§ Mr. Alexander
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is monitoring the activities by local authorities under section 137(3)(c) of the Local Government Act 1972, in making payments to striking miners and their families; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
My right hon. Friend has noted reports about particular authorities proposing to use their discretionary powers in order to make payments to assist families of miners on strike. The question whether such payments if made are lawful is a matter in the first instance for each authority's auditor and ultimately for the courts. It is open to any interested person who considers that an authority has incurred expenditure unlawfully to draw the matter to the auditor's attention with a view to having the point tested in the courts. Local electors should be well aware that where hardship arises the responsibility lies solely with those who have called the strike and does not therefore justify a financial burden being placed on the ratepayers.