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There were prior consultations as regards both the area and the functions to be covered. I was not able to accept suggestions that the scope should be widened so as to cover matters outside the normal field of local government. The draft terms of reference were, however, amended so as to leave the administration of water supply for separate consideration, and to make it clear that the Commission would be free to recommend any or no change for all or any part of the review area.
Is the Prime Minister aware of representations by local authorities in the Metropolitan Police District that there should be greater financial accountability of the police to local authorities, in view of the heavy financial calls which are made on the authorities by the police precept? Can he make clear whether that financial aspect may be considered by the Royal Commission? If not, will he find an early opportunity of considering the matter?
It is perfectly true that a number of authorities, including that in the hon. Lady's constituency, wished that the police functions should be considered in the review, but for the bulk of the area police is not a local authority function. Other authorities wanted other things—transport and so forth—to be included, but that was not thought right, and I think that that was a wise decision. To extend the scope of the Commission beyond the organisation of local government would be a very big undertaking.