Third Reading

Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 29th April 2009.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) 4:30 pm, 29th April 2009

My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to acquaint the House that they, having been informed of the purport of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, have consented to place their prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Amendment 1

Moved by Baroness Andrews

1: After Clause 28, insert the following new Clause—

"Politically restricted posts

(1) The Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (c. 42) is amended as follows.

(2) In section 2 (politically restricted posts), in subsection (2) omit—

(a) paragraphs (a) and (b), and

(b) in paragraph (c), the words "not falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above".

(3) In section 3 (grant and supervision of exemptions from political restriction: Scotland and Wales), in subsection (3) omit—

(a) in paragraph (a), the word "and",

(b) paragraph (b), and

(c) the words from "and it shall" to the end of the subsection.

(4) In section 3A (grant and supervision of exemptions from political restriction: England), in subsection (2) omit—

(a) in paragraph (a), the word "and",

(b) paragraph (b), and

(c) the words from "and the relevant" to the end of the subsection."

Photo of Baroness Andrews Baroness Andrews Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, the amendments that I am bringing forward in this group were the subject of debate at different stages, and your Lordships' views were made very clear. I promised during our last debate on this issue to take what was then an opposition amendment away for consideration. These amendments, therefore, address one aspect of what has become known as the Widdecombe rules—the link between salary level and the designation of a local authority post as politically restricted, which means that the holder of the post is barred from taking part in certain political activities. While the Government continue to support the policy behind the Widdecombe rules generally—indeed we recognise the importance of preserving the visible political impartiality of senior local authority employees—we also recognise that the salary bar is a blunt instrument and an unnecessary bar to political activity. We decided, therefore, that its removal will not undermine the important principle that senior local authority employees should be, and be seen to be, impartial.

These amendments will ensure that senior local authority employees and the holders of genuinely politically sensitive posts in local authorities will remain subject to the wider Widdecombe rules, but that the artificial and arbitrary link between salary and political restriction is removed. In effect, this means that those who wish to be active in politics—we have debated this and recognised it should be considered as a worthy and legitimate aspiration—will not be barred from doing so simply because they earn a certain level of salary.

It will also allow those who are committed to political activity to occupy certain posts in local government where before they could not do so. I know that our support for this change is shared by other noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, neither of whom is in their place today. The noble Lord, Lord Tope, also spoke in support of this measure during previous debates. I think the measure will be welcomed by those who recognise that, while it is important that certain posts in local authorities remain politically restricted, those posts should be determined because of their seniority or their political sensitivity and not because of a link to their salary. I beg to move.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Photo of Lord Brabazon of Tara Lord Brabazon of Tara Chairman of Committees, House of Lords

My Lords, that amendment has now been agreed, so we shall move on to Amendment 2. I am sure that noble Lords can make the same speeches as they would have made.

Clause 51 : Boundary Committee for England

Amendment 2

Moved by Lord Patel of Bradford

2: Clause 51, page 39, line 37, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Photo of Lord Patel of Bradford Lord Patel of Bradford Government Whip, Government Whip

My Lords, I wish to introduce a group of fairly self-explanatory amendments. They are Amendments 2 to 48, Amendments 59 to 179, and Amendments 184 and 185. On Report, the noble Lord, Lord Tope, tabled a number of amendments to change the name of the new Boundary Committee for England to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. As the noble Lord stated when introducing his amendments, the Electoral Commission supported them. The proposed name change appears, indeed, to make good sense—especially as it is in line with the names of the Local Government Boundary Commissions for Wales and for Scotland.

On Report, we undertook to give full consideration to the proposals to change the name. We also needed to ensure that all references to the boundary committee in this Bill and other relevant legislation are amended. Having undertaken that consideration, although my speech is short, I am delighted that the total of 170 amendments that I am laying before the House, which will give effect to the proposed name change, are to be accepted.

Photo of Lord Tope Lord Tope Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I am not going to be caught this time. I thank the Minister for moving this enormous number of amendments. I wonder, in passing, whether agreeing 170 amendments in such a short time will entitle us to an entry in the Guinness book of records or, indeed, the House of Lords records. I am delighted to see these amendments, and congratulate the Minister on finding so many more instances than I did when I proposed a mere 45 amendments of the exact same kind. This change is very welcome and sensible, and one that we certainly strongly support—as does, I know, the Electoral Commission.

Photo of Lord Patel of Bradford Lord Patel of Bradford Government Whip, Government Whip

My Lords, in my excitement at being potentially entered into the Guinness book of records, I forgot to speak briefly to Amendment 149, which makes a minor technical change to Schedule 4 to the Bill. In making the necessary name change amendments to paragraphs 9 and 10 of Schedule 4, we noticed that a consequential amendment also needs to ensure that the cross-references in Schedule 1 to the Greater London Authority Act 1999 are correct. I beg to move.

Amendment 2 agreed.

Amendments 3 to 6

Moved by Baroness Andrews

3: Clause 51, page 39, line 38, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

4: Clause 51, page 39, line 41, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

5: Clause 51, page 40, line 1, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

6: Clause 51, page 40, line 5, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 3 to 6 agreed.

Clause 52 : Review of electoral arrangements

Amendments 7 to 12

Moved by Baroness Andrews

7: Clause 52, page 40, line 8, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

8: Clause 52, page 40, line 12, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

9: Clause 52, page 40, line 29, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

10: Clause 52, page 40, line 31, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

11: Clause 52, page 41, line 6, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

12: Clause 52, page 41, line 7, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

Amendments 7 to 12 agreed.

Clause 53 : Requests for review of single-member electoral areas

Amendments 13 to 17

Moved by Baroness Andrews

13: Clause 53, page 41, line 11, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

14: Clause 53, page 41, line 27, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

15: Clause 53, page 41, line 32, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

16: Clause 53, page 41, line 35, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

17: Clause 53, page 41, line 39, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 13 to 17 agreed.

Clause 54 : Review procedure

Amendments 18 to 22

Moved by Baroness Andrews

18: Clause 54, page 41, line 44, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

19: Clause 54, page 42, line 5, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

20: Clause 54, page 42, line 12, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

21: Clause 54, page 42, line 14, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

22: Clause 54, page 42, line 18, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 18 to 22 agreed.

Clause 55 : Implementation of review recommendations

Amendments 23 to 25

Moved by Baroness Andrews

23: Clause 55, page 42, line 24, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

24: Clause 55, page 43, line 5, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

25: Clause 55, page 43, line 11, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 23 to 25 agreed.

Clause 56 : Transfer of functions relating to boundary change

Amendments 26 to 28

Moved by Baroness Andrews

26: Clause 56, page 43, line 25, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

27: Clause 56, page 43, line 26, leave out subsection (2)

28: Clause 56, page 43, line 31, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 26 to 28 agreed.

Clause 58 : Transfer schemes

Amendments 29 to 32

Moved by Baroness Andrews

29: Clause 58, page 44, line 25, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

30: Clause 58, page 44, line 28, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

31: Clause 58, page 45, line 21, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

32: Clause 58, page 45, line 25, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 29 to 32 agreed.

Clause 59 : Continuity of functions

Amendments 33 to 38

Moved by Baroness Andrews

33: Clause 59, page 45, line 36, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

34: Clause 59, page 45, line 37, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

35: Clause 59, page 45, line 44, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

36: Clause 59, page 46, line 1, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

37: Clause 59, page 46, line 6, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

38: Clause 59, page 46, line 7, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 33 to 38 agreed.

Clause 61 : Electoral changes consequential on boundary change in England

Amendments 39 to 47

Moved by Baroness Andrews

39: Clause 61, page 46, line 21, leave out "by Boundary Committee"

40: Clause 61, page 46, line 23, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

41: Clause 61, page 46, line 25, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

42: Clause 61, page 47, line 11, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

43: Clause 61, page 47, line 13, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

44: Clause 61, page 47, line 22, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

45: Clause 61, page 47, line 31, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

46: Clause 61, page 47, line 36, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

47: Clause 61, page 47, line 41, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 39 to 47 agreed.

Clause 64 : Interpretation

Amendment 48

Moved by Baroness Andrews

48: Clause 64, page 48, leave out lines 36 and 37

Amendment 48 agreed.

Clause 65 : Local authority economic assessment

Amendment 49

Moved by Lord Patel of Bradford

49: Clause 65, page 49, line 17, leave out paragraphs (a) and (b) and insert "such persons as it considers appropriate"

Photo of Lord Patel of Bradford Lord Patel of Bradford Government Whip, Government Whip

My Lords, Amendments 49 and 50, and Amendment 58, address the issue of the local authority economic assessment duty. As the Bill stands, Clause 65(5) requires principal local authorities to consult partner authorities and such other persons, if any, as it considers appropriate in preparing their local economic assessments; in Clause 66, we have listed these partner authorities. In Committee and on Report, there was considerable debate about whether it was appropriate to list partner authorities in the Bill. On Report, the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, argued that by listing partners in the Bill there was a danger that local authorities would adopt a tick-box mentality, and not give partners their rightful and full role. She argued that it would be better to place the onus on local authorities so that they can give proper thought to who they should consult.

On Report, I stressed that our intention was to keep prescription to a minimum and to allow room for local flexibility; I was impressed by the arguments made. I promised to return at Third Reading with appropriate amendments to address these concerns, because we want that consultation to be taken seriously in order to generate the most useful assessments. Amendment 49 therefore replaces the requirement listed in Clause 66 for local authorities to consult those partner authorities with a requirement to consult such persons as the authority considers appropriate. Amendment 50 removes Clause 66.

I reiterate, therefore, that we fully agree that consultation with key partners is crucial, if local authority economic assessments are to be accurate and useful. It is important that local authorities work closely with their key local partners to achieve consensus about the state of the local economy, and we intend to stress the need for thorough consultation with partners in future guidance. We accept, however, that local authorities should be given the flexibility to determine who they should consult.

Amendment 58 is a minor and technical amendment to deal with an anomaly in the commencement provisions. Clause 144(4) currently provides for the local economic assessment duty to come into force two months after the Act is passed. We are committed to ensuring that any new duties we place on local authorities are properly funded. For the economic assessment duty, this funding will be made available from April 2010. The amendment allows the economic assessment provisions to be commenced by order so that we can ensure that commencement is aligned with the allocation of this new funding. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Shadow Minister (Community Cohesion), Communities and Local Government

My Lords, the Government have laid these amendments as a direct response to earlier opposition amendments. I am grateful that the noble Lord, Lord Patel, gave a commitment on Report to come back with these amendments. I am pleased that the Government have been prepared to concede that in this area at least their original ideas were probably not the best ones. We have said all along that the Government should show a little faith in local authorities to do what is right and necessary for the well-being of their local people. We have said consistently—this was one of the few coherent themes running through the Bill—that the Government's original proposals were far too centralised, detailed and prescriptive. My noble friend Lord Hanningfield and I have done our best at every stage to persuade the Government to recognise this problem. To their credit, the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Patel, have been prepared to listen.

I do not wish to speak at length at Third Reading save to say that while much of the Bill is imperfect, unnecessary or even both, we have ended up with a much improved version than that which we first confronted many weeks ago. At times I felt that I sounded like a broken record, rehearsing the same arguments again and again. However, I felt that I had to do so. Therefore, it is something of a relief to feel that I did not do so in vain. I welcome these amendments.

Photo of Lord Graham of Edmonton Lord Graham of Edmonton Labour

My Lords, I welcome these amendments and thank the Minister for them. I congratulate my noble friends Lord Patel and Lady Andrews on bringing them forward. I have been a Member of this House for more than 25 years and have spoken to Bills when my party was in government and in opposition. However, I cannot recall a Bill where the relevant Minister has been prepared not only to listen but to indicate intentions. Immediately after giving an undertaking that the relevant matter would be looked at, the Minister, her colleagues and officials have written to me providing explanations and, invariably, concessions which meet the points that have been made.

In this welter of discussion on local democracy, we have had a very good illustration of parliamentary democracy from the Minister, her colleagues and officials who have recognised that, particularly as regards this topic, one needs to concede that other people's experience in local government may be wider or better than that of Ministers. My noble friend has been prepared to listen to their suggestions and to implement them. We can be satisfied that this Bill has been well researched and is well founded. We can also be satisfied that the Minister and her colleagues have sensibly listened to the comments made on the opposition Benches. I am very pleased to have been part of the team supporting the Minister. At times we were almost sworn to maintain silence in the interests of making progress. While I was silent, I listened to Members of the Opposition saying that they felt things were not quite right and recognised strands from my own experience in local government. They are entitled to express that view. The Minister should be congratulated on listening to what has been said. These amendments will result in the Bill being in a much better shape than it was initially. I congratulate all concerned on that.

Photo of Lord Tope Lord Tope Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I share the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Graham. Perhaps I will add my comments on the Bill generally a little later in our proceedings. At this point, I will just put on record the support from the Liberal Democrat Benches for these amendments. They are welcome, albeit at a late stage in Bill, and will ensure that the Bill leaves this House in a little better shape than it arrived.

Amendment 49 agreed.

Clause 66 : Partner Authorities

Amendment 50

Moved by Baroness Andrews

50: Clause 66, leave out Clause 66

Amendment 50 agreed.

Clause 68 : Leaders' Boards

Amendment 51

Moved by Lord Judd

51: Clause 68, page 52, line 6, at end insert—

"( ) Membership of the Leaders' Board will include representatives from each type of authority with planning responsibilities within each region."

Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 4:45 pm, 29th April 2009

My Lords, I should remind the House of the honorary roles I hold in the Campaign for National Parks and Friends of the Lake District. It would be quite wrong to use Third Reading to reargue the case for the merits; we covered that very fully at earlier stages. I have no doubt whatever about the Government's extremely positive approach towards the role of the national parks in our society. It is exciting and commendable that the Government take such a strong position.

However, my noble friend said on Report:

"On Amendment 160, I recognise the importance of my noble friend's argument regarding the national parks. I have listened to the concerns expressed and we will come back with a proposal to ensure that the Bill enables national parks to be properly represented without undermining the principle of regional self-organisation".—[Hansard, 23/3/09; col. 514.]

I understand the Government's wish not to be too prescriptive and not to undermine autonomy, which they want to see the regions exercising. I am grateful to the Minister for Local Government, John Healey, who has written to me very fully on the issue. On whether national park authorities should be statutory consultees, he wrote on 16 April:

"We fully accept this principle and intend to provide for this in Regulations. Baroness Andrews has already made this clear in the House and in correspondence with the English National Parks Association. She has also advised that we will expect engagement with individual NPAs to feature in statement of policies on community involvement, which responsible regional authorities have to prepare".

It is a very full letter. An awful lot of it is relevant but I cannot possibly quote it all. I will just take one further extract. On the issue of the NPAs being guaranteed one seat on the leaders' board where a regional strategy is to cover a national park or the Broads, he writes:

"We agree that this principle is important to ensure that the Leaders' Boards' membership is representative of the region. It is in fact assumed in the three broad criteria which the Secretary of State would use in approving any scheme for a Leaders Board. ... However, in view of concern that this requirement should be made abundantly clear, we now propose to prepare early guidance about Leaders Boards in which we would clarify that the Secretary of State would not approve a scheme for a Leaders Board unless any NPA interests are guaranteed at least one seat on the Board".

I do not want to quibble but I find the words "NPA interests" worthy of reflection and scrutiny. NPA interests could be interpreted in a lot of different ways. The adequacy of representation for the authorities is therefore perhaps not fully met by that point.

Of course there must be flexibility. The point of principle is that both local authorities and park authorities have extensive authoritative powers and responsibilities, not least planning, but they do not have the same remit. Therefore, to have one group without the other does not cover the whole range of responsibility and the remits that go with it.

My noble friend and the Minister in writing have been so fulsome in their commitment that I could not help remarking to the Minister in my reply that it left me more bewildered than ever that there is nothing in the Bill. It seemed to me that if they felt that strongly, it would be logical to have something in the Bill. We must not let the cynics say, "It is all the more significant that there is not something in the Bill". I am sure that is not the case.

I hope this amendment gives my noble friend the opportunity to convince us in her reply that the points are being met in a muscular fashion. Governments come and Governments go, and Ministers come and Ministers go. What we may all intend at this moment may not be present in people's considerations in the future. I think we should leave the future in no doubt about how strongly we feel on this issue.

Photo of Lord Tope Lord Tope Liberal Democrat

My Lords, my noble friend Lady Hamwee and I have added our names to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and we were very pleased to do so. I do not need to repeat all that he has very ably said. Speaking from the Opposition Front Bench, I might just fall into the category of being a little more cynical than the noble Lord, who speaks from the Government Back Benches, about why, as the Government have given such a strong commitment not to approve any scheme that did not recognise the interests of the MPA—indeed in which the MPA was not recognised—they would not make a very clear, specific statement which would be in the Bill for all time, unless there were amending legislation. We would be very grateful to be copied in on the correspondence. I am not cynical about this but I am puzzled why the Government will not take that small, final step. It may well be that the wording of the amendment is not adequate but its intent could not be clearer. The Government, in particular the Minister, have known, understood and I think sympathised with this throughout the process and it is therefore all the more surprising that we do not have a perfectly drafted amendment to put this into the Bill.

My noble friend and I have Amendments 52 and 53 in this group, to which I shall speak now. Clause 71 requires the responsible regional authorities to publish a statement of their policies for the involvement of interested persons in the exercise of those functions. The Bill does not define who those persons are; it simply refers in subsection (1) to persons who appear to the responsible regional authorities,

"to have an interest in the exercise of those functions".

Amendment 52 would require those authorities to include local authorities in their region among the persons whom they involve when revising the regional strategy. Local authority involvement would also include the possibility of initiating proposals to make specific provision for a particular area. That would assist the responsible regional authorities to comply with their duty under Clause 73(1)(g) to have regard to the desirability of making different provision for different parts of that region.

Amendment 53 relates to Clause 77, which requires each responsible regional authority to produce and publish an implementation plan for its regional strategy. Again the Bill makes no provision for public involvement in that process. Amendment 53, therefore, seeks to add the duty to involve interested persons, including local authorities, and it also applies to the implementation plan.

Those are the purposes of the amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, quoted the Minister on Report and I shall do the same from, I think, the same column of Hansard. The Minister said,

"it is clear to me that noble Lords consider it important to spell out in more detail the relationship between the responsible regional authorities and the local authorities boards and individual local authorities. Again, I am willing to take the matter away and consider how we can address noble Lords' concerns by setting out more clearly in the Bill the reciprocal duties of the responsible regional authorities to consult, engage and take advice from local authorities in the region and the responsibilities of local authorities to engage in that process".—[Hansard, 23/3/09; col. 514.]

The Minister very clearly did not say that she would take it away and consider whether to do it, or how to do it in some other way. Her words—and they are on record—were,

"how we can address noble Lords' concerns by setting out more clearly in the Bill", those duties. That was a very specific commitment. The Government may not yet be ready to come forward with that, but we have tried very hard to find out how they intend to fulfil that clear commitment, given on Report, and have been unable to do so. That is why we have tabled these amendments again today, in the hope that, in replying to this debate, the Minister will spell out clearly not whether but how this will be done—and not in guidance but in the Bill—in accordance with the commitment given on Report.

Finally, the Minister has not yet spoken to her Amendment 54, but as it is identical to the amendment that my noble friend moved on Report, I conclude this otherwise not-too-happy speech by saying how much we welcome the fact that we have persuaded the Government to adopt our amendment.

Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Shadow Minister (Community Cohesion), Communities and Local Government

My Lords, before the Minister speaks formally to her amendment and replies to the others, it may be appropriate for me to say a few words about the amendments. We have debated this issue in Grand Committee and on Report. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Hanningfield unsuccessfully sought the support of noble Lords on a similar amendment. It remains the view of the Opposition that if we are to have regional strategies—and it is our view that we should not—we must involve and consult the relevant local authorities. Local authorities are just that: local. They are the bedrock of local democracy. The Government presented this Bill, and defended it in this House, as strengthening local democracy. It is our view that, to do so properly, they ought to have much more regard to involving local authorities in the decisions that will affect them.

My noble friend Lord Hanningfield and I have sought to protect the position of local authorities, so that they cannot simply be ignored and overruled by central government. We have especially sought to protect the position of the different tiers. For that reason, I am more attracted to Amendment 52, in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, which was proposed by the County Councils Network, over Amendment 51 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Judd. Amendment 52 explicitly refers to, among others, county councils and, where there is no county council, district councils. We support the right of these councils to be involved in the revision of regional strategies.

Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. She is explaining that she is attracted to the other amendment because it deals specifically with local authorities. Unless she is going to come to it, she has not dealt with the issue of national parks authorities not having the same responsibilities. If the bodies are to be fully representative, they need both interests to be present.

Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Shadow Minister (Community Cohesion), Communities and Local Government

My Lords, I take the point that the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has made. I hope that the Minister will tell us that she accepts the principle, if not the amendment. I realise that it is a late stage at which to accept an amendment that might need to be redrafted to fit the Bill, even though the principle is sound. However, I echo the call of the noble Lord, Lord Tope, for the Minister to take the amendment to her colleagues in another place to see if we can make some headway there, so that we may continue to improve the Bill.

Finally, I thank the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Patel, for their constructive and understanding approach. I also thank the Bill team for its hard work in helping us to achieve a much better Bill.

Photo of Baroness Andrews Baroness Andrews Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for what she has just said and the gracious way in which she said it. I have a couple of speaking notes, but I will reply in kind in due course.

These four amendments take us back to some serious debates in Committee and on Report. They relate to the composition of the local authorities' leaders' boards and the detail of their working arrangements. My noble friend, who has been such a champion of national parks in every piece of legislation and policy in this House, has returned to this argument and challenged me to convince him. I shall try to convince him about how we have not been able to meet entirely what I hoped on Report we would be able to do.

I will briefly talk in general terms about how the leaders' boards and the RDAs will work with individual authorities and the role played by regional strategies in delivering sustainable development. We debated those issues at some length on Report, and I promised to come back with proposals to ensure that the national parks are represented at regional level without undermining the principle of self-organisation. I also agreed to look again at the way in which responsible regional authorities would work with individual local authorities. This is the final opportunity for me to explain how we think that what we are doing now will meet what noble Lords around the Chamber want and what will make a practical difference.

I sympathise with the position of my noble friend and that of noble Lords opposite and their desire to secure provisions in the Bill that ensure that the new regional arrangements are truly representative of all local authorities, with particular regard to the national parks and broads authorities. I know that noble Lords have reflected concerns of authorities which have argued that they may lose their voice under the new arrangements. I am pleased to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, in particular, that the Government are entirely at one with the principles underpinning the amendment. That is why the new arrangements give local authorities, including the national parks and the broads authorities an even stronger voice than they have had to date.

However, I know that my responses so far have not provided the reassurance that noble Lords were looking for, so I want briefly to highlight the two key principles of our approach and how it is intended to work. First, there is throughout the Bill a fundamental respect for the autonomy of local authorities, including the national parks and broads authorities. That is what noble Lords always urge on the Government. The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, said in a debate on a previous amendment that we should show faith with local authorities and not interfere with local authority determination. The language that she used in Committee was that we should treat local authorities as mature bodies, as grown-ups. In the course of our debates, I have repeatedly emphasised the need to provide for regional and local flexibility and the principle that local authorities, national parks and broads authorities should determine their own arrangements. That must include the composition and operation of the leaders' board. The second and balancing principle is that leaders' boards should represent all local authorities in their region.

The Bill already provides us with the right approach and the right tools. To explain, the leaders' board is the means for authorities to have a collective voice at regional level to fulfil their responsibility for preparing, implementing and monitoring regional strategy jointly with the RDA. The scheme that they are required to produce by establishing the leaders' board is critical in securing proper local authority representation and credible working arrangements between the leaders' board and individual authorities. The scheme therefore needs to set out not only who will sit on the leaders' board to represent local authorities but how it is to operate—how it will reflect the views of the local authorities that it is there to represent.

What we want to achieve, therefore, is the right and most efficient balance between self-determination and non-negotiable criteria that the scheme in each region must respect. That is why the Bill provides the safeguard of Secretary of State approval for the scheme. The points that are non-negotiable and will be made crystal clear in guidance are that there must be representation on leaders' boards from all types of authorities in the region and a reciprocal relationship between the leaders' board and each individual authority.

I sincerely hope that that helps noble Lords to understand better why we think that the Bill should still remain silent about the composition or operation of the board. Let me be clear: the Secretary of State will not approve a scheme that does not meet those non-negotiable criteria. If I explain that in relation to the amendments, I hope that I can reassure my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Tope.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, has laid Amendment 51 to Clause 68 and proposes that the leaders' board should include at least one representative from each type of authority in the region that has planning responsibilities. As I said, the Government fully agree with the principle that the membership of the leaders' board should include representation from each type of participant authority: county, unitary, district and national parks authorities, as well as the Broads Authority. My noble friend has already quoted correspondence from my right honourable friend the Minister for Local Government, but I will state it again, as I think that I, too, should put on the record the fact that we propose to prepare early guidance about leaders' boards, in which we will clarify that the Secretary of State will not approve a scheme for a leaders' board unless any NPA interests are guaranteed to have at least one seat on the board.

Let me answer the question raised by my noble friend. Where there is only one national park authority in the region, it will be represented on the board; where there is more than one, and there are regions with more than one, we use the terminology about representation of interests because they have to find a way in which the interests of both authorities are represented. We could not be clearer than that and by putting it on the record today I hope that it will be crystal clear to everyone involved in constructing the scheme for a leaders' board. This will ensure that the practical effect of what my noble friend and we both want is achieved, which is to ensure that the national parks are represented on every leaders' board.

However, because we believe passionately in the need to respect and reflect local autonomy and local ecology, we feel that the Bill as a matter of principle should still remain silent on the composition of the board. By doing what the noble Lord wants through guidance, we believe that we can get that balance of local determination and ensuring that leaders' boards are representative of all authorities in the region. I hope that on those grounds I can dissuade my noble friend from dividing on his amendment, because I have to say that the amendment is seriously flawed. In particular, the phrase "authorities with planning responsibilities" could be interpreted as applying to a range of bodies that I am sure he did not have in mind. For example, urban development corporations, RDAs and other agencies such as the HCA could all be said to have some planning responsibilities under planning legislation. I am afraid that, if this amendment were to find its way into the Bill, there would be genuine confusion as to the requirements for the composition of the leaders' boards.

I now turn briefly to Amendments 52 and 53 in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Tope. Amendment 52 to Clause 71 would explicitly require the responsible regional authorities to set out in their statement of policies on community involvement how they will involve individual participant authorities and how such policies must provide for authorities to make representations, give advice and initiate proposals relevant to their area. Amendment 53 to Clause 77 would explicitly require the responsible regional authorities to prepare and publish a statement of policies on involving persons who appear to them to have an interest in the preparation of the implementation plan. These are quite ingenious amendments—I am never surprised at the ingenuity of the Liberals—but I understand the desire to be sure that the new arrangements will secure a voice for individual authorities that may not have a member on the leaders' board and that the responsible authorities will involve stakeholders in the preparation of the implementation plan.

I hope to convince the noble Lord that the amendments are not necessary. Noble Lords will recall that on Report I promised to consider whether we needed to include explicit provision in the Bill for reciprocal duties between the responsible regional authorities and the individual local authorities not represented on the board. Some authorities have argued that they will not have a voice at regional level unless a provision similar to that set out in Section 4 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act is retained. Peers accordingly proposed a number of amendments to this effect. Indeed, the House considered and voted on one of these on Report. It would have required the responsible regional authorities to seek advice from NPAs, county and unitary authorities and, in two-tier areas, it would have required the county councils to liaise with district councils. I am pleased to say that it was defeated.

The Bill envisages a much stronger role for all authorities, including NPAs, in all aspects of the regional strategy preparation, implementation and monitoring than that provided under existing legislation. As participating authorities, NPAs and all other local authorities in each region will share joint responsibility for regional strategy together with the RDA. The leaders' board is the means to enable all the authorities to act collectively at the regional level. It should therefore be defined and organised by them in the interests of regional self-determination.

As I have said, the Bill requires the participating authorities to make a scheme that covers the composition of their leaders' board and, crucially, how the board will operate. It will be for the participating authorities to design the leaders' board and to set out how it will do the job of preparing, implementing and monitoring strategy. For example, if the participating authorities in a region want the authorities for different sub-regions to prepare initial drafts of the strategy, they can set that out in the scheme. It is the scheme, therefore, that will set out the extent, the scope and the nature of the reciprocal relationship between the collective board and individual authorities. The responsible authorities will also need to elaborate in their statement of community involvement and any project plans for strategy reviews how they will draw on the expertise of individual authorities and what contribution they expect from those authorities. We fully expect the responsible regional authorities to draw on the expertise of all the local authorities, including NPAs. As I have said, the Secretary of State would not sanction a scheme that did not commit to an explicit, reciprocal arrangement between the collective leaders' board and individual authorities.

I have gone into that degree of detail because I want it on the record for those local authorities that will work in the future to set up leaders' boards and to ensure that they will work. With that explanation, I hope that noble Lords will be content that the Bill provides a coherent framework and that we can all be satisfied that it is the obligation of local authorities, including the national parks authorities and the Broads Authority, when drawing up the scheme for their leaders' board, to make it abundantly clear how the board is to develop a reciprocal relationship with individual authorities.

Amendment 53 would introduce a separate requirement for a statement of policies on involving stakeholders in relation to the implementation plan. That would effectively duplicate the provisions in Clause 71. The community involvement statement under Clause 71 should serve for all purposes relevant to the regional strategy, which includes the implementation plan. I hope that that covers the point.

Finally, I have tabled Amendment 54 so that Clause 80, headed "Sustainable development", will follow Clause 69 in the Bill. That will make it abundantly clear that, in preparing, implementing and monitoring the regional strategy, the responsible regional authorities and the Secretary of State have a duty to contribute to sustainable development. Noble Lords welcomed the proposal when I made it on Report and I am pleased to bring it forward now.

Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 5:00 pm, 29th April 2009

My Lords, I welcome very much what my noble friend has done with Clause 80. As we have heard again, the commitment of my noble friend is exemplary in terms of how important she sees the parks and their interests to be. I am sorry that, with the force of her argument and with her expert and excellent officials, she has not been able to find a wording to put in the Bill all that she has said powerfully and well today. However, it would be perverse to question the commitment of the Government at this stage. This is an opportunity missed and I wish that I had heard the Conservative Opposition align themselves as strongly with the points made by the Minister as I believe that they had the opportunity to do. I hope that there is no significance in that. In these circumstances, and taking into account the very specific undertaking that in one way or another there will be a national park representative on each leaders' board, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 51 withdrawn.

Clause 71 : Community involvement

Amendment 52 not moved.

Clause 77 : Implementation

Amendment 53 not moved.

Clause 80 : Sustainable development

Amendment 54

Moved by Baroness Andrews

54: Transpose Clause 80 to after Clause 69

Amendment 54 agreed.

Clause 142 : Repeals

Amendment 55

Moved by Baroness Andrews

55: Clause 142, page 87, line 15, at end insert—

"(za) the repeals in Part A1 of Schedule 7 are part of section (Politically restricted posts);"

Amendment 55 agreed.

Clause 143 : Extent

Amendment 56

Moved by Baroness Andrews

56: Clause 143, page 87, line 29, at end insert—

"Paragraph (a) does not apply to section (Politically restricted posts) (which accordingly extends to England and Wales only)."

Amendment 56 agreed.

Clause 144 : Commencement: general

Amendments 57 and 58

Moved by Baroness Andrews

57: Clause 144, page 87, line 40, leave out "Chapter 5 comes" and insert "Chapter 5 and section (Politically restricted posts) come"

58: Clause 144, page 88, line 16, leave out from "force" to end of line 17 and insert "on a day appointed by the Secretary of State"

Amendments 57 and 58 agreed.

Schedule 1 : Boundary Committee for England

Amendments 59 to 122

Moved by Baroness Andrews

59: Schedule 1, page 90, line 5, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission for England ("the Commission")"

60: Schedule 1, page 90, line 6, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

61: Schedule 1, page 91, line 30, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

62: Schedule 1, page 92, line 31, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

63: Schedule 1, page 92, line 35, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

64: Schedule 1, page 92, line 40, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

65: Schedule 1, page 93, line 2, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

66: Schedule 1, page 93, line 4, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

67: Schedule 1, page 93, line 6, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

68: Schedule 1, page 93, line 9, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

69: Schedule 1, page 93, line 12, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

70: Schedule 1, page 93, line 17, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

71: Schedule 1, page 93, line 21, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

72: Schedule 1, page 93, line 23, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

73: Schedule 1, page 93, line 24, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

74: Schedule 1, page 93, line 26, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

75: Schedule 1, page 93, line 27, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

76: Schedule 1, page 93, line 29, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

77: Schedule 1, page 93, line 31, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

78: Schedule 1, page 93, line 32, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

79: Schedule 1, page 93, line 34, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

80: Schedule 1, page 93, line 39, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

81: Schedule 1, page 94, line 1, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

82: Schedule 1, page 94, line 4, leave out ""Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

83: Schedule 1, page 94, line 6, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

84: Schedule 1, page 94, line 16, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

85: Schedule 1, page 94, line 35, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

86: Schedule 1, page 94, line 38, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

87: Schedule 1, page 94, line 42, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

88: Schedule 1, page 94, line 44, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

89: Schedule 1, page 95, line 1, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

90: Schedule 1, page 95, line 3, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

91: Schedule 1, page 95, line 4, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

92: Schedule 1, page 95, line 6, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

93: Schedule 1, page 95, line 8, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

94: Schedule 1, page 95, line 13, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

95: Schedule 1, page 95, line 15, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

96: Schedule 1, page 95, line 16, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

97: Schedule 1, page 95, line 22, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

98: Schedule 1, page 96, line 3, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

99: Schedule 1, page 96, line 10, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

100: Schedule 1, page 96, line 38, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

101: Schedule 1, page 97, line 6, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

102: Schedule 1, page 97, line 7, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

103: Schedule 1, page 97, line 16, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

104: Schedule 1, page 97, line 25, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

105: Schedule 1, page 97, line 26, leave out "Boundary Committee for England's" and insert "Commission's"

106: Schedule 1, page 97, line 28, leave out "Boundary Committee for England's" and insert "Commission's"

107: Schedule 1, page 97, line 33, leave out "Boundary Committee for England's" and insert "Commission's"

108: Schedule 1, page 97, line 36, leave out "Boundary Committee for England's" and insert "Commission's"

109: Schedule 1, page 97, line 38, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

110: Schedule 1, page 98, line 9, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

111: Schedule 1, page 98, line 11, leave out "Boundary Committee for England's" and insert "Commission's"

112: Schedule 1, page 98, line 13, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

113: Schedule 1, page 98, line 16, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

114: Schedule 1, page 98, line 18, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

115: Schedule 1, page 98, line 19, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

116: Schedule 1, page 98, line 27, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

117: Schedule 1, page 98, line 31, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

118: Schedule 1, page 98, line 35, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

119: Schedule 1, page 98, line 40, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

120: Schedule 1, page 99, line 5, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

121: Schedule 1, page 99, line 13, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Commission"

122: Schedule 1, page 99, line 23, at end insert—

""the Commission" means the Local Government Boundary Commission for England;"

Amendments 59 to 122 agreed.

Schedule 2 : Electoral change in England: considerations on review

Amendments 123 to 136

Moved by Baroness Andrews

123: Schedule 2, page 99, line 29, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

124: Schedule 2, page 99, line 40, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

125: Schedule 2, page 100, line 14, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

126: Schedule 2, page 100, line 20, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

127: Schedule 2, page 100, line 29, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission for England"

128: Schedule 2, page 101, line 1, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

129: Schedule 2, page 101, line 20, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

130: Schedule 2, page 101, line 29, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission for England"

131: Schedule 2, page 101, line 42, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

132: Schedule 2, page 102, line 2, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

133: Schedule 2, page 102, line 5, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

134: Schedule 2, page 102, line 18, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

135: Schedule 2, page 102, line 28, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

136: Schedule 2, page 102, line 34, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 123 to 136 agreed.

Schedule 4 : Boundary and electoral change: amendments

Amendments 137 to 179

Moved by Baroness Andrews

137: Schedule 4, page 105, line 2, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

138: Schedule 4, page 105, line 30, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

139: Schedule 4, page 105, line 39, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

140: Schedule 4, page 106, line 7, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

141: Schedule 4, page 106, line 14, leave out "Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission for England"

142: Schedule 4, page 106, line 19, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

143: Schedule 4, page 106, line 25, leave out "Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission for England"

144: Schedule 4, page 106, line 33, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

145: Schedule 4, page 106, line 34, leave out "Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission for England"

146: Schedule 4, page 106, line 38, leave out "Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission for England"

147: Schedule 4, page 107, line 9, leave out "Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission for England"

148: Schedule 4, page 107, line 16, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

149: Schedule 4, page 107, line 25, at end insert—

"(4A) In paragraph 7 (rules about Assembly constituencies), for "paragraphs 1(4), 2(2) and 4(3)" substitute "paragraphs 1(2) and 2(2)"."

150: Schedule 4, page 107, line 29, at end insert—

"11A (1) Section 4 (request for Boundary Committee for England's advice) is amended as follows.

(2) In the heading, for "Boundary Committee for England's" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission's".

(3) In subsection (2), for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission".

11B (1) Section 5 (Boundary Committee's powers) is amended as follows.

(2) In the heading, for "Boundary Committee's" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission's".

(3) In subsections (1), (2) and (3), for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission".

11C (1) Section 6 (Boundary Committee's procedures) is amended as follows.

(2) In the heading, for "Boundary Committee's" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission's".

(3) In subsection (1)—

(a) for "Boundary Committee", in the first place, substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission";

(b) for "Boundary Committee", in the remaining three places, substitute "Commission".

(4) In subsection (2)—

(a) for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission";

(b) for "Boundary Committee's" substitute "Commission's".

(5) In subsection (4)—

(a) for "Boundary Committee", in the first place, substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission";

(b) for "Boundary Committee", in the second place, substitute "Commission".

(6) In subsection (5), for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission".

11D (1) Section 7 (implementation of proposals by order) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)(b), for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission".

(3) In subsection (6)—

(a) for "Boundary Committee", in the first place, substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission";

(b) for "Boundary Committee", in the second place, substitute "Commission".

(4) In subsection (7), for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission".

11E (1) Section 8 (review by Boundary Committee of local government areas) is amended as follows.

(2) In the heading, for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission".

(3) In subsections (1), (2), (5), (6) and (7), for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission".

(4) In subsection (8)—

(a) for "Boundary Committee", in the first place, substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission";

(b) for "Boundary Committee", in the remaining three places, substitute "Commission".

11F (1) Section 9 (Boundary Committee's review: consultation etc) is amended as follows.

(2) In the heading, for "Boundary Committee's" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission's".

(3) In subsection (2), for "Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission".

(4) In subsection (3)—

(a) for "Boundary Committee", in the first place, substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission";

(b) for "Boundary Committee", in the second place, substitute "Commission".

(5) In subsections (4) and (5), for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission".

11G In section 10 (implementation of recommendations by order), in subsections (1), (2), (4) and (5), for "Boundary Committee" substitute "Local Government Boundary Commission"."

151: Schedule 4, page 107, line 32, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

152: Schedule 4, page 107, line 34, at end insert—

"12A (1) In section 23 (definitions), subsection (1) is amended as follows.

(2) Omit the definition of "the Boundary Committee".

(3) After the definition of "local government area" insert—

""the Local Government Boundary Commission" means the Local Government Boundary Commission for England;"."

153: Schedule 4, page 107, line 36, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

154: Schedule 4, page 107, line 38, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

155: Schedule 4, page 107, line 39, at end insert—

"(4) After subsection (2) insert—

"(3) In this Chapter, "Local Government Boundary Commission" means the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.""

156: Schedule 4, page 107, line 41, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

157: Schedule 4, page 107, line 43, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

158: Schedule 4, page 108, line 1, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

159: Schedule 4, page 108, line 5, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

160: Schedule 4, page 108, line 7, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

161: Schedule 4, page 108, line 10, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

162: Schedule 4, page 108, line 14, leave out "Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

163: Schedule 4, page 108, line 17, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

164: Schedule 4, page 108, line 19, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

165: Schedule 4, page 108, line 22, leave out "Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

166: Schedule 4, page 108, line 28, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

167: Schedule 4, page 108, line 32, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

168: Schedule 4, page 108, line 34, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

169: Schedule 4, page 108, line 37, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

170: Schedule 4, page 108, line 40, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

171: Schedule 4, page 108, line 42, leave out "Committee" and insert "Commission"

172: Schedule 4, page 109, line 2, leave out paragraph (a)

173: Schedule 4, page 109, line 8, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

174: Schedule 4, page 109, line 10, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

175: Schedule 4, page 109, line 14, leave out "Boundary Committee for England" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

176: Schedule 4, page 109, line 20, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

177: Schedule 4, page 109, line 29, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

178: Schedule 4, page 109, line 31, leave out paragraph 25 and insert—

"25 In section 102 (interpretation), in subsection (2), after the definition of "local government elector" insert—

""Local Government Boundary Commission" means the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.""

179: Schedule 4, page 109, line 36, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendments 137 to 179 agreed.

Schedule 6 : EPBs and combined authorities: amendments

Amendment 180

Moved by Baroness Andrews

180: Schedule 6, page 129, line 6, leave out "Integrated Transport Authority"" and insert "integrated transport area"

Photo of Baroness Andrews Baroness Andrews Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) 5:15 pm, 29th April 2009

My Lords, this is a much shorter speaking note and my final one on this Bill. Amendments 180 to 182 are minor, technical amendments that will correct small errors that have been noticed in the drafting of Schedule 6. I am grateful to our Bill team for its usual forensic attention to detail. I beg to move.

Amendment 180 agreed.

Amendments 181 and 182

Moved by Baroness Andrews

181: Schedule 6, page 130, line 20, leave out "In paragraph 11A(1)," and insert "In paragraph 11A—

(a) in sub-paragraph (1),"

182: Schedule 6, page 130, line 21, at end insert ";

(b) in sub-paragraph (4), for "integrated transport area of the Authority" substitute "integrated transport area of the Integrated Transport Authority or (as the case may be) the area of the combined authority.""

Amendments 181 and 182 agreed.

Schedule 7 : Repeals

Amendments 183 and 184

Moved by Baroness Andrews

183: Schedule 7, page 134, line 2, at end insert—

"Part A1Politically restricted posts

Short title and chapter Extent of repeal
Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (c. 42) In section 2(2)—
(a) paragraphs (a) and (b);
(b) in paragraph (c), "not falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above".
In section 3(3)—
(a) in paragraph (a), "and";
(b) paragraph (b);
(c) the words from "and it shall" to the end.
In section 3A(2)—
(a) in paragraph (a), the word "and";
(b) paragraph (b);
(c) the words from "and the relevant" to the end."

184: Schedule 7, page 135, line 24, column 2, at end insert—

"In section 23(1), the definition of "the Boundary Committee"."

Amendments 183 and 184 agreed.

In the Title

Amendment 185

Moved by Baroness Andrews

185: In the Title, line 6, leave out "Boundary Committee" and insert "Local Government Boundary Commission"

Amendment 185 agreed.

A privilege amendment was made.

Motion

Moved by Baroness Andrews

That the Bill do now pass.

Photo of Baroness Andrews Baroness Andrews Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, it has been a pleasure working with Members of this House given the thoughtfulness, experience and commitment to making a better Bill that they displayed at every stage of this Bill. Members on the opposition Front Benches have been a pleasure to work with. My noble friends have been loyal and faithful, demonstrating great stamina throughout the process. I am extremely grateful for the thorough and careful scrutiny that this Bill has been given. The Bill is simpler, clearer and improved from the process. I thank my noble friend Lord Judd for the generosity of what he said. It is my duty but also a great pleasure to listen and to be able to accommodate the improvements that noble Lords around this House have put forward. I am grateful.

We send this little craft into the stormy seas of another place, but the craft is now more robust and more likely to survive. Although this is a relatively modest Bill by some standards, it is significant. It addresses the different ways in which the practice of both politics in its wider sense and democracy can operate in future. I am conscious that at this time there is a great deal of cynicism about both. Politics is an honourable craft and politicians honourable people. This Bill demonstrates that powerfully and opens opportunities for people to take part in community and national politics in a way that they have not been able to before. That is extremely important.

I am grateful to the support of this House in enabling us to achieve that. I thank an outstanding Bill team, whose members have been extremely scrupulous, creative and flexible; they have given the greatest possible support to both me and my noble friend Lord Patel, who has assisted me beautifully and ably throughout the process of the Bill. I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Photo of Lord Tope Lord Tope Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I thank the Minister for her comments and agree substantially with many of them. First, I offer the apologies of my noble friend Lady Hamwee, who, sadly, is at the funeral of a close friend this afternoon. However, it gives me the opportunity to put on the record my personal thanks to her. Occasionally I have been critical of some of the drafting, but in fact my noble friend's drafting skills never cease to amaze me. I worked closely with her at the Greater London Authority for eight years and we have known each other for probably 30 years, so I should no longer be amazed.

I thank also two of my colleagues, my noble friend Lady Maddock, who is in her place, and my noble friend Lord Greaves, who particularly sends his apologies for his absence today. He is thinking of us from another part of the country and wishes that he could be here. Between the four of us, I believe that we have—although I hesitate to say it—well over 100 years of local government experience. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with my noble friends on this Bill. I am not sure that the Minister feels that it has always been a pleasure, but it has been from this side of the Chamber.

I move on to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, and the noble Lord, Lord Patel, for their real care and consideration of all that we have had to say, and for their willingness to discuss with us our concerns and to try to meet them whenever possible. I link to that, as did the noble Baroness, her Bill team, particularly the central team, if that is the right expression. I note also from a reply to a Parliamentary Question at an early stage the very significant number of civil servants who have worked on the Bill. Nine are in their places today, but in our darker moments it has been a matter of some amusement for Members on these Benches, who sit opposite the civil servants' Box, to watch the teams moving backwards and forwards as we reach each new stage. Nevertheless, I pay tribute to them for their support and willingness to try to accommodate us where necessary. On that subject, I, too, make particular mention of Tim Oliver in our Whips' Office, who has worked tirelessly in support of our team.

Our view on the Bill is now well known. We think that some of it is unnecessary, some of it is undesirable and much of it is well intentioned; there is also some of it with which we simply disagree. The one point on which I think we will all agree is that it leaves this House in a very much better condition than it arrived, but not yet in a pristine condition.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.