Local Government Bill [H.L.] - continued        House of Lords

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  PART V
  MISCELLANEOUS
 
Surcharge etc.
Surcharge etc.     76. - (1) The Audit Commission Act 1998 is amended as follows.
 
      (2) In section 17 (declaration that item of account is unlawful)-
 
 
    (a) subsection (1)(b),
 
    (b) in subsection (2), the words "subject to subsection (3)" and paragraphs (a) and (b), and
 
    (c) subsections (3) and (5)(b),
  are omitted.
 
      (3) Section 18 (recovery of amount not accounted for etc.) is omitted.
 
Advisory notices.     77. - (1) After section 19 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 there is inserted-
 
 
"Other bodies: advisory notices.     19A. - (1) The auditor for the time being of the accounts of a body subject to audit other than a health service body may issue a notice under this section ("an advisory notice") if he has reason to believe that the body or an officer of the body-
 
    (a) is about to make or has made a decision which involves or would involve the body incurring expenditure which is unlawful,
 
    (b) is about to take a course of action which, if pursued to its conclusion, would be unlawful and likely to cause a loss or deficiency, or
 
    (c) is about to enter an item of account, the entry of which is unlawful.
      (2) For the purposes of this section the actions of-
 
 
    (a) a committee or sub-committee of a body, or
 
    (b) any other person (other than an officer) authorised to act on behalf of the body,
  are to be treated as the actions of the body itself.
 
      (3) An advisory notice is a notice which-
 
 
    (a) is addressed to the body or officer concerned,
 
    (b) specifies the paragraph of subsection (1) which is relevant and the decision, course of action or item of account to which the notice relates,
 
    (c) specifies that the notice will take effect on the day a copy of the notice is served on the person to whom it is addressed, and
 
    (d) requires the body or officer before-
 
      (i) making or implementing the decision,
 
      (ii) taking the course of action, or
 
      (iii) entering the item of account,
 
    specified in the notice under paragraph (b), to give the person who is for the time being the auditor of the accounts of the body not less than the specified number of days' notice in writing of the intention of the body or officer to do that thing,

and in paragraph (d) the reference to the specified number is to such number not exceeding 21 as is specified in the notice.

      (4) Where two or more auditors are appointed in relation to the accounts of any body-
 
 
    (a) the power to issue an advisory notice may be exercised by the auditors acting jointly or by such one of them as they may determine, and
 
    (b) in relation to such a notice, references in subsections (5) and (6) to the auditor are references to the auditor or auditors by whom the notice is issued.
      (5) A copy of an advisory notice-
 
 
    (a) shall be served on the body to which, or to an officer of which, it is addressed,
 
    (b) in the case of a notice addressed to an officer, shall also be served on him, and
 
    (c) may be served on such other person or persons as the auditor considers appropriate.
      (6) The auditor shall serve a statement of his reasons for the belief referred to in subsection (1) on the body concerned, and on any officer on whom a copy of the notice was served under subsection (5)(b), before the end of the period of 7 days beginning on the day on which a copy of the notice was served on the person to whom it is addressed.
 
      (7) Where this section requires a copy of a notice or statement to be served on an officer of a body, it shall be served on him by addressing it to him and delivering it to him or leaving it at the office at which he is employed.
 
      (8) An advisory notice may at any time be revoked by the person who is for the time being the auditor in relation to the accounts of the body to which, or to an officer of which, the order was addressed, and the auditor shall give notice in writing of the revocation to any body or person on whom a copy of the advisory notice was served under subsection (5).
 
Effect of an advisory notice.     19B. - (1) While an advisory notice has effect, it is not lawful for the body concerned or any officer of that body to-
 
 
    (a) make or implement the decision,
 
    (b) take the course of action, or
 
    (c) enter the item of account,
  to which the notice relates unless the conditions set out in subsection (2) are satisfied.
 
      (2) The conditions are-
 
 
    (a) that the body has considered, in the light of the advisory notice and the reasons under section 19A(6), whether it would be lawful for the body or officer to do the thing mentioned in subsection (1) to which the notice relates,
 
    (b) that the body has given the person who is for the time being the auditor the period of notice in writing required by the advisory notice under section 19A(3)(d), and
 
    (c) that that period has expired.
      (3) An advisory notice takes effect on the day on which a copy of the notice is served on the person to whom it is addressed, and ceases to have effect-
 
 
    (a) where a statement of reasons is not served in accordance with subsection (6) of section 19A, at the end of the period specified in that subsection, or
 
    (b) when it is revoked under section 19A(8).
      (4) Any expenses reasonably incurred by an auditor in or in connection with the issue of an advisory notice are recoverable by him from the body concerned.
 
      (5) In this section "the body concerned", in relation to an advisory notice, means the body to which, or to any officer of which, the notice is addressed.
 
  19C.- (1) Where-
 
 
    (a) before an advisory notice is served, a body enters into a contract to dispose of or acquire an interest in land, and
 
    (b) before the disposal or acquisition is completed, an advisory notice takes effect as a result of which it is unlawful for the body to complete the disposal or acquisition,
  the existence of the advisory notice does not prejudice any remedy in damages which may be available to any person by reason of the body's failure to complete the contract.
 
      (2) No action lies against an auditor in respect of loss or damage alleged to have been caused by reason of the issue of an advisory notice which was issued in good faith."
 
      (2) Sections 20 to 23 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 (prohibition orders) cease to have effect.
 
 
Welfare services
Grants for welfare services.     78. - (1) The Secretary of State may, with the consent of the Treasury, pay grants to local authorities in England towards expenditure incurred by them in providing, or contributing to the provision of, such welfare services as may be determined by the Secretary of State.
 
      (2) The National Assembly for Wales may pay grants to local authorities in Wales towards expenditure incurred by them in providing, or contributing to the provision of, such welfare services as may be determined by the Assembly.
 
      (3) The amount of any grants under this section and the manner of their payment are to be such as may be determined by the Secretary of State or the Assembly (as the case may be).
 
      (4) Grants under this section may be paid-
 
 
    (a) to all local authorities,
 
    (b) to particular local authorities, or
 
    (c) to particular descriptions of local authority (including descriptions framed by reference to authorities in particular areas).
      (5) Grants under this section may be paid on such terms and conditions as the Secretary of State or, as the case may be, the Assembly may determine; and nothing in subsection (6) affects the generality of this subsection.
 
      (6) Those terms and conditions may include provision as to the circumstances in which the whole or any part of a grant under this section must be repaid to the Secretary of State or the Assembly.
 
      (7) A local authority must supply the Secretary of State or, as the case may be, the Assembly with such information as he or it may require for the purposes of this section.
 
      (8) A local authority must have regard to any guidance for the time being issued by the Secretary of State or, as the case may be, the Assembly with respect to the administration and application of grants under this section which are paid to them.
 
      (9) A local authority must comply with any directions for the time being given by the Secretary of State or, as the case may be, the Assembly with respect to the administration and application of grants under this section which are paid to them.
 
      (10) Any determination, guidance or directions under this section may make different provision in relation to different local authorities or descriptions of local authority (including descriptions framed by reference to authorities in particular areas).
 
      (11) In this section-
 
 
    "local authority" means-
 
      (a) in relation to England, a county council, a district council, a London borough council, the Common Council of the City of London or the Council of the Isles of Scilly,
 
      (b) in relation to Wales, a county council or a county borough council,
 
    "welfare services" includes services which provide support, assistance, advice or counselling to individuals with particular needs.
Housing benefit.     79. - (1) Section 130 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 (housing benefit) is amended as follows.
 
      (2) At the end of subsection (2) there is inserted-
 
 
    "
 but this subsection is subject to subsection (2A).
      (2A) Except to the extent that regulations otherwise provide, payments in respect of services which provide support, assistance, advice or counselling to individuals with particular needs are not "payments in respect of a dwelling" for the purposes of subsection (1)."
 
      (3) After subsection (4) there is inserted-
 
 
    "(4A) Regulations under subsection (2A) above may make provision with respect to particular areas, particular authorities or particular descriptions of authority."
 
 
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