GOVERNMENT plans to create a regional assembly should be opposed, MP William Hague has warned.

In a speech to Conservatives at Gilling West, near Richmond, Mr Hague said a regional assembly for Yorkshire would see the abolition of North Yorkshire County Council.

He said: "This is terrible for two reasons. First, it would cost all council taxpayers a fortune. Even the Government thinks that each regional assembly would cost about £30m a year to run, in addition to paying for the huge upheaval of another major reorganisation.

"Secondly, the interests of rural North Yorkshire would then be subordinate to those of more populous urban areas included in the same region.

"For rural areas, which have already lost so much in recent years, this would be the last straw, the final injury added to all the insults."

Mr Hague and other MPs have argued that, if North Yorkshire voted against an assembly in a referendum, then it should not have to be part of one. However, the Government has ruled that an individual county can be outvoted by its neighbours.

Mr Hague said: "It is vital that, if it comes to a referendum, all of us in North Yorkshire vote solidly 'no' to maximise the chances of the whole idea being defeated."