confidential ,h - The National Archives

confidential ,h - The National Archives

CONFIDENTIAL H H THIS D O C U M E N T I S T H E P R O P E R T Y O F H E R B R I T A N N I C M A J E S T Y ' S C ( 6 6 ) 15 , n u I I GOVERNMEN...

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CONFIDENTIAL

H

H

THIS D O C U M E N T I S T H E P R O P E R T Y O F H E R B R I T A N N I C M A J E S T Y ' S

C ( 6 6 ) 15

,

n

u

I I GOVERNMENT)

COPY NO.

21st J a n u a r y ,

1966 CABINET

BOCAE GOVERNMENT

REORGANISATION

M e m o r a n d u m b y t h e S e c r e t a r y of S t a t e f o r

Wales

I a g r e e w i t h t h e v i e w of t h e M i n i s t e r of H o u s i n g a n d "Local G o v e r n m e n t in C(66) 6 that the t i m e h a s c o m e for r a d i c a l r e o r g a n i s a t i o n of l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t , b u t I d o u b t w h e t h e r t h e a n s w e r i s a n i n q u i r y b y a Royal Commission. 2. T h e L-ocal G o v e r n m e n t C o m m i s s i o n f o r W a l e s , w h i c h h a d b e e n s e t u p u n d e r t h e L o c a l G o v e r n m e n t A c t , 195C, r e p o r t e d i n 1962 m a k i n g c e r t a i n p r o p o s a l s f o r t h e r e o r g a n i s a t i o n of l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t i n W a l e s . T h e G o v e r n m e n t of t h e d a y t o o k t h e v i e w , h o w e v e r , t h a t i t s r e c o m m e n ­ d a t i o n s would not p r o v i d e a fully s a t i s f a c t o r y b a s i s for an effective l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t s t r u c t u r e i n Y/ales a n d u n d e r t o o k to p r e p a r e n e w p r o p o s a l s itself. 3. When I took o v e r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t in W a l e s , I a r r a n g e d f o r a n i n t e r d e p a r t m e n t a l W o r k i n g P a r t y of r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s of t h e H o m e O f f i c e , D e p a r t m e n t of E d u c a t i o n a n d S c i e n c e , M i n i s t r y of H e a l t h a n d M i n i s t r y of H o u s i n g a n d L o c a l G o v e r n m e n t , a s w e l l a s of t h e W e l s h Office, to p r o d u c e p r o p o s a l s . Because I was particularly anxious that they should not work in isolation f r o m the local a u t h o r i t i e s , I a r r a n g e d w i t h t h e L o c a l A u t h o r i t y A s s o c i a t i o n s t h a t a p a n e l of 3 3 p e o p l e w i t h w i d e e x p e r i e n c e of l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t i n W a l e s s h o u l d b e n o m i n a t e d to c o n s u l t i n f o r m a l l y with the official W o r k i n g P a r t y . 4. This work is now at an advanced stage. T h e p a n e l of l o c a l a u t h o r i t y a d v i s e r s h a v e g i v e n t h e i r v i e w s o n t h e d e f e c t s of t h e e x i s t i n g o r g a n i s a t i o n and h a v e m a d e s u g g e s t i o n s for r e m e d i a l a c t i o n , w h i c h they w e r e agreed was long overdue. Talcing t h e s e s u g g e s t i o n s i n t o a c c o u n t , the Yi orking P a r t y h a v e w o r k e d out in d e t a i l two a l t e r n a t i v e p r o p o s a l s f o r t h e r e o r g a n i s a t i o n of l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t a n d t h e s e h a v e b e e n p u t t o the a d v i s e r s for t h e i r o b s e r v a t i o n s . When this stage has been corn­ p l e t e d t h e W o r k i n g P a r t y w i l l r e p o r t to m e , and I s h a l l b e in a p o s i t i o n to put p r o p o s a l s b e f o r e m y c o l l e a g u e s . r

A Royal

Commission

5. I have had abundant evidence in the l a s t y e a r that the n e e d for l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t r e o r g a n i s a t i o n i n W a l e s i s r e c o g n i s e d to be a n u r g e n t necessity. I h a v e s t a t e d on s e v e r a l o c c a s i o n s t h a t the G o v e r n m e n t r e c o g n i s e s t h i s and i n t e n d s to t a k e a c t i o n a s s o o n a s p o s s i b l e . It w o u l d b e e x t r e m e l y e m b a r r a s s i n g t o m e , t h e r e f o r e , if p r o p o s a l s w e r e n o w t o b e a n n o u n c e d w h i c h w o u l d i n a n y w a y d e l a y t h e p r o g r e s s of t h e w o r k w h i c h h a s a l r e a d y b e e n d o n e on l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t r e o r g a n i s a t i o n i n "Wales. -1­

6. I a p p r e c i a t e t h a t t h e M i n i s t e r of H o u s i n g a n d L o c a l G o v e r n m e n t h a s l i m i t e d h i s s u g g e s t i o n to a R o y a l C o m m i s s i o n for England, Indeed, a g a i n s t t h e b a c k g r o u n d of t h e d e t a i l e d p r o p o s a l s o n w h i c h I a m k n o w n t o b e w o r k i n g i t w o u l d l o o k o d d if w e w e r e n o w t o a p p o i n t a R o y a l C o m m i s s i o n to c o v e r W a l e s as well as E n g l a n d , E v e n if, h o w e v e r , t h e C o m m i s s i o n ' s t e r m s of r e f e r e n c e w e r e l i m i t e d t o E n g l a n d I f e a r t h a t the L o c a l A u t h o r i t y A s s o c i a t i o n s (who c o v e r W a l e s a s w e l l a s E n g l a n d ) w o u l d p r e s s m a t c o n s i d e r a t i o n of a n y r a d i c a l p r o p o s a l s f o r W a l e s s h o u l d be postponed until the Royal C o m m i s s i o n h a s m a d e its p r o p o s a l s for England, T h i s would put back for s e v e r a l y e a r s r e o r g a n i s a t i o n in W a l e s , w h e r e t h e m u l t i p l i c i t y of w e a k l o c a l a u t h o r i t i e s i s m o r e s e r i o u s than a l m o s t anywhere e l s e . 7. A p a r t f r o m t h i s c o n s i d e r a t i o n , h o w e v e r , I w o u l d l i k e to s u g g e s t to m y c o l l e a g u e s t h a t t h e r e would b e m o r e g e n e r a l d i s a d v a n t a g e s i n appointing a Royal Commission. T h i s p i e c e of m a c h i n e r y i s w i d e l y t h o u g h t of a s b e i n g a p p r o p r i a t e l y u s e d w h e r e d i f f i c u l t n e w t e r r i t o r y h a s to b e e x p l o r e d for t h e f i r s t t i m e ; i n o t h e r a p p l i c a t i o n s i t s u s e i s s u s ­ p e c t e d of b e i n g a d e l a y i n g o r e v a s i v e t a c t i c . After all the attention that local g o v e r n m e n t r e o r g a n i s a t i o n h a s r e c e i v e d in r e c e n t y e a r s - for e x a m p l e the studies by the Acton Society T r u s t , the Bow G r o u p and the F a b i a n Society, the w o r k done by the L o c a l G o v e r n m e n t C o m m i s s i o n s and the e x p e r i e n c e g a i n e d in London, R u t l a n d , T e e s i d e , T y n e s i d e , M a n c h e s t e r and M e r s e y s i d e - we can h a r d l y say that this is n e w t e r r i t o r y w h i c h h a s to b e e x p l o r e d by a R o y a l C o m m i s s i o n b e f o r e , we can v e n t u r e into it. I n d e e d t h e M i n i s t e r of H o u s i n g ' s p a p e r s h o w s t h a t h e h i m s e l f i s n o t o n l y f u l l y a w a r e of t h e p r o b l e m s a n d t h e i r u r g e n c y b u t h a s a g o o d i d e a of t h e k i n d s of s o l u t i o n t h a t w o u l d b e a p p r o p r i a t e . Conclusion 8. I s u b m i t t h a t t h e a p p o i n t m e n t of a R o y a l C o m m i s s i o n w o u l d b r i n g the u s e f u l a c t i o n a l r e a d y in h a n d i n t h i s field to a h a l t and i n j u r e o u r r e p u t a t i o n as an effective r e f o r m i n g and m o d e r n i s i n g P a r t y , It v/ould be b e t t e r to p r e s s on with t h e w o r k a l r e a d y in h a n d in W a l e s and e l s e ­ w h e r e it s e e m s l i k e l y to y i e l d good r e s u l t s . F o r t h e r e s t of t h e c o u n t r y c o n s i d e r a t i o n s h o u l d be g i v e n to m o r e d i r e c t m e a n s , s u c h a s t h e p r e s e n t a t i o n of a W h i t e P a p e r c o n t a i n i n g r e o r g a n i s a t i o n p r o p o s a l s which, after d i s c u s s i o n with the l o c a l a u t h o r i t i e s and other c o n c e r n e d , could be i n c o r p o r a t e d in a P a r l i a m e n t a r y Bill.

W e l s h Office, 20th J a n u a r y ,

S. W , l . 1966 -2­