HC Deb 04 June 1996 vol 278 cc397-8
14. Mr. Riddick

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about regional government in Yorkshire. [29785]

Mr. Curry

Local authorities in Yorkshire and Humberside have informed me of their proposals to establish a regional assembly of local councils.

Mr. Riddick

Is my hon. Friend aware that the leader of my local, Labour-controlled council of Kirklees has admitted that the proposal to which my hon. Friend has referred is designed to be the forerunner of a full-blown regional assembly in the unlikely and unhappy event of a Labour Government being elected? Does he agree that the very last thing that Yorkshire folk want is more Government regulation, more politicians interfering and a new Labour white rose tax?

Mr. Curry

I note that there is a large number of putative leaders of this regional assembly among Yorkshire Labour leaders. What a local authority decides to do within its existing powers and within its existing budget is entirely up to it. I am entirely opposed to the creation of a new tier of unwanted, unnecessary and bureaucratic local government, which will no doubt demand more power and more money. Such a structure would not create one extra job, educate one more pupil or export one additional item. It would be an utter waste of time, and I hope that such a silly idea will not be pursued.

Mr. Sutcliffe

Is it not the case that if there had been regional government in Yorkshire, it would have handled the Yorkshire water crisis a lot better than did the Government?

Mr. Curry

The hon. Gentleman is normally very sensible, and many of his suggestions contain a grain of common sense, but this one is inherently implausible.

Mr. Michael Brown

May I tell my hon. Friend that, after spending 17 years in this place trying to get rid of the wretched county of Humberside, and succeeding, the last thing that we want is Humberside—let alone a Greater Yorkshire or Humberside—in the form of regional government?

Mr. Curry

I agree with my hon. Friend. I noted that he celebrated the demise of Humberside, as did the local authorities and people of Yorkshire, who had never found it responsive to their needs. The last thing that anyone wants is a surrogate Humberside under a new name and with even more pretensions.

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