Local Government in Wales (White Paper)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1967.

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Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil 12:00 am, 20th July 1967

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many of those engaged in compiling the recent White Paper on Local Government in Wales had practical experience as elected local government representatives.

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

The interdepartmental Working Party which helped me in my examination of the functions and boundaries of Welsh local authorities had the benefit of the confidential advice of over thirty officers and members of Welsh local authorities whose names were suggested by the local authority associations for their knowledge and experience of local government in Wales.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

Is there good reason for the Secretary of State's not giving the names of those persons who have had local government experience as elected representatives of the people? Why conceal them?

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

My hon. Friend will be aware that in this case advice was given on a confidential basis, but not only did I have the advice of my Working Party and, through it, the members to whom I have referred, but I was also fortunate enough to have the benefit of the advice and evidence of local authority representatives who have been giving advice and evidence on these matters for over 20 years.

Photo of Mr Arthur Probert Mr Arthur Probert , Aberdare

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he expects to implement the proposals in the White Paper on Local Government in Wales.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson , Monmouth

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what timetable he envisages for the implementation of the proposals in his recent White Paper on Local Government in Wales.

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

The first stage will be the consultation with local authorities and local authority associations which will, I hope, be completed by the end of the year. Work on the necessary legislation which will inevitably take some time will follow immediately. The Welsh Council, which will not require special legislation, will be set up next year at the end of the three-year term of office of the present Welsh Economic Council.

Mr. Probed:

In view of that and in order to prevent further delay, would my right hon. Friend consider advising local authorities how best they can consider existing anomalies which are unaffected by the present proposals?

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

I shall certainly be prepared to receive representations from local authorities on these matters.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson , Monmouth

Can my right hon. Friend indicate how flexible he is likely to be in relation to the proposals and whether, for example, he expects radical changes in these proposals as a result of the Royal Commission on English Local Government?

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

I am not contemplating any fundamental changes, but I certainly would be prepared to listen to any well-reasoned case.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what arrangements he has made to receive the views of Welsh local authorities on the White Paper on Local Government in Wales.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if, in view of the changes advocated in Command Paper No. 3340 on Local Government in Wales, he will extend the time available to local authorities and other bodies and persons to make representations.

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

I have asked all Welsh local authorities to send me their views in writing by the end of September, but in the light of representations made I am giving further consideration to this. I am also arranging to get the views of the local authority associations.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that Answer, because September was too early as local authorities have to have holidays just as much as we do.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

In assessing the position, will the Secretary of State take account of the fact that many local authorities have rendered considerable service to parts of Wales and they should have time to present their case when they differ from the proposals?

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

I certainly do not wish to press local authorities to do anything unreasonable. By the end of the year we hope to have all the information.

Photo of Mr William Edwards Mr William Edwards , Merionethshire

When my right hon. Friend receives the views of local authorities, will he make sure that they are the views of elected representatives and not of paid officials protecting their vested interests?

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

My hon. Friend must leave that to my judgment. I know local authorities in Wales reasonably well.