HC Deb 02 April 1963 vol 675 cc220-1
19. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that the progressive removal from counties of large centres of urban population, with their high rateable value and economic services, is causing increasing hardship to country ratepayers; and if he will therefore refuse county borough status to towns which fall short of an average county in population.

Sir K. Joseph

Under the Local Government Act, 1958, I must consider any proposals for creating new county boroughs on their merits. Population is only one of a number of the considerations to be taken into account. But I can assure my hon. friend that I would not accept such a proposal without first satisfying myself as to the possible consequences to the county.

Mr. Digby

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the inordinate rate burden now imposed on county districts where in some cases even elementary public services do not yet exist? How are they to be provided? What solution has he for the difficulties?

Sir K. Joseph

These are the areas that in most cases receive rate deficiency grant to help them, but I can repeat that no county borough will be created without the Government satisfying themselves of the effect on the county concerned.