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Referendum Questions

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

18. If she will meet Stoke-on-Trent city council to discuss the provisions under section 45(8) of the Local Government Act 2000 relating to questions which may be asked in a referendum. (92553)

We will shortly set out our approach for future local governance in the forthcoming local government White Paper. In the light of those proposals, I shall, of course, be happy to work with Stoke-on-Trent city council on the necessary provisions.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply and for the interest that he takes in Stoke-on-Trent. As he well knows, we in Stoke-on-Trent have a system whereby the council is run by a council manager and an elected mayor. My concern is that Stoke-on-Trent city council has asked to go ahead with a referendum, pending the enactment of the legislation as a result of regulations. We urgently need the regulations under the 2000 Act to be introduced. Will my hon. Friend meet Stoke-on-Trent council to discuss how the matter can be resolved?

I commend my hon. Friend on her vigilance on this matter—indeed, she wrote to me on 31 July raising a similar point, and she has made several other representations. My answer to her question is, yes, of course I shall do so. It is important, not only for the governance of Stoke but for the future prosperity of that fine city, that we get the arrangements right. That is why the matter is receiving my individual attention.