Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Lord Hanningfield (Conservative)
I support the amendment. As I said, I know that it is unlikely that we will have a region in the East or the South East. Nevertheless, Essex, for example, has had discussions with Hertfordshire—with which we have much in common—and would like to break away even within the existing development agency. This amendment would allow Essex and Hertfordshire to break away from the rest of the East of England. On the other hand, Amendment No. 1 would allow a more thorough examination of the whole of the South East and—as I said—the Thames Gateway, which covers Essex, Kent and London. If we were to have a region, it might be more logical if Essex were with Kent. So although I support this amendment—which would allow Essex and Hertfordshire to break away from East Anglia, with which we have nothing in common—if we are to have regions, it might be right to have a good discussion about whether we should be with Kent.
I do not think that the Government realise the extent of the antagonism created by this issue across the country. I live daily with local government, where there is enormous debate and enormous unhappiness. With the exception of Yorkshire and Humberside and the North East, the country is in turmoil over these issues. The Government should recognise that they have opened a Pandora's box of dissatisfaction, and this debate is only adding to it.