I am today announcing to the House how I propose to respond to this situation, which quashing the orders has created.
I recognise that there will now be elections for one third of councillors in Norwich and Exeter within the next five weeks, and that this will involve the councils in additional costs. This is an unfortunate consequence of the previous Government's reckless move to drive through unnecessary unitary proposals which did not comply with their own criteria, and have now been found to be unlawful by the courts.
As to the future of the unitary proposals, on which decisions can now be taken afresh, the Secretary of State does not intend to take any such decisions. If Parliament enacts the Local Government Bill, which received its Second Reading in the other place on
As a result of quashing the orders certain provisions currently in the Bill are no longer needed. These are clause 1(3) of the Bill, which currently revokes the Structural Change Orders for Exeter and Norwich quashed by the Court, and clause 2 of the Bill which made consequential electoral arrangements on the revocations of those orders. Accordingly we are considering on how to appropriately amend the Bill in the other place.
The Government welcome the Court's confirmation that the orders are unlawful. This decision along with the Local Government Bill currently before the other place will put an end to all the remaining costly and disruptive unitary proposals.