HC Deb 02 December 1970 vol 807 cc1276-7
28. Mr. Murray

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now make a statement on Scottish local government reform.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

As previously stated, I am hoping to publish a While Paper soon in the New Year.

Mr. Murray

Is the Secretary of State aware that there is some feeling that the delay in this matter is becoming rather great? Is he further aware that so far as Scotland is concerned the Wheatley Commission was relatively non-controversial in comparison with Redcliffe-Maud and that there would appear to be less need for delay in issuing some proposals for discussion?

Mr. Campbell

I am delighted if the hon. and learned Gentleman foresees little controversy when our White Paper is published in a few weeks' time. The Labour Government were always telling us that they were about to publish a White Paper on the subject. They had nine months from September to June to do it, and it never appeared. We have had five months, and I hope that we shall be well within their period.

Mr. Ross

What consultations has the right hon. Gentleman had with local authorities? Is it not a fact that since I gave him access to all the papers in respect of our negotiations with local authorities, that has saved him a good deal of time? Will he not be a little more gracious about that assistance?

Mr. Campbell

The right hon. Gentleman's White Paper was not available to me. We felt it right to carry out our own round of negotiations and discussions with the local authority associations, but I am glad that in addition we had their original views as given to the right hon. Gentleman. This is a very important matter not only for this House but for everybody in Scotland, and when our White Paper is published I hope 'that it will represent a majority of agreement within the House and outside.