HC Deb 24 May 1971 vol 818 cc9-11
8. Mr. Roderick

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will prolong the period for receiving submissions on the Consultative Document on the Reform of Local Government in Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I have received no requests for an extension of time, and I believe there is a general feeling that the 3½ months allowed for comment has been ample. However, where there has been a change of political control I am prepared to consider any request I may receive for a reasonable extension of time.

Mr. Roderick

Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that it would be wiser to await the outcome of the Crowther Report on the Constitution? Can he honestly expect a county like Powys, which is envisaged, to comment on the proposals when it does not know what will be in the Green Paper on the financing of local government? Last, would he not consider that it is difficult for some areas where a change of boundaries is envisaged to have all the neces- sary consultations, in view of the fact that it takes the Secretary of State six weeks to reply to letters as it is?

Mr. Peter Thomas

No, I do not agree that we should await the Crowther Report. In that, I accept the view of the previous Administration, as indeed it was their view about the publication of the Green Paper on finance. We have made it clear that we intend to legislate in 1971–72, and for that reason it is very important that we should get the views of local authorities as soon as possible.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman help the consultative process by explaining how he assumes a community of interest to exist between the city of Swansea and small Tory villages 10 miles outside its boundaries but not between Swansea and Labour-voting areas which actually adjoin existing Swansea suburbs?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I shall be very interested to receive the view of the local authorities in and around Swansea. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I shall pay particular attention to their views. My sole concern is to have proper and effective local government reorganisation.

18. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he now proposes to issue a White Paper setting out his proposals for the reorganisation of local government in Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas

No, Sir.

Mr. Hughes

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that a White Paper would give him the opportunity to withdraw his present gerrymandering proposals and place the interests of Wales, for the first time, above those of the Conservative Party?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I shall announce my final decision on local government reorganisation in the light of representations made to me by local authorities and other bodies. I shall announce my final decision in the way which seems most appropriate at the time.

28. Mr. Elystan Morgan

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if following the discussions between himself and Lord Crowther on local government reorganisation in Wales, he will now agree to postpone acting upon the proposals for reorganisation contained in his White Paper until the Crowther Commission on the Constitution makes its report.

Mr. Peter Thomas

No, Sir. This Government, like their predecessors, do not consider that the Commission should constitute a bar to action where this is urgently needed.

Mr. Morgan

What was the point of the Crowther Commission meeting in public to take evidence and of the Secretary of State publishing his White Paper as a consultative document if both are to be materially affected by covert conversations between the Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Crowther Commission?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The hon. Gentleman knows full well that, as I have told the House, I did not discuss with the Chairman of the Commission what his proposals might be. I saw the Chairman of the Commission to let him know what my proposals for local government reorganisation were. I wished it also to be confirmed that there was no objection to my going ahead with those proposals.