I am sure that the proposals in the White Paper and my statement are not inflexible. Flexibility is the keynote to our approach. We believe that what is right for one part of Scotland is not necessarily right for another part of Scotland in terms of the size and scale of the country.
We want to establish the kind of local authority structure that best meets the local aspirations of people all over the country. We want to establish a local authority with which the people can identify and to which they can give their loyalty. I believe that the single-tier approach is the best way to remove the duplication, confusion and remoteness of local government that prevents such identification and loyalty now.
I agree that local authorities should represent a local, democratic voice. I believe that that will develop through the kind of single-tier, all-purpose authorities that we are contemplating.
The hon. Gentleman spoke of an all-in approach. Any aspect that is not specifically mentioned in the consultation paper on which he feels it is important to submit views will be welcome, either during this consultation process or later when we have refined our views more specifically. That would include the question of election, on which he touched.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman recognises that, far from being inflexible, we are anxious to have an extended consultation process during which we shall take serious cognisance of all submissions.