HC Deb 16 February 1970 vol 796 cc29-30
60. Mr. Brooks

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will make a statement on his policy on the proposal of the Maud Commission to abolish Lancashire.

Hon. Members

Where is the Chancellor of the Duchy?

Mr. Brooks

On a point of order. May I inquire whether the Chancellor has already abolished himself?

At the end of Questions:

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. George Thomson)

I would express my apologies to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House for having failed to be in my place when this Question was originally asked.

I have no policy other than the policy of Her Majesty's Government. My responsibility is for the Duchy of Lancaster.

Mr. Brooks

But would not my right hon. Friend not agree that he has very special responsibilities to this ancient county palatine? Before he is prepared to see a thousand years of history disappeal into SELNEC or some other outlandish name, can he not possibly find some way to ensure that the name will survive?

Mr. Thomson

It is rash for any hon. Member who is a Member for a Cheshire constituency, as it is for a Scottish Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to talk about the abolition of the County of Lancashire. What is an issue here concerns local government reform, on which questions must be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning. But there is no question of abolition of Lancashire at this moment.

Sir Frank Pearson

In order that the people of Lancashire should be in no doubt as to where the Chancellor stands on this issue, will he now in specific terms say that he entirely agrees with the abolition of, as we know it today, the county council of Lancashire?

Mr. Thomson

The proposals for local government reform do not fall within my responsibility and Questions on this matter should be directed to the Secretary of State. The county council has done an excellent job, and nobody knows this better than the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. But I do not think even the members of the County Council of Lancashire would claim that the County of Lancashire has the same meaning as the county council of Lancashire.

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