My Lords, I express sorrow at the Government's attitude to this matter. It seems that in a funny sort of way the Government somehow believe that the higher the level at which the strategic planning is done, the better. We all agree that strategic planning is essential in these matters. One almost feels that the Secretary of State would ideally like to do the whole thing himself, but he is prepared for the regional authorities to be involved. However, we know that in their present format those authorities have a severe democratic deficit because of a lack of what many would regard as a better election system.
We believe that you must have a sub-regional input—a legitimate and fully accountable and accounted-for sub-regional input—to this crucial strategic planning element. It is not good enough for the Government to say that it has to be done at the regional level. The Minister says, "Of course, if there is a regional government, the Secretary of State would have no input". That in a sense makes the point that I am trying to make; namely, that even though you need planning on a big scale, you nevertheless need elected input into it. The amendments, as they left this House, provided for that and should not be removed. I support my noble friend and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.