HC Deb 03 May 1967 vol 746 cc88-9W
Mr. Hazen

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will now make a statement about the outstanding proposals for local government reorganisation.

Mr. Greenwood

I have recently reviewed all the outstanding proposals for local government reorganisation in the light of the good progress which I understand is being made by the Royal Commission on Local Government.

So far the guiding principle has been that interim changes should not go ahead in advance of general reorganisation unless it was clear that improvements were urgently needed and the immediate benefits would substantially outweigh the risk of a double upheaval. Since the Commission now expects to complete its report by the autumn of next year, it has become even more desirable to avoid any further local government changes in the interim period which would increase the possibility of two reorganisations in quick succession.

Moreover, on both the Tyneside and West Yorkshire Special Review Areas on which, in accordance with the undertaking given by my predecessor, I have consulted the Royal Commission in order to make sure that the outstanding proposals were compatible with the broad thinking that the Commission was developing. The Commission has told me that it will not be able to express any view on how local government in either area should be organised until it is able to report on English local government in general.

In these circumstances I have come to the conclusion that it would not be in the interest of either Tyneside or West Yorkshire to proceed with any measure of advance reorganisation in these areas. I am, however, making available to the Royal Commission the valuable material placed before the Inspectors at the public inquiries. I shall shortly be inviting the local authorities on Tyneside to join in talks about the possibility of joint action in the field of planning. I am already in touch with local authorities in West Yorkshire and basic studies are going ahead covering land availability and communications.

I have also decided that there are insufficient grounds for proceeding with the remaining modifications to county boundaries proposed by the Local Government Commission as part of its examination of the York and North Midlands, the North Eastern, and the Lincolnshire and East Anglia General Review Areas.

I have written to the local authorities on Tyneside, and in West Yorkshire, and to those affected by the county boundary proposals.

I shall be announcing final decisions shortly on the county reviews now before me and here too my approach will be to give effect only to those individual proposals which are generally agreed and urgently needed in advance of any wider reorganisation.

No other proposals are outstanding under the Local Government Act, 1958 though orders will of course be brought forward to deal with certain county borough extensions on which decisions were announced earlier. I shall also be prepared to consider on merits proposals under the Local Government Act, 1933 for agreed or specially urgent boundary alterations and amalgamations.