HC Deb 21 July 1949 vol 467 cc1537-8
25. Mr. Scott-Elliot

asked the Minister of Health whether he will define his attitude to the second and third reports made by the Local Government Boundary Commission.

Mr. Bevan

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Leeds (Miss Bacon) on 25th March last, and to the statement I made on 27th June.

Mr. Scott-Elliot

Does that mean that the Government wholly reject those recommendations, in view of the fact that they have not given an opportunity for this question to be debated in the House?

Mr. Bevan

The answer is that until a Debate has taken place it will not be possible for the Government to make a statement of policy. I am not at all sure that when the Debate does take place the Government will anticipate the findings of the present inquiries.

Mr. Lipson

Is the Minister aware that one of the outstanding recommendations of the Commission was that the Borough of Cheltenham should be given county borough status, and will he say whether he is sympathetic towards this proposal and what action the local authority should take?

Mr. Bevan

I have been in this House far too long to fall for that one.

Mr. Eric Fletcher

Will the Minister say whether he agrees with the statement in the Commission's Report that if wide changes are to be made in the structure of local government the disadvantages of delay are very substantial? Are we to understand that the Government are not going to announce their new policy until the Debate in the House?

Mr. Bevan

I did not say that the Government would announce their policy in the course of that Debate either. What I have said is that the procedure which was laid down in the Act governing the Boundary Commission involves more delay and more difficulties than ordinary Private Bill procedure.