Council Tax (New Valuation Lists for England) Bill
Janet Anderson (Rossendale and Darwen, Labour)
I remind members of the Committee that adequate notice should be given of amendments. As a general rule, I do not intend to call starred amendments. Will everyone ensure that mobile phones, pagers and so on are turned off or are in silent mode during the sitting?
Phil Woolas (Minister of State (Local Government), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; Oldham East and Saddleworth, Labour)
I beg to move,
(a)at 4.00 p.m. on Tuesday 15th November;
(b)at 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 17th November;
(2) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday 17th November.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs. Anderson. I am looking forward to working with you. The Committee is made up of most distinguished and well-informed hon. Members, and I look forward to examining the Bill with them. Several members of the Committee raised interesting issues on Second Reading, and we now have the opportunity to consider some of them in a detailed and systematic way.
It may be helpful if I remind the Committee of the Bill’s origins. The reason behind it is the Government’s decision to extend the remit of Sir Michael Lyons’ independent inquiry into local government funding. That decision, which was discussed with Sir Michael during the summer, resulted from his view that robust recommendations on possible reforms to local government funding cannot be made in isolation from proper consideration and understanding of the changing role of local government. It led to a further decision to postpone council tax revaluation pending Sir Michael’s recommendations.
The Bill will go down in history as one of the shortest to come before the House. None the less, its provisions are important and necessary. Its importance derives from the flexibility that it will give the Government to consider council tax revaluation as part of a fully developed package of funding reforms, rather than as a precursor to them. The Programming Sub-Committee proposed four sittings, which represents sufficient time to complete our deliberations. Hon. Members who were present on Second Reading on 7 November will know that all those who wished to contribute to the debate were able to do so for as long as they wanted. The amendments can be debated fully in the allotted time. I hope that the motion is agreeable and that it finds favour with the Committee.
Robert Syms (Shadow Minister, Local Government Affairs & Communities; Poole, Conservative)
It is a pleasure to serve on a Committee under your chairmanship, Mrs. Anderson. Given the length of the Bill, I expect that pleasure to be brief. This is one of those rare times when the programme motion is generous in the sense that, while we would usually argue the toss, on this occasion Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition do not disagree with it.
David Howarth (Shadow Minister, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; Cambridge, Liberal Democrat)
This is my first Standing Committee, so if I make procedural mistakes I hope I will be forgiven. I wish to echo what has just been said. The programme motion is generous for such a short Bill and I hope that we will not need all the time that has been allotted to it.