HC Deb 20 October 1966 vol 734 cc480-1
Mr. MacColl

I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 3, line 27 to leave out from 'order' to the end of line 29 and to insert: '(hereafter in this Act referred to as a "rate support grant order") made by the Minister with the consent of the Treasury and after consultation with such associations of local authorities as appear to the Minister to be concerned and with any local authority with whom consultation appears to him to be desirable'. This deals with a point discussed in Standing Committee about the need to include provision for consultation. We assured the Opposition that we would always consult on any matter where we thought there was any possible help to come from it and that consultation did not need to be laid down in an Act of Parliament. We also pointed out that if the Government were told in too many Measures to consult, it might look as if they did not have to consult in other cases. But the hon. Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple) and the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Murton) both expressed some concern about it and, therefore, we are quite happy to include in the Bill a provision dealing with consultation. This is the standard provision that is to be found virtually in all cases of consultation. It is different from that of the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Merton)—we had some criticisms to make on his—but I think it meets his point.

Mr. Temple

I am obliged to the Government for bringing forward the first of the three Amendments to meet points that we raised in Standing Committee. We were keen that there should be statutory consultation between the Government and the local authority associations, more particularly in an important case like this where the Government will be dealing with the fixation of rates of support grants.

Parliament, at a very late stage, sees the effect of a rate support grant brought forward in an Order. There is no question of amending that Order. Therefore, we thought it right that there should be this statutory consultation between the local authority associations and the Government, because that would give Parliament some assurance that there had been fairly full and free consultation on these very important matters.

As the Parliamentary Secretary says, this is the first of three of this type of Amendment. We are very glad that the Government are bringing them forward. I do not propose to comment on the other Amendments which are of a similar nature, but I would give a general indication to the House now that these certainly have our approval and I know will be welcome to the local authority associations.

Amendment agreed to.