Clause 3

Part of Sustainable Communities Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 23 May 2007.

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Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood 10:00, 23 May 2007

I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Cummings. I am sure that you share my wish that we draw our proceedings to a close today, as do the rest of the Committee. In that spirit, let me go straight to the point.

We intend to push the amendments to a vote andtest the consensus of the Committee. We had a useful debate in an earlier sitting. A particular point was well made and, I believe, accepted by the Minister: that there is merit in considering going beyond clause 108 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill with regard to guidance to councils on what is required for engaging local communities in this process. In particular, we highlighted the value of the concept of introducing citizens panels into the process and the need to engage the disengaged—I think that that was the phrase that was used—to ensure that the quiet voice in the community is heard.

We believe that the Minister is generally supportive of these proposals and the principles underlying the amendments—that, I think, is supported by analysis of the record. However, it was not adequately reflected in the proposed Government amendments. Although I acknowledge, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering and others helpfully said, that there may be shortcomings in the drafting of the amendments, particularly in relation to definitions of deprivation, I feel that we have to push the ball back towards the Government to sort those out, in a spirit of needing to move on. We do not want to lose sight of the important principles that underlie the amendments, so I ask the Committee to vote in their favour.