Committee (3rd Day)

Part of Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 29th June 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 4:15 pm, 29th June 2015

My Lords, the Localism Act 2011 provides that local authorities have the general power of competence. This is the same power to act that an individual generally has. All principal councils and eligible town and parish councils have this power. The provision in this Bill is designed to give the Secretary of State the discretion to decide whether or not to confer this same general power of competence to a particular combined authority. This is likely to go hand in hand with an arrangement in which the combined authority is to take on wider powers and functions, thus supporting the case for a general power of competence.

Flexibility, however, must remain in conferring this general power of competence to combined authorities, as it may not be appropriate to give the full power to act that an individual has to all combined authorities. For example, for combined authorities with relatively limited specific powers, it may not be appropriate to grant them a wide general power of competence. This is so given that Section 113A of the 2009 Act already gives them a power to do anything they consider appropriate for the carrying out of the specific functions that have been conferred on them.

This amendment is a further example of moving away from the enabling character of the Bill. It is an example of another centralised requirement which an area may not want, recognising that in its circumstances this would not be appropriate. So I ask the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.