HC Deb 07 March 1963 vol 673 cc616-7
2. Mr. Talbot

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether proceedings in the High Court of Justice have yet been commenced against him by local authorities in the west Midlands in regard to his proposal to implement the Five County Borough scheme.

Sir K. Joseph

No, Sir. Wednesbury Borough Council and Darlaston Urban District Council have informed me, however, that they intend to take proceedings.

Mr. Talbot

While congratulating the Minister on his temporary escape, may I ask him to reflect that the local feeling in the west Midlands is very strongly against his proposal for their local government reorganisation? Will he further reflect that one of the features which is most publicised by his circulars and other propaganda is that the wishes of the inhabitants should receive paramount consideration, and would he not agree that his scheme appears to ignore this feature entirely?

Sir K. Joseph

I cannot accept my hon. Friend's assertion that public opinion is unanimous in the attitude that he describes, and, of course, public opinion, vital though it is, is only one of the considerations to be borne in mind.

Mr. MacColl

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what his timetable is for the west Midland reorganisation scheme? Is he in process of preparing an order, or is it held up during these proceedings?

Sir K. Joseph

I think that it would be sensible to go ahead with the consultations necessary for the preparation of an order, but, of course, when and whether an order can be made will depend on the outcome of the application made to the court.