HC Deb 08 November 1999 vol 337 cc719-21

Lords amendment: No. 127, before clause 67, to insert the following new clause—Amounts for different categories of dwellings. In section 30 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (amounts for different categories of dwellings) there shall be added at the end—

  1. "(10) Where the major precepting authority in question is the Greater London Authority, subsections (2)(b) and (4) above shall have effect as if the references to sections 43 to 47 below were references to the appropriate Greater London provisions.
  2. (11) In this section, "the appropriate Greater London provisions" means—
  1. (a) sections 70 to 75 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and section 47 below; or
  2. (b) in the case of calculations by way of substitute, sections 70, 71 and 73 to 75 of, and Schedule 6 to, that Act and section 47 below."")

Mr. Raynsford

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 141, 146, 149, 167 to 169, 559, 644, 656 and 795.

Mr. Raynsford

The amendments make minor drafting changes and additions to the finance provisions in the Bill. Amendment No. 127 simply corrects an oversight by amending section 30 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. The amendment ensures that section 30 includes a reference to the GLA's budget requirement and tax-setting provisions, which are set out in the legislation. This will require billing authorities to add to council tax bills the amounts calculated by the GLA under the budget requirement and tax-setting provisions of the Bill.

Amendments Nos. 141 and 146 remove unnecessary regulation-making powers from the Bill and make clear under which powers the regulations referred to in clauses 79 and 80 are to be made.

Amendment No. 168 amends section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to ensure that properties occupied by the functional bodies cannot be granted discretionary rate relief by billing authorities. As a major precepting authority, the GLA cannot be granted such relief.

The GLA and the functional bodies will be able to borrow from the Public Works Loan Board, as authorities whose capital finances are regulated under part IV of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. Amendments Nos. 169 and 795 are necessary to give the commissioners a complementary power to lend money to the functional bodies.

Amendment Nos. 167 and 656 amend the Local Government Act 1999, which in turn amends the Local Government Finance Act 1992, so that references to the budget requirement and tax-setting provisions of the Greater London Authority Bill are accurate. The amendments are needed because of the insertion of new clauses into the Bill since the Local Government Act 1999 received Royal Assent.

Amendment No. 559 requires any subordinate legislation made by the Secretary of State under clause 317(1) to be approved by an affirmative resolution of each House of Parliament. Amendments No. 149 and 644 make minor changes in drafting to the Bill.

Sir Sydney Chapman

The amendments can loosely be described as drafting and miscellaneous amendments. At this point—and only at this point—I shall mention a matter that I raised in Committee.

For the first time in legislation—it is an historic development—we are to refer to a presiding officer, in this case of the GLA, as the "chair", rather than as the "chairman". To me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you are not an inanimate object, but a chairman. Until now, in modern English usage, the word "chairman" has embraced the female, although we could refer to a woman chairman as "Madam Chairman".

Because I was outvoted, I have to accept that we shall refer to the presiding officer of the Greater London Assembly or the presiding officer of any of its committees as the "chair". The Bill draws upon many other Acts of Parliament, and every one of them refers to such a person as the "chairman". My simple question might now be obvious: do these 820 amendments cover the change of wording from "chairman" to "chair" in all the other legislation mentioned in the Bill—and if not, why not?

Mr. Raynsford

The hon. Gentleman raises an interesting point which was debated at some length in Committee. We have adopted a pragmatic approach and do not seek to change all references to the "chairman" in previous legislation. However, we think that it is right that the term "chair" should be used, and we do not accept the hon. Gentleman's view that this is an arcane issue. We are creating a new authority that is designed to appeal to the people of London as we move into the next millennium. We want to ensure that it is seen to be an open authority that is not hidebound by old conventions.

The terminology is not a point of substance. We have simply sought, in a pragmatic way, to create references that will be acceptable to the majority of the population in the years ahead.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Forward to