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Clause 1

Part of Business Rate Supplements Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 27th January 2009.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Local Government) 11:45 am, 27th January 2009

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. Indeed, part of my purpose in producing the draft guidance covering consultation is precisely to collect views, particularly from people such as himself who may be concerned about the nature of the consultation process over the next 12 weeks, on whether that could be strengthened, and if so, how. If the hon. Gentleman wants to submit a view to me, I would be pleased to receive it.

In summary, we are trying to strike a balance between giving business a degree of reassurance to which we believe it is entitled, and the interests of others, including local residents, who may benefit from or share an interest with business in a project supported by a BRS going ahead, and who may contribute a share of such a project’s funding. On the question of balloting, those others may therefore say that it is appropriate to give business a vote or a veto if a BRS is to contribute a third or more towards a project’s costs, but not if it makes a smaller contribution and the financial heavy lifting comes from other sources. Business should not be able to block a project’s going ahead on that basis.

I hope that, in the light of the explanations that I have given during our debate, amendment 1 will be withdrawn and the hon. Members for North Cornwall and for Bromley and Chislehurst will not press their other amendments, but will accept that we have striven to strike an appropriate balance in the Bill.