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The Deputy Chairman of Committees: Is it the Committee's pleasure that the amendment be withdrawn?

Lord Dixon-Smith: Not-Content.

6.21 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 22) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 84; Not-Contents, 108.

25 Jan 2000 : Column 1469

Division No. 2

Division No.


Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Belstead, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bowness, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Carnarvon, E.
Carr of Hadley, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Cox, B.
Crickhowell, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elton, L.
Feldman, L.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greenway, L.
Hanham, B
Hanningfield, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Hogg, B.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Hunt of Tanworth, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lang of Monkton, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Luke, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Montrose, D.
Moynihan, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Norfolk, D.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Onslow of Woking, L.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peel, E.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plumb, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rees, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selsdon, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Tugendhat, L.
Wakeham, L.
Young, B.


Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jeger, B.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Laird, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lincoln, Bp.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McCarthy, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Patel, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strange, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

25 Jan 2000 : Column 1470

6.32 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 23 to 26 not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 27:

    Page 2, line 32, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Baroness said: The amendment seeks to leave out subsection (3) of Clause 3 which states:

    "The Secretary of State may by order make provision preventing local authorities from doing, by virtue of section 2(1)"--

the well-being power--

    "anything which is specified, or is of a description specified, in the order".

I feel strongly about the extensive powers that the Government reserve to themselves--they are clear and obvious--by giving with one hand and reserving the right to take away with the other through secondary legislation. I accept that the Government have tabled an amendment which provides that that is to be by affirmative resolution.

What happened to trust by central government of local government, and confidence of central government in themselves? Government will claim the credit for allowing local authorities to exercise new powers. They will claim the credit, and rightly, for addressing the issue of the extent of local authority powers and for assisting local authorities to act in a community leadership role. But they cannot help but retain to themselves the control provided by this clause.

I am not alone in tabling the amendment. I do not suggest that the Conservative Front Bench has the same thoughts as me; I am sure it has better thoughts. However, the effect is the same. By this amendment, I

25 Jan 2000 : Column 1471

seek to ask what the Government have in mind. During the passage of the Bill, are we likely to see draft orders; or is there some general reserve power that the Government feel they had better have in case they have made a mistake in Clause 2? It might be a long debate but it need be only a short debate. As we have said on many occasions previously, the issue comes back to the question of trust. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: As with the previous amendment, the noble Baroness got to the Government Public Bill Office before us with the amendment. She covered much of what I wish to say. However, I shall take the time of the Committee to say it slightly differently.

It is depressing to find such a provision in a Bill because it reveals a sad fact: that Government have no faith in local government. If they had such faith, the provision would not be in the Bill. I sometimes wonder whether, by their actions, Government have faith in anything. I suppose that in the nature of politics, politicians become cynical and governments are probably the most cynical of all. That is regrettable and sad, and I think that the country would be a happier, more contented place if we did not see this kind of provision in legislation, and if local authorities, which are constituted to undertake certain functions, that we seek to extend, were permitted to get on quietly with their business and to behave as adults. Subsection (3) takes away that status from local government. I find that very sad.

We do not know what the Secretary of State will order under the clause. We have the huge volumes of information in the book which deals with Part II and Clauses 66 and 67. But we have nothing on Part I and most of the other parts of the Bill. We have no guidance as to what the Secretary of State may do. By some freak of good fortune, one could hope that he might do nothing. He has that option. If so, I am sure we should all be content.

Unfortunately, people who have served in local government find that after a time they become cynical. Even worse, they become cynical about government and their motives. I am careful not to ascribe any political connotation to those motivations. This is one of the facts of life. In reality, it is sad that that is so because it is an area where Government and local government have a community of interest. They should be able to work together amicably. Just as local government would prefer not to see this provision on the face of the statute, central government should feel, equally, that it was not necessary to have it there. I suspect that it will take a great change of attitudes by both sides before that somewhat Utopian situation arises. In the meantime, the cynics have it. I support the amendment. I hope that the Government will listen with care to what we have said, and agree with us.

Baroness Maddock: As one who served in local government under the previous government, it takes my breath away to hear protestations about the powers of Ministers. Can the noble Lord say whether the Secretary of State will have the power to repeal

25 Jan 2000 : Column 1472

previous legislation as regards the power of local government and the requirement to produce reports and so forth? It is important to know whether that is the case. If the noble Lord cannot answer today, perhaps he can provide a list of measures that the Secretary of State can repeal.

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