Clause 25 - Requirements in connection with regulations under section 24

Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 5th July 2022.

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Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 9:25 am, 5th July 2022

I beg to move amendment 60, in clause 25, page 20, line 32, at end insert—

“(2A) But the Secretary of State must not make regulations under section 24(1) in relation to a CCA’s area if the constituent authorities of that area have requested that powers be conferred by the Secretary of State without the establishment of a mayor.”

This amendment would prevent the Secretary of State providing for a CCA mayor without the consent of the constituent authorities of that CCA.

If the previous clause stand part debate was my love letter to Mayors, this is slightly the opposite. As I said, it is right that communities that wish to harness the value of an elected Mayor are able to do so. I have no doubt that many will choose that, and it is right that they are able to. However, it is not right that those that would choose not to do so are forced, compelled or coerced to have one when that is not their real wish. I fear that that is the effect of the White Paper.

The table on page 140 offers three tiers of powers to local leaders. I will reiterate what I said last week: the greater coherence that that table provides is welcome. What we have at the moment is a very messy, unclear set of devolution deals for which there is no real sense of commonality or of direction. At least here there is a greater sense of structure. It will be much easier for people to understand our devolved settlement following the use of those three tiers of powers and their deals.

As per the Local Government Association’s briefing,

Level 1 areas will have access to three core powers: the ability to host Government functions best delivered at a strategic level including more than one authority, the opportunity to pool services at a strategic level, and the opportunity to adopt innovative local proposals to deliver action on climate change.”

That is a modest set of powers, and it is unlikely that communities will wish to stop there.

Level 2 areas get a little more, including

“control of appropriate local transport functions, ability to introduce bus franchising”, which is, no doubt, one of the major prizes of devolution, and

“the ability to provide input into Local Skills Improvement Plans”, which is also a major prize,

“and Homes England compulsory purchase powers.”

They therefore get more, and I think there is a lot in there that will attract local communities to request it from central Government.

It is in the level 3 areas that the real opportunities lie, because they

“will have access to the largest set of powers”— the same as the level 1 and 2 deals, but also a significant range beyond that—

“including the ability to consolidate existing core local transport funding into a multi-year integrated settlement, devolution of locally-led brownfield funding, mayoral control of Police and Crime Commissioner…functions where boundaries align and the ability to introduce a mayoral precept”, and possibly a supplement on business rates if there is local interest. For communities that are interested in devolution and greater local powers—which I think is the vast majority, if not all of them—level 3 is likely to be the most attractive.

The Minister said in his summing up of the previous stand part debate that the fact that an area could have levels 1 and 2 without a Mayor showed that it is possible to have devolution and a devolution deal without having to accept a Mayor. That is true, but the reality is that in order for communities to get the full powers—which will be assigned to many but not all—they have to accept a directly elected Mayor, and there is no good functional reason for that. It is important to recognise that that is a point not of functionality but of taste and choice by the Government.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 9:45 am, 5th July 2022

My hon. Friend gets to the nub of the challenge. Although we as politicians can understand all this while sitting in this room, we need to construct a massive communication piece for our constituents across the country, so that they can understand the difference between the tiers of government and the powers that they can access. We are getting such a patchwork—I call it patchwork Britain—and our constituents are not able to grasp what is in, what is out, and where those powers and accountability lie. That could place us in a difficult situation, with a lot of work being duplicated as well. Does my hon. Friend agree that we need clarity not only on how this translates to people, but on the lines of accountability? I am thinking in particular of how people can give voice to what they want, because the proposals are even more confusing in that regard.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. There is an inevitability about this ending up as a patchwork, not least because we have inherited a patchwork today. But there is strength in that, too. If local communities want to access the fullest powers, they should have that chance to do so, but if they do not, they should be able to make that choice as well. We will not always be able to move at the pace of the slowest, as the Minister mentioned frequently on Thursday. One of the best ways to work around that and to avoid the local confusions about accountability that my hon. Friend talks about is for it to be something that the local community really wants. There will be greater understanding if it is something it has asked for. There will be much less understanding when it is a process that has happened to them—police and crime commissioners are a good example of that—rather than with them. As a result, the thing exists in splendid isolation and engagement falls, which is not good.

The Minister made a really good point about the desire, which I think is universally shared, for local decision making. He used really good examples of things that would have previously been operated by quangos and unelected bodies, and said that they should be operated locally by people with a local connection, a local mandate and local accountability. I completely share his view. I do not understand, however, why that has to be part of a new tier. Why cannot it be part of the tier used to create a combined authority? That, by definition, is closer to people because it serves more localised electoral wards? Again, I would be interested to hear about that in the Minister’s summing up.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

This is not necessarily for legislation, but it will aid us in our formulation. We need clarity on the end point. We are talking about tiers 1, 2 and 3, but is it envisaged that everyone will eventually have fully devolved powers regardless of whether they have a Mayor or not? How long would that journey take? It could be five or 10 years. Alternatively, if tiers 1, 2 and 3 were to apply to separate authorities, what would that mean for this place, because we would be legislating on behalf of just a few authorities, which does not seem right either? Understanding the end point will be absolutely crucial for how we progress the legislation.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I hope that the Minister will explain what the end point is, because it is an interesting question.

In Thursday’s debates, I got a sense that my affinity with the White Paper, certainly in relation to this issue, is closer than that of the Government, and that is because I want everybody to be able to access the fullest range of powers, but to also have the choice of stopping short of them if they wish. That will be a matter for local conversation, but I do not think that we heard during Thursday’s debates that that is quite what the Government want, because they still want to reserve for themselves the provision of negotiating directly and separately. That does not enhance the approach; it only creates greater confusion.

I want to probe the functional reason why a county combined authority has to stop at level 2, while the distinct and different level 3 powers mean that an area has to be led—it is unavoidable and axiomatic—by a directly elected Mayor. I do not understand that. The one explanation of substance, as the Minister mentioned last week, is that police and crime commissioners must be directly elected. I am willing to concede that and will address it shortly, but I am unsure about everything else that is in column 3, as distinct from columns 2 and 1. They include defining the key travel route network; prioritising rail relationships; multi-year transport settlements; the long-term investment fund, which is the real prize in all of this, and I will cover it shortly; designing employment programmes; establishing development corporations; devolution of brownfield funding; partnership with Homes England; public health responsibility where there is interest in it; a precept in council tax; and the supplementing of business rates.

I put it to the Minister and the Committee that those could all be delivered by a combined authority. There is nothing so specialised or individualised that the powers should be exercised by an individual rather than by geographical partners who have chosen to collaborate in the collective interest, with each having derived a mandate from the local ballot box. I will reflect shortly on the important points about acting in consensus and being collegial, as we heard in our evidence from Mayor Andy Street. The way in which he talked about that was admirable. Why does that require a super-person at the head of it to make it go, if it is not what communities want? My contention is that there is no functional reason for that; it is a matter of choice and taste for the Government. And I think that the matter of choice and taste for local communities is as important—frankly, more important—than central Government’s choice and taste.

We should not lose sight of the fact that local councils deliver, too. I was looking at the latest set of The Municipal Journal awards, because it is nomination season for this year. And there is Plymouth and its culture-led recovery; Lancashire delivering during the pandemic; Swansea delivering through its social housing programmes; and Bromley driving health and care integration. All around the country we see local authorities of all tiers delivering for their communities every day. We fail the public conversation and we certainly fail the political conversation if we laser in on individuals who are Mayors, who are doing brilliant work, as I have said, and create that as distinct from councils, because councils themselves are doing great work. It would be better to see council leaders more visibly represented, whether in the media or in the public debate more generally, because up and down the country those local authorities are delivering for communities every day. And they have done that in incredible circumstances. They have been starved of money for 12 years; the context is significant cuts set against increasing costs. But they have adapted and come through for their communities, and their reward seems to be a new tier of local government whether or not they really want it.

I also put this to the Minister. The major, compelling case in relation to tier 3 is the police and crime functions, because, for reasons of statute, that necessitates a Mayor—although there is something undesirable in bad legislation from previous years tying our hands in the future. But that should be a point of choice for communities. If the final tipping point between having only a combined county authority, with basically all the tier 3 powers, and having a mayoral combined county authority is whether or not to take on police and crime functions, I put it to the Minister that the majority, if not all, would stop short and would choose the combined county authority without a Mayor taking on police and crime functions.

Let us be frank about what is happening here: this is about finance. It is always about finance, but this is especially so. This is about line 11 of table 2.3 on page 140 of the White Paper. This is about a long-term investment fund with an agreed annual allocation. All our communities desperately need and deserve this. They have seen it taken away, year on year, for 12 years, and now they want it back. At the moment, they are having to dance for it, through this ridiculous stream of beauty parades to try to get just a little bit of it back. And as we have said in relation to previous clauses, even the winners in those contests are losers, really.

However, this is a chance for communities to try to get some of the money back, and get it on an agreed footing, over a number of years. For those who are making decisions locally, that is really the No. 1 thing—the ability to have a sense of what is coming, so that they can plan and use it most effectively. But there is an asterisk at the end: rather than it being given to them by right, even though clearly the money is there and the Government wish to give it, it is given only if they choose a model of leadership that suits central Government rather than necessarily local communities. That is apparently a negotiation, but it does not look like one to me.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

My hon. Friend is coming to the nub of the matter. If we look at the issue of the police and crime commissioner or, as in the case of North Yorkshire, the police, fire and crime commissioner, we know that the funding of that post is separate in the way in which that works out in the funding formula, so there is no need to aggregate those particular issues if finance is the driving force behind it. I appreciate my hon. Friend’s point about the piece of accountability, but Tracy Brabin told us in her evidence that taking a public health approach to policing is not necessarily a PCC function per se, but a wider function of local governance in all its tiers and variations.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I am grateful for that intervention. I thought that Mayor Tracy Brabin made a very compelling case. On the reverse of that, in the north-east, police and crime commissioner Kim McGuinness makes a very compelling case as to why it is important to her that PCCs are involved in both health and education as a way of prevention. My only interest in this is in local communities being able to make that choice. If they decide that it is best assembled in one place, that is fine by me; that is no problem whatever. But I do not think that it should be, essentially, foisted on them as part of a negotiation that I think is anything but that.

I fear that the Government are stuck on two things. First, they wish to make engagement as simple as possible—for themselves, frankly. I know it must be incredibly hard to negotiate a deal for county combined authorities with multiple local authorities, different interests and all the history that comes with these things—goodness knows, in Nottinghamshire we have a lot of history—but these things are supposed to be hard sometimes. They are significant and they change communities, so sometimes they ought to be done the hard way and agreed by multiple parties representing all those different parts of the community and all that history. That is actually a good thing.

That leads me to what the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale said. I much prefer the idea of collegiate working and coming together for a shared interest. Where that cannot be the case, it cannot be the case, but those leaders of all political persuasions and of none will want to do the best for their communities. If we give them the powers to do so, they will do their best for their communities.

I also fear—we have probed this in previous amendments on equalities, and there are a couple of similar amendments to come—that the great man of history theory is being pushed forward again. The idea that the individual actions of individual men compel the collective forward is out-of-date bunkum. It is rarely individual genius that changes the world. It is the ordinary actions of ordinary people coming together that creates the extraordinary, and multiple leaders acting together can also deliver just as well. It comes back to the central point that it is not for us to say, because those local communities can make the decisions. If this really is about devolution, we should let those communities decide.

The amendment would correct this overreach. The point is simple: if these powers are important enough to help shape places and improve communities, and local areas can organise themselves to form a combined county authority, they should have access to those powers and the resources to exercise them, whether or not they take the structure the Government wants. That would be the effect of the amendment, which would alter clause 25.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 10:00 am, 5th July 2022

This important subject gets to the heart of the motivation behind the Bill. What is it all for? Are we trying to level up different parts of the United Kingdom so that we can make best use of the opportunities available, fulfil the talents of every person and community within the United Kingdom and not waste that talent? Or are we trying to make things neat and tidy for the Government so that they can control things centrally? If it were the former, we would not be having this conversation, which makes me suspect it is the latter.

I was pleased for a few moments when the Minister said it is possible to have a devolution deal without a Mayor, but then that was followed by a whole bunch of “buts”. If a community wants a little devolution deal, it can have it without a Mayor, but if it wants a full-fat deal, it has to have a Mayor. Surely local communities should be presented with two choices, rather than just “Like it or lump it”. They should be asked, “Do you want devolution and do you want a Mayor?” They should not be told, “If you want devolution at level 3 and to have those kinds of powers, you must have a Mayor.”

I concur with the hon. Member for Nottingham North that there is no obvious functional reason—it seems totally arbitrary—to say that that must be the case. The Government say, “Well, that way we can hold people to account better”. Local democracy, local elections and the electorate hold people to account. Mayors and councils are not and should not be accountable to the Government. They are accountable to the people who did, or did not, elect them within their electorate. If we cherish local democracy, that is where the power will lie.

It feels like this issue is not about accountability at all, but about control. If a community decides that the model of local government it wishes to have does not include a Mayor, but it has the appetite, resources and infrastructure to handle and deliver the highest level of a devolution deal, what right has Whitehall to tell it that it cannot? That is not levelling-up; that is condescending to every single community in the United Kingdom. We are talking not about accountability, but control. We asked last week: who is this Bill for? Is it for the people or is it for the convenience of Whitehall? Given the Government’s insistence that devolution deals will not be extended in their fullest form to places that will not have a Mayor, it is pretty obvious that this is a Bill for the convenience of Whitehall and not for the people.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

This is a really interesting debate, and it is good to be able to have it in public. Let me be blunt: nothing is hidden here. We are clear that the Government’s view is that we prefer the mayoral model. Although it is possible to get a lower-tier devolution deal without one, there is no secret that our preference is for the mayoral model. Let me explain why.

Clearly, we could devolve all these powers—do all these things—to an unelected committee. We could have said, “Let’s take the 10 local authorities in Greater ManchesterAGMA—give them all the powers that we have now given to the mayoral combined authority. You just sort it out among yourselves. You can have a committee of the 10 of you, and you can decide among yourselves—perhaps by a majority vote—and then make those decisions.” All those things are totally feasible, and we could do that. It is a perfectly viable model. However, it is not the model we prefer, for various reasons—this goes to the point made by the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale. It is not for our convenience, but for the convenience of voters in these places. If we have just a committee, how is that committee held to account by a normal voter?

Let us take the Greater Manchester example, with 10 local authorities. We have got to choose where the new tramline is going to go. Is it going to go to place A or place B? The committee meets, there is no Mayor, and it decides the tramline is going to go to place A, not place B. I do not like that, as a voter; I wanted it to go to place B. What do I do, and who do I hold to account? Perhaps my local authority leader. I go to my local authority leader and she says, “I voted for place B, sorry, but I got outvoted.” What am I supposed to do now? Do I vote against her or for her at the next election? There is no one for me to hold to account if things are run by a committee.

I believe in steel-manning, not straw-manning, my opponent’s argument, so I could say, “No, what we want is not a committee. We want voters to have a say over what happens in these combined authorities, and what we actually want is to go back to the metropolitan county councils. We want to have an assembly.” It is perfectly viable, but let us be clear that that does mean quite a lot more politicians. It is a less sharp, less clear model for most voters than a mayoral system, which is why the mayoral system is the dominant model around the world: everyone around the world has city Mayors and knows that model. Inward investors know and understand that model. There is a phone number and people know who they are picking up to: is it Judith, is it one of the Andys? People know who they are supposed to speak to. We have clear accountability and clear leadership. Sometimes there are tough choices to be made. Consensus is a good thing—we always want maximum consensus—but in the end, we often have to choose between A and B. Having a directly elected mayor who knows that needs to be done, and to have programmatic government, not the lowest common denominator log-rolling and horse-trading, lets people make that decision and be accountable to the public. It gives visibility to the world.

One reason why Labour was right in 1998 to create a directly elected Mayor for Greater London was that in its absence we had a big committee—a big quango—with decisions made without anybody really being held to account. For the same reason that Labour created a directly elected Mayor for the capital, we have done it for the other cities that did not get one before 2010.

On a point made by the hon. Member for York Central, this is a long-term game. We want to do go further and further with devolution. One of the missions in the levelling-up White Paper is:

“By 2030, every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal with powers at approaching the highest level of devolution and a simplified, long-term funding settlement.”

We want to keep going and going. The question I have about the unelected committee model of devolution is, once we start to do more and more high-powered things, more and more functions come out of Whitehall and more and more controversial decisions are taken—and take longer—at the local level. Is that a model that can really hack increasingly controversial decisions in the long term?

Evidence from the OECD finds that fragmented city governments—not having that tier at all—leads to worse economic outcomes. I think we are all agreed that a tier is needed to work together across local authorities and city regions. The only question is how the accountability then works. I wonder how many of the places that have now got Mayors would really want to go backwards. A lot of them resisted having a Mayor. They resisted very strongly. Even on the morning of the Greater Manchester devolution deal, one of the local authorities still had questions about it. Now that those cities have Mayors, who seriously thinks that it would be a good idea for them to go back to having just an unelected committee or a quango, and for them not to have either of the Andys or Ben Houchen providing inspirational leadership and working locally in a collegiate and cross-party way? Do people really think that would be an improvement? I wonder about that.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

We have had a really good discussion. I agree with the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale. I fear that neatness and tidiness for central Government, rather than for communities, is dominant, which raises the question, who is this for?

The hon. Gentleman asked what right Whitehall—or central Government, or however we might characterise it—has to make such distinctions, and I agree with him. We are talking about two different sets of profound powers that will shape places and—I think there is broad consensus on this—improve and enhance the lives of local people, but one community will have access while another will not, because the Government have made the election of a politician a sticking point. The Minister has made it clear that that is the Government’s preference, but it is a fundamentally distorted vision of devolution. If the powers are to be so impactful, all communities should have access to them.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

To be clear, is the Opposition’s preferred model an unelected committee or assembly-type model? What do they prefer to the mayoral model?

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Minister has never heard me argue for the assembly model—a red herring that he introduced to the debate—and I think the characterisation of committees as “unelected” is unhelpful. He has heard me argue over a significant time for the powers set out on page 140 of the White Paper to be available to county combined authorities. If they choose to be led by an elected Mayor, that is their choice and I would absolutely support it.

I think that is where we will end up in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, although, as I have made clear, it is not my preference—perhaps by repeating how against it I am at all stages, I am attempting desperately to ensure that I never end up a candidate. Nevertheless, that has been my view throughout. The difference between my position and the Minister’s is that I have no intention of foisting mine on other people, whereas the Minister clearly does.

The Minister started by saying that he prefers the mayoral model—that is wonderful—and he made a strong case for it. I advocate that he take that case to the people of Leicester and Leicestershire, and given how persuasive he is, maybe he will succeed in convincing them. That would be an example of the process working well, and I would support his efforts in principle, if not in substance. But let us address this point about unelected committees, which as I said, is a bizarre characterisation. Let me put it this way: the Minister has introduced 60 clauses to create county combined authorities, and that has been important for this Bill Committee, which, by his logic, is unelected. In reality, the constituent members of those committees have very much stood for election and they lead their local authorities. I do not have any problem with that democracy. If four elected leaders meet for a pint after work, do they suddenly form an unelected committee and their democratic mandate ceases? I think they are still elected, and if they misbehaved that night, they would be treated as if they were. The idea that such committees are unelected is for the birds, frankly.

The Minister said—I am not sure that I agree—that this is for the voters. That is excellent news. In that case, I do not think he has anything to fear about what is established as the local preference. Why do something for someone if they do not want it?

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is an inherent contradiction in the Minister’s argument? The Bill deliberately hands significant powers, particularly the spatial development strategies in schedule 7, to CCAs—or the unelected Assemblies—but denies them to mayoral combined authorities.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. In fact, many of the arguments that the Committee has heard in the first few days will undoubtedly be used in reverse for the next few days. When it comes to planning, I do not think that is the Government’s intention. We will see those arguments again, but in reverse.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 10:15 am, 5th July 2022

The Opposition have spent several days complaining that our devolution model is too messy. This morning they are complaining that it too neat and tidy.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

At no point have I complained that this is too neat and tidy. I am saying that Ministers are seeking convenience; not that the settlement is too neat and tidy but that Ministers are pursuing a life that is neater and tidier than it is ever going to be.

I was hugely discomfited by the Minister’s final point about the M10 Mayors. As I have said, I have family in Manchester who love that model and it really works for them. That is great. Andy Burnham is doing a brilliant job, and that can be said throughout the M10. The Minister’s idea is that many of those communities resisted Mayors but, as it was better for them, we can now say, “Gosh, don’t they see our extraordinary wisdom and they wouldn’t change it.” If that is his preference for devolution—they will like it when they understand it—we are getting off on the wrong foot.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

In the communities that resisted it, the leaders of local authorities had lots of questions about it, because they were bringing into existence a new directly elected body across the city. That is no small thing. It was creating somebody who would be in the same space as them. Of course they had all kinds of questions about it. Does the hon. Gentleman seriously think it would now be better for them to get rid of those directly elected Mayors for those large cities? Does he really believe it would be better without them?

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I have literally just said that I doubt that that would be the case, but it is for those communities to decide, not me, and I have no intention of doing so. This is about devolution and localism, which will have to take a local flavour and function. The Minister started by saying that the leaders of the communities had resisted, and now that they had questions. I would hope they would have questions. I am saying that there is no value in ramming these things through, or the idea that people later will really see the benefit. That is how we get progress but people do not feel better—because things are done to them. In many ways, that explains why community power is absent in the Bill.

On the place A to B tramline, there will always be a challenge with these things. The Minister talks about having to go back to constituents who want to hold us accountable for a decision we did not make, may have voted against or did not argue for. That is what Parliament is. I have been here five years and have barely ever won a vote. I have to go back to my constituents frequently and say, “Yes, I understand it is terrible that we have skyrocketing inflation, you do not have access to decent housing and the rise in violent crime is awful. I voted against things that caused that to be the case, but the majority voted for it.”

The idea that the existence of an individual suddenly creates that unanimity or direct ability to change is challenging, not least because voters’ decisions are multifactoral. There is an argument for a presidency in this place, which I certainly do not share, but we might wonder why we need so many Ministers if we could just consolidate them in one individual. I cannot agree with that. I have made my point and I will press the amendment to a Division, because there is a substantial difference between the two Benches.

The Minister started by saying that he prefers the mayoral model. That is absolutely fine. Every community that prefers that model should have access to one—I completely support that—but I do not think that every community that does not prefer that model should have to have it.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I want to clarify that spatial development strategies are available to MCAs, and several are already doing them.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

We will have many days to consider that in great detail and at great length to establish those facts.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division number 5 Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill — Clause 25 - Requirements in connection with regulations under section 24

Aye: 5 MPs

No: 9 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 5, Noes 9.

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 25 ordered to stand part of the Bill.