Its pattern of two-tier metropolitan and non-metropolitan county and district councils remains in use today in large parts of England, although the metropolitan county councils were abolished in 1986, and both county and district councils were replaced with unitary authorities in many areas in the 1990s.
It was one of the most significant Acts of Parliament to be passed by the Heath Government of 1970–74 and is surpassed only by the European Communities Act 1972 which took the United Kingdom into the European Communities.
Elections were held to the new authorities in 1973, and they acted as "shadow authorities" until the handover date. Elections to county councils were held on 12 April, for metropolitan and Welsh districts on 10 May, and for non-metropolitan district councils on 7 June.
Elected county councils had been established in England and Wales for the first time in 1888, covering areas known as administrative counties. Some large towns, known as county boroughs, were politically independent from the counties in which they were physically situated. The county areas were two-tier, with many municipal borough, urban district and rural districts within them, each with its own council.