New Clause 9 — Power of authorities to provide services in exceptional circumstances

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 27th October 2008.

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark PPS (Rt Hon Ed Balls, Secretary of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport 6:00 pm, 27th October 2008

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. There is a clear duty to consult all interested parties on the proposals and schemes being considered. It would be most bizarre if an authority did not use the option to consult, for example, bus operators, bus users and businesses in its local area and to follow that through. Again, however, we believe in allowing local bodies to decide how best to pursue those options in the consultation procedure.

The Opposition's amendment (b) to new clause 14 relates to the actions that a QCS board may take if it considers that a proposed scheme does not meet the statutory public interest criteria. New clause 14 already makes it clear that in such circumstances the board may make recommendations on the actions that the authority or authorities might take in response to that opinion. New clause 14 is not prescriptive about the recommendations that a QCS board might make.

The Government would normally expect a QCS board to take a constructive approach. Where a board identifies defects in a scheme, the constructive approach would be to offer suggestions to the local authority as to how it might remedy them. It is unlikely that, having invested a great deal of time and effort in developing and consulting on proposals, an authority would submit to a QCS board a proposed scheme that was so defective that it was beyond salvation. If that very unlikely situation were to arise, I suppose it might be appropriate for the QCS board to say so, but there is no need to amend the Bill to empower the QCS board to do so. The provisions in proposed new clause 126AC(2) are already sufficiently broad to cater for that most unlikely outcome.

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