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GUMMER INSISTS ON MORE TORIES FOR EC COMMITTEE

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Environment Secretary John Gummer has rejected the local authority associations' suggestions of who should sit on a...
Environment Secretary John Gummer has rejected the local authority associations' suggestions of who should sit on a European Community advisory committee because they have not included enough Conservatives.

Kirklees MBC Leader John Harman accused ministers and Conservative council members of fixing a new list to accommodate 'various old warhorses they wanted to see on there [whom] the associations had not prioritised'.

Mr Gummer wants five Conservative main members to join six Labour council members, two Liberal Democrats and one Independent on the committee, Mr Harman said.

The associations want the government to nominate three Conservative, nine Labour, two Liberal Democrat and no Independent members. Substitutes would have been allocated according to Mr Gummer's proportions.

Mr Gummer's list would match the number of members in England whereas the associations' nominees reflect the number of councils controlled by each party. There are 7,500 Conservatives, 8,300 Labour members, 3,900 Liberal Democrats and 2,000 Independents.

The associations say their list is closer to the proportion of the population represented by each member. This is because Labour tends to dominate in heavily populated urban areas.

Mr Harman said metropolitan England was already underrepresented because Scotland and Wales had guaranteed places on the committee.

Mr Gummer's proposals would see one of four regions - Yorkshire and Humberside, the north, London or Birmingham - without any representative, Mr Harman said.

'In terms of population Yorkshire and Humberside is the same size as Scotland. They've got five seats and we'll get nothing', he said. New nominations to the committee - which will be set up to advise on EC legislation affecting regional and local government - are likely to be announced next week, Mr Harman said.

The European Commission plans to set up the body next month. The DoE said Mr Gummer felt the association list 'did not accurately reflect the party make up' of councils and that the final decision of whom to nominate was his.

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