HC Deb 19 July 1995 vol 263 cc1664-5
21. Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the need to introduce regional government in the east of England. [33394]

Mr. Gummer

None. I detect no desire for regional government in East Anglia, but I do find anger at the Labour party's suggestion that Scottish Members of Parliament should vote on East Anglian issues while East Anglian Members of Parliament could have no say on Scottish issues.

Mr. Spring

Does my right hon. Friend and neighbour agree that the last thing that people in East Anglia want is an additional new layer of local government on top of parish councils, district councils and county councils? Does he share my opinion that that is simply a device from our opponents to impose more useless bureaucracy on our people?

Mr. Gummer

I suspect that my hon. Friend's message has been communicated to the Labour party. It is having some difficulty in maintaining its view on regional government in the teeth of public opposition. However, if it drops its view on regional government, it will have to explain why Members of the House will be divided into two classes—those who can vote on United Kingdom matters and those who can vote only on English matters.

Mr. Tony Banks

There is plenty of demand—indeed, a need—for regional government in England. We certainly need it in London. Why can we not have a Greater London authority based at county hall where it belongs, rather than using county hall as a venue for rave parties?

Mr. Gummer

We now see the real face of Labour; it does not change at all. That overspending body was lost without any regret. The Labour boroughs do not want to see the return of the Greater London council. They have learnt that, through co-operation with their neighbours, they can meet the strategic needs of the capital city. As the Minister with responsibility for London, I must say that we deliver a better deal now than the GLC ever did.