HC Deb 31 January 1973 vol 849 cc1347-9
11. Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further representations he has had regarding Fife County becoming a region of local government.

Mr. Younger

My right hon. Friend is continuing to receive representations about local government reform in Fife, mainly from individuals in the county. No fresh evidence on the matter has been brought to light.

Mr. Hunter

Has the Minister taken note of the recently conducted poll in Kirkcaldy where 97.3 per cent. of those who voted rejected the splitting of Fife? Regardless of whether it was right or wrong to conduct the poll, 2,723 people out of 2,798 wanted Fife as a region. Does that not impress him? Will he not agree that the people of Scotland have not had a proper opportunity of exercising their democratic rights regarding the far-reaching decisions on local government reform?

Mr. Younger

On the first point, I shall of course pay the closest attention to all representations made on the subject. It is hotly controversial for various interests in Scotland generally, and in Fife. I cannot agree with the hon. Member on the second point when he says that there has been an inadequate opportunity for the people of Scotland to express their views on the subject. We have been discussing it for about 10 years and I think that everyone feels that it is now time to get on with the job.

Sir J. Gilmour

What proportion of the letters which have been received by the Secretary of State were in favour of the splitting of Fife?

Mr. Younger

I cannot give my hon. Friend the figures for that but we have had representations from both sides on the subject.

Mr. Gourlay

Would not the Minister condemn the action of the Fife County Council in holding this referendum in the town of Kirkcaldy, thereby interfering with the rights of the elected representatives of the area? Will he bear in mind that out of 5,000 postcards delivered, only 2,800 were returned, with the expected answer to the loaded question on the postcard?

Mr. Younger

I note very carefully what the hon. Gentleman said. It is not for me to condemn or otherwise to comment upon the activities of particular individuals, but I am glad that everyone concerned on both sides in this issue has the opportunity to express a view fully and freely.