HC Deb 29 June 1972 vol 839 cc1646-7
13. Mr. Redmond

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ask the Royal Commission on the Constitution to expedite its report, in view of its relevance to the reform of local government and to the situation in Ulster.

Mr. Lane

No, Sir. The Commission aims to complete its report by the end of this year.

Mr. Redmond

Does my hon. Friend recall that the Redcliffe-Maud Commission said that the question of local government finance was one for the Royal Commission on the Constitution? Does he consider that if the Commission is to recommend some form of regional assemblies in this country, that suggestion may help to produce a solution to the problem in Ulster in recommending something to replace the prorogued Stormont?

Mr. Lane

That is certainly possible. My hon. Friend will no doubt remember that in the White Paper on local government reform last year it was made clear that the former chairman of the Commission had told the Government that there was not likely to be anything in the report which would warrant delay in proceeding with the reform of local government below provincial level.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that the report may be extremely relevant to the all-party discussions in Northern Ireland, which are likely, one hopes, to commence fairly soon, and that one would wish to have it available? Will he consider in these special circumstances having the relevant piece extracted and made available?

Mr. Lane

Certainly it will be relevant but I do not think my hon. Friend's suggestion is practicable. The Commission has a number of important and interrelated subjects to consider. It is working with all possible speed and cannot expedite its report further, but I hope it will be able to keep to the target date of the end of this year for publication.