‘(1) The Secretary of State shall, as soon as is practicable, consult all principal councils in accordance with this section—
(a) on the matters set out in the Schedule to this Act, which specifies matters which affect the sustainability of local communities, and
(b) on any other matters which in the opinion of the Secretary of State affect the sustainability of local communities.
(2) Before consulting principal councils, the Secretary of State must—
(a) subject to paragraph (b) appoint a person to be his advisor (“the advisor”) for the purposes of this Act.
(b) request the Local Government Association to be the advisor but, if that body declines, appoint such other person or persons who must be persons who represent the interests of principal councils.
(3) The advisor must consider the responses to the consultation pursuant to subsection (1) and draw up a list of proposals contained in those responses which in the advisor’s opinion—
(a) should be given the greatest priority, and
(b) have cross-party support.
(4) The Secretary of State must, subject to subsection (5), cooperate with the advisor in drawing up an action plan to promote the sustainability of local communities which shall—
(a) be based primarily on those proposals that have been identified by the advisor as requiring the greatest priority and having cross-party support; and
(b) include such other recommendations made by principal councils as the Secretary of State thinks fit.
(5) The Secretary of State may determine which proposals are not appropriate to be implemented immediately or at all, on the grounds that—
(a) the direct or indirect costs likely to be involved in their implementation, or
(b) their implementation in whole or in part is likelyto conflict, to a significant extent, with a specific government objective.
(6) The Secretary of State shall, no later than 18 months after the commencement of the consultation pursuant to subsection (1), lay the action plan before each House of Parliament for approval by each House.
(7) The Secretary of State must—
(a) implement the action plan and for that purpose shall keep under review the progress made from time to time in the implementation of the action plan; and
(b) consider any opinions of the advisor on progress made.
(8) The Secretary of State shall ensure that every regional office of government cooperates with principal councils and panels established under section 3(1A) for the relevant region in the promotion of the sustainability of local communities.
(9) The Secretary of State shall in each Session of Parliament beginning after the enactment of this act lay an annual report before each House of Parliament containing the action plan, if completed, and detailing the progress made to the date of the report in producing the action plan if not completed, and in implementing the recommendations contained in the action plan in pursuance of subsection (7).’.
Amendments made: No. 46, in title, line 6, leave out ‘upon request’.
No. 47, in title, line 6, leave out ‘produce local spending plans’ and insert
‘make recommendations regarding local spending reports’.
No. 48, in title, line 7, leave out ‘approve and implement those plans’ and insert
‘publish reasons for decisions relating to local spending reports’.—[Mr. Hurd.]