HC Deb 23 June 1971 vol 819 cc1421-2
34. Dr. Dickson Mabon

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received intimation from any or several local authorities acting together that further evidence affecting his proposals for the reform of local government in Scotland is to be submitted to him; if he will receive them; and when is the last date on which he will accept and consider such representations.

Mr. Younger

My right hon. Friend has informed the conveners of the six county councils in the proposed West region, and also Fife County Council, that he will consider submissions they have told him they are preparing about these areas. Fife County Council has said that a study which it has commissioned will be completed by the end of July, and we expect to receive the conveners' submission by mid-September.

Dr. Mabon

I welcome that reply. May I take it that further submissions of substance from groups or single authorities will be allowed to be presented? At what date will the Secretary of State make clear his response to these considered submissions? We shall get into serious difficulties over the transitional arrangements if we do not have this decision.

On a further simple point, may I ask whether the Government will consider the suggestion about putting the alternative proposals in the Library? Is it not a simple thing to photostat these proposals and to put copies in the Library for hon. Members interested in all these representations?

Mr. Younger

I will certainly look into that possibility.

I entirely agree about the need to take a decision on this matter. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to make known his decision on these proposed boundary alterations by end of the summer.

Concerning further representations, the hon. Gentleman knows that the original date was supposed to be 30th April, but my right hon. Friend made special arrangements to accommodate the authorities which particularly asked for extra time. I think that all who asked for extra time have now got time which is satisfactory to them.

Mr. Lawson

Will the hon. Gentleman assure us that the consultations or considerations which have been given are genuine and that the Government have not made up their mind on the matter?

Mr. Younger

Yes. I assure the hon. Gentleman that all consultations on local government reform are genuine and detailed and that we shall take into account every possible view.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us how much notice he will take of the report of the consultants hired by Fife County Council at a cost to the ratepayers of £24,000?

Mr. Younger

It is not for me to criticise their hiring or the cost, but I shall certainly take careful account of any representations made by Fife County Council.