HC Deb 07 March 1963 vol 673 cc617-8
3. Sir J. Maitland

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will ensure that county councils, when proposing new boundaries for county districts, have complete freedom to deal with exceptional cases and problems peculiar to their areas and that they are not restricted by rules laid down by his Department.

Sir K. Joseph

There are no hard and fast rules for the conduct of county reviews. It is for each county council to make such proposals as it thinks desirable in the interests of effective and convenient local government.

Sir J. Maitland

Is the Minister aware that that is not quite how the county councils are interpreting Circular 35/62 which indicates pretty strongly that the Minister would be reluctant to continue small districts? Is he further aware that the creation or maintenance of districts which have the same common interests is just as important as, perhaps even more important than, looking at this from an arithmetical or geographical point of view in order to get the optimum number of people in any particular district?

Sir K. Joseph

I have tried to make it plain that each case should be judged on its merits, taking into account all the factors, but I am not able to disguise that one of the most important factors is the relationship between size, population, services and cost, and that is why I brought this out without setting any arithmetical minimum in the circulars to which my hon. Friend has referred.

Mr. More

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his admirable policy does not seem to have percolated to all the reviewing authorities? Is he aware that at the meeting of my county council which I attended on Saturday, it was said on behalf of the reviewing panel that the Minister had issued positive instructions that local authorities must be made larger?