The Transport, Local Government and the
Regions Committee has agreed to the following Report:
DRAFT LOCAL GOVERNMENT BILL
The Government promised to redress the imbalance
between central and local government. This Bill fails to achieve
that. It makes some small steps in the right direction but at
the same time increases the power of the Secretary of State. Central
Government seems to be terrified of trusting local authorities
and allowing them their independence.
We welcome the new prudential regime for local authority
capital finance. We are concerned that the detailed Clauses in
the Bill undermine that prudential regime with Clause 4 giving
the Secretary of State power to restrict local authority borrowing
as he sees fit and Clause 10 allowing the pooling of capital receipts.
We are also concerned that the Government's control of local authority
revenue funding effectively restricts borrowing.
The draft Bill is far too reliant on regulations.
The Government should set out its intent on the face of the Bill,
not through secondary legislation. When the Bill comes forward
for consideration, all the secondary legislation should be available
We do not object to the Government bringing forward
a revised version of the Bill, which gives greater emphasis to
giving greater freedoms to local authorities. But there is a need
not only for a Bill which makes minor modifications but which
would constitute a major re-appraisal of how the aim of bringing
about local government and local democracy will be achieved. If
we are to have effective local government, the centre must let
go-not just the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister but Government
as a whole.