HC Deb 06 November 1996 vol 284 cc523-4W
Mr. Hall

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the county councils' legal responsibilities and duties under the relevant legislation during the transition of services to unitary authorities. [1088]

Sir Paul Beresford

The Government expect the local authorities involved in local government reorganisation to use their best endeavours to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities to the unitary authorities. Most regulations are intended to facilitate this, for example by carrying over the powers, rights or liabilities of one authority to its successor.

However, there are also specific legal responsibilities and duties placed on councils during the transition. Those which apply to county councils are listed; they are made using powers either in the Local Government Act 1992 or the Superannuation Act 1972.

The Local Government (Compensation for Redundancy) Regulations 1994 (SI 1994/3025) set out the level of compensation which shall be paid to an employee between the ages of 18 and 50 who is made redundant during the period between the making of an order for a structural change and 18 months after the reorganisation takes place. The regulations also contain requirements regarding the notification of and payment of compensation.

The Local Government Changes for England (Property Transfer and Transitional Payments) Regulations 1995 (SI 1995/402) require that authorities affected by reorganisation use their best endeavours to make agreements for the transfer of property, rights and liabilities, and the provision by county councils of information to facilitate such agreements.

The Local Government Changes for England (Miscellaneous Provision) Regulations 1995 (SI 1996/1748) require all the local authorities involved in a structural change and their officers to co—operate with each other so as to facilitate the reorganisation. The county council must also supply a successor authority with all information which it may reasonably request for the purpose of reorganisation.

Those regulations also provide that from the time of the elections to the successor authority which are provided for in the structural change order until the reorganisation, any requirements for the county council to prepare budgets or plans or consult any person shall pass to the successor authorities. This applies to the county council's functions in the areas of the future unitary authorities.

The Local Government Reorganisation (Compensation for Loss of Remuneration) Regulations 1995 (SI 1995/2837) require a local government employer to pay compensation for loss of remuneration—detriment—in certain circumstances related to reorganisation.