I believe that today the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government—to whom I have given notice that I intend to mention her—intends to announce the reorganisation of Cheshire. She has never at any point deigned to explain the reasons for those major changes. Indeed, just before the summer recess, when an announcement was made that it was the intention to divide Cheshire into two, irrespective of the needs or wishes of the population, a letter was issued from the Department saying that the decision would none the less be subject to close examination of a number of factors, of which the economic ones were enormously important.
Rather foolishly, I thought that comment was serious and in the intervening time, with the assistance of people in education, the health service and general services, I
have endeavoured to persuade Her Majesty’s Government—pointlessly, as it now appears—of the inequity and imbalance of the scheme they were proposing. I have been in the House long enough to see the coming and going of many inadequate personalities. I have seen those on both sides of the House who have been promoted for various reasons. I have seen the crawlers. I have seen those who have used sex— [ Interruption. ] Oh, there are so many it would take too long to name them. I have seen those whose sexual preferences were of interest to others. I have seen those who demonstrated a great commitment to their own interests, irrespective of the political parties that they were supposed to represent.
But I have rarely seen a decision such as this, taken with such cynicism and with so little respect for the interests of the average voter. When the Secretary of State was seeking office as the deputy leader of the Labour party, she said that people frequently become disaffected with their own Government because they feel that no one is listening to them. Wherever could they have got that idea from? She also made it clear—she told us constantly—that she would listen...
... If I may say so, the decision has been taken with a degree of cynicism that I have not seen for some time. I do not believe that it is in the interests of the Labour party, but then it has never been pretended that the decision is in the interests of the Labour party or of individual voters. It is not in the interests of those who work in the health service, the education service, or social services, or of those who want decent, high-quality local government services. I believe that it is a decision that has been taken for the most venal and personal reasons, and I find it wholly and deeply objectionable.
Mrs Dunwoody demonstrates yet again why she is such a good Parliamentarian. We need more like her - people who will speak their minds without fear or favour. What a shame she is retiring at the next election.