HC Deb 01 March 1994 vol 238 cc645-6W
Mr. Knapman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what decisions he has reached on the Local Government Commission's report on Gloucestershire; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer

I have today written to Sir John Banham, chairman of the Local Government Commission for England, about the Commission's report, "Final Recommendations on the Future Local Government of Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset".

I am still considering the recommendations for both Avon and Somerset. Having carefully considered the commission's recommendations for Gloucestershire, together with representations made to me, I am not at present convinced that effective and convenient local government will be best achieved by making no change to the current structure of local government in the county.

I therefore intend to direct the commission to conduct a further review of Gloucestershire; but before issuing a formal direction I have invited the commission's views on timing.

As with the further reviews of Derbyshire and County Durham, which I announced on 29 November 1993, I shall be directing the commission to have regard to the revised procedure and policy guidance issued in November 1993.I announced on 3 February that the final sentence of paragraph 3 of the policy guidance had been deleted by the High Court ruling on 28 January.

The review of Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset was conducted in accordance with the original policy guidance which I issued to the commission in July 1992. The revised policy guidance which I issued on 2 November 1993 clarified the Government's views on a number of issues, including the importance of local consensus. Representations have been made to me by local authorities in Gloucestershire that they should be given the opportunity to make fresh proposals on the basis of the new guidance. I consider that the local authorities and people of the area ought to be given that chance.

A copy of my letter to Sir John Banham has been placed in the Library.