§ Mr. Probert
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will make a statement about Welsh local government reorganisation in the light of the consultations which have taken place since the publication of the White Paper Local Government in Wales, Command Paper No. 3340.
§ Mr. George Thomas
While, as was to be expected, the consultations showed divergencies of opinion over some issues, they indicated a sufficient general degree of support to justify my proceeding with the further detailed work needed to prepare legislation. In the course of this 327W there will be further consultation with the local authority associations and others concerned on the allocation of certain responsibilities between the tiers of local government. I propose also to give Welsh local authorities and their associations an opportunity to comment further on our proposals, if they so wish, following the publication of the Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government in England.
Subject to the above and as a basis for the continuing work, I propose to make the following changes to the White Paper proposals:
First, in North Wales in the light of the consultations, I now propose that there should be two counties—one comprising the present counties of Anglesey, Caernarvonshire and Merioneth (except Edeyrnion Rural District) to be called Gwynedd; the other comprising Flintshire and Denbighshire (plus Edeyrnion R.D.) and to be called Clwyd.
Secondly, in view of the strong local desire to maintain the unity of Cardiganshire, I propose that this should be one district and that the proposal for a Teifi Valley Authority should be abandoned; the total number of new districts in Wales would thus be 35, not 36.
Thirdly, I propose that the community of Llanberis should be included in the Caernarvon/Bangor district.
Fourthly, I propose to leave unchanged the boundaries of Swansea County Borough rather than extend them to include the whole of Glais.
Further work will now proceed as rapidly as possible, although I cannot at this stage say when it will become possible to introduce legislation.
A letter giving more details is being sent to all Welsh local authorities today, with copies to all Members representing Welsh constituencies, and to the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt).