HC Deb 08 April 1965 vol 710 cc655-7
36. Mr. Shinwell

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs to what extent the regional organisation he has created for the North-East will avail itself of the experience and advice of the local authorities in the area.

Mr. George Brown

I have emphasised to the Northern and to all the other Economic Planning Councils, the Economic Planning Boards and the Regional Officers of the Government Departments concerned that they must keep in the closest touch with the Local Authorities in the regions; and that the success of the operation will largely depend on the degree of mutual advice and co-operation which they can establish.

Mr. Shinwell

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, but can be assure us that it is not the intention that the regional board shall supersede the administrative and other functions of the local authorities?

Mr. Brown

I can certainly give that assurance. I have insisted on this all the way through. I go further and say not only to my right hon. Friend but to any hon. Member that, if there should at any time be evidence that there is any intrusion here, I shall be very glad to have it brought to my attention.

Mr. R. W. Elliott

Has the right hon. Gentleman noted the adverse comments of a well respected and veteran trade union leader in the north-east of England who has criticised the ending of well established machinery for consultation in the area through the appointment of these regional councils, and will he take it that in the North-East there is still considerable suspicion at the appointment, as against the election, of regional councils?

Mr. Brown

I know the latter part of what the hon. Gentleman says to be untrue. As regards the views of Sir Mark Hodgson, a very well respected man and a very old friend of mine, he and I have discussed this and I know that he is looking forward with a lot of interest to the way the new machinery works out.

Mr. Shinwell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have been familiar with the situation in the North-East for longer than the hon. Gentleman, and I know that the North-East is very well satisfied with the situation?

Dame Irene Ward

Will the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to give us the views of the local authorities and personnel on Tees-side which certainly are not in line with the view put forward by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell)? Further, will be give us an assurance that the new supremo for the North-East does not think that he will be giving all the advice either up there or down here, as there are quite a lot of Tories in the North-East who have their views, too?

Mr. Brown

I am never quite sure whether the Tories in the North-East are up there or down here, but they are never around when the time comes. As regards the first and serious part of the hon. Lady's question, it is not for me to convey the views of the local authorities. I shall be very glad to have them.