HC Deb 06 February 1974 vol 868 cc1200-2
9. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to ensure that adequate consultation is taking place between the present local authorities and the new district councils into which they will merge, and to maintain control over expenditure initiated by the existing authorities.

The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)

Recommendations on this subject were made in paragraphs 59 and 60 of my Department's Circular 121/72 and I believe that the present local authorities are fully aware of the need to consult the new authorities before committing expenditure which the new authorities must meet. Such expenditure will be subject to existing controls and the new authorities must be allowed to consider how they can meet it.

Mr. Adley

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. I do not doubt that the local authorities are aware of their responsibilities, but does my right hon. Friend agree that there is evidence, some of which I have submitted to his Department, that many local authorities are not carrying out the spirit of the provisions of the relevant section of the Local Government Act? Is he aware that in my constituency a shopping centre at present in the Mangotsfield urban district in Gloucester County Council area will be transferred shortly to the area of the new Kingswood council in the Avon County Council and that despite the fact that the urban district council has twice turned down a proposal for the shopping precinct, suddenly, a few weeks before reorganisation, Gloucester County Council has given permission? This sort of thing is going on elsewhere. Can my right hon. Friend—

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Page

It is obviously important at this time of restraint in public expenditure that existing authorities should not enter into commitments which will make that restraint the more difficult for their successors. I will look into the detailed case to which my hon. Friend referred.

Mr. Farr

Will my right hon. Friend tell us whether, when the new district councils come into operation on 1st April, there is any good reason why an existing local authority which applies for status as a parish council from that date should have its request turned down?

Mr. Page

I cannot see how that matter comes into the Question on the Order Paper. The application for successor parish status exercise has been completed and I cannot hold out any hope of reopening it.