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Clause 11

Volume 301: debated on Monday 24 November 1997

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Payments By Secretary Of State To Commission

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

What do the Government estimate will be the costs of clauses 11 and 12? They provide for money to be spent, and now is the time for a Minister to put on record the estimated costs. Conservative Members sometimes complain that the exercise will cost the taxpayer a great deal, but we think that it could be cheap to set up. What advice does the Minister have about costs?

It is impossible to give an estimate at this stage, because it depends entirely on what remit is given to the Local Government Commission. Were it to involve a lengthy and protracted examination of complex constituencies, there would obviously be greater costs than if it were a relatively simple matter relating to existing boundaries that might need some modest modification.

I cannot give the answer that the hon. Gentleman requests, but there is no question of any expenditure being made until after a positive referendum result, by which stage there will have been a statement in the White Paper of the Government's intentions in relation to the boundaries. We will then be in a much better position to give him the information that he seeks. I hope that he accepts that the provision is sensible.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.