HL Deb 02 March 1994 vol 552 cc81-2WA
Lord Swinfen

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have reached any decisions on the Local Government Commission's report on Gloucestershire.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (The Earl of Arran)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has 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.

He is still considering the recommendations for both Avon and Somerset. Having carefully considered the commission's recommendations for Gloucestershire, together with representations made, he is 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.

My right honourable friend therefore intends to direct the commission to conduct a further review of Gloucestershire; but before issuing a formal direction he has invited the commission's views on timing.

As with the further reviews of Derbyshire and County Durham, which were announced on 29 November 1993, the Secretary of State shall be directing the commission to have regard to the revised procedure and policy guidance issued in November 1993. (It was 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 was issued to the Commission in July 1992. The revised policy guidance which was issued on 2 November 1993 clarified the Government's views on a number of issues, including the importance of local concensus. Representations have been made to my right honourable friend by local authorities in Gloucestershire that they should be given the opportunity to make fresh proposals on the basis of the new guidance. We consider that the local authorities and people of the area ought to be given that chance.

A copy of my right honourable friend's letter to Sir John Banham has been placed in the Library.