HC Deb 24 February 1977 vol 926 cc1627-9
Q2. Mr. Wrigglesworth

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Middlesbrough.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if he did visit Middlesbrough he would be made aware of the intense feeling that still exists there because of the fact that one previous county borough council's work is now done by three district councils and one county council? Will the Government now press ahead with local government reform along the very good lines outlined by the Secretary of State for the Environment at the Labour Party local government conference, to avoid unnecessary duplication and expense, such as that on Teesside?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the dissatisfaction that is felt in many local authorities about the reorganisation that was introduced, as my hon. Friend said. One can hardly go anywhere in the country and talk to local authorities and find anybody who is enthusiastic about what is taking place. That point was stressed at the Labour Party local government conference at Harrogate recently when I was there. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment made a useful suggestion at that conference when he said that we might try to see whether there could be some organic growth, under which some authorities might be willing either to yield up some powers to others, in order to avoid duplication, or to take them over. I think that would be very valuable. Considering the mess made of the last reorganisation by the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker). I do not think that I shall call him in to help us with the Scotland and Wales Bill just yet.

Mr. Grylls

If the Prime Minister goes to Middlesbrough, will he drive via Grosvenor Gardens and call on Lord Ryder of the NEB, and tell him that he cannot have the extra £3,000 million for the NEB to spend, for which he asked at the NEDC meeting on 2nd February?

The Prime Minister

The National Enterprise Board is doing an extraordinarily good job. If Opposition Members would take the trouble to find out a little about its work and the appreciation that it is increasingly getting in the City and in industry, instead of just jeering at it, they would be performing a national service. If additional funds need to be made available, they will be made available.

Mr. Greville Janner

If my right hon. Friend is not going to Middlesbrough or to Grosvenor Gardens, will he be able to spare the time to consider the statement made yesterday by President Amin, that he was not taking my right hon. Friend's hint and that he intends to come to Britain not merely for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference but for the Silver Jubilee celebrations? Does he appreciate that that will be thoroughly repugnant to the entire British people, and will he say so?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure of the extent to which this arises out of the original Question. On such important and delicate questions, it is essential to reflect carefully on the answers that are given. That is why I sometimes hesitate on these matters. I should only say that there is a clear distinction between attendance at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, which is not by our invitation—it is, as it were, a universal invitation—and attendance at the Silver Jubilee celebrations. I draw a distinction between those two and leave it there for the moment.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. I remind the House that unless we are to abandon our rules altogether, supplementary questions should have some link with the Question on the Order Paper.

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