HC Deb 08 March 1960 vol 619 cc224-5
22. Mr. T. Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will appoint an independent committee to inquire into the structure and functions of local government in Scotland.

Mr. Galbraith

My right hon. Friend has no plans for an immediate inquiry into the present system which has worked well in the main; but it has now existed for a generation and he will certainly consider within the next year or two whether there should be a comprehensive review of it.

Mr. Fraser

Will the Joint Undersecretary take account of the fact that some years ago all the local government associations in Scotland, in giving evidence to the Royal Commission on Scottish affairs, advised the setting up of an independent committee to inquire into the local government structure? Will he also bear in mind that in recent years when hon. Members on both sides of the House have been asking for powers to be given to district councils, the reply has always been that this should not be done piecemeal and that we should look at it objectively? Would it not be desirable, to have this inquiry at an early date?

Mr. Galbraith

There may be something to be said for having the inquiry, as I indicated in my Answer, but my right hon. Friend would rather wait until after revaluation takes place, and then he can see the financial set-up of the various areas.

Miss Harvie Anderson

While I thank my hon. Friend for his assurance of interest on the part of the Scottish Office in this respect with regard to district councils, may I ask him to consider publicising the powers which are already held by district councils so that they may be widely used?

Mr. Galbraith

I will certainly look into that.