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Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful for that. I was trying to work out how to make a sceptical noise that would appear in Hansard. I would like to be more satisfied about it than I am, but I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 45 agreed to.

Clauses 46 to 48 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 116 not moved.]

Clause 49 [BID Revenue Account]:

Baroness Hanham moved Amendment No. 117:

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The noble Baroness said: I can be quick about this. We are unhappy with the unlimited provision set out in subsection (5) of Clause 49. Subsections (1) to (3) set out the arrangements for the BID revenue account to ensure that it is used for legitimate BID purposes. We, of course, welcome those provisions. Subsection (4) allows the Secretary of State to make further provision in relation to the BID revenue account. That is, doubtless, a necessary subsection to allow for flexibility in the management of the BID revenue account as the system gets up and running. However, we see no reason for subsection (5), which gives the Secretary of State unfettered authority to amend,

    "any enactment (whenever passed or made)".

Our concerns were confirmed by the report from the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform. On Clause 49(5), the committee said:

    "The ODPM's memorandum provides no explanation of the need for this provision and states, at paragraph 48, that it has no current intention to use it. In the absence of an explanation and given the Henry VIII power contained in clause 58 to make further provision in relation to any provision (including clause 49) made by or under Part 4 of the bill (see paragraph 6 below), we conclude that clause 49(5) is an inappropriate delegation of power".

I am much encouraged by the fact that the Minister has put his name to my amendment. Quite possibly, he also sees that the Select Committee has a point. I am delighted to move the amendment, and, presumably, the Minister will acknowledge that he supports it. However, he might like to explain why the subsection was there to start with. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: There is no problem here. It was a great speech, to which I listened with interest, but we should move on. I understand that we have simultaneously tabled amendments to comply with the recommendations of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform.

Baroness Hanham: You supported my amendment.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We could haggle over whose it is, but I will not do so. We are grateful for the noble Baroness's support for our amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 49 agreed to.

Clause 50 [Administration of BID levy etc]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 117A:

    Page 21, line 34, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Baroness said: I, too, have been having trouble with the groupings. I did not ask for Amendment No. 130A, which is exactly the same, to be moved out of this group, but, somehow, it has gone wandering.

The amendment would leave out of Clause 50 the following words:

    "Nothing in subsection (2) is to be taken as limiting the power conferred by subsection (1)".

I tabled the amendment to probe the Government on why that is necessary or desirable. "Desirable" may be the appropriate term.

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Yesterday, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said that it was a golden rule when drafting legislation not to repeat a provision that is in another Act because somebody would challenge the position if there were differences. I fully agree with that, and it forms the basis of the amendment. Other provisions in the Bill say that certain things may happen and may include what is set out in Clause 50(2). However, such provisions do not limit the power to make regulations. The first example of what I am discussing is found in Clause 3; it refers to making regulations under subsections (6) and (7), but does not include this further provision. So I do not know whether there is anything special about Clause 50. I am sorry to be a bit picky, but that is what we are here for. I beg to move.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Perhaps I should explain what Clause 50 does. It gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations concerning the administration and collection of the BID levy. The amendment seeks to restrict the power of the Secretary of State so that the regulations made under the clause can only set out a system for the collection and enforcement of a BID which mirrors the existing system for non-domestic rates.

We have always made it clear that we intend the BID levy to be collected and enforced through the existing business rates system. We should not, in our view, be inserting restrictions that would not allow alternative systems to be developed.

While the BID levy will be primarily collected through the rating system, BIDs and local authorities may wish to send out a separate bill for the BID levy in addition to the bill for non-domestic rates. This is because rate bills are issued at specific times of the year and the rates are collected in instalments.

A BID may not wish to collect its levy in instalments or at set times of the year. In this case, the Government would have to make provisions allowing local authorities to collect the levy in a manner that was compatible with their local circumstances.

These powers would be used to ensure that the mechanism for introducing BIDs is flexible. The BID levy will be enforced in the same way as non-domestic rates but some parts of the collection procedures may need to be adapted so that BIDs work effectively.

The clause relates to the collecting mechanism and is designed to have that flexibility. I hope that explanation satisfies the point that the noble Baroness is concerned about.

Baroness Hamwee: With respect, I think it was irrelevant. Clause 50(2) says that the provision which the Secretary of State can make by regulation includes paragraphs (a) and (b). I am therefore asking why it is necessary to say that nothing limits the power when the word is "includes". It does not say the provisions which may be made by regulations "are" those in

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paragraphs (a) and (b). That is my point. Again, we do not need to waste time reading this now because I am sure we shall be able to deal with it at a later stage.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We are possibly at cross-purposes in discussing the matter. We both need to reflect on what we have said, but I respect the point that the noble Baroness makes.

Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful for that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 50 agreed to.

Clause 51 agreed to.

Clause 52 [Approval in ballot]:

[Amendments Nos. 118 to 123 not moved.]

Clause 52 agreed to.

Clause 53 [Power of veto]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 123A:

    Page 22, line 29, at end insert "by regulations approved by an affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament"

The noble Baroness said: Clause 53 gives local authorities the power of veto. Clause 53(2) provides that the billing authority can exercise a veto in the circumstances that are "prescribed", to quote the Bill. The regulations dealing with the matter seem particularly important, as one might almost say that the billing authority is being given a veto to say yes or no to primary legislation. I might be putting it at a slightly high level, but it seemed worth suggesting that the regulations should be approved by affirmative resolution of both Houses. That would be the effect of Amendment No. 123A. I beg to move.

Baroness Hanham: Amendment No. 125, which stands in my name, is grouped with Amendment No. 123A. It refers to line 32 of page 22. At present, the circumstances in which a billing authority may exercise its veto under Clause 53 are to be prescribed and are not included in the Bill.

Our amendment picks up the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, on subsection (2), which states that the billing authority may veto proposals within a period that will be prescribed. We wish to probe how long the period is intended to be. Will the Government consider including in the Bill a three-month limit, for example, which we feel to be sensible? We would not like an indefinite period, as that would be damaging for everyone involved in the BID process.

Lord Bassam of Brighton : The clause gives the billing authority the power to veto a business improvement district under circumstances that the Secretary of State may prescribe. Amendment No. 123A seeks to make any regulations concerning the BID ballot subject to affirmative resolution. The Government have already tabled amendments to put in place the recommendations of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform. The committee did not recommend affirmative resolution for those powers. We have a habit—a good one, I

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think—of following, by and large, committee recommendations. We do not think it necessary to adopt the noble Baroness's suggestion. The committee has not recommended approval by affirmative resolution, because we have already set out clearly in the BIDs guidance the circumstances under which a veto will be exercised.

Amendment No. 125, which would limit the time in which a local authority can veto a BID proposal following a successful ballot, is also unnecessary. Perhaps more importantly, it hinders what should be essentially flexible powers to allow BID arrangements to be as innovative as possible.

In the Bill, the Secretary of State has taken powers that allow him to make regulations governing the circumstances in which a local authority can veto a BID and the period in which the veto can be exercised. The circumstances in which local authorities will be able to exercise their veto are also set out in the draft guidance on business improvement districts. As we have stated, the local authority can veto a BID where it can,

    "demonstrate that the proposed BID would conflict with locally adopted plans made under statute, or otherwise formally adopted by the council".

Otherwise, the veto will rarely be exercised. After all, BIDs, as we have heard voluminously today, are about partnership between local authorities and local business communities. Where the local authority thinks that the BID will conflict with its other plans, it should state that long before the BID ballot takes place. We make that clear in the guidance.

In the rare cases that a veto is used, the Secretary of State will have the power to prescribe the period in which it may be exercised. We see no particular need to include those periods in the Bill—in primary legislation. We want to learn from the practical experience of those who have set up BIDs before we put the specific periods into regulations. The BIDs provisions are supposed to allow maximum flexibility to allow for different circumstances.

The amendments run counter to the spirit of the legislation. We want the flexibility, and we want to put it into secondary legislation. Obviously, we want to learn from practical experience—the sort of experience that the noble Baroness talked about earlier—and there will need to be some consultation before we finalise what the time-gap might be for the veto to be exercised. That is where we require the flexibility.

I hope that those responses answer the two adjacent points that were raised.

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