Why is the Secretary of State afraid of an independent commission? He mentioned in his statement the Wheatley commission of 1969, which produced the proposals for local government that we have today. Is he afraid that if he were to establish a commission he would be obliged to pack it with placemen and placewomen to ensure that he achieved the result that he wanted, as he had to do with the health boards and college governors in recent years?
Is it not sheer hypocrisy for the Secretary of State to talk in his statement and in the booklet about accountability when he and his Front-Bench colleagues are not accountable to the people of Scotland? The Conservatives have been flatly rejected in general elections for the past 36 years. Accountability exists in Scottish local government and is not one of the reasons for moving to a unitary authority.