HL Deb 30 June 1976 vol 372 cc768-70

2.35 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress the Local Government Boundary Commission is making in revising the wards of the City of Bristol; and why there has been no such revision since 1951.

The MINISTER of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Harris of Greenwich)

My Lords, I understand that, at the request of the Bristol City Council, the Local Government Boundary Commission for England extended the timetable for the review of the City's electoral arrangements. The Council published yesterday a revised draft scheme inviting representations on it from local interests. In the past, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1933, the procedure for boroughs wishing to alter their wards was by Petition to Her Majesty. The wards of Bristol were altered by an Order in Council of 1953 using this procedure; a further minor change was made by an Order in Council of 1964.

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, but can he say when he expects the Boundary Commission to report on this matter? Would he not agree that the ward boundaries within the city are now totally unrepresentative and produced some very extraordinary voting figures last May, and that this situation would be most unfair in the event of a by-election in any of the wards?


My Lords, without commenting on the latter point, because this is really a matter between the Commission on the one hand and the Council on the other, as I understand it, the Council have invited representations to reach them by 10th August and they will meet on 2nd September to consider those representations. The Commission has not yet been informed of all the details of this scheme but the position, I am sure, is that it will push ahead with this as soon as possible thereafter.

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, in view of the letter written to the Bristol City Council, can the Minister say in what circumstances the Home Secretary has power to intervene in a matter like this?


My Lords, the position is really that this is a matter between the Commission and the Council. The Council can put up a scheme and, in certain circumstances, there can be some form of local inquiry presided over by an Assistant Commissioner. The Commission may ultimately put up a scheme to the Home Secretary. For these reasons, I am obviously anxious to avoid going into greater detail.

The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, do I understand from the noble Lord that any district council can put up a scheme to the Commission if it thinks its ward boundaries are unsatisfactory ?


My Lords, a general review is taking place as a result of the reorganisation of local government in England and Wales. As a result of that, a series of boundary reviews are taking place at the present moment.


My Lords, is the final solution of all this likely to come by an order presented in either House?


No, my Lords ; this is not a matter for an order presented in either House. It is a matter for the Home Secretary to pronounce upon once he has received the recommendations of the Boundary Commission.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether the same review is going on in Scotland?


Not without notice, I fear, my Lords.