HL Deb 05 December 1985 vol 468 cc1525-7WA
Baroness Gardner of Parkes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are their intentions for the transfer at abolition of property owned by the GLC and MCCs.

Lord Elton

Proposals for the making of orders under Section 100 of the Local Government Act 1985 were issued for consultation in September in my department's second property memorandum. This proposed that orders should be made on general principles, transferring land and other property according to the statutory purpose for which it was held on 16th July 1985. These principles were designed to ensure that property needed for the continuing provision of inherited services would pass immediately at abolition to the appropriate successor authority. Other property, including that for which the appropriate successor has not been identified, would pass initially to the residuary bodies.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has now considered the responses to his published proposals. He has concluded that, as a first step, it is essential that a general order, applicable in all the seven areas concerned, should be made as soon as possible. The order would be based on the general principles set out in the second memorandum. It would deal also with contractual and other rights and liabilities, proposals for which were set out in the third memorandum issued on 12th November.

In some areas, proposals have been put forward that virtually all property should pass directly to successor authorities at abolition. This would include the categories of land which the second memorandum proposed should go to the residuary bodies. The making of any initial general order on the lines now proposed will not rule out the bringing forward of further orders to meet more closely the wishes of successor authorities. However, before making such supplementary orders, my right honourable friend would wish to be satisfied:

  1. (a) that the arrangements would not prejudice third parties' interests;
  2. (b) that there is unanimous support for the proposals from all the boroughs and districts; and where appropriate other successor authorities in the area concerned, and agreement as to the arrangements for dealing with such matters as shared occupation and the distribution of the proceeds from the disposal of land; and
  3. (c) that the arrangements are acceptable to the residuary bodies in terms of access to property which they may require for their own purposes such as administrative buildings and computers.

My right honourable friend will consider proposals put forward by successor authorities in any area in the light of these considerations, and where appropriate will make supplementary orders under Section 100. If such an order cannot be made before abolition, he will give early consideration to proposals by the appropriate residuary body under Section 67 of the Act, so that orders can, where appropriate, be made under that section for the early transfer of property to functional successor authorities.

By proceeding in this way we shall provide a clear statutory framework for dealing with property, rights and liabilities at abolition, if alternative arrangements as described above have not by then been made.

My right honourable friend will shortly invite the local authority associations to let him have their views on a draft of the proposed general order. In addition, discussions will be held with residuary bodies and successor authorities in each area both about the implications of the general order, and about the handling of proposals for the making of further orders.