Isobel is a Conservative local councillor on Reading Borough Council, first elected in 2006. She represents Mapledurham Ward. This is her personal blog with news & her views. Do visit her Facebook page for more regular posts: Cllr Isobel Ballsdon.
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If he will take steps to end the practice of employing publicly funded full-time trade union officials in local government.
Eric Pickles(Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government; Brentwood and Ongar, Conservative)
All local authorities need to make sensible savings to protect front-line services and keep council tax down. Councils should be reviewing the merits of publicly funded full-time union officials. Those are non-jobs on the rates and it is wrong that council tax should be used to subsidise trade union activity.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Given that union leaders and officials are full-time politicians in all but name who receive more than £113 million of taxpayer funding each year, will my right hon. Friend join me in calling for the implementation of a register of interests for union leaders, thereby subjecting them to the same level of public scrutiny as all other politicians?
·Eric Pickles(Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government; Brentwood and Ongar, Conservative)
I am most grateful to my hon. Friend. I was shocked to hear what he said, because I was not aware that trade union officials did not have a register. I would have thought that in this age of transparency, we should urge them to do that. I know that Opposition Front Benchers are keen for everybody else to have such restrictions. Why should trade union bosses not be a little more open about their funding and their interests?