Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill
Earl Peel (Conservative)
My Lords, I have not intervened at any stage of the Bill and I apologise to the House for doing so at this late time. I have listened with great interest to the arguments advanced and I have been particularly impressed by my noble friend Lord Waddington's stoic defence of the interests of the North West, whether it be Lancashire or Cheshire. I want the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, to be under no illusions—speaking as someone from North Yorkshire—that feelings are equally strong in North Yorkshire as in the North West. It is for that reason that I rise to support my noble friend's amendments.
The percentage of turnout at local or general elections is largely irrelevant. It is regrettable when it is low, but the important thing is that an election takes place, simply to allow the democratic process to continue. But when we are contemplating a change of this magnitude—as my noble friend Lady Hanham said, the county councils go back for many years and are of great historical importance—I see no reason why we should not impose a threshold. It seems logical and it will be wholeheartedly supported in the regions. I know that I will be speaking for a great number of people in the north-east of England when I say that these amendments will be extremely welcome.