§ 10. Mr. Michael Brown
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to receive the final report from the Local Government Boundary Commission regarding the future of the county of Humberside.
§ The Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities (Mr. Michael Portillo)
I hope to receive the final report later this summer.
§ Mr. Brown
If, when my hon. Friend receives that report, it should confirm the draft proposals that were announced last November to abolish the county of Humberside and at least transfer my constituency into the county of Lincolnshire, what will he do? If it says that Humberside county council should be kept, what will he do about that recommendation? Can he assure my constituents that, whatever happens, as a result of the statement made last Thursday by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, the sentence of death has been pronounced on the county of Humberside?
§ Mr. Portillo
My hon. Friend tempts me to say things that would be very premature. Moreover, he has asked a series of leading hypothetical questions. I should like the Local Government Boundary Commission to publish its final report as soon as possible so that I can consider it as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Morley
Does the Minister accept that what counts with many people in Humberside is the very high quality of the services provided by Humberside county council? Does he further accept that the original decision to review Humberside was political, since it was announced just before the Conservative local government conference? However, it gave them no political advantage, cost a great deal of money and caused much uncertainty. As there is now to be a national review, should not the local review be stopped so that an overall approach can be adopted? Surely that would be better than picking on one local authority.
§ Mr. Portillo
Of course, I reject the idea that the origins of the inquiry were in any way political. It is perfectly clear to anyone who knows the area that the issue needs to be considered and that there have been strong expressions of public opinion on the matter. After all the work that has been done, it is important that the final report should be published so that my right hon. Friend and I can consider it.
§ Mr. Batiste
Is my hon. Friend aware that the Humberside report of the Local Government Boundary Commission is just one of several reports that are outstanding covering the Yorkshire area and other parts of the country? Given the announcement a few weeks ago that the Parliamentary Boundary Commission is about to start its next project, will my hon. Friend ensure that these local government reports are brought to a conclusion as quickly as possible?
§ Mr. Portillo
That is desirable as a general principle. I do not believe that anything that my right hon. Friend has announced should inhibit the Local Government Boundary Commission in proceeding with its work speedily.