Clause 6

Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 17 June 2008.

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Guidance to local authorities

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Minister of State (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Employment Relations and Postal Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Clauses 6 and 7 are important to the functioning of the LBRO, so I hope that the Committee will not mind if I delay it for a short time to set out some of the issues.

Clause 6 gives the LBRO the power to issue guidance to local authorities setting out how they should exercise their relevant functions. Once again, the clause requires authorities to “have regard” to guidance given under it. It will give the LBRO the right to disseminate best practice on the full range of trading standards, environmental health, licensing and fire safety regulations that come within the scope of part 1. That will be critical to the LBRO’s objective of promoting better regulation at a local level.

That means, for example, that the LBRO could issue guidance to all local authorities regarding best practice in implementing legislation on trading standards. It could also issue guidance to a select number of local authorities regarding their approach to the implementation of risk-based regulatory enforcement, which we have just discussed. Equally, it could issue guidance to one authority regarding its approach to encouraging compliance among small businesses. Before the LBRO can issue guidance, however, the clause requires it to consult business or business representatives, local authorities and such other persons as it considers appropriate.

That guidance function is important and goes beyond the referee or arbitration function, which I am sure that we will discuss in part 2. Indeed, one of the key reasons for setting up the LBRO is that there is currently a gap in the provision of sufficiently clear guidance to local authorities about how legislation is to be interpreted and enforced. The clause is therefore important.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.