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Amendment 129A, to which the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, has added his name, would remove Clause 186 from the Bill. This clause mirrors Section 86 of the Climate Change Act 2008, which requires the Minister for the Cabinet Office to publish an annual State of the Estate report setting out progress in improving the efficiency of the civil estate.
Local authorities are already subject to a number of efficiency and sustainability requirements, such as producing energy efficiency certificates for their buildings. The new duty draws on these and requires authorities to publish reports to enable local people to hold them to account for the use of their assets. I reassure noble Lords that any additional costs to local authorities will be met by central government. DCLG is currently undertaking a new burdens assessment of Clauses 183 to 187 to determine which of the provisions create new burdens, and their extent.
Finally, I turn to Amendment 129ZA, proposed by the noble Lords, Lord Kennedy and Lord Beecham, which would remove Clause 185 from the Bill. The power to order disposals was brought into effect through the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. The power underpins the community right to reclaim land, which enables people to hold public authorities to account for their use of land. Under this right, communities can drive improvements in their local area by asking the Secretary of State to direct that underused or unused land owned by public bodies is brought back into beneficial use.
The 1980 Act already provides important safeguards which will continue to apply to the new provisions. Public bodies must be notified of the Secretary of State’s proposal to exercise the power and are given 42 days in which to make representations. If a representation is made, the Secretary of State may not give a direction unless he is satisfied that the disposal can be made without serious detriment to the performance of the body’s functions.
All this shows that we are determined to ensure that public land is used as efficiently as possible, and that where it can be made surplus and put to better use, especially in building more homes, this happens as quickly as possible. These clauses are essential to that agenda, and I hope that noble Lords will be fully reassured by the explanations I have given.