HC Deb 30 June 1971 vol 820 cc389-90
30. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the number of meetings which has been attended by Ministers in his Department in the last four months where they have met elected members of local authorities to discuss local government reorganisation, other than meetings with representatives of national associations of authorities or with members of local authorities in their own constituencies.

Mr. Peter Walker

When visiting an area Ministers of my Department often meet elected members of the local authority to discuss any matters which those members wish to raise including the reorganisation of local government; but the number of occasions on which this particular subject has arisen cannot readily be assessed.

Mr. Hardy

Will the Secretary of State recall his refusal to meet representatives, including councillors from my own constituency, who were extremely anxious about the future of education in the metropolitan area? Is it not the case that members of local authorities which are Conservative-controlled are having a great deal more opportunity to meet Ministers from his Department to discuss the implications for local government than are councillors belonging to any other party. Will he explain that?

Mr. Walker

If I may say so, that is completely untrue. We have been to many areas. For example, I have had discussions with a great number of councils in the County of Durham, the majority of which cannot be described as being Tory.