§ Lord Jacques asked Her Majesty's Government:
§ Whether they will ask the proposed Local Government Commission for England to consider as a priority making recommendations for structural changes where these changes have the strong support of the local community and are likely to result in economies.
§ The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Baroness Blatch)
My Lords, the proposed Local Government Commission will be required to recommend the structural changes that it thinks desirable having regard to the need to reflect the identity and interests of local communities and to secure effective and convenient local government. The Government will set the commission's programme of areas for review. Areas where there is known to be widespread dissatisfaction with the existing structure of course will be high priorities.
§ Lord Jacques
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that kind reply. Is she aware that in the City of Portsmouth, which had county status until 1972, the widespread opinion in the local community is that the guildhall is more attuned to its needs than the shire hall which is some distance away? Is she further aware that one-tier local government has the support of all the parties in the city, because they believe that it will produce economies?
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, first, I know Portsmouth well. I know it to be a city of great distinction. I have met Mr. Gibson a number of times and discussed these very matters with him. It will of course be a matter for the people of Portsmouth, local authorities and the organisations in that area to press their case with the commission when it is in place to do its work.