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Regional Assemblies

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) on what basis the assessment was made in the White Paper, "Your Region, Your Choice", that elected regional assemblies needed at least 25 members in order to provide members for the executive while retaining sufficient backbench members for effective scrutiny but set an upper limit of 35 members for assemblies; [131545](2) on what basis the assessment was made in the White Paper, "Your Region, Your Choice", that for elected regional assemblies to be representative of different political views and different parts of a region 25 members was the minimum needed to secure a representative assembly using proportional representation. [131546]

Elected regional assemblies will be strategic bodies with an efficient and focused membership of between 25 and 35 elected members. They will have a similar role to that of the Greater London Authority, which has a Mayor and 25 assembly Members.The Government expects that elected regional assemblies will have an executive of at least three members and a maximum of six, including the leader. The Government believes that this leaves a sufficient number of members to exercise the scrutiny function.Approximately two thirds of elected members will be constituency members, the other third will be regional members elected from a regional list. This form of proportional representation will ensure that the assembly is representative of the region. Fewer than 25 members would make it difficult to reflect the vote proportionately. Membership will be larger where population is greater up to a maximum of 35. Any larger size would risk compromising the strategic role of Elected Regional Assemblies and could cause confusion between this and the separate representative and service delivery role of local authorities. Elected regional assemblies will also be expected to involve regional stakeholders in their work, which will help ensure that different views are taken into account.

To as the Deputy Prime Minister, if he will place in the Library the responses he received to the soundings exercise to gauge opinion on the proposed regional assemblies. [131679]

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced on 16 June that copies of the summary document "Your Region, Your Say" were available in the Libraries of both Houses, along with copies of the 1,133 responses from representative organisations. Copies of the 7,132 responses from individuals are held by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and can be viewed on request, except for those that requested that their responses be held in confidence.