Power to require billing authorities to offer electronic billing, etc

Local Government Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 9th February 2017.

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Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government) 3:30 pm, 9th February 2017

I beg to move amendment 42, in clause 12, page 15, line 20, leave out “or issue documents on” and insert

“on, or issue documents to,”.

This amendment makes a minor drafting change.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment 43.

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

Amendments 42 and 43 are minor and technical amendments that clarify the drafting of clause 12. Clause 12 enables the Government to require billing authorities to offer the option of electronic billing to all ratepayers. That provision covers both the electronic service of notices and the issuing of documents, to reflect the fact that under the relevant legislation, business rate bills can incorporate both demand notices and accompanying documents.

The amendments clarify the drafting of clause 12 by making it clear that, while notices are served on a ratepayer, any documents are issued to. These are very minor changes that simply improve the drafting of the provision and do not alter the effect or policy outcome of the clause.

Photo of Jim McMahon Jim McMahon Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) (Devolution)

I have a quick question on this measure. I recognise that these are, by and large, drafting amendments, but I want to briefly probe the clause. My point also talks in some way to clause 14. Is it the intention at some point to move on from simply electronic billing, which feels quite old-fashioned already—utility companies have been doing that for quite a long time—to online accounting, where companies can log on to an account that has all their property information contained in one place, regardless of local authority?

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

Without moving ahead to debate clause 14, as the hon. Gentleman will know, that clause is a paving provision, which provides the scope for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to develop a new system in that sense. What it does not do is allow that system to be implemented; it would probably need primary legislation to be implemented. I hope that I can therefore reassure the hon. Gentleman that there is no hidden agenda in relation to clause 12.

Amendment 42 agreed to.

Amendment made: 43, in clause 12, page 15, line 39, after ‘served’ insert ‘or issued’.—(Mr Jones.)

This amendment makes a minor drafting change.

Clause 12, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 13 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 14