negatived.