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New Clause 21 — Tax

Part of Road Safety – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 18th May 2011.

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Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Conservative, Croydon Central 2:30 pm, 18th May 2011

My hon. Friend, who is a former member of the assembly, knows that many members are in that position.

Simon Hughes referred to urban development corporations. I see that he is in heavy conversation at the moment, but he talked about the lack of democratic accountability in those corporations in the 1980s. It is important to make the point that in this case, the designation of a development corporation would be made not by central Government but by the Mayor of London, who is democratically elected.

I am conscious of the time and know that other Members wish to speak, so I end with two points that Ministers might wish to consider. Schedule 21 deals with the detailed arrangements for mayoral development corporations. Paragraph 1 is about the membership of them, and perhaps the Government could consider a requirement that the people whom the Mayor appointed to them, or at least some of them, should have a connection with the local area covered. That is not mentioned in the schedule. It sets out the need for people to have experience and to have shown some capacity in the relevant functions of the corporation, and for them to have no financial interest. Those are both good and sensible provisions, but there may well be a case for ensuring that at least some members have a local connection with the area and perhaps a relationship with the local authority.

Paragraph 6 of schedule 21 is about committees established by mayoral development corporations. Sub-paragraph (3) states:

“A committee or sub-committee may, with the agreement of the Mayor, include persons who are not members of the MDC, but a majority of the members of a committee or sub-committee must be members of the MDC.”

I, and I suspect other Members, have received representations from both the Mayor and the assembly stating that they would be happy with a much more relaxed rule that gave MDCs more freedom to appoint a greater proportion of people who were not members of its board. Those people may well be members of the local authority or have connections with the area. Given that we have not yet achieved complete consensus on this matter, the Government could look at some of the details of schedule 21, to see whether we can address some of those concerns.

In conclusion, it is greatly to Ministers’ credit that they listened to the debate in Committee and came back with a solution, which I think is a good one that improves the Bill. If they went away and looked at a couple of details on schedule 21, it might be possible to address some of the concerns that hon. Members have raised in this debate.