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Greater London

Volume 645: debated on Tuesday 25 July 1961

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8.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is yet in a position to announce his proposals for the reorganisation of local government in the Greater London area.

12.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister far Welsh Affairs what consideration he has now given to the representations made to him by local authorities with regard to the Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London.

34.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on the Report of the Royal Commission on London Government.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs
(Mr. Henry Brooke)

The Government have the Royal Commission's Report and the representations of local authorities on it under consideration, but I regret it will not be possible to make an announcement before the Recess.

Can my right hon. Friend give some indication of when he is likely to bring forward the Government's proposals; or, at least, to introduce a White Paper on the subject? Furthermore, will will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that many local authority employees are becoming increasingly apprehensive about how their future will be affected by these proposals, if they are accepted, and that local authorities are finding it extremely difficult to recruit new staff?

Whether or not the proposals are accepted, I think that it is desirable to keep the period of uncertainty to a minimum. Therefore, in response to my hon. Friend's main supplementary question, I certainly reply that the Government will announce their decision as soon as they properly can.

When the right hon. Gentleman says that the decision will be announced as soon as it properly can be and, at the same time, says that it will not be before the Summer Recess, is he anticipating that the statement will be made while the House is in Recess, or is it meant to await the return of the House before making the statement? In addition to the present effect on local authority staff recruitment, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the London political parties will shortly be preparing for next year's elections? If there are to be major changes there will, presumably, be no elections, so the sooner we know the better.

I think that the political parties can take it for granted that there will be elections next year, but I really cannot say when I shall be able to make a statement.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it would be better to have a debate in this House before the Government make their decision, so that they can make it in the light of the opinions then expressed?

There has been nearly a year during which it has been possible for the Oppposition to seek a debate on the question. It seems better now that the Government should reach their decision and make their announcement, and for that to be debated.