'NO CASE FOR ASSEMBLY'

New Forest Post – 27 March 2003

Readers may recall my letter about the possibility of an elected Regional Assembly (New Forest Post, January 23). I asked those of my constituents who favoured the setting up of a South East Regional Assembly to send me a short note or postcard indicating this.

Although my letter was published in a number of local newspapers, only three constituents out of 68,000 contacted me to say that they favoured such an assembly. By contrast, I received 19 letters to the contrary – even though I had not solicited views from those constituents opposed to regional government.

I also tabled a question in the House of Commons asking the Local Government Minister how many representations he had received in favour of setting up a South East Regional Assembly. Out of 960,000 electors in Hampshire only two had written to the minister in favour of an assembly – a total rising to just 18 out of eight million electors in the South East region.

This response speaks for itself and serves to indicate an almost total lack of support for the setting up of a Regional Assembly in the South East. In short, the exercise suggests that there is no case whatsoever for such an assembly and the Secretary of State should avoid wasting time and money in holding a referendum in this misguided cause.

DR JULIAN LEWIS, MP
(New Forest East)