HL Deb 21 May 1982 vol 430 cc882-927

11.30 a.m.

Further considered on Report.

Clause 33 [Work undertaken by local authorities and development bodies under certain agreements with Manpower Services Commission]:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Bellwin) moved Amendment No. 171: Page 40, line 29, leave out from (" Commission ") to ("1982") in line 30 and insert ("on or after 1st April").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we are now dealing with technical amendments which contain transitional provisions for the implementation of Clause 33, which was introduced in the Bill in Committee. Their effect is to apply the exemption from the direct labour organisation legislation for schemes carried out by authorities in relation to certain agreements with the Manpower Services Commission from 1st April 1982, the start of the 1982–83 financial year, and not from the date of Royal Assent to the Bill. The beneficiaries will be a number of authorities with small direct labour organisations which will be exempt from the relevant legislation in 1983–84, instead of being caught by a technicality.

I assure noble Lords that these amendments will not create any loophole which could be exploited. Local authorities will not be able to treat MSC-funded schemes as exempt from the DLO legislation until after Royal Assent. The amendments simply provide that, after Royal Assent, schemes entered into between 1st April 1982 and Royal Assent will retrospectively be disregarded for the purpose of counting towards the total of 30 employees, which is the threshold above which an authority is subject to the full requirements of the DLO legislation in the following financial year. They are a careful piece of tidying up and I commend them on that basis.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 171B: After Clause 33, insert the following new clause:

(" Insurance etc. of local authority members and persons voluntarily assisting local authorities and probation committees

.—(1) In section 140 of the Local Government Act 1972 (insurance by local authorities against accidents to members)—

(a) the following subsection shall be substituted for sub-section (1) — "(1) A local authority may enter into a contract of insurance of Class 1 in Part I of Schedule 2 to the Insurance Companies Act 1981 against risks of any member of the authority meeting with a personal accident, whether fatal or not, while engaged on the business of the authority."; and (b) the words in subsection (3) from "but" to the end shall cease to have effect. (2) The following sections shall be inserted after that section— "Insurance of voluntary assistants local authorities. 140A.—(1) A local authority may enter into a contract of insurance of a relevant class against risks of any voluntary assistant of the authority meeting with a personal accident, whether fatal or not, while of engaged as such, or suffering from any disease or sickness, whether fatal or not, as the result of being so engaged. (2) In this section— Insurance of voluntary assistants of probation committees. 140B.—(1) A county council and the Greater London Council may enter into a contract of insurance of a relevant class against risks of any voluntary assistants of a relevant probation committee meeting with a personal accident, whether fatal or not, while engaged as such, or suffering from any disease or sickness, whether fatal or not, as the result of being so engaged. (2) In this section—

Provisions supplementary to sections 140A and 140B. 140C.—(1) The relevant classes of contracts of insurance for the purposes of sections 140A and 140B above are—
  1. (a) class IV in Schedule 1 to the Insurance Companies Act 1981 (permanent health insurance); and
  2. (b) class 1 in Part 1 of Schedule 2 to that Act (accident insutance).
(2) Any sum received under a contract of insurance made by virtue of section 140A or 140B above shall, after deduction of any expenses incurred in the recovery thereof, be paid by the authority receiving it to, or to the personal representatives of, the voluntary assistant who suffered the accident, disease or sickness in respect of which the sum is received or to such other person as the authority consider appropriate having regard to the circumstances of the case; and a sum paid to any person other than the assistant or his personal representatives shall be applied by that person in accordance with any directions given by the authority for the benefit of any dependant of the voluntary assistant. (3) The provisions of the Life Assurance Act 1774 shall not apply to any such contract. (4) Section 119 above shall apply to any sum which is due by virtue of subsection (2) above and does not exceed the amount for the time being specified in section 119(1) above.". (3) In the entry relating to Class 1 in Part I of Schedule 2 to the Insurance Companies Act 1981, after the words "the person insured" there shall be inserted the words "or, in the case of a contract made by virtue of section 140, 140A or 140B of the Local Government Act 1972, a person for whose benefit the contract is made ".").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a new clause which replaces Clause 34 in the Bill and makes two substantive changes to the Local Government Act 1972, and in considering it I suggest it would be convenient to the House to deal also with Amendments Nos. 173A, 197A and 202 which are consequential upon it.

The first substantive change is to the Local Government Act 1972, to Section 140, which deals with the insurance by local authorities of their members against personal accident. When that section came into operation in 1974, the law relating to insurance companies was embodied in the Insurance Companies Act 1958. Since then, there have been two changes in the law relating to such companies. The first was contained in the Insurance Companies Act 1974 and the second in the Insurance Companies Act 1981. The latter Act specifies that only certain authorised insurers may undertake specified classes of insurance. The new clause amends Section 140 of the 1972 Act to conform with the new scheme under the Insurance Companies Act 1981 but makes no changes to the powers of the local authority in relation to the insurance of its members.

The second substantive change deals with the insurance of probation service volunteers by county councils and the GLC in relation to that area of Greater London comprised in the outer London boroughs. In Committee I undertook to consider a proposal made by my noble friend Lord Ridley that local authorities should be empowered to provide accident and disability insurance for such volunteers. Section 140B meets that undertaking and enables insurance cover for such volunteers to be provided by local authorities who are empowered by Section 140A to insure their own voluntary assistants. Because the Inner London Probation Service is financed out of the funds of the Metropolitan Police, it was not possible to bring their volunteers within this legislation, but the new provision will enable insurance cover to be provided to 90 per cent. of probation service volunteers at minimal cost by those councils who make financial contributions to the cost of the probation service.

As a result of the introduction of Section 140B into the 1972 Act, drafting changes have been necessary to Section 140A and a new Section 140C has been included which contains provisions common to both Sections 140A and 140B. Consequential on the amendment is the deletion of the 173A existing Clause 34 from the Bill and Amendment No. 202 which alters the Long Title. Amendment No. 197A is also related; that is a drafting amendment consequent on the changes to the insurance companies law to which I referred, which makes otiose the words to be repealed.

Baroness David

My Lords, I have a slight protest to make about amendments being put down at a late stage. In the Marshalled List on Monday, the first day on Report, there was a new clause which we saw only that morning. As there were many references in it to other Acts and sections it was difficult to understand it and get advice at the last minute. This morning, when I collected the Second Marshalled List, I found there had been changes again to the new clause we are discussing; several lines had been removed from subsection (2). It is difficult for somebody who is not a lawyer to understand what is happening. We might have a little more consideration from the Government about the timing of such amendments, or at least we could be given notes on new clauses. The Government were generous enough to provide notes on clauses at the beginning of the proceedings, but we have not had notes on new clauses, and that is why I lodge this protest.

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, I appreciate what the noble Baroness is saying, and she makes a fair point. The problem is the great pressure of business. We attempt always to meet the wishes of all interested parties, to listen to what is said at different stages and to bring that all together, but that puts a strain on the whole system in such a way that sometimes we get the sort of situation which the noble Baroness, not unfairly, describes. I will not make what might be called defensive points; there would be no point in my doing that because, basically, she is right, and all we can do is endeavour to do the best we can, and that, I assure her we will do.

Lord Leatherland

My Lords, I have a question about the new clause arising out of my recollection of the days when I was chairman of a county council. Provision is made for compensation if a member meets with a personal accident, fatal or otherwise. What is the meaning of the word "accident"? I recall that we once had a member of the council who was inclined to threaten violence against the chairman, and on one occasion he had to be restrained by the police when he stood alongside the chairman and was about to throttle or hit him. Would such an incident provide for compensation to be paid for any injury a member of the council might suffer, in view of the provision's use of the word "accident"?

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, the noble Lord will appreciate my reluctance to give an interpretation of the measure in answer to the sort of question he asks. Perhaps he will permit me to contact him privately on the matter, and of course he will be able to return to it at a later stage if he is unhappy with the reply.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

11.39 a.m.

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 172: After Clause 33, insert the following new clause:

("Discretion of Secretary of State to exclude costs of employment and training of apprentices from direct labour organisation accounts

. The following shall be added at the end of section 12(5) of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980

"Provided that any direction issued under this subsection shall not require a local authority or development body to include in accounts under section 10 above an amount wholly attributable to the employment and training of apprentices which is greater than an amount considered to be reasonable by the Secretary of State.".").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this clause is concerned with direct labour organisations. We are extremely anxious about the decrease in the level of apprentice recruitment by Local authorities following the implementation of the direct labour organisation provisions of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. We are further concerned that as part of the recent review of the DLO provisions by the Government, the cost of apprentice training will have to be charged in full to the statutory DLO account, whether or not an authority has employed those apprentices in the light of its other policies—for example, for educational or social purposes.

Unless alterations are made to the requirements, local authorities will have no alternative but effectively to freeze apprentice recruitment and to make a substantial number of apprentices redundant. That would be at a time of massive levels of unemployment among young people, and it would make neither sense nor reason. Ways should surely be found of ensuring that authorities can continue to take on high levels of apprentices and have the costs of them above normal commercial levels charged to a central fund within the local authority. I should have thought that that was really in line with the Government's often-stated approach and attitude towards the employment of young people.

The initial view taken by the Department of the Environment before the recent review was that where an authority employed apprentices for educational, social or other reasons, then the cost of apprentices who were above normal commercial levels could be charged to another account within the local authority, or alternatively a contribution made to the direct labour organisation account from a central fund of the local authority. The amendment that I am moving proposes to seek to implement these proposals through the Act and directions made under it. The amendment gives the Secretary of State power to decide appropriate levels of apprentice costs to be attributed to the statutory DLO account. In our view any amounts attributable through the amendment should not exceed normal commercial levels. That would leave those authorities who wished to employ apprentices above normal commercial levels—that is, for social, educational or other purposes—in a position to do so without being bound by the rate of return and other requirements of the DLO account.

The Government have already set a precedent by introducing Clause 33 during the Committee stage, and this new clause excludes Manpower Services Commission funding schemes from the tendering provisions of the DLO legislation. We very much support this change and ask the Government to accept the amendment on apprentice training that I am now moving.

Before the Minister replies, I should like to refer to the Government circular that has been sent out between the Committee stage and this stage of the Bill, and I have here a copy of the relevant paragraphs. It suggests that apprentice costs can be entered separately, but we believe that that is rather too vague, and in any case we should prefer a much firmer commitment by the Secretary of State to exclude the costs above the commercial level, and I believe that the right way to do this is to include it in the legislation. I beg to move.

Lord Sandford

My Lords, my noble friend will know that the Manpower Services Commission has now submitted to the Secretary of State its proposals for the Youth Training Scheme, which is due to come into force in September 1983. I am sure that all the local authorities will want to make a major contribution to the scheme and in course of so doing they will take on (as it were) a number of young people. They will not be apprentices, they will not be employees. What they will be is yet to be determined. The present idea is special status carrying the title "trainee". All I would ask is that my noble friend, in responding to the noble Baroness, should take that point into account.

Lord Evans of Claughton

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord the Minister will be sympathetic to the amendment and to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, raised. Whatever political persuasoni we hold, we all recognise that the terrible problem in many parts of the country, in particular in the North, is the very high level of unskilled labour, and I should have thought that any step which could make it easier for people to be trained for skills should be taken by the Government. I hope that, as a means to that end, the amendment, or something similar, will be accepted.

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, I appreciate the reasons which have motivated the tabling of the amendments, but I fear that the Government cannot accept them. The intention which is clearly expressed in the side note to the new clause—though I must draw to your Lordships' attention the Government's view that the proposed new clause is inconsistent with its apparent intention—is that part of the costs incurred by local authorities on apprentice training should be excluded from the accounts of those authorities' direct labour organisations. I must make it clear that, while the Government are concerned to see training programmes maintained throughout the construction industry, we are not persuaded that it would be right to exclude any part of apprentice training costs from a local authority's DLO accounts. We consider, as do the construction industry firms with which DLOs are in competition, that such costs are an integral part of the costs that have to be borne by any organisation carrying out construction and maintenance work, and that, on those grounds alone, it would be quite wrong to exclude them from DLO accounts.

However, in the circular to which the noble Baroness Lady Birk, referred, we have suggested that any authority which believes that it has incurred apprentice training costs over and above those which are related to its DLO needs should identify these, as agreed with its auditor, as a special item in its accounts, so that their impact on the rate of return achieved by the authority on its DLO activities can be properly assessed. I should have thought that that was really the fundamental point. That appears to us to be the proper way of dealing flexibly with the situation which has been described by the noble Baroness.

In any case, the amendments as drafted are technically defective and, it must be said, would appear to have an effect which is almost the precise opposite of what the proposers intend. The new clause is based on the mistaken premise that it is only by ministerial direction that apprentice training costs are required to be included in an authority's DLO revenue accounts, and it therefore seeks to preclude the Secretary of State from making such directions except for an amount which he considers reasonable. That is not the case. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has issued no directions under Section 12(5), and does not intend to issue any. It is the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 itself which requires all costs incurred by an authority's employees engaged in construction or maintenance to be charged to its DLO accounts.

In particular, under Section 13 of the 1980 Act, a DLO revenue account maintained in relation to any description of construction or maintenance work undertaken by an authority is required to show a true and fair view of the financial result of the authority in relation to those descriptions of work. The Secretary of State would therefore need to use his powers under Section 12(5) positively to exclude them. Indeed, the Secretary of State already has the discretion which the proposed Title amendment describes, but, as I have explained, he does not consider it appropriate to use that discretion for this purpose.

Seeking to restrict the existing powers of my right honourable friend under Section 12(5), as the proposed new clause does, might make it impossible for him to fix a method for determining the costs of construction or maintenance work in a DLO revenue account by excluding the whole or part of an authority's training costs. However, I must stress that no evidence has emerged which has persuaded my right honourable friend to give any such directions or to change the advice which he has given to authorities, which is that they should include all the costs relating to apprentices in their DLO accounts.

I hope that what I have said will reassure your Lordships that the Government are not unsympathetic about these matters. The points made by the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, and those made, by implication, by my noble friend Lord Sandford, in addition to those which the noble Baroness herself made, are very important. The training of people is a basic part of the Government's policy because we recognise that this is where the future must lie. For all the reasons that I have given—and I shall take up the point that my noble friend mentioned and look into the matter of special categories—we do not believe that the amendments are necessary, let alone desirable, and I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw them.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his careful reply. May I say that if there are technical faults in the drafting I am sorry about that, but obviously I cannot deal with that at this stage. What is more important is the principle involved, the principle being that there is an area of uncertainty and we are left with the position where DLOs can face closure if they are considered unprofitable. There is the element of uncertainty where the Secretary of State, according to my interpretation of the circular, can assess the impact and has to look at the position in each case. I can only return to what I said when moving the amendment, which is that, frankly, my noble friends and I—and from what the noble Lord, Lord Evans, has said, he seems to be in agreement; and I am also grateful for the interjection by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford—believe that this is too vague. The Minister agreed about the whole question of employment for young persons and the terrible unemployment that exists at this moment. To leave this in what I think is far too vague a situation is something that we should not do when we are at the moment considering a piece of legislation which it should be part of and in which it would have a very good position.

In spite of the argument that the Minister has put forward, it is still not firmly stated how far costs above the commercial level can be excluded where social costs are involved. It is this that we are concerned with; costs should not have to be counted against commercial profitability. The net result would be that local authorities could be in a position of having to sack apprentices—which would add to the unemployment situation—because of the present unsatisfactory position of this legislation. I am afraid that, in spite of what the Minister has said, and in spite of the technical deficiencies—which could be righted easily by us or by the Government putting forward an amendment to deal with them—I shall have to test the feeling of the House and ask it to divide.

11.54 a.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 172) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 46; Not-Contents, 64.

Airedale, L. Gosford, E.
Amherst, E. Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Ardwick, L. Irving of Dartford, L.
Banks, L. Jeger, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Bernstein, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Beswick, L. Leatherland, L.
Birk, B. Listowel, E.
Bishopston, L.[Teller] Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.[Teller]
Boston of Faversham, L.
Briginshaw, L. Molloy, L.
Brockway, L. Noel-Baker, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Northfield, L.
Collison, L. Oram, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Peart, L.
David, B. Sainsbury, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Underhill, L.
Evans of Claughton, L. Whaddon, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Wigg, L.
Feversham, L. Willis, L.
Gaitskell, B. Winstanley, L.
George-Brown, L. Winterbottom, L.
Gladwyn, L.
Abercorn, D. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Kinloss, Ly.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Lane-Fox, B.
Ampthill, L. Lauderdale, E.
Auckland, L. Long, V.[Teller]
Avon, E. Lyell, L.
Balerno, L. McFadzean, L.
Bellwin, L. Mancroft, L.
Bessborough, E. Marley, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Merrivale, L.
Caccia, L. Mersey, V.
Cathcart, E. Morris, L.
Clitheroe, L. Mottistone, L.
Coleraine, L. Mountgarret, V.
Cottesloe, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Craigavon, V. Oxfuird, V.
Crathorne, L. Porritt, L.
Cromartie, E. Rankeillour, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Rugby, L.
Davidson, V. St. Davids, V.
Derwent, L. St. Just, L.
Eccles, V. Sandford, L.
Ellenborough, L. Sandys, L. [Teller]
Elton, L. Shannon, E.
Enniskillen, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Faithfull, B. Spens, L.
Gainford, L. Teviot, L.
Glenkinglas, L. Teynham, L.
Greenway, L. Trefgarne, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Trumpington, B.
Hailsham of St. Marylebone, Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Young, B.
Halsbury, E.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

12.1 p.m.

Clause 34 [Power of local authorities to insure voluntary assistants]:

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 173: Page 41, line 33, at end insert— ("( ) For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that a local authority may make provision for sums equivalent to the sums mentioned in subsection (1) of this section by means of a fund established under paragraph 16 of Schedule 13 to this Act, and any sum so provided shall be treated in all respects as if it were a sum received by the local authority under a contract with authorised insurers in accordance with this section.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I am now in the rather ridiculous position—is the Minister attending?

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, this Minister is attending.

Baroness David

I am now in the rather ridiculous position of moving an amendment to a clause which is about to be deleted. This, of course, has come about because of the very recent new clause which was put down instead of Clause 34, and which was shown in the Marshalled List to be inserted after Clause 33.

I am absolutely bound to withdraw my amendment when I have spoken to it. The alternative to that would have been to put down at the very last minute a manuscript amendment to the amendment which the noble Lord has moved and which has gone through the House. It would not be very satisfactory to have a manuscript amendment at the very last minute; it would be more sensible to speak to the amendment as it was and to try to establish the principle. I hope the Minister will be able to accept that. If not, at any rate I have the opportunity—I think quite justifiable—to put down an amendment at Third Reading when the new clause will be incorporated in the Bill.

Amendment No. 173 was moved at Committee stage by my noble friend Lord Mishcon. It was withdrawn on the promise of a communication from the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin. He received that letter. We thought that a fuller explanation would be useful. Some of the people who work for local authorities are paid under a contract of employment, but some are not. A local authority wish to provide "benefits" to people working for them who suffer accidents or permanent disablement during the course of such work. The local authority may not wish to distinguish between employees and volunteers. Some local authorities establish a fund (they call it an insurance fund) under paragraph 16 of Schedule 13 to the Local Government Act 1972 on the lines described in the second alternative in Lord Bellwin's letter out of which "benefits" are provided to employees by way of payments. As no doubt the noble Lord has his letter, I do not think that I need read out that part of his letter.

The result to the worker is the same whether benefits are received under the fund or from an insurance company. There are two implications, however, of considerable relevance to the local authority. First, local authorities having an insurance fund have to operate two different schemes to ensure that the benefits are paid to the two different categories of worker. This is administratively inefficient and should attract some sympathy from the present Government having regard to their current local authority policies in trying to reduce expenditure and to get rid of employees.

Secondly, in respect of non-paid workers or volunteers, the administrative arrangements involve paying a premium to an insurance company and going into the formalities of contracts of insurance et cetera. The cost of such premiums is generally higher than the cost of the local authorities subscribing to or topping up their own "in-house" fund, as insurance companies inevitably have to cover for the risk element, overheads and profit in the premiums.

The real question as indicated in the last paragraph on page 1 of Lord Bellwin's letter is whether it is a function of a local authority to make use of volunteers. The letter suggested that it was not. The use of volunteers has been a feature of local government for many years in connection with many areas of the council's functions for example, social services and education. We had hoped that the department would concede that the power to make use of the voluntary assistants would be seen as being within the provisions of Section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972 (subsidiary powers of local authorities to do things calculated to facilitate or conducive or incidental to the discharge of their functions). We think that volunteers can come under that. In that case it would presumably follow that the council could establish a fund on the lines of the second alternative in Lord Bellwin's letter and the amendment need proceed no further.

As we understand the department's comments in Lord Bellwin's letter, it is suggested that as the local authority have no functions at all in relation to volunteers, the making use of volunteers is ultra vires. It must be questionable as to whether it is the department's intention to come to this conclusion.

In conclusion, then, we hope that the Government will either concede that local authorities may establish funds on the lines of the second alternative in Lord Bellwin's letter under the existing law or, as it now has to be, concede the principle of the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Evans of Claughton

My Lords, I find it more difficult in this particular case to understand the reasoning behind the Government's rejection of the proposal enshrined in the amendment, though I have not had the advantage of seeing the correspondence. As a person who has been a member of the appropriate committees in local authorities dealing with insurance in the past, it seems to me that, (a) it is so much more convenient to fund your own insurance, (b) so much less bureaucratic, and (c) less expensive, that I would have thought on all three grounds it would have attracted the Government's support.

I cannot understand the point that the local authority has no function so far as voluntary workers are concerned. Again, I understand it to be the case that Conservative Governments—and other parties, certainly my party—want to encourage the involvement of voluntary workers, particularly in the field of social services, recreation and so on. It should be stated that for some presumably abstruse legal reason a local authority has no functon in relation to voluntary workers. As the noble Baroness, Lady David, said, if they have no function then almost by definition it must be ultra vires to have voluntary workers associated with the local authorities. I hope that the noble Lord the Minister can clear up what to me seems a very mysterious unwillingness on the part of Government to accept a reasonably economic way of dealing with the problem of insuring voluntary workers and other workers.

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, I understand the point that the noble Baroness is making about the procedural way of dealing with this matter; but she may find it helpful to have on the record what the Government now feel about the position. In view of what the noble Lord, Lord Evans, said, I feel obliged to make some comment on it and I do so as follows. Even if the amendment were to be put forward at this moment, the Government could not accept it. Perhaps it will assist if I say briefly—but I hope clearly—how the Government see the position. I immediately say that there is much legality in this matter, as the noble Lord, Lord Evans, said.

Before a local authority can establish a fund under paragraph 16 of Schedule 13 to the Local Government Act 1972, it must be satisfied that it has a function in connection with which the fund can be established. In the case of officers employed by an authority, it is considered that adequate functions exist under Section 112 of the 1972 Act, when read in conjunction with the rule expressed in Section 111, to enable an authority either to establish a fund for the payment of premiums under a contract of accident insurance or to establish a fund where there is to be no contract of insurance and to invest the sums of ratepayers' money necessary to pay benefits to officers who are the victims of accidents, and so on, while in the local authority's service.

However, as the letter to which the noble Baroness referred stated, there is nothing mysterious about it, as the noble Lord, Lord Evans, suggested. The legal position is that a local authority first of all has no such functions in relation to a volunteer; in fact they have no functions at all in relation to volunteers. As I commented in Committee when the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, moved the same amendment, it seems doubtful that a fund which can only be established by an authority in connection with its function, such as a fund under the provisions of paragraph 16 of Schedule 13, can be established to meet expenditure in relation to persons such as voluntary assistants in connection with whom a local authority has no functions.

A quite specific new function is conferred under Clause 34, or rather the clause that replaces it. That is a function to enter into a contract of insurance against accidents with an authorised insurer. In connection with this function, the view is taken that a fund may be established under paragraph 16 of Schedule 13 to the 1972 Act for the purpose of defraying expenditure in the payment of premiums under that contract. However, the view is also taken that a fund of the kind envisaged by the amendment could not be established under Schedule 13 and a declaratory provision of this kind would accordingly be of no effect.

However, the enactment of a new power to establish such a fund is not in any event thought to be justified in the case of volunteers. I entirely endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Evans, said about the Government's attitude towards volunteers, but the fact is that if local authorities wish to insure them against accidents they should do so by means of a contract of insurance; and that is precisely what has been authorised by the local Act precedents on which the replacement of Clause 34 is based.

It seems here that we are talking very much of a legality rather than of desirability. Clearly, without going into this subject at greater length, I do not think there is much difference between any of us on desirability: it is the way it is tied in with the functions of authorities. If the noble Baroness or the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, wish to pursue this matter further through correspondence or in any other way, clearly we shall be interested to see what is said, but the position at the present time is as I have stated it.

Baroness David

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for expanding a little on the letter which he wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. May I make it quite clear that when I spoke first I said we considered that voluntary assistants would be seen as being within the provisions of Section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972, which says that … to do any thing … calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the discharge of any of their functions. That is what we thought would cover volunteers so that they would come under this fund set up under Schedule 13 to the Local Government Act. So if the noble Lord, with the leave of the House, would answer that question, I should be grateful. We now realise that volunteers can be insured through a contract of insurance under the new clause, but it is going to be a more expensive way of doing it, and more costly both in money and time of employees of the authority.

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, I will certainly write to the noble Baroness about her particular query and I will also at the same time take the opportunity to look into the last point she makes about expense, and so on. Perhaps I could do the two together and then she could decide what she wishes to do at the next stage.

Baroness David

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 173A: Leave out Clause 34.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move this amendment. I spoke to it in connection with Amendment No. 171B; and also consequential are Amendments Nos. 197A and 202. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 174ZA: After Clause 34, insert the following new clause:

("Hackney Carriages

. Notwithstanding the provisions contained in Part II of Schedule 14 to the Local Government Act 1972 in relation to the applying of section 171(4) of the Public Health Act 1875 to their area, a local authority may license hackney carriages to stand and ply for hire only on specified hackney carriage stands within their area as may be stated in the licence. A local authority shall not exercise the power contained in this section without first consulting persons or associations of persons representative of the hackney. Carriage trade within their area").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I should explain that it deals with the same issue as the one I moved on Committee stage, but there are changes from that first amendment. Without going into full details, I should mention that this relates to the 1972 Local Government Act, which dealt with the reorganisation of local government areas including districts, and transitionary arrangements had to be made over the licensing of hackney carriages.

The 1972 Act gave the new district councils three alternatives. The first one need not concern us greatly —that referred to the deletion of all reference to the licensing of hackney carriages. The second was that a council which may have had separate licensing in the old constituent parts could decide to de-zone and have one licensing area, with taxis able to ply throughout the area. The third option was to continue de-zoning on the previous areas of the small district councils.

The key issue involved in this amendment is that, because of the provisions of the 1972 Act, once a local authority had decided on de-zoning, it could not reverse that decision and had to stay with it. I mentioned the position of the Bradford Council earlier. They had raised the matter with me because, from experience, they found that when they had decided on de-zoning, the hackney carriages tended to gravitate to the centre from the outside areas and they were not providing a proper service to the people in the outside areas. The Council therefore wanted the opportunity to reconsider the position, but when they made representations to the Home Office in accordance with the provisions of the Act, they were told that the decision they had made was statutorily irreversible.

At Committee stage I mentioned Leeds, and the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, said that no direct representations had been made by Leeds to the Home Office. I have endeavoured to check the position and I find that Leeds were faced with the same problem. They may not have made actual representations, but I am told that they raised the matter with the Home Office and were also told that the decision was irrevocable. Hence they could go no further with it. I have looked at the reasons given by the Minister for rejecting the amendment I moved at Committee stage. He said then that we must think about the consumer. That is the reason for this amendment—to ensure that an adequate service is provided for consumers at all levels, not only in the city area but also in the outlying townships.

The Minister also said that the amendment would override the principles of supply and demand. In a matter of this kind, to rely solely on the operation of supply and demand works against the public interest. It may be in the interests of the public in the central area to which the operators gravitate, but there is no balanced service for the public throughout the district area.

Another argument given by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, was that the amendment went much too far in restricting hackney carriages to single ranks or very small areas. It is to go towards meeting that criticism that the words, to ply for hire only in specified parts of their area, and", have been left out of the new amendment which I am moving this morning. The present amendment will restrict hackney carriages to specified stands, but all hackney carriages will be free to accept "flag down" passengers in any part of the district. The public could flag down any hackney carriage in any part of the district, but when not carrying a passenger the taxis would return to the specified hackney carriage stands. That would provide a more balanced service and would be in the interests of the consumer—that is, the general public.

The noble Lord also said: The Government are … doing everything we can to remove unnecessary controls and restrictions especially over small business."—[Official Report, 5/4/82; col. 17.] I think that all noble Lords would wish to achieve that. But I would remind the Minister that this very Bill imposes a number of restrictions on businesses, including small businesses, where it is considered necessary in the interests of the public, and I suggest that this matter which I am asking the House to consider this morning is one of those instances.

There is a further change from the previous amendment which also fits in with the Government's view. The last sentence has been added to the amendment which I put forward at the Committee stage, and that last sentence provides: A local authority shall not exercise the power contained in this section without first consulting", the hackney carriage trade in the area. That is a very important provision, which, I think, will go towards meeting the Government's point about restrictions on small businesses. Unless the principle of the amendment is accepted, the position will remain that a local authority is not allowed to reconsider a decision, even though a possible change may be in the interests of the public throughout its area. If a council wants to reconsider its decision, it is prevented from doing so. That, I suggest, is a denial of local choice.

May I make the point that the 1972 Act permitted a council to continue zoning, if it considered that desirable? Why should an authority in 1982 be prevented from doing what it could have done in the years after, I think, 1974, with ministerial approval? In other words, what I am now seeking to do could have been done before, but, having decided on de-zoning, they cannot reconsider the matter. That appears to me not only illogical, but a debarment of local choice to reconsider a decision which a council may now feel works against the interest of its people. I beg to move.

12.23 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Elton)

My Lords, when the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, moved a similar new clause in Committee, my noble friend Lord Belstead made it very clear that the Government would oppose it. The noble Lord took it away and, on Friday night of last week, came back with the Mark 2 version, to which we gave very close attention—originally in some haste, because we might have met it on Monday—but I regret to say that the result of that attention is to reveal that this is no more acceptable than his Mark 1 version.

Although the noble Lord has tried to argue otherwise, we are here discussing the imposition of an additional restriction on part of the taxi trade. The noble Lord would wish district councils to reduce the area within which certain taxis may ply for hire. He wants to concentrate trade in patches, rather than in the centre of a town. That is how I take what he said earlier. This would mean that a taxi-driver would have to ply for trade, not where his commercial judgment told him that he should, but where the borough council told him that he should. Indeed, even as redrafted, the clause would enable a council to prevent a driver from earning his living except at a given rank; and the relevant words are in the fifth line of the amendment: to stand and ply for hire only on specified hackney carriage stands". Furthermore, any taxi whose area was restricted would, presumably, have to accept any hiring to go elsewhere. I am not at all certain, from what the noble Lord said, whether his intention is that they can then pick up a fare to go back. But if any fare that they find between the delivery of the first fare and their return to their rank, where they are allowed to ply for hire, does not want to go to the district of that rank, then the taxi driver is still going to make an empty return journey.

I fully appreciate the very real difficulties faced by prospective hirers in outlying parts of a town, who find it more difficult to obtain a taxi than those in big city centres. Nevertheless, I do not believe that the solution proposed by the noble Lord is the right one, or that it would be in the public interest or the interest of the consumer, as he suggests it is. If there is unmet demand in outlying areas, and all the taxis are making a better hiring elsewhere under the present system, the answer is not further restrictions. Rather, the local authority should increase the number of taxi licences, or should prescribe a fare tariff which encourages drivers to seek hirings in outer areas.

Indeed, it is becoming increasingly common—and I do not doubt that your Lordships make use of the service yourselves—to order taxis by telephone. Already about half the taxis in England and Wales, outside London, are equipped with two-way radios, and the response to a telephone call can, therefore, be extremely rapid. I think that we should encourage this kind of development, which improves the service available to the public, rather than seek to tie taxis to ranks where the demand is low, preventing them from using these technological advances.

The noble Lord has suggested—and I think it is a welcome suggestion—that the licensing authority should consult the local taxi trade before imposing restrictions, but this suggests that one of the main purposes of his proposed new clause is to protect part of the taxi trade from competition. The noble Lord said that the laws of supply and demand were inadequate to protect the consumer. In the short run that may be true, but in the long run I am convinced that that is not the case and that an economy of this sort suffers from regulations rather than profiting from it. Taxi-drivers who have traditionally worked in big city centres naturally resent any influx of drivers from outlying districts which increases competition. If consulted by the local authority, they would naturally support restrictions on the competition to their trade. That is certainly the case in Bradford, where I understand that the trade is divided between those originally from Bradford itself, and those originally from elsewhere in the district. I believe that the noble Lord has close experience of that.

The Government are not prepared to accept this sort of protectionism; nor do we agree that newcomers to the taxi trade being licensed on a less favourable basis than those already in it is fair or just; nor do we feel that one should generalise from the particular cases to which the noble Lord has referred. That is what the noble Lord is doing. We are being asked to accept far-reaching changes in taxi law across the nation, on the basis of difficulties which have arisen in one or two districts. The noble Lord referred to the three options in the 1972 Act and implied, I think, that it was accidental that the option, when exercised, became irreversible if it was to de-zone. We think it is right that it is irreversible and that it is in the consumers' interests that it should be.

I really can say no more, except that the noble Lord mentioned Leeds as another area where similar problems arose some years ago. According to my recent inquiries about the present position in Leeds, the situation is now reasonably satisfactory, and no local authority other than Bradford has indicated to us that it supports the noble Lord's proposed new clause. Therefore, we really think that it would be going from the particular to the general, against the interests of very large numbers of the population of towns in this country, and indeed with no clear indication of any support whatever from the majority of the centres of population and the bodies which govern them. So I am afraid that I must recommend your Lordships not to accept this amendment. I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw it.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I appreciate the very detailed reply which the Minister has given. Regarding Leeds, my understanding is that the vacuum which was created there was filled by private hire cars. However, the problem is that although the council there license these private hire cars they do not control the fares. Therefore there is a vacuum which is filled in an undesirable way. The Minister wants it both ways. Last time his noble friend criticised that amendment on the grounds that I was placing restrictions upon small businesses. Now it is suggested that I am giving an advantage to operators by trying to allocate different areas to them. It seems, therefore, that according to one amendment I have one argument and that according to another amendment I have a different argument.

Lord Elton

My Lords, what I was suggesting was that if the noble Lord left the status quo he would be fair to small businesses. If there were restrictions, as he now proposes, he would be very unfair upon those who want to come in and be small businesses.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, the only other point I would make is that all the criticisms which the Minister has made, and which the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, made at the Committee stage, could have been made at the time when a local authority decided to keep zoning, which it was permitted to do under the 1972 Act. Yet the law allowed it to do that. Therefore the law allowed a council to do something which the Minister now says is completely undesirable and against the interests of consumers. That is one of the important points I am making. If the law allowed it, then surely it should be possible, with all the local knowledge, for a council to go back, if it wished to do so.

In view of the Government's firm attitude, I have no alternative but to withdraw the amendment. However, I think that the Minister, despite his arguments, will recognise that there is a devil of a lot of logic in my argument concerning what was permissible then no longer being permissible now. I wonder whether the Minister could give an assurance that this question will be dealt with in the consultation document on taxi legislation which the Government have promised, and which I believe we were to have had at the end of 1980? I do not know what progress has been made. This is a matter which could be discussed in the taxi trade document. I wonder whether the Minister could give that assurance?

Lord Elton

My Lords, by leave of the House, all I can do is to undertake to take the noble Lord's representations to my right honourable friend.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 35 [Lost and uncollected property]:

12.33 p.m.

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 174ZB: Page 42, line 13, leave out from ("property") to ("; or") in line 15 and insert (" on buildings or premises owned or managed by a local authority comes into their possession otherwise than by express agreement with the owner of that property").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we come now to the problem of lost property. In moving Amendment No. 174ZB I should like to speak to Amendment No. 177ZA. I moved amendments during the Committee stage. The aim then was to clarify the situation because, as I said then, there seemed to be nothing in principle to distinguish between, on the one hand, lost and uncollected property and, on the other, abandoned and trespassing property. So again I am trying to obtain some clarification.

The principal amendment which I moved in Committee was for the purpose of bringing within the clause property left on local authority premises by a tenant, licensee, trespasser or mortgagor. The Minister said that property left by the first three of those categories was already within the clause and that the clause made adequate provision for it. He said that under the clause, property can come into the possession of a local authority for the purposes of the clause either where it is lost by the owner on local authority premises or where it is left there without permission. Unfortunately, however, the Minister did not touch on the argument for that view, and the assumption we have had to make is that in his opinion such property falls within Clause 35(1)(a), on the ground that it is property which comes into the possession of a local authority after being found on their premises.

I am still not quite convinced that the Minister is right. Ultimately it would be for the court to decide whether or not property left by a tenant or a trespasser fell within Clause 35(1)(a). If, however, the Minister's view is correct, the clause is still defective. Subsection (5) provides for the vesting of property in the local authority six months from the relevant date. That date is defined by subsection (11) in relation only to lost property, which falls within subsection (1)(a), and uncollected property which falls within subsection (1)(b). There is no definition of "relevant date" respecting property left by a tenant or trespasser in circumstances where the property cannot be described as lost—that is, where property has been dumped or deliberately left. Amendment No. 177ZA covers this part of it.

The difficulty in accepting the Government's view that the clause already covers property left on local authority premises without permission arises from the words "after being found" in subsection (1)(a), taking them in the context of the clause as a whole, including the references to lost property, particularly in subsection (11). The Government, it would seem, clearly accept that property left without permission should be within the clause, and any doubts there might be could be removed by redrafting subection (1)(a). That is what I have tried to do in my Amendment No. 174ZB. So I hope that the Government will accept the need for this clarification. I beg to move.

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, may I deal first with Amendment No. 174ZB. The Government cannot accept this amendment. It is not considered to be necessary. As I intimated when the noble Baroness, Lady David, moved a somewhat similar amendment in Committee, the clause will take effect whenever property comes into the possession of a local authority after being found in buildings or on premises owned or managed by them. Whether such property was lost, deliberately abandoned or simply left on the premises is irrelevant. It is the fact of its being found and taken into the possession of a local authority that is germane to the clause. However, the noble Baroness will no doubt be pleased to hear me say that the Government are prepared to consider Amendment No. 177ZA, with a view to tabling suitable amendments at Third Reading. The points which the noble Baroness makes, and has made, have, we feel, merit, but it is a question of bringing this forward in the best way possible, as I am sure the noble Baroness will appreciate. In those circumstances, I hope that she will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness David

My Lords, I thank the Minister for, at any rate, some satisfaction. I shall have to accept that subsection (1)(a) covers dumped property as well as something that has been left there unintentionally. And when it comes to the other amendment I shall not move it, having accepted that the Minister is going to do something about it. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 174ZB.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 174A: Page 42, line 18, at end insert— ("(1A) Where—

  1. (a) property is found on any building or premises owned or managed by a local authority; and
  2. (b) it is subsequently handed over to the authority,
any right of possession of the property which was vested in a person by virtue of its having been found is extinguished.'.).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with your Lordships' leave, in moving Amendment No. 174A I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 174B, C, D, E and Amendment No. 177A. Amendments Nos. 174B and 174E are minor amendments arising from Committee Amendments Nos. 119A and 120A which were tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and the noble Baroness, Lady David, but not moved. They take account of circumstances where trasspassing animals come into the possession of a local authority. I am grateful to the noble Baronesses for having drawn our attention to this matter. The remaining amendments are drafting amendments. I beg to move.

Baroness David

My Lords, I am very glad that the two amendments that I moved last time but withdrew—to deal with the problem of animals being left: horses, hens, or whatever—are being accepted here. Although the Government have not accepted my wording, which was "or keep", I am very happy with "look after it adequately".

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendment No. 174B: Page 42, line 43, leave out ("continue to store it") and insert ("look after it adequately").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment together with Amendments Nos. 174C, 174D, 174E and 177A. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bellwin moved Amendments Nos. 174C, 174D and 174E: Page 43, line 4, leave out ("as against its owner"). Page 43, line 8, leave out from ("property") to end of line 12 and insert ("vests in a local authority under this section, the authority may give the whole or any part of the property to the person through whom it came into their possession. (8A) Where the proceeds of sale of lost property vest in a local authority under this section, the authority may make a payment not exceeding the value of the property to the person through whom it came into their possession."). line 19, leave out ("storing the property") and insert ("looking after the property adequately").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

12.41 p.m.

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 175: Page 43, leave out line 22.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we now come to another problem of lost property, but this time it has to do with airports, and it is a very complicated story. What these amendments seek to do is to revise the clause back into the form in which it was originally introduced to Parliament. There appears to be a certain amount of confusion on a matter which the Government have been inclined to argue as a matter of principle. Initially, the Government included exactly the principles we wanted in the Bill, but then they changed their mind. When we reminded the Government that Manchester Airport enjoyed these powers under the Greater Manchester Act 1981, the chairman of the Joint Airports Committee of Local Authorities was told by the Minister that this was not appreciated when the Bill was passing through Parliament—otherwise the provision would have been opposed.

The Government have also argued that the appropriate strategy would be to amend the Civil Aviation Act 1980. The Bill before this House today includes amendments to just about every piece of legislation on the statute book, and therefore I do not believe that that is a reason for leaving out civil aviation. Neither do I think it is an argument to say that Members of this House should wait until civil aviation legislation is amended before seeking to remedy a defect. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, moved a similar amendment at Committee stage and he himself asked: where would be a more appropriate place in which to change the law on airport lost property than in a clause in a miscellaneous provisions Bill specifically on lost property? Evidently, the Government originally thought that this was the appropriate place because they drafted a similar clause.

The crucial issue here is the issue of vesting. The Government believe in vesting, otherwise they would not have come forward with the clause which specifically provides for it. By vesting property in an authority, there can be no doubt about the validity of any subsequent action to dispose of the property. Anything less than vesting creates continuing uncertainty and it is for this reason—which is really the core of the argument—that I am moving this amendment today. The Government have quite correctly now decided that this is an appropriate time to revise the law on lost property. All we are asking is that the Government should take this opportunity to revise the law relating to airport lost property.

Air travel, in terms of recovering lost property, is no different from other forms of travel. Indeed, it is usually much easier to retrace a journey made by air when trying to establish the point at which the property was lost, because there are not a great many intermediate points where something might have been left or lost. Since there is so much more air travel and since the distances between destinations are becoming shorter and shorter, I do not think it is a valid argument to question the matter of air travel, and for it to be brought into use against these amendments. In fact, the matter is made easier than in the case of rail or bus journeys, where lost property is eventually vested in the appropriate authorities.

When the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, moved his amendment at Committee—and I believe I am right in saying that it was rather late at night when he did so—he subsequently withdrew it because the Minister stated that he would write to the noble Lord about this. The Minister has written to him and the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, was kind enough to let me see a copy of the letter. With great respect, I do not really think that the letter answers the points which were originally raised by the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, and by the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, when this matter was debated at Committee stage. This is further strengthened by the letter which the Minister has received from the chairman of the Joint Airports Committee of Local Authorities, who points out that the Department of Trade has, despite strong representations on behalf of the joint committee, refused to accept that vesting could be possible under by-laws made under the powers provided by the Civil Aviation Act 1980. So it does not look as though there will be very much hope down that avenue, even if one waited long enough for that avenue to open.

It seems to me that we have now got to the stage where, with the many discussions which have taken place and the amount of correspondence which has passed backwards and forwards, the Government will take a different line on this; that they will go back to their original line in another place and accept this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, before the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, sits down, will she confirm that she really said that the distances between airports were getting shorter and shorter? The travelling times might be, but not the distances, surely?

Baroness Birk

The noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, is of course right. I was trying to say that it takes less and less time to fly from one place to another.

Lord Evans of Claughton

My Lords, that metaphysical point having been dealt with, I would like to say that the noble Lord the Minister was kind enough to write to me and to throw a little light on what must be the rather depressing existence he has at the moment in moving these endless amendments. I have become convinced by what the noble Lord said in his letter that the matter should be left as it now is in the Bill, given the very convoluted history of the Bill in another place and here.

The noble Lord the Minister said that the effect of my amendment would be to entitle the authority—that is, the airport authority—to the proceeds from the sale of any property that had been lost and was to be disposed of, and that this might not always be just. He went on to say that the British Airports Authority did not find any need for the power. Frankly, I had decided that, broadly speaking, I would let the matter drop. The only point I find difficult to understand is the one which the noble Lord the Minister made in the penultimate sentence of his letter, where he said that, should local authorities wish to press the matter of vesting, the proper way would be for them to discuss it with the Department of Trade with a view to amending the Civil Aviation Act 1980.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, said, apparently the Government do want to change, and since they have not been inhibited from making amendments to all kinds of Acts, I would seriously be interested to know the reason—rather than try to make a party political point—why amendments to the Civil Aviation Act 1980 were not inserted. I ask that given that there seems to be a general demand from provincial airports for change, although possibly not—as the noble Lord the Minister said—from Heathrow airport authority. That is my only remaining doubt: since almost every Act under the sun has been amended, and since there is a genuine demand from airports, why has this not been included as an amendment to the Civil Aviation Act 1980?

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, will the noble Baroness allow me to refer to that last point first while it is in my mind? I really do not know the answer to what the noble Lord, Lord Evans, says. It sounds very reasonable, as does most of what the noble Lord says. Would that we could always agree; unhappily we rarely do, it would seem. Clearly, this is an area where one is trying to get the best way of doing things. I used to be very involved in airports; I was chairman of a local authority airport. This kind of problem came up from time to time, so I am very sympathetic to what the noble Baroness is seeking to do.

But, my Lords, we are concerned about the effect of the amendment. It would be to extend the provisions of Clause 35. In the debate at Committee stage on a similar amendment I explained that because special problems arise at airports, and they certainly do, specific provision has been made for their operation, their regulation and for the conduct of persons while on aerodromes. In the case of local authority aerodromes, provision is made in the Civil Aviation Acts 1968 and 1980 for the making of by-laws regulating such matters, including by-laws relating to lost property, and some by-laws have been made under this legislation without a vesting provision. I also explained that since specific legislation already existed it was unnecessary and, we felt, confusing to accept an amendment which would have the effect of providing two pieces of statute dealing with the same issue in different ways. The Government therefore could not accept the proposed amendment.

However, as the noble Baroness rightly said, I did undertake to look into problems alleged to arise out of the present legislation, and in particular the fear of the possibility of fraudulent claims and that local authorities would not be able to pass good title to a purchaser of lost goods. It was then that I wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Evans, and to my noble friend Lord Ridley, and indeed also to the Joint Airports Committee of Local Authorities, JACOLA, to reassure them that their fears were unfounded. I still feel that there is no reason to depart from that original view.

With regard to the Civil Aviation Act, I am informed that it cannot be amended in a Bill dealing with local authorities because the Civil Aviation Act relates to air travel and aviation. However, if your Lordships still have doubts on the points that have now been thoroughly debated, I feel that to deal with this problem, which is a fair one to raise—although the noble Baroness referred to the point that it seemed to her a tortuous way of going about it—the recommendation would stilll be to seek an amendment to the Civil Aviation Act 1980. If she would like me privately to discuss it with colleagues in the Department of Trade, I shall be glad to do so.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, may I thank the Minister for his reply and his clarification of this matter? I am still worried by the point made in the reply, the letter from Councillor Emmerson to the Minister, when he says: The Department of Trade, despite the strongest representations on behalf of the Joint Committee, refuse to accept that vesting could be possible by by-laws made under the powers of the Civil Aviation Act". If the noble Lord the Minister is suggesting that he will discuss this matter with his colleagues, as I understood him to say, and since I seem to have lost part of the sturdy support of the noble Lord, Lord Evans, if I push it further, I do not think that this is the occasion to press it to a Division. I should be very grateful if the Minister would follow it up, as I am sure he will.

This is a matter of complete mystification to us all, and obviously to other people. I hope that in some way the situation can be clarified. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 176 not moved.]

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 177: Page 43, line 32, leave out from ("board") to ("and") in line 33 and insert ("constituted in pursuance of section 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 or reconstituted in pursuance of Schedule 17 to the Local Government Act 1972").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, this drafting amendment clarifies a reference the clause makes to planning boards. It enables that the clause will be exercisable by any new planning board which might be constituted under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 in the future, as well as by the two existing boards, the Lake District Special Planning Board and the Peak Park Joint Planning Board. Corresponding provision is made to Clause 34. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 177ZA not moved.]

1 p.m.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 177A: Page 43, line 39, leave out ("hands") and insert ("possesssion").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Bellwin spoke to this amendment with amendment No. 174B. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 177B: After Clause 36, insert the following new clause:

("Advances for acquisition of land, erection of buildings or carrying out of works.

In section 3 of the Local Authorities (Land) Act 1963—(a) the following subsection shall be substituted for subsection (1)—

"(1) Where a local authority are satisfied that it would be for the benefit or improvement of their area, they may, subject to the provisions of this section, advance money to any person for the purpose of enabling him—

  1. (a)to acquire land; or
  2. (b)to erect any building or carry out any work on land."; and

(b) the following subsections shall be substituted for subsection (3)—

"(3) The amount of the principal of an advance made under subsection (1)(a)of this section shall not exceed nine-tenths of the value of the land.

(3A) The amount of the principal of an advance made under subsection (1)(b)of this section shall not exceed nine-tenths of the value which it is estimated the mortgaged security will bear upon the completion of the building or other works in respect of which the advance is made.".").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I should like, with the leave of the House, to speak to Government Amendments Nos. 177B, 177CA, 177E and 177F, which it seems appropriate should be taken together. Noble Lords will know that we have been giving serious consideration to the role of local authorities in promoting employment and providing assistance to firms in their areas. The consultation paper setting out our views and proposals was published on 11th March. The proposals were that all local authorities should have a general power to assist in any way they saw fit firms employing not more than 25 persons, subject only to a limitation on expenditure of a halfpenny rate product. Additionally all local authorities would retain their power of industrial development under the Local Authorities Land Act 1963, but extended to allow more flexibility.

We had, of course, been aware of the urgency with which the district councils view the need for swift action as a result of the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Sandford at Committee. It was in response to my noble friend that my noble friend Lord Bellwin undertook to consider the results of the consultation exercise with urgency and to look at the possibility of a Government amendment at Report stage. The amendments before your Lordships now have been tabled as a result of that undertaking, If I apologise that some part of those amendments have been tabled very recently, it is because we literally were negotiating up to the last moment; in fact we were taking counsel's opinion as late as Wednesday evening. I should like to pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Sandford for all his help, for all his pressure on the Government, and I hope we have now resolved this matter.

The Government are grateful to all those who have taken the trouble to respond to our consultation paper. We have given careful consideration to their comments. As was perhaps to be expected, there were wide differences of opinion, particularly within local government. In view of this, the Government have decided to table amendments to the Bill on those matters generally agreed to be useful and which are, we hope, non-controversial. So the powers conferred by the Local Authorities Land Act are to be extended. Authorities will be allowed to make loans of up to 90 per cent. of the mortgage value of land or land and buildings in relation to which the loan is given instead of 75 per cent. as at present. Loans may also be made to any person who wishes to buy or lease any land or to carry out any works on land, provided in both cases that the local authority consider it to be in the interest of their area to make such loans.

These may seem small changes, but I have no doubt that they will be of considerable practical help to local authorities in helping viable local firms to establish themselves or to expand. The amendments will also extend to the end of 1986 the powers to assist industry contained in post-1974 local authority rationalization Acts. This is a small but desirable step. The Government's policy has been to ensure that local authorities' powers to assist industry in post-1984 local Acts should lapse at the end of 1984, in common with those pre-1974 local Acts powers which are due to lapse under the Local Government Act 1972. The Government have undertaken to make an order under the 1972 Act in relation to pre-1974 Acts deferring the deadline to 1986, because of a number of local authority rationalisation Bills still to be introduced. It would clearly be inequitable for the industry powers in post-1974 Acts to run to 1984, while others ran to 1986. Amendment No. 177F will, therefore, rectify the position.

In considering the question of local authorities' assistance to industry, it has of course been necessary to consider Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 and the power which enables authorities to incur expenditure in the interests of the area or its inhabitants. The Government believe, as the nature of the amendments considered by the House today clearly indicates, that this section does enable authorities to provide various forms of assistance of this kind. However, we are conscious that the doubts felt by some local authorities are doubts reflected in the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Sandford.

In recognistion of these doubts we have, therefore, in Amendment No. 177CA made clear that Section 137 may be used to assist industry by making loans, guarantees or grants. Before tabling this amendment careful consideration was given to that in the name of my noble friend Lord Sandford. Although we are advised that it would add little to the scope of Section 137 in its present form, nevertheless, we recognise the desirability of avoiding doubt where doubt can reasonably be avoided. That is the purpose of the Government's amendment. It must be emphasised that this amendment only declares that authorities have certain powers in relation to powers to assist industry under Section 137, and in no way affects the responsibilities of local authorities under the law to apply satisfactory accounting procedures, particularly in the case of guarantees.

In the light of future experience, the Government will be considering whether a need will arise for further clarification of the procedures for the exercise of guarantee powers in particular. To this end they will look to local authorities to keep them informed of the ways in which the powers will be used in future and in the light of this will consider with the local authority associations what further steps, if any, will be needed in this field.

The amendment also deals with the doubt about the proper interpretation of a section which has caused some local authorities much difficulty. An authority may incur expenditure under the section in the interest of its area or its inhabitants. Subsection (4A) limits that expenditure to the product of a 2p rate. It is not clear, however, whether the limit relates to gross or net expenditure—that is, expenditure which would represent a charge on the authority's rates. Section 137 is available only where an authority has no other powers to incur expenditure on a particular activity. It has been used by authorities in certain cases to undertake spending on the urban development programme and the Youth Opportunities and Community Programmes of the Manpower Services Commission and the Department of Employment. The co-operation of local authorities in these programmes is much valued. But if the expenditure limit in the section relates to gross expenditure, some authorities could be prevented from participating because expenditure reimbursed by Government grant would have to be included and would take them well above the 2p rate product ceiling.

The expenditure on the Manpower Services Commission programmes is dealt with in Amendment No. 177E. Subsection (4B) in Amendment No. 177CA allows various sums to be deducted or netted off from the authority's gross expenditure under the section. The most significant item is perhaps the expenditure reimbursed by the Government on urban programme projects in paragraph (a), and other paragraphs of the subsection deal with other items which the Government accept it would be reasonable to remove from the calculation.

I am conscious that in the limited time available to deal with this urgent issue we may have overlooked sums that might also fairly be treated in this way. We have therefore included an order-making power so as to be able to deal in a reasonably flexible way with other sums. Let me make it clear, however, that we have not excluded any such grants: we have put in all the ones that have occurred to us.

Amendment No. 177E has a close connection with Amendment No. 177CA. It serves two purposes. It provides express power for authorities to enter into arrangements for funding schemes under, for example, the Youth Opportunities Programme and the Community Enterprise Programme, under the provisions of the Employment and Training Act 1973. The effect is, first, that local authorities no longer have to rely on Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 and thus expenditure on these programmes would not count against the expenditure limit in that section. Secondly, doubts about the powers of authorities to participate in these programmes are removed. The doubts lay in the fact that authorities had to rely on Section 137, yet where the cost of a project was reimbursed 100 per cent. by the Manpower Services Commission or the Department of Employment there was no actual expenditure by the local authority, and arguably Section 137 was not, therefore, available to them. Amendment No. 203 is a consequential amendment to the Long Title of the Bill.

I have spoken long enough on the details of these amendments but I thought that the House would wish to know exactly what is in our mind. I should like briefly to sum up the Government's view. We recognise that this is an important subject which required urgent examination. It is one that we shall need to keep under review. Local government has a legitimate role in helping local firms within the context of national priorities. We shall all be interested to see how that role develops, but in the meantime we want to strengthen the legal basis to remove uncertainties just as quickly as we can. In considering how to do so we have taken very careful note of what local government itself has said to us in the consultation process. That is why the battery of powers after the amendment will be quite different from our proposals in the consultation paper and much closer to the present pattern. I believe that the proposals in the Government amendments will be generally welcome as useful and practical additions to local governments' armoury while preserving the freedom and flexibility of the present framework. It is in that spirit that I commend these amendments to the House. I beg to move.

Lord Sandford

My Lords, I think that all noble Lords who have just heard that statement from my noble friend Lord Avon will regard this as a happy outcome of a long saga. It is 22 months since the Burns Committee reported on this subject and it has required constant prompting—to use the mildest term I can—to get to this position. The last of those promptings took place as recently as last Wednesday, as my noble friend has said. But we are now there and I should like to thank the Government for having dealt with the subject in the end in such a thoroughgoing way and for having really tried and succeeded in the end in meeting all the diverse points with which they have been confronted. I should also like to thank those Members of the House on both sides who have assisted in this complex, difficult and exacting process. I hope that now, as a result, the local authorities will be able to welcome the outcome, as I do, and get on with what I think nearly all of them regard as the most important activity that they can be engaged in at the present time. In view of what my noble friend the Minister has said—and I am grateful to him for having dealt with it so thoroughly—I shall not need to move my own Amendment No. 177D.

Lord Northfield

My Lords, I join the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, in offering appreciation to the Government. I suspect that we owe a special word of thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, who probably took back from the Committee stage the message of strong criticism that we voiced at that time about the alternative proposals in the ill-fated Green Paper that these powers should be reduced to the spending of a p rate instead of a 2p rate. I suspect that the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, was able to indicate, together with the reports coming in of the views of local authorities, that the original proposal was misguided and ought quickly to be abandoned. I am pleased that it has been abandoned and that we are now back to what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, suggests is a satisfactory conclusion.

I do not want to qualify my thanks at all strongly, but I have a few further words to say. What we are doing in this series of amendments, all of which have been carefully and helpfully explained by the noble Earl, is to restore the status quo ante as we all understood it or at least as we hoped it to be. We want it stripped of all possible obstacles such as the MSC "funding" problem—to which I refer without going into detail—and the position left clear for local authorities to use the present Section 137 2p rate power to help all industry, and not just small industry, as again was proposed in the ill-fated Green Paper, in their areas if they so wish. All well and good and, as I say, I do not wish to qualify my thanks unduly.

But it still leaves us in a slightly unsatisfactory position, which I hope the Government will now reflect upon in the coming months with a view to making the position a good deal clearer. We are now left with a very general power in the 1972 Act—Section 137—to use the proceeds of a 2p rate to incur expenditure which, in the opinion of the local authority, is in the interests of its area. That power is now clearly being allowed to be used to help local industry.

But the difficulty that arises—and I say this as President of the Federation of Industrial Development Authorities, knowing the sort of district councils that are involved in this matter and the problems that arise—is that a small local authority, a district council, with a small revenue from a 1p or 2p rate, can very quickly be put in the position that if, as is so often the case, its unemployment is very high and it is desperate to help local industry, it can quickly use up the whole of this 2p rate to help industry and have nothing left at all of the proceeds under Section 137 to help other causes that it might be anxious to help in its area and other matters which, as the 1972 Act says, would benefit its inhabitants.

These powers are used for all sorts of good works in local authorities. As I say, the problem is that these authorities with 15 per cent. or 20 per cent. unemployment—and I have given examples in this Chamber of local authorities with 28 per cent. unemployment—anxious to use to the full any powers they have to help local and small industry, will eat it all up. A few tens of thousands of pounds it may be, but they will then find themselves unable to use Section 137 for anything else at all. This really is an unsatisfactory recognition of the role of local authorities to help industry in present-day circumstances.

I shall not repeat what I said at the Committee stage, but I then set out the deficiencies of the present regional assistance policy and referred to the need not to rely totally on that policy as a form of aid to district councils, particularly outside assisted areas, where they have very high levels of unemployment. It would, I think, be a good thing if the Government would now reflect upon the fact that, as I said at the Committee stage, many of those district councils in England have no regional development agency, as there is in Scotland and Wales, to help them with industrial promotion and the attraction of industry.

So a limited number of very hard hit, relatively poor district councils, outside assisted areas, in England —and I put all those together to show that I am trying to define it as clearly as I can—will now suffer in that they will have restored the 2p poundage but will be unable to do anything else in the nature of extra good work, so to speak, once they have eaten it all up in helping industry in their area. That is why my federation, in a letter which we sent at the time of the consultations, proposed to the Government that there should be clear recognition of the power of local authorities to help industry by means of a special 2p rate rather than simply relying on the 2p under Section 137, on the understanding, as we said in the final paragraph of our letter, that Section 137 would then still be available for other purposes.

Local authorities have surely reached the stage of recognition of their work for industry, and for small industry in particular. They ought to have a clear power to help that industry. It ought not to be at the expense of other good things on which they can spend a very small rate poundage. I think that we must now move to a period in which we can have the authorities' powers in this matter clearly recognised by a specific power enshrined in an Act of Parliament. I know that the Government are concerned that the power should not be so great that it leads to profligacy and authorities advertising all over the world, as I said at Committee stage. So we have the qualification that it should be the product of a 2p rate to help industry or £250,000, whichever is the higher. That would keep a firm lid on the extent to which local authorities would have this clear new power to be able to assist industry.

I come finally to this point. We have all perhaps forgotten that Section 137(4) of the 1972 Act gives the Minister the power to fix a rate higher than 2p; that is, he can, by order, increase this 2p rate if he is so minded. That is a second possibility for which we must press. If we cannot have a special power for local authorities to assist industry—and I think that that is the proper solution, limited as I have suggested—the alternative is to ask the Government, after a little more experience of seeing how this system works (I shall not be too precipitate), to consider the possibility of increasing the 2p perhaps to 3p, and in that way let us recognise the legitimate role of authorities in this matter.

I have spoken at some length, but I wanted to make it clear that, although I am very grateful for what the Government are doing in abandoning the proposals in the Green Paper and listening very readily, as they have, and very helpfully to local authorities, I am sorry to say that I cannot regard that as the end of the whole story. I think that local authorities today have a proper right to demand that their role in helping industry should be more clearly recognised by an individual power, rather than just left to be part of a general power under Section 137.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I find myself following the noble Lord who has just spoken with a rather different point of view. As your Lordships are aware, I am advised by the CBI and, as my noble friend Lord Avon said, we only received these amendments very late in the day. I understand the reason for that, but we have not had very much time to study them. At first sight they appear merely to underpin and re-emphasise powers that are already in the possession of local authorities, and to that extent we would not quarrel with them.

However, we do not much like the look of the new subsection (2B) of Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972, even if it is correct. The closing remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, about the possibility of increasing the amount of poundage that could be spent on this purpose fill us with horror. We might find ourselves in a position at Third Reading of putting down an amendment to deprive the Government of that power. Perhaps that is pushing it a little far.

Very briefly, our objections are that basically we think there is a duplication of agencies. There are all sorts of other sources from which people can be funded; for instance, banks, finance houses and heaven knows how many others. There is a lack of expertise in local authorities in this area. Furthermore, one would not think it particularly wise that they should enter into the financial jungle, because they are not really set up for that purpose in the first place.

We think also that there will be a burden on the rates, particularly for the people who do not have this financial assistance, and we suggest to the Government there might be a possibility of conflict with the Government's own inner-city policies in certain areas. But above all—and here I repeat what my noble friend Lord Bellwin said in part in answer to Amendment No. 172—there is an unfairness of competition as between those lucky businesses which are supported by the local authority (and one wonders sometimes what criteria they will use for doing that supporting) and those that are not. On the whole, we think that local government should stick to its own last and not turn itself into a financial organisation. We would hope that in the passage of time the Government will give even greater thought to this matter and perhaps phase out those parts of the 1972 Act which give these powers.

1.22 p.m.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, may I first join in the thanks from all sides of the House to the Government for having made the changes which were asked for, as far as debate was concerned, in the Unstarred Question asked by my noble friend Lord Northfield on, I think, 11th March, the day the consultation paper came out. From all sides of the House—I think I had better exclude the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, because I would not want to slander him in this way, if he took a different view, which he probably did—we were appalled at the proposal then of the ½p rate for industry.

The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has certainly done a good job in nudging the Government hard over this. As he said, this went on right until this week. It has, so far as the Government are concerned, taken from 11th March to get this clear statement and great improvement today, which ought to be considered a considerable success. Therefore, I think we will have to forgive the Minister for the late tabling of some of the amendments, but I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, that it makes life difficult if one sees these things at the last moment.

I should like to support what my noble friend Lord Northfield has said. This was something we were discussing, although in the context of the ½p rate, but nevertheless the principle was the same. In many different areas of the country, particularly for instance in the North-East, where unemployment is very high, the using of the product of the 2p rate has been taken up, and has needed to be taken up. In other places it has not always been taken up. As there is nothing mandatory about this, I think that some of the fears expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, will not be realised.

I agree that there are these difficulties which arise, particularly with a small local authority where the amount of money that can be produced, even if they exercise the whole of their 2p rate, could be too small for them to be able to do anything worthwhile. I cannot possibly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, that this is local authorities not sticking to their last. This is part of the fact of local authorities in co-operation with other people. It may be co-operatives, it could be individual industrialists, or commercial promoters. Anybody concerned either with industry on the one hand or local government on the other, or in many cases both, would feel that this partnership was a way of matching local needs, local expertise, local knowledge, together with the creation of a certain amount of knowledge, together with the creation of a certain amount of wealth even on a small scale, and the improvement of productivity, which is what we must all be agreed is what we all want to see in this country.

Since the recommendation, to which my noble friend referred, in their reply to the consultation paper was either that the product of a 3p rate or £250,000—

Lord Northfield

A 2p rate, not 3p.

Baroness Birk

That is right, 2p, or £250,000, whichever is the higher. I do not think that anybody is going to be in the area of such big business that they could create any competitive problems with some of the larger businesses covered by the CBI. This is still fairly small stuff in the industrial field.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, would the noble Baroness allow me? The CBI does not cover only large businesses. It covers small ones. It has a complete small business section, and it is those it is particularly concerned about in this respect.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right, and I was aware of that. I thought I had covered that in my point about the co-operation between local authorities and also the opportunity that this type of partnership could give to people who probably would not even get their small businesses started, or under way, or who want help. It is also a way, as we pointed out in our previous debates on this matter, of using buildings, shops, empty buildings in local authority areas, where again this is of great importance.

When the noble Lord referred to competition, I presume he meant with money wanted by the inner city areas. I do not think that these are mutually exclusive. One of the best ways of trying to bring life to some of the most deprived of the inner city areas— and I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, would agree—is to try to get some sort of industry, or commerce, or activity generated there so that this can be energised by the product of the rate. Therefore, I would agree with my noble friend that there should be a watchful eye kept on this, but the option should be left open, and where it can be shown that a local authority can genuinely use productively and without profligacy the product of a higher rate, then there would be a good case for looking at this once again.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, may I briefly intervene from these Benches to offer our thanks to the Government for having ironed out what at Committee stage looked to me to be an impossible tangle. Unlike many of your Lordships, I came fairly late into this particular arena. Indeed, it was during the Unstarred Question debate instigated by the noble Lord, Lord Northfield. The Government have done a comprehensive job here. They have sorted out a lot of the difficulties in a way which frankly I would not have believed possible.

Clearly, they have not answered all the questions. I find myself going some way down the road of the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, in feeling that the problems that I suggested at the Committee stage, of local government getting into the capital market, are still a little bit open. Certainly local authorities, in my view, should not get into the risk capital business, and I reiterate that at this stage. My feeling is that we are always talking about trusting local authorities.

Lord Northfield

My Lords, there is a misapprehension about this. The majority of local authorities using money in this way are not in fact using it for loans for industry. It is for quite other purposes than helping industry.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, and I agree that that is the situation. All we are saying is that this is still somewhat loosely drawn, and a local authority that wished to do that within the terms that we have here could perhaps do so, and they should be discouraged from doing so. I do not see how the Government could have drawn it more tightly. No. 177B seems to be drawn as tightly as it sensibly could be, and sets the tone for the rest of the series of amendments. The Government are also to be congratulated on No. 177F, for giving the two-year extension to the various Acts. Generally, therefore, with the same cautionary words I injected in Committee, the amendments have the qualified support of these Benches.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords for their general support and thanks to the Government for working this one out so speedily and I shall convey to my noble friend Lord Bellwin the kind of remarks that have been made. This short debate has been constructive and, as in the past, the issue has been fairly provocative. To the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, whose speech was, I thought, slightly Oliver Twistish in asking for a little more, I would stress what I have said—that we shall keep the subject under review. The 2p limit under Section 137 can of course be varied without further legislation, as the noble Lord himself pointed out. We think that in keeping to the general limit of 2p, rather than the figure in the consultation paper, we have moved sufficiently far in the direction he would wish. I would stress again that the 2p limit operates on a net basis and need not provide for the MSC schemes. I hope, therefore, that for the time being we can leave that as it stands.

The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, also spoke about the 2p, and I would ask her to bear in mind that the 2p limit in Section 137 is not the only source of assistance local authorities can use. Indeed, evidence shows that local authorities make substantially more use of their powers under the 1963 Act, which contains no specific money limit and which the Government amendments significantly extend.

As for the short intervention of my noble friend Lord Mottistone, I was not surprised to learn that such a view might be taken. We are of course aware, from responses to the consultation paper, that some would argue that the principal service local government can provide to the private sector is to keep the rates as low as possible. Of course, that implies only a modest level of intervention. The proposals set out in our amendments, I wish to make it clear, will not in themselves increase current levels of expenditure or change the existing constraints on that expenditure. Assistance to industry will continue to be subject to capital expenditure controls and the constraints imposed by rate support grant. I acknowledge the important contribution to the Government's thinking on this subject made by noble Lords on both sides of the House, and perhaps I may single out in particular the work of my noble friend Lord Sandford.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

1.33 p.m.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 177CA: After Clause 36, insert the following new clause:

("Definition of certain local authority expenditure etc.

. In section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 (which gives local authorities power to incur expenditure for certain purposes not otherwise authorised, but limits the expenditure which it authorises)—

(a) the following subsections shall be inserted after subsection (2)—

"(2A) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) above, the power of a local authority to incur expenditure under that subsection includes power to incur expenditure in giving financial assistance to persons carrying on commercial or industrial undertakings.

(2B) Financial assistance under subsection (2A) above may be given by lending or guarantee, or by making grants.";

(b) the following subsections shall be inserted after subsection (4)—

"(4A) For the purpose of determining whether a local authority have exceeded the limit set out in subsection (4) above, their expenditure in any financial year under this section shall be taken to be the difference between their gross expenditure under this section for that year and the aggregate of the amounts specified in subsection (4B) below.

(4B) The amounts mentioned in subsection (4A) above are—

  1. (a) any grant paid to the local authority for that year under the Local Government Grants (Social Need) Act 1969, in s far as the grant is in respect of an activity in relation to which the authority have incurred expenditure in that year under this section;
  2. (b) the amount of any repayment in that year of the principal of a loan for the purpose of financing expenditure under this section in any year;
  3. (c) so much of any amount raised by public subscription as is spent in that year for a purpose for which the authority are authorised by this section to incur expenditure;
  4. (d) any grant received by the authority for that year out of the European Regional Development Fund or the Social Fund of the European Economic Community, in so far as the grant is in respect of an activity in relation to which the authority incurred expenditure in that year under this section;
  5. (e) the amount of any repayment in that year of a loan under this section made by the authority in any year; and
  6. (f) the amount of any expenditure—
  1. (i) which is incurred by the authority in that year in circumstances specified in an order made by the Secretary of State; or
  2. (ii) which is incurred by the authority in that year and is of a description so specified; or
  3. (iii) which is defrayed by any grant or other payment to the authority which is made in or in respect of that year and is of a description so specified."; and

(c) in subsection (5), for the words "subsection (4) above" there shall be substituted the words "this section ".").

[Amendment No. 177D not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 177CA agreed to.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendments Nos. 177E and 177F: After Clause 36, insert the following new clause:

(" Arrangements under Employment and Training Act 1973

.—(1) A local authority to whom this section applies shall have power and shall be deemed always to have had power to enter into arrangements with the Manpower Services Commission or the Secretary of State under any provision of the Employment and Training Act 1973.

(2) The local authorities to whom this section applies are—

  1. (a) a local authority as defined in section 270(1) of the Local Government Act 1972;
  2. (b) a board constituted in pursuance of section 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 or reconstituted in pursuance of Schedule 17 to the Local Government Act 1972; and
  3. (c) the Common Council of the City of London.").

After Clause 36, insert the following new clause:

(" Extension of duration of local Act powers to assist industry etc.

.—(1) In each of the enactments to which this subsection applies "1986" shall be substituted for "1984".

(2) The enactments to which subsection (1) above applies are—

  1. (a) section 62A of the Isle of Wight County Council Act 1971, so far as it relates to section 18 to 20 of that Act;
  2. (b) section 11(2) of the County of South Glamorgan Act 1976;
  3. (c) section 52 of the Tyne and Wear Act 1976;
  4. (d) section 9 of the County of Merseyside Act 1980;
  5. (e) section 122(2) of the West Midlands County Council Act 1980;
  6. (f) section 4 of the Cheshire County Council Act 1980;
  7. (g) section 8 of the West Yorkshire Act 1980; and
  8. (h) section 9 of the Greater Manchester Act 1981.").

The noble Earl said: I have already spoken to these amendments, my Lords, I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 178: After Clause 36, insert the following new clause:

(" Disclosure of documents in custody or control of Inland Revenue Valuation Office

.—(1) A document of any description containing any information defined in subsection (5) hereof which belongs to or is in the custody or control of the Inland Revenue Valuation Office shall be open to the inspection of any officer of a principal council duly authorised in writing for the purposes of this section and any such officer may make a copy of or extract from any such document.

(2) The powers contained in this section shall not be exercised otherwise than for the purposes of furthering or assisting in the performance of any statutory function of a principal council.

(3) A document required by this section to be open to inspection shall be so open at all reasonable hours and without payment.

(4) If a person having the custody of any such document—

  1. (a) obstructs any person entitled to inspect the document or to make a copy thereof or extract therefrom in inspecting the document or making a copy or extract,
  2. (b) refuses to give copies or extracts to any person entitled to obtain copies or extracts,
he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £200.

(5) The information referred to in subsection (1) above is—

  1. (a) any record or information in respect of the tenure, type, age or number of rooms of any dwelling which constitutes an individual hereditament; or
  2. (b) any record or information in respect of the amount of floor space by type of use (including industry, shops, offices, warehousing or other) of any building other than a dwelling which constitutes an individual hereditament).").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is a simple and, I hope, non-controversial amendment which I hope the Government will accept. It simply seeks to enable a limited number of people from local government to gain access to Inland Revenue valuation records in order to obtain information purely about the physical size and use of individual buildings. The Inland Revenue hold this information, as it forms the basis of the assessment of rateable values to local authority rating. Local authorities wish to make use of a limited part of the information to help them with their forward planning. Therefore, information on the number of empty properties, different amounts of space allocated to different sorts of industrial and commercial use and so on, is vital in understanding the economic base of the local authority area.

Local authorities, I stress, do not wish to gain access to any confidential data about the business concerns which operate in those premises; they merely wish to obtain information about the physical form of the buildings. It is true that they can gain the information, but only as a result of long and tedious work on individual buildings, and that must of course add to the expense of research. As the Inland Revenue already holds the information, it should surely be easily accessible. There is a precedent, in that local authorities have access to data collected in the annual census of employment under the Statistics of Trade Act 1947. There have been no problems of breaches of confidentiality in those circumstances, so far as I can discover, and, with local authority officials being bound by proper rules of confidentiality under the proposed new clause—which they would be, as they are in many other matters—there should be no problem under the provisions.

The amendment has the support of all three local authority associations representing local authorities in England and Wales. While we could understand some hesitation on the part of the Inland Revenue as to the provision of access to Inland Revenue information, as we are talking here only about information on the physical form of buildings, I should have thought that the new clause would not pose any threat; on the contrary, it would make things work more smoothly, easily and cheaply for local authorities in this field.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

There may be a flaw in the amendment, my Lords. I agree that information supplied to the rating valuers should be available in the way my noble friend suggests. But that is not the only information held by the valuation office. It has particulars delivered on the basis of a statutory obligation to supply the valuation department of the Inland Revenue with particulars of property conveyed, including the consideration involved. That should not be material to what local authorities require for rating purposes. I am anxious that information which people are obliged to supply to the valuation office for entirely different reasons should not be made available for other purposes.

In general, I take the view that when the state demands that a citizen should stand and deliver for one purpose of the state's requirements, what the citizen gives up in the way of information should not be used by that department for purposes other than are required for the fulfilment of the statutory obligations. That is why we must be very careful that documents supplied for one purpose are not freely made available for others. However, with information given for rating purposes I see no objection, because local authorities used to have that information themselves when they were the rating authorities. So long as that is clear—and my noble friend made it clear that that was what she wanted—all right, but, as drafted, the amendment refers to any document in the hands of the valuation office of the Inland Revenue.

Lord Evans of Claughton

My Lords, I support the amendment, but it was salutary that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, should have made those comments. As a solicitor, I have to give a great deal of information of a private kind to the Inland Revenue when transactions concerning the sale of land or houses are completed. There is no question about it, I think that the clause as drawn, though perhaps it could be more tightly drawn, is fairly tightly worded so that the only information given would be of a rating nature and would help with the forward planning of local authorities.

Provided that the clause is narrowly interpreted and closely circumscribed, I do not think that it would be another step towards a police state. It would provide a useful and helpful piece of additional information for local authorities. However, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that the provision must be very narrowly interpreted so that information which is confidential to the citizen is not given to local authorities. With that proviso, I support the amendment.

Lord Glenkinglas

My Lords, I have listened to all three points and I agree in large measure with much of what has been said. I agree that the proposed new clause is not a step towards a police state, but it might very well be a step towards increasing greatly the number of people employed by the Inland Revenue. If one gets this information and then has to sort out exactly what is wanted by a local authority on any particular point, one just cannot hand over the file, because that would completely vitiate what both the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, and the noble Lord on the Liberal Benches, said. Therefore the proposal would inevitably mean a good deal more expense.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I am grateful for the way that the noble Baroness introduced the amendment. I do not doubt that the clause would be useful to local authorities, because it would enable them to obtain information which would assist them in the performance of many statutory functions. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, said—by way of preview, as it were—it would breach the principle of confidentiality, which is of fundamental importance to our taxation system.

Information held by the Valuation Office is obtained from a variety of sources, but much of it is acquired under statutory provisions contained in the General Rate Act 1967, and in particular Section 82, which enables returns to be obtained from ratepayers, and Section 86, which gives the Valuation Office a power to enter, survey and value property. Some of the information obtained under these powers will be particularly sensitive; an example would be confidential information relating to the ratepayer's business. Another source of information for the Valuation Office comes from the particulars delivered forms, which are submitted to the Inland Revenue following transactions in land and buildings. These forms show the price at which vendors have sold their property.

One of the fundamental principles that underlie the administration of taxation in this country is that information which the taxpayer or ratepayer gives to the Revenue should not be divulged to a third party without the taxpayer's consent. Parliament has always attached the greatest importance to this principle, and every Revenue official is required to make a declaration of secrecy. The confidentiality rule is essential for the proper working of the system, and without it, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the Revenue to administer the tax system. Taxpayers and ratepayers would be understandably reluctant to give information if, for example, they felt that the information could pass into the hands of their local authority. I think that the noble Baroness can see the way in which the Government's mind is working and the doubts we have, and I look forward to her conclusions.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, for one moment it seemed to me that the Minister was agreeing entirely, and then he seemed to go off the idea altogether. It sounded as if he was himself in a slight dichotomy. My noble friend, quite rightly, and very lucidly, made the point about the dangers that would be encompassed if the proposed clause went too wide. However, he was also good enough to mention a very strict limitation, to which I had referred, and to which the amendment itself refers. If the Minister looks at subsection (5) of the new clause, he will see that it is drafted in what I might call severe terms: any record or information in respect of the tenure, type, age or number of rooms of any dwelling which constitutes an individual hereditament; or… any record or information in respect of the amount of floor space by type of use "— et cetera. The subsection asks for physical details.

I do not think that the noble Lord who was concerned about the cost need worry, because the information is all kept in compartments; it has to be kept in that way. In any case, as I explained when moving the amendment, searching out these matters, which takes a very long time, must in itself be rather costly. I was impressed by what the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, said. He is a lawyer, and he seemed satisfied that the restrictive way in which the clause has been drafted covers the point about protection of confidentiality. Frankly, I cannot see any reason why the Government should not accept the amendment. I realise that we want to get on with the Bill, but the noble Earl seemed to indicate that he would like to hear what I had to say. Therefore, I wonder whether he wants to come back with a second thought—I am sure that the House would give him leave—or clarify exactly what he meant, because I was not quite sure about it.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I would say that I do not think that the Government could at the moment accept the amendments because of the reasons that I gave; in particular the fundamental point that it would breach the principle of confidentiality. The great difficulty is that confidential information cannot be dissected from non-confidential information, except at great expense, and I think that it is a fundamental principle that we have to get over. What I do not have is an answer to the noble Baroness's narrower point, and if I may, I should like to pursue that further after the debate is over.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, in view of that rather mysterious answer, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

1.47 p.m.

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 179: After Clause 36, insert the following new clause:

("Trespass on school premises.

.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, it is an offence to remain on premises to which this section applies after being requested to leave them by an officer or other authorised employee of the local education authority or, without lawful authority, to be on such premises within one month after being so requested.

(2) This section applies to premises, including playgrounds, playing fields and premises providing outdoor recreational facilities, of a county or voluntary school or other school or college including an establishment of further education, being premises maintained in a whole or in part by a Local Education Authority or a Joint Education Committee but as respects premises of a voluntary school (other than detached playing fields provided by the Council) only following the written approval of the Governors.

(3) The Local Education Authority shall display on premises to which this section applies a notice stating the general effect thereof.

(4) A person committing an offence under this section—

  1. (a) may be removed from the premises by a police constable or a duly authorised officer or employee of the Local Education Authority; and
  2. (b) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50.

(5) No proceedings under this section shall be brought by any person other than a police constable or the Local Education Authority.

(6) In this section "Local Education Authority" means a Local Education Authority as defined in section 144(1) of the Education Act 1944.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment during an earlier part of the Report stage last Monday, in view of the fact that the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, moved a rather similar amendment—or at least it attempted to deal with the same situation. It was an ACC amendment. The Minister replied by saying that the local authority associations had not taken the action that they might have done and had not responded to offers from the department. Inquiries were quickly made the following morning to find out what had happened, and just before we started this session of the Report stage I was handed a copy of a letter that the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, had written to the Minister, and I think that it points out that the situation was not quite so simple as the Minister had made out on Monday.

I should like to refer to one paragraph of the letter. The noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, wrote: It came as some surprise to us that Government required convincing of the need for this clause at Committee State, since officers of the Association had written to the Department of Education and Science on 5 January warning them of our intention to table this type of amendment, seeking their support and suggesting discussions if the Department thought them necessary. No reply was received to that letter. After Committee Stage the Association wrote to DES on 25 March noting their reluctance to take any action on this Bill. Because the Department felt unable to arrange a meeting which would have had the specific objective of producing an agreed amendment to this Bill, the Association made the invitation to which the Minister referred last Monday.

Then, The letters from the Home Office and Department of Education and Science followed: the latter seeking specific information was sent on 2 April. On receipt of those letters the Association let the Department know by phone that they would seek further evidence but were concerned that the evidence submitted by a number of local authorities was considered insufficient. Since the Department had consulted the voluntary bodies, it was decided to leave matters until replies had been received all round and that any progress on the suggested meeting would depend on those replies. At the beginning of May the Association let the Department know again by phone, that further evidence from authorities had been received but reinforced their belief that action was required at Report State. DES informed the Association that the voluntary bodies had little comment to make on the proposal and that they could not support the amendment at this stage even with further consultation. It was agreed between my officers— that is the ACC's officers, and the Ministers officials— that a meeting in these circumstances would be meaningless and I must say that my officers wondered just how much more evidence the Department would require in any event, whether for this Bill or the future legislation which they mentioned in the debate". I think it would be fair to ask the Minister to comment on this because, as I say, it does not appear to be quite so simple as was made out on Monday. I beg to move.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I have indeed received a letter from my noble friend in the same terms, some of which the noble Baroness has read out—with, I presume, his knowledge. I have to say that there were exchanges between the Association of County Councils, my department and the Department of Education and Science after the Committee stage, but the tally of correspondence that I have been given does not entirely accord with that which my noble friend describes. I feel it really would be tedious if I were to give the tally—I think I ought to write to my noble friend—as they seem to diverge at the point when they become telephonic.

But what is central to my postiion is, first, that the Department of Education and Science clearly asked the association for a written statement of their case which has not yet been received, and that there does seem to have been some misunderstanding as to with whom the initiative for the next move lay. I understand that there is to be a meeting on Monday of almost all the interested bodies—I hope the voluntary bodies will be able to attend as well—which may clarify the way forward. Your Lordships will recall that one anxiety we have is that the position of the governors of the voluntary schools will not be sufficiently protected by the saver (or should I say "waiver") in the amendment as it stands in the name of the noble Baroness, and consultation with them has confirmed that they are anxious about this and do not at present see the need for the amendment.

However, I understand that there is a good deal of interest in this amendment, and although we still have reservations about the possibility of securing an amendment which adequately protects the position of the governors of voluntary schools, if we are satisfied with the principle of doing something, and if we can get round one or two possible legal difficulties, we will do our utmost to proceed. What I cannot guarantee is that we can proceed in time for the final stage of this Bill. In saying that, I should say that that was the observation made by my own department, the Home Department, on 25th March, when we said that we were not convinced of the need for the amendment—we said this in writing to the association—but we were prepared to consider it and suggested that they talked to the Department of Education and Science. At that stage we said that we doubted whether there was time now to get the amendment framed correctly, and that reservation was also in the letter of the Department of Education and Science on 2nd April, to which I think my noble friend referred.

If my noble friend, when he returns to matters at Third Reading, feels that he would like a reply to his letter published in Hansard, as the noble Baroness has now published for him a part of his letter, then I do not doubt that he will ask me so to do. At this stage I would merely say that there was no intention to mislead, and I do not think there has actually been a misleading of your Lordships; but there are various interpretations of what has gone on.

I ought perhaps at this stage also to say that our reservations do not extend only to the position of the voluntary governors but also to the question of whether a criminal offence of trespass is something altogether desirable. Your Lordships will know that trespass is a tort and not a crime. There was, however, at common law an offence of conspiracy to trespass, which was not popular and which was abolished in 1977, there being substituted for it offences of trespass in relation to particular, distinct buildings.

I will not go into that further now, but I have to say that on these two grounds I have doubts whether we can get round the difficulties. If we find that there is a way round them, if we find that we are persuaded by the authorities concerned that they want this power, if it is not contrary to the public interest and does not curtail the rights of the governors of voluntary schools—and I am sorry to put so many hedges round this—then if it is possible we will come back at Third Reading. I think, though, that even if things had been other than they are in respect of both the correspondence and the timetable, we would have been in great difficulties in doing this in time for this measure, and it may be necessary to look for a vehicle in the future.

Baroness David

My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for that clarification. He queried whether I had the right to read from the noble Viscount's letter to him, but as it was sent under cover of a letter to me from Lord Ridley I felt I could use the information in it; and as the noble Viscount was not here himself I thought it was rather important to get the matter clarified today if we possibly could, before the meeting which it is to take place, I understand on Monday, when I hope very much that things can be sorted out with certainly the hope that something which is agreeable to all the associations might be put down for Third Reading. So I thank the Minister for his reply and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 37 [Minor amendments and repeals]:

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 179A: Page 45, line 15, leave out ("Part I") and insert ("Parts I and IA").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, if I may, with Amendment No. 179A I should like to speak to Nos. 183B and 183C. These are drafting amendments which would improve the layout of the repeal schedule. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 180 not moved.]

Lord Houghton of Sowerby had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 181: Insert the following new Schedule—





1. The local authority shall survey their area to determine the identity and locations of stray dogs and determine if requested to do so by any person whether a dog is a stray dog.

2. A local authority shall use their best endeavours to return to its owner any dog which may be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of section 3 of the Dogs Act 1906.

3. Where a person informs a local authority that he cannot maintain a dog which he owns and requests the local authority to assume responsibility for the maintenance of the dog, and where the local authority have satisfied themselves that the person making the request is the owner or that they cannot trace the person who appears to them to be the owner of the dog, they shall—

  1. (a) obtain from the person making the request his written consent to the local authority's assuming responsibility for the dog; and
  2. (b) deal with the dog in accordance with the provisions of section 3 of the Dogs Act 1906;

Provided that for the purpose of this paragraph it shall not be necessary for the local authority to serve any notice required under that section.

4. A local authority shall from time to time consult with local animal welfare societies and with the chief constable for the area on issues concerned with stray dogs and the welfare of all dogs within that area.

5. A local authority shall at the request of any person give advice on any issue of public concern relating to dogs or any aspect of keeping a dog as a pet and such advice may relate to problems caused by stray dogs.



6. A dog warden may require a person who appears to him to be in charge of a dog to produce on request a valid dog licence issued in respect of the dog or to produce such a licence in person at the place specified by the person so required within 5 days after the production of the licence was so required.

7. A dog warden may require a person who appears to him to be in charge of a dog in respect of which an offence is being or has been committed to state his name and address and the name and address of the owner.

8. A dog warden may examine any dog on a highway or in a place of public resort to determine whether the dog has inscribed on its collar or on a plate or badge attached to its collar the name and address of the owner and whether it has attached to its collar a registration disc under the provisions of section (Issue of licences and registration discs) of this Act, and to enable him to obtain the information inscribed on such collar plate or badge or such registration disc.

9. A dog warden who has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is in charge, or is the keeper, of a dog in respect of which an offence is being or has been committed, may give advice to such a person on any issue of public concern relating to dogs or any aspect of keeping a dog as a pet and such advice may relate to problems caused by stray dogs.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the House will be glad to know that I am going to let sleeping dogs lie this morning. But it is distressing to have to abandon a perfectly good amendment like this. The trouble of course is that it is a perfectly good vehicle, but it has not got an engine, which means that it will not get us anywhere. The House threw out the engine earlier in the week, so there is nothing much left except the bodywork. So I shall not pursue this amendment, but I should like the noble Lords on the Front Bench kindly to take note of the fact that I should like provision made, when we come to the Third Reading of this Bill, for a harangue of at least 15 minutes from me on the things that are in it, or some of them, and the things which are not in it, or some of them. I will be perfectly prepared to reserve all my emotion and my disappointment until then. In the meantime, I do not propose to move this amendment.

[Amendment No. 181 not moved.]

Schedule 6 [Minor amendments]:

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 182: Page 85, line 35, at end insert—

"Direct labour

8.—(1) The following subsection shall be added at the end of section 21 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 (which exempts small direct labour organisations from the requirements of Part III of that Act)—

"(8) In this section "year" means a financial year".

(2) This paragraph extends to Scotland.".").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Bellwin spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 171. He also spoke to Nos. 198A and 201, which are consequential. I beg to move Amendment No. 182.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 183 not moved.]

Schedule 7 [Repeals]:

The Earl of Avon moved Amendments Nos. 183B and 183C: Page 86, line 41, at end insert—

("1980 c. 43. Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 In Schedule 6, in Part III, paragraph 2.


REPEALS IN LOCAL ACTS IN CONSEQUENCE OF SECTION 1") Page 87, leave out lines 5 and 6.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, if I may speak to Amendments Nos. 183B and 183C together, I spoke to these amendments with Amendment No. 179A. I beg to move Amendments Nos. 183B and 183C.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

2.1 p.m.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendments Nos. 184 to 186: Page 88, line 29, at end insert—

("1980 c. xiii. Cheshire County Council Act 1980. Section 31."
Page 88, line 31, at end insert—
("1981 c. ix. Greater Manchester Act 1981. Section 57.
1981 c. xviii. County of Kent Act 1981. Section 26.")
Page 88, line 32, at end insert—
("1982 c. iii. Humberside Act 1982. Section 46.")

The noble Earl said: With Amendment No. 184, with the leave of the House, I should like to move Amendments Nos. 185 and 186 and to speak to Amendments Nos. 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195 and 196. The repeals in these amendments complete the list of repeals incorporated in Amendments Nos. 133A and 133B which were accepted in Committee. Although there are several of them, they are effectively drafting amendments and there is no new principle involved. I beg to move Amendments Nos. 184 to 186 en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 187: Page 88, line 41, leave out ("Section") and insert ("Sections 11 and").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendments Nos. 188 to 196: Page 89, line 16, leave out ("and 32") and insert ("to 33"). Page 89, line 16, at end insert—

("1982 c. iv. County of Avon Act 1982. Sections 4 and 35.")
Page 89, line 25, at end insert—
("1980 c. xv. Isle of Wight Act 1980. Section 51.
1980 c. xxxvii. South Yorkshire Act 1980. Section 13.")
Page 89, line 28, at end insert—
("1981 c. xix. South Yorkshire Act 1981. In the Table, the entries relating to section 13(1) and (2) of the South Yorkshire Act 1980.")
leave out line 30. Page 89, line 41, at end insert—
("1982 c. iv. County of Avon Act 1982. Section 24.")
Page 90, line 24, at end insert—
("1982 c. iv. County of Avon Act 1982. Section 26.")
Page 90, line 33, at end insert—
("1980 c. xxxvii. South Yorkshire Act 1980. Section 30.
1980 c. xliii. Tyne and Wear Act 1980. Section 20.").
Page 91, line 8, at end insert—
("1982 c. iv. County of Avon Act 1982. Section 46.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 197 not moved.]

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 197A: Page 92, line 7, column 3, at beginning insert— ("In section 140(3), the words from "but" to the end.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I spoke to this with Amendment No. 171B. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 198 not moved.]

Clause 39 [Citation and extent]:

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 198A: Page 45, line 45, after ("above,") insert ("and to paragraph 8(2) of Schedule 6 to this Act,").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I spoke to this amend- ment with Amendment No. 171. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

In the Title:

Lord Elton moved Amendment No. 199: Line 4, after ("Acts") insert ("to make provision for the control of sex establishments;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is the result of an undertaking which my noble friend Lord Belstead gave to the noble Earl, Lord Grey, at the Committee stage. The noble Earl had suggested that there was need for amendment of the Long Title to reflect the addition to the Bill in another place of the provisions in Clause 2 and Schedule 3. My noble friend accepted that that amendment was technically necessary but, in view of certain reservations about the wording proposed by the noble Earl, he asked to be allowed to consider the matter. The addition proposed in the amendment reflects the heading of Part II of the Bill, and I hope that it meets with the approval of your Lordships.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 200: Line 14, after ("registers") insert ("to make further provision in connection with the acquisition of land and rights over land by boards constituted in pursuance of section 1 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 or reconstituted in pursuance of Schedule 17 to the Local Government Act 1972;").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with No. 162. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 201: Line 22, after ("specified") insert ("to define "year" for the purposes of Part III of the said Act of 1980;").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I spoke to this with Amendment No. 171. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 202: Line 22, after ("specified") insert ("to amend section 140 of the Local Government Act 1972 and to provide for the insurance by local authorities of persons voluntarily assisting probation committees;").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I spoke to this with Amendment No. 171B. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Avon moved Amendment No. 203: Line 22, after ("specified") insert ("to provide for the method of determining whether a local authority have exceeded the limit on expenditure set out in section 137(4) of the Local Government Act 1972; to make further provision as to arrangements made by local authorities under the Employment and Training Act 1973; to extend the duration of certain powers to assist industry or employment conferred by local Acts;").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I spoke to this with Amendment No. 177B. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Birk had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 204: Line 22, after ("specified") insert ("to give the Secretary of State discretion in section 12 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 to exclude the costs of employment and training of apprentices from Direct Labour Organisation revenue accounts;").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 172. I do not intend to move it now, but this is the only opportunity for me to make a point at the end of this Report Stage.

During the Report stage there have been a tremendous number of amendments taken back by the Government for reconsideration. They have been left to be considered by other noble Lords and, as I understand it, according to the arrangements for future business it is intended to take the third stage of this Bill on Thursday next. I would put it to the Government that this allows far too short a time and it is very unlikely that the Bill will be printed in time for those of us who want to put down amendments and also to consider what has been said during the crowded Committee stage and Report stage of this very wide and comprehensive Bill this week.