Clause 9

Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 17 June 2008.

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Advice to Ministers of the Crown

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

I do not want to delay the Committee unnecessarily. We have been talking all morning about the job that LBRO is set up to do and whether it fills gaps in the current regulatory market. One such gap is regarding advice to Ministers, which is covered by clause 9. The Hampton review recognises that many of the difficulties that regulatory enforcement poses for business, arise not from any failing by the local authorities, but from the complexity of the system that they sit at the centre of.

We expect that LBRO will work to bring better co-ordination and intelligence to the way that Government Departments and the national regulators work together in setting the framework for local authority enforcement. LBRO will have an insight into how regulation is enforced by local authorities from the perspective both of those local authorities and the businesses subject to the regulation. It is important that the body has the power to advise Government on such matters, and perhaps to challenge the various players in the field in order to make the system more coherent and streamlined. Clause 9 provides such a power and makes provision for LBRO to

“give advice or make proposals to a Minister of the Crown” regarding the way that local authorities exercise such functions, the effectiveness of the legislation, whether it would be appropriate for other regulatory functions to be exercised by local authorities and other matters relating to that. That is part of LBRO’s job, and its advice function will be an important one.

Photo of Judy Mallaber Judy Mallaber PPS (Rt Hon Baroness Ashton of Upholland, President of the Council (Leader of the House of Lords)), Privy Council Office

This is potentially an extremely useful part of the Bill. Will my hon. Friend advise us on how open it would be for local authorities to use this measure to express their concerns about regulatory functions? For example, will they be able to talk about the way that other Government agencies, besides those with which they are directly involved, exercise their regulatory functions, or will they be able only to comment and pass advice via LBRO back to Ministers specifically in relation to their own regulatory functions? Potentially, it could be an extremely useful mechanism that provides a sounding board and guidance to Ministers across a broad range of issues in relation to a regulatory regime that impinges on a local authority’s constituents.

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

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The local authority voice is very important. As I have tried to explain, in LBRO we seek something that sits at the centre of the regulatory system, which involves central Government, local government, regulators and business. Sitting at the centre of the system, LBRO will have an important advice function. The local authorities that LBRO will deal with on a day to day basis will be able to raise any relevant issue—as in fact they already do in LBRO’s current form of a company, and I am sure that that role will continue. The advice function is important, which is why I wanted to draw it to the attention of the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.