Opposition Day — [5th Allotted Day] — Local Government (Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk) — 9 Mar 2010 at 21:54
I beg to move,
That this House expresses grave concern at the manner in which unitary restructuring is being imposed on local government in Devon and Norfolk; questions the legality, motivation and financial probity of restructuring in Devon and Norfolk during this pre-election period; notes that the Permanent Secretary has had to seek a Ministerial Direction from the Secretary of State as to the value for money and feasibility of restructuring at this time; further notes that the Permanent Secretary has concerns regarding the legal vulnerability of current restructuring plans in the case of judicial review; cautions that distinguished academic research fundamentally undermines the economic case for unitary restructuring; asserts that restructuring will place an additional cost burden on council tax payers in Devon and Norfolk; regrets the ongoing uncertainty created in Suffolk over the restructuring plans; commends much wider joint working and shared service arrangements between local authorities as important ways of delivering efficiency savings; believes it is an abuse of the democratic process; and calls for the draft Statutory Instruments pertaining to restructuring to be subject to a debate on the floor of the House and then for the proposals to be withdrawn.
I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and add:
"recognises the benefits that will accrue to the people of Exeter and Norwich, and to the surrounding areas of Devon and Norfolk, from a unitary authority in Exeter and a unitary authority in Norwich; believes that after more than three years of public debate on these issues it is now right for Parliament to consider and finally resolve them; looks forward to debating the draft structural change Orders in the very near future; notes the benefit to local people, including the substantial efficiency savings being achieved, of unitary councils established on 1 April 2009; recognises the wide support for unitary local government in Suffolk; and calls on the councils and right honourable and honourable Members for that county to work quickly together to reach a consensus on a unitary solution for that area.".
Question put accordingly (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the original words stand part of the Question.
The House divided: Ayes 191, Noes 275.
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