HC Deb 09 March 1966 vol 725 cc2075-7
2. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give the terms of reference and member- ship of the proposed Royal Commission on Local Government in Scotland.

10. Miss Harvie Anderson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what will be the terms of reference of the Royal Commission to consider the reorganisation of local government in Scotland; and when it is expected it will report.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

The terms of reference of the Royal Commission are now being framed and I will shortly be consulting the local authority associations about them. The intention is that the Commission should be a small authoritative body. It will settle its own timetable, but I hope that it will not take more than two years to report.

Mr. Taylor

In the unlikely event of the present Government being returned to power, would the Secretary of State give very wide publicity to the Commission so that residents, tenants, and owner-occupiers' association will know how to go about submitting evidence?

Mr. Ross

I think the hon. Gentleman can take it that when we are returned we shall give every publicity to the work of the Commission and to how anyone who wishes to submit memoranda will be able to do so.

Mr. G. Campbell

What are the Government's intentions, then, about all the work which has been done following the White Paper of over two years ago on the modernisation of local government? Is all this to be wasted? It is now being held up?

Mr. Ross

I think we have answered this question a few times. I am sorry about the hon. Gentleman's memory slipping. None of that work will be wasted. The hon. Gentleman knows quite well that the working party's last report was submitted to the steering committee as a summary of conclusions, and it indicated a very wide divergence of opinion about the structure. All the good fruits of it will be available to the Royal Commission.

Mr. David Steel

Will the right hon. Gentleman, in considering the terms of reference of the Royal Commission, bear in mind the Motion, tabled by my hon. Friends and three of his, and calling for an extension of the terms of reference?

Mr. Ross

Since we do not know the terms of reference it is difficult to see what extension will be required, is it not? But I will take into account all that is relevant.