asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government on how many occasions all the Commissioners of the Local Government Commission for England visited Great Yarmouth in connection with their proposals for Great Yarmouth contained in Report No. 9; and whether any of these visits took place during the holiday season between 1st July and 15th September.
I am sorry about this. I understand that about one and a half visits were paid to Yarmouth. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he really thinks that this is sufficient acquaintance with the problems of a town like Yarmouth fitting the Commission to lay down the future form of administration for a town of this sort for, perhaps, 200 years against the wishes of the people?
I rather anticipated the hon. Gentleman, and I would like to say this to him. I think that the Commissions should be encouraged, or allowed by the Minister, to conduct their business in their own way. I think it far wiser for me to maintain the tradition that I ask them to tell me as a matter of courtesy. I cannot insist that they should tell me the details of how they conduct their business.
Is it not expedient that justice should not only be done but manifestly be seen to be done, and is it not a common experience that if visits are not paid to places affected like this a sense of injustice, however unjustifiable, is certain to arise?
I think that we have to balance these evils. One of the difficulties here is that the Commission has finished its functions and, therefore, apart from its Report, there is no information available.
Great Yarmouth is one of those unusual towns which almost completely changes its character during the months of June, July and August. As I understand it, the Commission has never even been near the town during this period. How, then, is it possible for it to form a judgment of this sort?
I am as anxious as is the hon. Gentleman that the Commissions should know all about a town before making recommendations. I must say that I would not accuse the Commissions of undue celerity in jumping to conclusions. They certainly spend a great deal of time visiting towns, and I do not want to encourage them to deepen their observations before reporting.