Manchester City Council Bill [Lords](By Order)
Gareth Thomas (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Trade and Consumer Affairs), Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform; Harrow West, Labour)
We hope that the research will be completed by the autumn and, as I said, we expect it to be published on the Department's website by the end of the year, so that interested parties, including Members of the House, can examine it. If there is sufficient evidence of a national problem, clearly the Government will have to reflect on what further action, if any, they should take. I recognise the need to draw the evidence together to see the scale of the problem. As is perhaps the situation now, it might be found that there are particular problems in particular places and it should still be the responsibility of individual authorities to make a judgment as to whether they need extra powers.
In initiating this national review of the evidence base by Durham university, I am not seeking to cast aspersions on the case that the sponsors of the Bills are making today. It is for the House to reach its own judgment, in the traditional way, on the case that each of the Bills makes, and the Government remain neutral. As I have said, I recognise the concerns that have been raised, not least by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East, who led in that regard, and we shall look at the national situation. I have made it clear that the evidence base remains unclear at the moment. We are seeking to clarify that by launching the research project in the way that I have described.