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Local Government Reform

Volume 81: debated on Tuesday 18 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many replies he received to his letter of 17 April regarding discussions with the Government about the mechanics of abolition of the Greater London council; and if he will place copies of those replies in the Library.

I have nothing to add to my reply to the hon. Member on 14 June at column 574.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he has taken to ascertain whether, in the event of the Greater London council being abolished, the London boroughs could assume responsibility for the Greater London council renovation programme to its transferred housing stock from 1 April 1986, without that programme being disrupted.

It will be primarily for the boroughs to ensure that the renovation programme continues without disruption. For their part, the Government will ensure that the boroughs receive the housing investment programme (HIP) allocation that would otherwise have gone to the GLC for works to the transferred stock. The boroughs have been invited to include provision for the responsibilities they are to assume in their HIP bids for 1986–87. Also the Government have undertaken to ensure that the broad financial effect of the GLC's obligatory revenue deficit payments is maintained through rate support grant. We are currently considering the responses to consultation on the proposed arrangements.As referred to in my answer to the question by the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser) on 17 June 1985, at column

20, the Government will be moving an amendment to the Local Government Bill which will provide for the residuary bodies to take a positive role in seeking the view of boroughs and districts on whether those bodies should take on any specialist teams temporarily while long-term arrangements are being finalised. This would include the renovation teams.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the reply of 13 June, Official Report, column 523, why he does not intend to exercise any control over the expenses of preparatory committees of successor authorities; and if he will make a statement.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the answers of 13 June, Official Report, column 522, if he will take steps to ascertain which individual members of the Greater London council and metropolitan county councils have accepted membership of preparatory committees of successor authorities and which individual members of the Greater London council have been approached with a view to becoming members; and if he will make a statement.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the reply of 13 June, Official Report, column 523, what guidance he intends to issue to the preparatory committees of successor authorities concerning party political balance.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the reply of 13 June, Official. Report, column 523, what he is doing to ensure that his Department's estimates of costs and savings following the proposed abolition of the Greater London council are kept up to date.

I see no need to update the broad estimates given in the answer my right hon. Friend gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) on 30 November 1984 at column 611. This made it clear that the precise extent of savings will depend on decisions to be taken by the successor bodies.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the reply of 13 June, Official Report, column 523, what are his criteria for appointing shadow chairmen of the residuary bodies; if any people have already been approached; how the names are coming forward; and if he will make a statement.

I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr. Portillo) on 5 June at columns 163–65.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his reply of 13 June, Official Report, column 523, what account he intends to take of candidates' political affiliations when appointing shadow chairmen of the residuary bodies.

I do not regard this as a determining factor. We shall appoint the best man—or woman—for the job, regardless of political affiliation.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the reply of 13 June, Official Report, column 523, if he will publish in the Official Report the borough councils which have received information from his Department secured by him under section 5 of the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Act 1984.

All 32 boroughs and the common council of the city of London have received such information.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the machinery for approaching potential members of preparatory committees of successor authorities.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the Government's proposals for the administration and servicing of the outstanding debt of the Greater London council and the metropolitan county councils following their abolition.

On 16 November 1984, at columns 376–78, in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt), I set out the Government's revised proposals for the handling of debt following representations received on our White Paper "Streamling the Cities" (Cmnd. 9063). After further consultations with the local authority associations and individual authorities I can now confirm that these proposals will form the basis for the administration and servicing of the outstanding debt of the Greater London council and the metropolitan county councils following abolition.