He said the white paper was not about improving services or about devolution. It was blatant gerrymandering. It met the government's needs to create politically acceptable authorities. The government's aim was to remove local authority powers, Mr Smith said. Its tactic was to focus the debate on boundaries.
There had been no evidence of unitary authorities being the right solution - certainly not in rural councils. It was being done against a background of major thoughts on services and in an era of curbs on members and officers as well as on councils' powers, he said.
Mr Smith supported the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities' line of non co-operation with the government. The principle was that there was no point in discussing legislation that parliament had not yet seen. 'We haven't seen the final proposals yet. I'm sure they'll differ from the last map. Advice from Unison now could create more uncertainty', he said.