Skip to main content

Somerset: Unitary Local Government

Volume 699: debated on Monday 19 July 2021

How many people who responded to the Government’s consultation on unitary local government in Somerset supported (a) One Somerset and (b) Stronger Somerset. (902851)

The Secretary of State expects to announce his decisions on the unitary proposals before the summer recess. Alongside those decisions, he will publish a summary of the consultation responses. I assure my hon. Friend that that will include all the detail he seeks and much more alongside it.

That is the most pathetic answer I think I have heard in 20 years. The Government’s consultation for the unitary was finished months ago. I have asked parliamentary questions and written to the Minister—I have tried everything. If on 13 December 2019 the returning officer in Thornbury and Yate had stood up to announce that a total of 52,000 votes had been cast but refused to declare the winner, there would have been outrage. Why will the Government not come clean over this? Why are they holding it back? Why on earth has this become an issue? Let us just hear who won the Government’s consultation. Please tell us now and tell the House.

Let me remind the Member that I am not responsible for the answer, and I am certainly not taking the blame for Bridgwater and Somerset. Minister, please pick that one up.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank my hon. Friend for his question. There is no broken commitment. We always said that we would publish the outcome before the summer recess, and we are absolutely on track to do that. We received more than 5,500 responses to the consultation on local government reorganisation in Somerset and, when we publish the information, which will be on schedule, as promised, we will show the proportion of respondents who supported the different proposals, together with a summary of their expressed views. I assure him that we are on track to publish before the summer recess.