HC Deb 18 January 1995 vol 252 c705
17. Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next expects to meet representatives of parish councils in East Anglia to discuss rural challenge.

Mr. Atkins

My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so.

Mr. Bellingham

Does my hon. Friend agree that, when dealing with local matters, parish councils often understand much more about rural areas and the needs of their communities than district or county councils? Does he further agree that more influence and weight should be given to parish councils? Will he confirm that when he frames his policies for the countryside, he will listen to local people on matters such as access to the countryside and country sports? Will he pledge to do all that he can to listen to the views of local people in rural areas?

Mr. Atkins

My hon. Friend will have heard my right hon. Friend show his affection for parish councils and I join him and my hon. Friend in that. My hon. Friend speaks with great knowledge about the countryside and I shall listen to him, to his constituents and to others with similar views and interests during progress on the White Paper on rural matters, which we intend to publish towards the end of the year.