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New Clause 21 — Tax

Part of Road Safety – in the House of Commons at 2:45 pm on 18th May 2011.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats 2:45 pm, 18th May 2011

They will have had a say, because, as the hon. Lady will know, the Bill contains a requirement for formal consultation with a list of people, including every local authority and others.

The Government are trying to take power from the centre and hand it down to the regions, including London, and then further down, not just to local authorities but to neighbourhoods. Southwark has eight community councils, which is very welcome. That is what the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Robert Neill, who has responsibility for planning, asks us to support. However, that does not mean that there should not be overarching responsibilities on a London-wide basis.

I say to the hon. Member for Lewisham East that there is certainly a wish to continue arguing for a London-wide responsibility for housing strategy, and we need to work out the best way of delivering that. Boroughs will do their own thing to develop as much as they can, but we will clearly need a London-wide policy to meet the needs of the homeless, asylum seekers and refugees, for instance, who do not immediately and naturally become the responsibility of a particular borough, because they do not have a fixed link with that borough. I and my London colleagues are keen to work with her and her London colleagues and the Minister and his colleagues to try to ensure that at the end of the deliberations we put in place the best possible structure, providing appropriate responsibilities at the level of boroughs and the Mayor and the London assembly, and as far as possible allowing for democratic accountability for all policies, particularly housing and regeneration.