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That argument has been put on numerous occasions, but each time Cleveland county council has provided
Column 1096evidence to prove that the money has been spent from the publicity budget. It has behaved just like any other local authority, which would fight its corner in exactly the same way. That the Minister suggested that Cleveland county council is in any way reneging on the services it offers to the local people is appalling.
The Minister said that the period of consultation will last for two months. Surely the debate is part of that consultation. It is unfair of the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Bates) to cover one side of the argument, and I welcome the opportunity to put the other. Correspondence in my mailbag reveals that people hold the exact opposite view to that put by the hon. Gentleman. People would prefer one authority, on a Teesside-wide basis. At a public meeting in Skelton, in the hon. Gentleman's own constituency, the overwhelming majority of people voted for a Teesside authority.
Ms Mowlam : The hon. Gentleman may shout that, but the employees of Cleveland county council have as much right as anyone else in Cleveland to argue for the desired options that they want. Just because they are employees does not make them lesser human beings. They have as much right to go to public meetings, write to Members of Parliament and argue their case as anyone else. I am pleased that many have taken the opportunity to do just that.
Many issues worry people in Cleveland. They are worried that, if the option that has been put by the commission goes through, authorities will be created--quangos of the kind that have been created over the years by the Conservatives--to provide services, such as emergency services and economic planning, across the four district authorities. In common with the development corporations and the training councils, they would be unaccountable--
I shall continue, for the third time, to try to make my argument. If we are talking about democracy and the rights of people in Cleveland, many people- -
The motion having been made at Ten o'clock and the debate having continued for half an hour , Mr. Deputy Speaker-- adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order. Adjourned at half-past Ten o'clock.
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