Replying to Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, he said that before introducing the regulations on councillors' allowances in May this year, there had been extensive consultation with all local authorities, the LGA and other local authority organisations on the proposed changes.
Mr Russell asked the minister to seek the LGA's views on the benefits - financial or otherwise - to council taxpayers of the introduction of cabinet systems in councils and, with them, the higher payments to councillors. Are council taxpayers getting value for money and better democratic decisions as a resuly? he asked.
Mr Hope said the new system of basic payments and special responsibility allowances was to enable local councillors to make their own decisions about levels of payment. With that came responsibility and accountability to the electorate about those decisions. In addition the minister said he hoped that the new dependant carers allowances now available to local authorities would allow more parents, particularly women, to consider standing for election as councillors.
Hansard 22 Oct 2003: Column 626