Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, today launched a strong attack
    on the Government‘s plans for a new tier of regional politicians across the
    East of England, outlined in Labour‘s Regions White Paper published on 9
    May. The Government have also stated that these regional assemblies will be
    partly funded by a new regional council tax.

    Peter Lilley said:

    “England already has enough politicians. Public services across
    Hertfordshire won‘t improve things by creating yet more politicians. New
    talking shops won‘t boost economic growth or help the vulnerable across

    “The Eastern Region is an artificial concept and people in Hertfordshire do
    not identify with it. Power will be taken away from Hertfordshire County
    Council – such as over planning, transport and housing. The residents of
    Hitchin and Harpenden will be governed from Cambridge or Norwich. This will
    mean that new developments – like sprawling housing estates, noisy concrete
    roads or towering incinerators could be imposed on Hitchin and Harpenden,
    irrespective of local wishes. Indeed, the Government has admitted that more
    planning decisions will be made at a distant, regional level whether or not
    a regional assembly is imposed.

    “Hertfordshire County Council would be abolished and the district councils
    across Hertfordshire restructured. In other words, Hertfordshire taxpayers‘
    money will be diverted away from frontline services. Across England, the
    cost could be up to ?2 billion.

    “These new politicians will not come cheap. Based on the cost of the London
    Assembly, an Eastern regional assembly is likely to cost over ?37 million
    per year on bureaucracy alone. Londoners have to pay a regional council tax
    of ?174 a year on Band D. Such assemblies will similarly charge a new
    regional tax.
    “The proposals of the Liberal Democrats are no better. Not only do they want
    new regional politicians, but they also want a new regional income tax to
    pay for them, on top of their plans for higher national income tax and a new
    local income tax.

    “Conservatives want local community government not new regional government.
    If this centralising government genuinely believed in giving more power to
    Hertfordshire, it would be reducing Whitehall intervention in County and
    District Councils. But the fact is that such interference has soared under