HC Deb 26 May 1966 vol 729 cc696-7
9. Mr. E. Rowlands

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he proposes to publish the White Paper on Local Government Reorganisation in Wales.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

I hope to publish this White Paper before the end of the year.

Mr. Rowlands

Does my right hon. Friend feel that he can still carry out the radical reorganisation of local government in Wales before the Royal Commission on Local Government for the rest of the country has conducted its investigation, as the Royal Commission might, perhaps, make recommendations on new functions or the financing of local government which affected boundary changes in Wales?

Mr. Hughes

I have taken the same view on this as previous Administrations. My hon. Friend will remember that there was a separate Local Government Commission for Wales and, when the then Minister of Housing and Local Government decided that he would not accept the Commission's Report, he told the House on 26th February, 1964, that he would put forward in a White Paper his own proposals for Wales. In view of all the work which has been done since then and the urgency of the situation in Wales, it would be wrong to stop the work of the working party until the Royal Commission has reported.

Mr. Gower

As the problems of local government in England and Scotland have merited the detailed attention of Royal Commissions, how is it possible in Wales to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion without such an investigation?

Mr. Hughes

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman attaches undue weight to what a Royal Commission can do. A good deal of work has been done by Local Government Boundary Commissions composed of very eminent Welshmen, and the working party has been studying this for a very long time. What I am saying is that, in view of the work which has been done and the volume of information amassed, I should proceed with the publication of a White Paper before the end of this year. This I propose to do.