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Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I believe that it would be possible for noble Lords to make comments about either order but for the convenience of the House it would be proper if I introduce both orders. I shall, of course, deal with points raised on the individual orders in winding up.
The orders concerned were laid before the House on 16th February. With modifications, they implement the recommendations of the Local Government Commission for the future structure of local government in North Yorkshire and Humberside. I hope that it will be helpful to the House if I take the principal issues relating to the orders in the following order: first, details of the proposed new structure in both areas, then boundaries, powers and functions, electoral arrangements, staffing, planning and ceremonial arrangements.
First, as regards North Yorkshire, from 1st April 1996 the city of York will be a unitary authority on extended boundaries which will incorporate parts of the districts of Ryedale, Selby and Harrogate. I shall return to the details of the boundary changes in due course. The remainder of the county of North Yorkshire will remain two-tier, retaining both district and county councils.
On 1st April 1996, the county of Humberside and Humberside County Council will be abolished and will be succeeded by four unitary authorities. The existing authority of Kingston upon Hull, on its existing boundaries, will be given unitary powers. The existing authorities of Holderness, Beverley, East Yorkshire and the northern part of Boothferry will be abolished and comprise a single new authority to be called the East Riding of Yorkshire; the existing authorities of Cleethorpes and Grimsby will be abolished and comprise a single new unitary authority to be called North East Lincolnshire; and the existing authorities of Glanford and Scunthorpe and that part of Boothferry district south of the northern boundaries of the parishes of Crowle, Eastoft, Luddington, Haldenby and Amcotts will be abolished and will comprise a new unitary authority to be called North Lincolnshire.
As a rule, decisions about where boundaries should be drawn are difficult and provoke strong feelings. As my honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment said in another place, our decisions about the boundaries of York and Hull have not proved to be an exception to that rule. And the noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, has an amendment on the Order Paper about this issue.
Perhaps it would help if I first of all explain that in the case of the city of York we have accepted the commission's recommendationwith only very minor modifications to exclude five small parishesthat the city's boundaries should be extended to include the York greater planning area. This will substantially increase the area covered by the city and will increase its population from its existing 101,000 to approximately 167,000.
In making its recommendations to us the commission took into account a number of factors, including the ability of a unitary authority to deliver services effectively and efficiently and the need to recognise community identity and the expression of local opinion. It acknowledged that opposition to the extension of the city's boundaries to include the greater planning area was strongest in the outlying areas beyond the ring road. The strength of this opposition has also been made clear to us in the many representations we have received from local residents and their parish councils. Nevertheless, the commission concluded, and we agreed, that the balance of advantage lay with providing an enlarged boundary to enable the new authority to deliver services efficiently and effectively and to adopt a strategic approach to, among other things, economic development, transportation, planning and environmental issues.
Staff at all levels will have a crucial part to play in implementing change and ensuring that services continue to be provided effectively by local authorities during and following reorganisation, and we recognise the importance of allaying their anxieties about their future. It was because of this that early in the review process we established the Local Government Staff Commission. It is an independent body which advises on staffing matters arising from local government reorganisation. The commission has talked to local government at all levels and has produced a series of circulars setting out the framework for staff transfers and appointments.
To be of assistance to the House I shall now briefly explain the arrangements which will be put in place. First, Humberside: most staffwe estimate some 90 per cent.will simply end up working for the successor authorities. The majority, those who are frontline service providers such as teachers and care workers, will transfer by statutory transfer order. This will be drawn up by the outgoing authorities working together with the successor authorities and in accordance with the criteria set out in the staff commission's circular 3. The purpose will be to ensure continued provision of essential services from the first day of reorganisation. Other staff will secure posts by appointment, again in accordance with the rules set out in the staff commission's circular 3.
New chief officer posts will be filled through a process of open competition. Other posts will be filled by prior consideration, in which competition will initially be limited to those not in a transfer order and whose current job is vulnerable because of restructuring arising from reorganisation. It will, of course, be for the newly elected authorities to decide on their new staffing structures and how to fill posts, taking into account the available resources, their new functions and the need to ensure continued provision of services.
Recently we announced new measures for those who are to be made redundant as a result of local government reorganisation. They are as follows. First, it will be mandatory for local authorities to pay the amounts prescribed in the regulations, which provide for up to 66 weeks' pay based on age service banding to eligible staff below the age of 50. These arrangements are, at the maximum, 2.7 times more generous than otherwise statutorily provided under employment legislation. Secondly, the regulations also provide extra powers to provide benefits to those aged 50 and over. At the employer's discretion, such employees' pensions can be increased if they have five or more years' service, or they can receive a lump sum compensation payment. For those with between two and five years' service we are making available the option of additional payment in lieu of immediate payment of pension.
We have also consulted on a scheme for detriment compensation for those who take a drop in salary as a result of local government reorganisation. Having considered the responses, we are drafting regulations defining the detriment scheme, and we shall be consulting on these soon.
Turning briefly to North Yorkshire, the same principles will apply, with staff being transferred to the new unitary York to reflect the transfer of functions and to ensure continued provision of services.
Once the orders are made, all of the authorities in Humberside and the authorities affected by the changes in North Yorkshire will have extra duties and powers to prepare for the reorganisation. They will each be under a duty to co-operate in implementing change. Unitary authorities will have access to the information they need. Once the councils for the unitary authorities have been elected they will have further powers to make the necessary preparations, including setting budgets and recruiting staff for the functions which they assume responsibility for on 1st April 1996. They will be required to consider whether any of their new functions would best be discharged through joint arrangements with other authorities. Taken together, we believe these provisions will ensure a smooth transition to the new structure while providing proper safeguards for essential services.
We believe that authorities which are to be given unitary status should be given a fresh democratic mandate to do so. There will therefore be whole council elections to the four unitary authorities in Humberside and to the new city of York authority in May this year.
In future, with the exception of Hull, all of the unitary authorities will hold whole council elections every four years. If they wish to apply to the Secretary of State to change to a system of elections by thirds, they may do so following the passing of a resolution by the whole council passed by not less than two-thirds of the members.
Hull will return to its current arrangement of elections by thirds from 1997. This follows the city's representations that it wished to retain elections by thirds and that it did not wish to have elections in the year immediately after reorganisation. We agree that this is a sensible arrangement and have made similar provision in Bristol.
With the exception of minor changes we have made to accommodate leaving Goole in Boothferry while it is being re-reviewed, warding arrangements for the new authorities are as recommended by the commission.
As unitary authorities, the new York District Council and the four Humberside districts councils will be responsible for both strategic and local land-use planning in their areas. We are determined that there should be adequate arrangements for strategic planning in areas affected by reorganisation. Reflecting its recommendations for structural changes, the commission recommended that the authorities for the area north of the Humber should work jointly on a structure plan for their combined areas. They made a similar recommendation for the authorities for the area between the Humber and the Wash. However, because
Therefore, having considered representations from the local authorities and other bodies, we have concluded that the most satisfactory grouping of authorities for joint structure plan purposes would be: the new York unitary authority working with North Yorkshire County Council; the new East Riding of Yorkshire unitary authority working with Kingston upon Hull City Council; and the new North Lincolnshire and North-East Lincolnshire unitary authorities working with Lincolnshire County Council. We believe that voluntary arrangements for joint working within these groupings will achieve the desired results.
The draft orders transfer the counties' strategic planning responsibilities for the areas concerned to the new unitary authorities. Each authority will also be responsible for maintaining a local plan for its area. We look to the relevant authorities in North Yorkshire, Humberside and Lincolnshire to make the necessary voluntary arrangements for joint working on the structure plan for their respective groupings. Voluntary joint working arrangements are more accountable locally than the statutory joint authorities which it would become necessary for us to impose if such voluntary arrangements were to fail.
Following a consultation exercise on the future policing arrangements for the area, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has decided that a separate Humberside police force will be retained. The force will cover the areas of Kingston upon Hull, the East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North-East Lincolnshire.
The North Yorkshire police authority to be established on 1st April 1995 (under the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994) will continue to be the police authority after reorganisation. The order makes provision for the members of that authority to be appointed by both North Yorkshire County Council and the new York unitary authority.
In North Yorkshire there will be a combined fire authority of which the constituent authorities will be the North Yorkshire County Council and the new York authority. The order does not provide for the establishment of the combination scheme; this will be done by the Home Office under the Fire Services Act 1947.
The Humberside order provides for each of the new unitary authorities to be created a fire authority. The Home Office will then create a fire combination scheme, under the Fire Services Act 1947, that will establish a combined fire authority to exercise those fire functions currently carried out by the county council.
The order does not provide for ceremonial arrangements; separate provision will be made for this in regulations. However, it may be helpful to the House if I briefly explain the arrangements we propose to put in place.
In the case of North Yorkshire, the City of York will be deemed to be part of the county of North Yorkshire for ceremonial and related purposes. It will therefore have the same Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff as the county.
Before the existing City of York authority is abolished we will make specific provision for the continuation of the city's status and privileges. We are discussing with the Home Office and Privy Council the most expedient way of doing this. Whatever we decide, the city will continue to be a city and will continue to have a Lord Mayor and Sheriff.
As Humberside is to be abolished, its Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff will also be abolished. Instead, north of the Humber we intend to provide for both a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff of the county of the East Riding of Yorkshire. For ceremonial and related purposes Hull will be deemed to be part of this county and will therefore have the same Lord Lieutenant and Sheriff.
South of the Humber we propose that the North Lincolnshire and North-East Lincolnshire unitary authorities should be deemed for ceremonial purposes to be part of the county of Lincolnshire and to have the same Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff.
The amendment of the noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, also refers to the arrangements for the future of the Yorkshire Museum. The museum has mounted a very professional campaign not to be transferred from the county council to the City of York. However, as with other property within the York district area, the museum will pass to the city under the regulations for the transfer of assets and liabilities.
The museum is a charitable trust and the terms of the trust state that the beneficial area of that trust is the City of York. As a consequence, the museum and its gardens will transfer to the City of York on reorganisation. We are, however, aware of the local concern that the museum should continue to play a role as an institution serving the areas of both North Yorkshire County Council and the new City of York Counciland we will expect the authorities to co-operate in safeguarding that role. And I hope the House would agree that if we are to entrust the City of York with responsibility for education and social services it would perhaps be ludicrous to say it could not be trusted to run a museum.
In conclusion, I believe that the changes for which these orders provide will create more comprehensible and consequently more accountable local government in the areas that they affect. The abolition of Humberside and the restoration of individual and independent cities of York and Kingston upon Hull will be welcomed, as will the restoration of the East Riding to Yorkshire. I commend to the House the Humberside (Structural Change) Order 1995.
Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th February be approved [10th Report from the Joint Committee]. (Viscount Ullswater.)
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