HL Deb 27 June 1949 vol 163 cc303-4

3.59 p.m.


I beg to ask your Lordships' leave to interrupt the Business on the Order Paper for a few moments in order that I may repeat a statement on the Local Government Boundary Commission, which has just been made in another place by my right honourable friend the Minister of Health. I know that it will be of interest to your Lordships. It runs as follows:

"I am sure that the House will share the views of the Government that we are all very much indebted to the Local Government Boundary Commission under the able Chairmanship of Sir Malcolm Eve for the valuable reports which they have prepared and for the thorough manner in which they have applied themselves to their duties. At the same time, the Commission are under the difficulty that the Local Government (Boundary Commission) Act, 1945, from which they derive their powers, limits their operations to the review and alteration of local government areas, and they have no power to alter the structure of local government or to vary the functions of different classes of authority. The Commission, in their annual reports, have drawn attention to the disadvantages of these limitations. The White Paper on Local Government published by the Coalition Government in January, 1945, which recommended the setting up of the Local Government Boundary Commission, recognised that the machinery for local government reorganisation might have to be changed with changes in circumstances; and the alterations in the functions of local authorities effected since the Act of 1945 have undoubtedly changed the position.

"The Government have come to the conclusion that, in present conditions, it is difficult for the Commission to proceed with their work and they have accordingly decided to repeal the Act of 1945, which will involve the winding-up of the Commission. This will restore the position substantially to what it was before the passing of that Act, until such time as the Government have had an opportunity of reviewing the structure and functions of local government."


My Lords, while we recognise the importance of the statement which the noble Lord has just read, it is a little difficult for us to comment upon it immediately. It requires general consideration and I do not now propose to say anything at this stage. Other noble Lords may have questions to ask.


My Lords, I would only endorse what the noble Marquess has said. At first reading this statement sounds rather like the last act in Hamlet: all the characters are promiscuously slaughtered and left lying about the stage. I should not feel capable of offering any expression of views on this statement, laid before the House without preliminary notice. It well may be that the House may want to discuss it more fully at a later date.


My Lords, if that should be the case, there will be no difficulty in arranging it.