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Division No. 2


Aberdare, L.
Alexander of Weedon, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bledisloe, V.
Boothroyd, B.
Bowness, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Bridges, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carrington, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chadlington, L.
Chorley, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Craig of Radley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fowler, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Garel-Jones, L.
Geddes, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hanham, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Henley, L.
Hereford, Bp.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Home, E.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Inglewood, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kimball, L.
Kirkham, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Laird, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
MacLaurin of Knebworth, L.
Marlesford, L.
Marsh, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Montrose, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Noakes, B.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patten, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plumb, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Pym, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Saatchi, L.
Sainsbury of Preston Candover, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Sterling of Plaistow, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thatcher, B.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Truro, Bp.
Ullswater, V.
Vinson, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wakeham, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wilcox, B.
Windlesham, L.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chan, L.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fearn, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gavron, L.
Geraint, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
Kilclooney, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Michie of Gallanach, B.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mishcon, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Newby, L.
Nicol, B.
Peston, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Radice, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L.
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Rooker, L.
Roper, L.
Sandberg, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stallard, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

28 Apr 2003 : Column 485

5.17 p.m.

Lord Hanningfield moved Amendment No. 16:

    Page 12, line 5, at end insert—

"( ) a majority of those voting in each county area voted in favour of an elected regional assembly,"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we reach the last amendment in the debate at Third Reading. I make no apologies at this stage for repeating arguments, some of which were made in the debate on the previous amendment.

The Government have always insisted that county and district councils cannot exist beneath an elected regional assembly. We have heard time and again that two tiers of local government beneath an elected regional assembly would represent one tier too many.

On the basis of that detailed and rigorous argument the Government plan to launch into a costly and highly risky local government reorganisation. It is costly because the reorganisation of local government does not come cheap. We are talking about spending billions of pounds not on the establishment of elected regional assemblies, not on improvements to public services, and not even on streamlining bureaucracy.

The local government reform that took place in the early 1970s led to an increase in staff of nearly 5 per cent and spiralling costs. Those costs were met by local people. The evidence from the last round of local government reorganisation suggests that upwards of 30 per cent of the costs of reorganisation were met from local authority reserves and revenue accounts. I

28 Apr 2003 : Column 486

know that in Essex the establishment of unitary authorities in Southend and Thurrock was very expensive. The Government plan to replace excellent authorities with new authorities. Why do they want to do that? It is not to secure better public services or to cut the cost of delivering public services, but because their view is that one tier is one tier too many.

Who will vote for the abolition of these authorities? It will not be the people affected. In many parts of the country, people who already live in unitary authority areas will effectively have the power to secure the abolition of county and district councils.

During the previous debate the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said that there might be a unitary solution for counties. However, I want to repeat what my noble friend Lady Blatch said. Unitary counties are not county and district government. In a large geographical area, people are well represented by a county and district system. That gives local people the chance to take local planning decisions and provide their own recreation services; it gives the county a strategic view over a large geographical area, such as Northumberland. To have only a unitary choice is no real choice. For example, in the North East 69 per cent of the population already lives in unitary authority areas, so the residents of county areas are outnumbered by 2:1.

Let us be clear. The effect of the Government's previous amendments, passed in collaboration with the Liberal Democrats, is not to provide voters with power to determine whether their local authority stays or goes. They will all go. It simply gives people a choice of how their local authorities go. The decision whether local government reorganisation takes place remains tied to the decision on elected regional assemblies. It therefore remains the case that people living in large towns and cities will have a veto over how local government should operate in rural areas.

It is unfair that citizens affected by reorganisation do not have the choice about whether it goes ahead. Citizens in two-tier areas, as service users, will experience first-hand the upheaval and disruption of creating new unitary authorities. They should have some right to determine whether a single tier of local government will serve their area more effectively.

Ultimately, the Bill is about holding the referendums; it is about giving people choice. The amendment would mean that if the majority of people in a region wanted a regional assembly they could have one. At the same time it recognises the legitimate concerns about service disruption that people living in two-tier areas might suffer. It enables them to retain their existing authorities if that is what they wish. The amendment provides real choices for people in rural areas to be treated equally to people in urban areas.

I have said previously that many people who participate in these debates do not understand the problems of rural areas and rural representation. If there is deprivation in this country, it is often in rural areas. To deny them two tiers of local government is to do them a great disservice.

28 Apr 2003 : Column 487

If the Government are really in favour of choice, they will accept the amendment. I know that it is late in the day, but there is still a chance for the Government to think again. I make what is perhaps the last plea for the people of Northumberland and of Durham—perhaps of Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire—to have that choice of two-tier local government, which has served them so well and which most other countries in Europe, the United States and the rest of the democratic world, retain. I beg to move.

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