HC Deb 27 April 1983 vol 41 cc854-5
9. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the programmes of central Government, Merseyside county council and St. Helens metropolitan borough council; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. King

Local authorities are responsible to their electorate and not to me. However, through my north-west regional office and the Merseyside task force, I am satisfied that there is full co-operation where appropriate with St. Helens borough council and Merseyside county council on a variety of programmes and initiatives.

Mr. Spriggs

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am surprised at his answer? Since I would not be allowed by you, Mr. Speaker, to raise the many problems that lead to such serious lack of co-ordination between the Government, the Merseyside county council and the St. Helens metropolitan borough council, may I bring one matter to the right hon. Gentleman's attention? It concerns the correspondence that the borough treasurers had with him about the HIP, which falls about £2.2 million short of the requirement in the local authority's housebuilding programme. Will he have another look at that and, if necessary, accept my invitation to come up to St. Helens, meet the whole St. Helens council and all seven Members of Parliament?

Mr. King

I was there one month ago. I talked to the treasurer, the leader of the council and the chief executive about those matters. My hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction has been in correspondence with them. The hon. Gentleman will know that coordination and reaching complete agreement on bids made by individual authorities are not necessarily the same thing. I am anxious to see how we can work together. I hope that we can achieve satisfactory arrangements over co-ordination.

Mr. Alton

Does the Secretary of State accept that the best service that he could render to people in St. Helens and the other four district councils on Merseyside would be to abolish the high-spending Merseyside county council?

Mr. King

That is another question. It does not relate to co-ordination with St. Helens.