New Clause 11

Part of Localism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 10th March 2011.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Decentralisation and Cities) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) 10:15 am, 10th March 2011

It is a delight to serve under your chairmanship on this last day of the Bill Committee, Mr Amess. I completely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay that we have learned a lot in Committee in recent weeks. We have had a daily history lecture from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington. I said that that this would be a historic Bill when we started, but I did not realise that the history would be topped up every day.

The right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich has also warmed to the theme. He deprived us late on Tuesday of his history lecture, but he gave us a potted version today. I was astonished to see his conversion to an instinctive conservatism, which I had, in the past, doubted would take place; I thought of him as radical. When he said that we should not change things if they are not broken, it recalled the words of the third Marquess of Salisbury, who said, “Change? Change? Aren’t things bad enough already?” I have never thought of the right hon. Gentleman as a latter-day Cecil, but one never knows.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Bradford East is not with us to speak to the new clause that he tabled with my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay. I have learned something about the Whips as a result, because the hon. Member for Bradford East, as we know, was initially noted for his wisdom and his sage-like remarks in Committee. That gave way to a certain rebellion, and I am reliably informed that he woke up in Shanghai a few days later, so I have learned to be wary of the power of my hon. Friend the Member for North Herefordshire. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay may bear in mind the further absence today of the hon. Member for Bradford East.

We have before us three disparate new clauses, and I will address them in detail. They are a rather curious set, in that my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay invites me to remove the one piece of agreement that I have with the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich. It is the only clause where the right hon. Gentleman has congratulated me on resisting a third-party right to appeal, which he did on the Floor of the House. It is rather churlish of my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay to dissent at this late stage, when we have reached a happy conclusion to our discussions in Committee. I will say more about the detail of that new clause, but I think it is appropriate to talk about the other two new clauses as well. Am I right in saying so, Mr Amess?