§ 1.—(1) In this Schedule—
- " gross rateable value ", in relation to the Metropolitan Police District, means the aggregate of the rateable values of the hereditaments in that District;
- "the principal Act" means the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980;
- "rateable values ", in relation to hereditaments in that District, means, subject to sub-paragraphs (2) and (3) below, rateable values ascribed to them in the valuation lists on a date to be specified in each year in the Rate Support Grant Report;
- "the Receiver" means the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District;
- "Receiver's grant-related poundage" means a poundage determined by the Secretary of State and related
- (a) to a given ratio between the Receiver's total expenditure and the Receiver's grant-related expenditure; or
- (b) to a given difference between his total expenditure divided by the population of the Metropolitan Police District and his grant-related expenditure so divided;
- "Receiver's total expenditure" means that part of the Receiver's expenditure for a year which falls to be defrayed out of the Metropolitan Police Fund and which is not met by any such grant as is mentioned in section 54(7)(a) or (b) of the principal Act but reduced by the amount of any payments of such descriptions as the Secretary of State may specify which fall to be paid for that year into the Metropolitan Police Fund;
- "Receiver's grant-related expenditure means a sum determined by the Secretary of State as being the aggregate for for the year of the Receiver's notional expenditure having regard to his functions.
§ (2) The reference to hereditaments in the definition of "rateable values" in sub-paragraph (1) above includes a reference to a notional hereditament which a body is treated as occupying by virtue of any enactment.
§ (3) A Rate Support Grant Report may provide that for the year to which it relates the rateable values of hereditaments in the Metropolitan Police District falling within any class of hereditaments shall be ascertained for the purposes of this Schedule otherwise than by reference to the values ascribed to them in the valuation lists.
§ Payment of block grant
§ 2. In section 53(1) and (8) of the principal Act, so far as relating to block grant, references to local authorities or a local authority shall include references to the Receiver.390
§ Aggregate amount of rate support grants
§ 3. In subsection (1) of section 54 of the principal Act the reference to local authorities shall include a reference to the Receiver, "relevant expenditure" as defined in subsection (5) of that section shall include the Receiver's total expenditure and the reference in subsection (6)(a) of that section to sums falling to be paid to another local authority shall include a reference to sums falling to be paid to the Receiver.
§ Calculation of block grant
§ 4.—(i) The amount of block grant payable to the Receiver is to be calculated by deducting from the Receiver's total expenditure for the year the product arrived at by multiplying the Receiver's grant-related poundage by the gross rateable value of the Metropolitan Police District.
§ (2) Sub-paragraph (1) above has effect subject to subsection (7) of section 56 of the principal Act in which the reference to a local authority shall include a reference to the Receiver.
§ Adjustment of distribution of block grant
§ 5.—(1) Subject to the following provisions of this paragraph, the Secretary of State may provide in a Rate Support Grant Report that the amount of block grant payable to the Receiver for a year shall be calculated by deducting from his total expenditure, instead of the product of his grant-related poundage and the gross rateable value of the Metropolitan Police District, the product of those sums multiplied by a multiplier determined by the Secretary of State.
§ (2) In paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (6) of section 59 of the principal Act references to a local authority shall include references to the Receiver and the power conferred by this paragraph may only be exercised
- (a) for the purposes specified in either of those paragraphs or in paragraph (c) or (d)of that subsection; or
- (b) for the purpose of preventing or limiting any change in the amount of block grant payable to the Receiver that would otherwise result from any fresh determination of his grant-related poundage in a supplementary report made under section 61 of the principal Act.
§ (3) In section 7(3) and (7) of this Act references to section 59 of the principal Act and to a local authority shall include references to this paragraph and to the Receiver.
§ (4) If the Secretary of State exercises the power conferred by this paragraph the principles on which he exercises it shall, subject to section 7(9) of this Act, be specified in the Rate Support Grant Report.
§ Rate Support Grant Reports
§ 6. In subsection (6)(a) of section 60 of the principal Act the reference to Part VI of that Act shall include a reference to this Schedule and in subsection (9) of that section the reference to a local authority shall include a reference to the Receiver.
§ Supplementary Reports
§ 7. In the application of section 61 of the principal Act to the Receiver's grant-related poundage and the Receiver's grant-related expenditure subsection (5) shall be omitted.
§ Adjustment of block grant total
§ 8.—(1) In subsections (1) and (2) of section 62 of the principal Act references to a local authority or local authorities shall include references to the Receiver.
§ (2) The Secretary of State may, for the purpose of the adjustment required by that section, make a fresh calculation of the entitlement of the Receiver to block grant, substituting the total of the Receiver's expenditure actually defrayed out of the Metropolitan Police Fund for the figure calculated as his total expenditure under paragraph 4(1) above.
§ 9. In section 65(1) of the principal Act for the words "sections 53 to 64 above and to Schedule 11 to this Act" there shall he substituted the words" sections 53 to 63 above".
§ Estimates and calculations
§ 10. In section 66 of the principal Act, so far as relating to block grant, references to a local authority shall include references to the Receiver.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 50. This is consequential on the amendment I moved earlier.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.391
§ Schedule 2 [The Audit Commission]:
Viscount Ridley moved Amendment No. 51:
Page 26, line 22, leave out paragraph 3.
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, moved a similar amendment at Committee stage and withdrew it. I am sorry I have not apparently got her support on paper, but I can generally count on it in the air. I think the purpose of this amendment is what we all want. It has been discussed at some length, both at this stage and previously. It is to see that this commission has real independence of central Government. I think this paragraph 3 reserves to the Secretary of State excessive powers of direction over the Commission, powers which must seriously reflect on the integrity of the commission and call into question its true independence. The integrity of the commission should be demonstrated by the removal of these powers of direction. I think it is in the interests of the smooth working of this part of the Act that the Government are not quite so sitting on the back of the commission all the time. I hope the Government will now be willing to accept Amendment No. 51. I beg to move.
Lord Bruce of Donington
My Lords, I sincerely hope the noble Lord will sec fit to accept this amendment. I spoke about this at some length in Committee, and I do not propose to repeat it now. All I propose to do, in the interests of time, is to agree entirely with everything that has fallen from the lips of the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley. I sincerely hope the Government will accept the amendment.
§ Lord Bellwin
My Lords, we have, of course, debated this amendment before, and it has also been discussed in another place. I could hardly fail to be aware that the proposed power of direction to the Secretary of State and his power to require information is a matter of concern to a number of your Lordships. For my part, I must repeat that I consider the power to be a proper one, and it is also, I submit, not quite so drastic a provision as is suggested. Perhaps I might begin with this last point and stress how carefully the power is hedged about with safeguards against improper use.
First and foremost, the Secretary of State is prohibited from giving a direction or requiring information in respect of any particular local authority; so there is no question of the Secretary of State being able to cut across the judgment of the Audit Commission about, say, which auditor should be appointed to which authority. Nor is there any question of the Secretary of State being able to use his power to intervene in any other way with the affairs of any particular authority. That restriction has been in the Bill from the very start, and I personally attach great importance to it.
Moreover, before giving a direction, the Secretary of State must consult the local authority associations and the accountancy profession, and any direction once again must be published. These provision were included after opposition pressure in another place; I readily acknowledge that fact. They mean that there is absolutely no question—not that there ever really was—of the Secretary of State being able to creep up the back stairs to deliver a stealthy direction; everything must be out in the open. I know enough about the 392 local authority associations to be sure that if they think the Secretary of State is acting wrongly, he will be guaranteed a first class public row.
Secondly, I would emphasise that this provision is very well precedented. This is another point I made in Committee and I hesitate to bore your Lordships with examples; I am not going to do so tonight. I would only repeat that Governments of all parties over a long period of time have thought it right to take powers to give directions to bodies of this nature. One body over which such a power has been taken is the Commission for Local Authority Accounts in Scotland, a body which is similar in many ways to the Audit Commission which this Bill proposes for England and Wales.
Your Lordships may ask: why, if the power is rarely used, is it necessary at all? The answer, of course, lies in the principle of ministerial answerability to Parliament, but the Audit Commission is a quango and as such it seems perfectly right and firmly desirable that Ministers should be able to answer questions in Parliament about it and should be able to respond to public pressure. A power of direction is of very great importance for this purpose. Without it Members of both Houses of Parliament could argue in the future, if not now, that the Bill was deficient and that they had been asked by Ministers to establish a body for which Ministers could not be properly answerable. I even venture to think that after deeper reflection local government might come to welcome this extra avenue through which Ministers and the commission can respond to local government's own views about how the commission should act.
I hope I have explained this, and even at this hour I have tried to do so carefully, because I understand the concern that my noble friend expresses. I hope I have explained how carefully limited is this provision, why it is there and why it is found so commonly in other legislation of this kind. I fear I cannot concede on this point because it would be wrong to do so. The issue has been presented as one of principle. That is how I view it, too, and that is why I am convinced that the concern need not be there. That is why I ask your Lordships not to press this.
§ Baroness Birk
My Lords, before the noble Viscount replies saying what he is going to do on this amendment, I would say that most certainly we support him. As my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington has explained, although our names were not down to the amendment, that was probably an oversight with so much to do. The Minister's reasons again are quite ordinary and usual as they run through the Bill in the same way. The implication that we might forget that the Secretary of State has all these powers if they were not on almost every page and almost every paragraph is really almost laughable if it were not sad.
I entirely agree with the noble Viscount. Unfortunately, he did not get very far in Committee, but it is an extremely important paragraph and it is one which again provides for the issuing of the most robust instructions to this co-called independent commission. This is the laugh of the thing, and they may find it rather difficult to get really independently minded people to serve on the commission because nobody would believe they are independent when they know 393 what they are tied in by. I leave it entirely to the noble Viscount whose name appears on this amendment, but whatever he does we will folow him.
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, my noble friend the Minister is absolutely right in his argument. The wording says:The Secretary of State may give".Supposing that was not there, surely the commission, particularly being a quango, as my noble friend has said, cannot be responsible and in no way controlled by the Secretary of State. It must be controlled in a degree. It does not say that he shall. It says that he may, and there must be opportunity for the Secretary of State to do this. I really feel that my noble friend, whom I normally support up to the hilt, as we both come from counties, is pressing the point far too far on this one; and of course I am very surprised at the Opposition because normally they like to control things from the centre.
§ Viscount Ridley
My Lords, I am not pressing the point too far, and have no intention of pressing it, but I believe that with this clause in the Bill the Audit Commission will be seen as a creature of Government. That was the point I was making. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule 5 [Repeals]:
Baroness Gardner of Parkes moved Amendment No. 52:
Page 38, line 7, at end insert—
|(" PART IIA|
|Chapter||Short title||Extent of repeal|
|1980 c. 65.||The Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980.||In section 56(8), in the definition of "grant-related poundage" the words "subject to paragraph 6 of Schedule 11 below."section64.scgedule11.|
|1982 c.||The Local Government Finance Act 1982.||In section 7, in subsection (3) the words from "and by paragraph 8" to "District)", in subsection (5) the words "and sub-paragraphs (3) and (4) of the said paragraph 8" and the words following the semi-colon, in subsection (6) the words "and paragraph 8" and "and sub-paragraphs (9) to (11) of that paragraph", in subsection (7) the words "or paragraph 8" and subsection (11).".)|
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move this amendment, which again is consequential on Amendment No. 25.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ In the Title:394
Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 53:
Line 8, after (" authorities ") insert (" and with respect to relief from rates in enterprise zones ").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 54:
Line 9, leave out (" adjustments of the distribution of ").
§ The noble Lord: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.