Clause 12

Part of – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 24th April 2008.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Manchester, Blackley 9:45 am, 24th April 2008

I shall not go back to the debates on the definition of “exceptional” and “economic”, although I note that later amendments deal with the word “economic”. No, in fact, the situation the amendment would cover might not be exceptional at all. If the integrated transport authority proposed a scheme to put bus lanes in four of the authorities in Merseyside, for instance, and those authorities objected to it, they would have a veto. That is not an exceptional situation; it goes much wider than that.

The amendment gives directly elected people the power to tell indirectly elected and appointed people, “You might well have got this wrong.” There have been so many changes to local government in the past 25 years that we have got a long way from what I believe is the right principle—that people who are elected have the right to tax, but others have the right to throw them out. In this case, we are talking about people in a new, powerful integrated transport authority who cannot be thrown out directly.

These are probing amendments, and I will not press them after I have listened to the profound arguments made by my hon. Friend the Minister. I am very interested in why we should take these rights away from local authorities and the electorate. These matters are not trivial, but pretty fundamental, and I might well return to them on Report.