THE Government is insisting a referendum on a regional assemblies in Yorkshire and Humber will go ahead even if the North-East votes "no" in November.
Local government minister Nick Raynsford said the polls - already postponed once - would be held whatever the outcome of the North-East ballot on November 4.
A referendum would also go ahead in the North-West, he said.
"We have pledged that the people of the North-West and Yorkshire and Humberside will have the opportunity to vote on whether they want a regional assembly and that's our intention," Mr Raynsford said.
He told MPs on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister select committee that he hoped a North-East Assembly would be elected in 2006, assuming a "yes" vote in November.
Committee chairman Andrew Bennett suggested a possible General Election next year could de-rail the timetable, because Parliament would be dissolved which would lose the passage of legislation.
"I hope not," said Mr Raynsford. "Obviously I can't comment on the possible timing of a General Election. What I can say is it's our intention to bring in legislation.
"It's certainly our intention if possible to allow an assembly to be elected in 2006."
Mr Raynsford said if assemblies were set up it was "almost inevitable" that they would begin asking for extra powers, but said he did not foresee any immediate changes. He dismissed claims that the assemblies' guidelines amounted to a straitjacket.