HC Deb 24 October 1972 vol 843 cc1121-4

Lords Amendment: No. 184, in page 94, line 20, at end insert: (1A) It is hereby declared that the power of a local authority to incur expenditure under subsection (1) above includes power to do so by contributing towards the defraying of expenditure by another local authority in or in connection with the exercise of that other authority's functions.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Keith Speed)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)

With this Amendment Lords Amendments Nos. 185 to 187 may be discussed.

Mr. Speed

Amendments Nos. 185 and 186 allow local authorities of all classes to spend up to a 2p rate in any one year for the benefit of their area or inhabitants in any field in which they have no express statutory powers.

When we considered the Bill earlier a limit of ½p was agreed, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear that we did not regard that limit as necessarily the one which would be appropriate in the circumstances of 1974 when the revised power would operate. He then explained that he proposed to review the figure before 1974 and to adjust it by order, as he has power to do under subsection (3).

The new figure of 2p proposed by another place anticipates the review my right hon. Friend had in mind. The original limit, which was only a holding operation, was almost certainly too low. The new figure of 2p appears to be nearer the right figure and I recommend its acceptance.

My right hon. Friend's power to adjust the figure again in the future, either for all authorities or authorities of a particular class, still exists.

Amendment No. 184 makes it clear that the free 2p may be used to enable one authority to contribute towards the expenses of another in connection with a function of that latter authority.

Amendment No. 187 is a purely consequential drafting Amendment.

Mr. Blenkinsop

I welcome the Amendment very strongly. We strove in Committee to obtain an improvement on the figure originally in the Bill. We were turned down, even though with gracious words. Apparently, another place has a great deal more effect in bringing about alterations than we do. We all want to see local authorities making use of the opportunity to develop new types of services—

It being 10 o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That the consideration of Lords Amendments to the Local Government Bill may be proceeded with at this day's Sitting, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. John Stradling Thomas.]

Question again proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Mr. Blenkinsop

We must all accept that it is of the greatest importance that there should be an opportunity for local authorities to develop new lines of services where these are not specifically excluded from their powers, rather than taking the view that they are entitled only to undertake work that is specifically approved.

For all these reasons, we hope very much that good use will be made of the provisions at the more realistic figure mentioned.

Mr. George Thomas

We in Wales are also very glad that this change has been made. We welcome conversion, even in another place. I believe that local authorities in Wales, which are by no means mean and which like to support activities in the general good outside their own scope, will be encouraged by this proposal.

Question put and agreed to. [Special entry.]

Subsequent Lords Amendments agreed to. [Special Entries.]

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