Clause 8

Part of Local Authorities (Overview and Scrutiny) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 3rd March 2010.

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Photo of Nick Raynsford Nick Raynsford Labour, Greenwich and Woolwich 10:45 am, 3rd March 2010

We come to another issue highlighted on Second Reading and by the hon. Member for Beckenham this morning. I share her concerns, of course, because I voiced the same ones on Second Reading.

The effect of the amendments made by subsections (2) and (3) is to allow an overview and scrutiny committee to include members of the local authority’s executive, when the committee is not scrutinising matters relating to the executive. There are also powers to make regulations for further provisions to avoid conflicts of interest. My concern is to avoid creating false relationships, in which a local authority member might be a partner of a body one day and scrutinising it the next. That is a difficult situation, which should be avoided if possible.

My second concern is to avoid the overview and scrutiny members in a local authority to some extent having their important role usurped by executive members, who have far greater powers in the normal course of events. However, I accept that there might be circumstances in which, in the interests of good scrutiny, the expertise of an executive member might be useful as part of that process. I look to the Minister to say that there needs to be very careful drafting of the regulations to ensure that while the permissive power may be used in appropriate circumstances, it is hedged around with sufficient safeguards to avoid the two particular problems that I have highlighted.

Mrs. Laitrose—