HC Deb 24 July 1984 vol 64 c618W
Mr. Shersby

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what specific measures he intends to take to prevent the Greater London council and metropolitian county councils from disposing of their resources in advance of the abolition of those authorities.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

In order to protect ratepayers in all successor authorities and maintain equity between them, I will seek, in the main abolition Bill this autumn Parliament's retrospective approval to a measure whereby all provision of financial assistance by the GLC and the metropolitan county councils to the London boroughs, to metropolitan district councils or to any other local authority will require my specific consent. Similarly any means whereby the GLC and metropolitan county councils propose to finance activities undertaken by other local authorities under agency arrangemens will also require my consent. This control will apply to all such transactions or arrangements entered into with effect from today, 24 July 1984, other than payments made under section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 which were dealt with in my earlier statement of 26 June 1984 at column 393–394.

In the event of any such transactions or arrangements being entered into by the GLC and MCCs without my consent in advance of the main abolition Bill passing into law, that Bill will contain proposals enabling the Secretary of State to reserve the right to require the authorities which benefited from these arrangements or transactions to repay the money, with interest, to the donor authority before 1 April 1986.

Measures already in the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Bill will require that any proposals by the GLC and MCCs to dispose of land, and to enter into contracts above a certain value, after the date of Royal Assent to the Bill must have my consent. Consent will also be required to expenditure under section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 (the "2p rate") incurred after 1 April 1985.

I have decided to use the existing powers available to me under section 230 of the 1972 Act to require the authorities to supply me with full information about such activities with effect from the date of announcement of the new measures, 12 July 1984. This will enable me to make available information about activities that might be seen by ratepayers to be contrary to their interests. In addition I am withdrawing, with immediate effect, the present general consents which permit the GLC to dispose of housing land and vacant property for improvement and on-sale. Right-to-buy sales and other sales to sitting tenants and intending owner-occupiers are not affected.

I will continue to monitor the activities of the GLC and MCCs and will not hesitate to take whatever futher steps are necessary to prevent irresponsible uses of ratepayers' resources.