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Lord Rooker: My Lords, I will read this. It says,


which is exactly the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield.

I will now read the three paragraphs that follow:


    "The Government is firmly committed to bringing the date of the provisional local government finance settlement earlier. We will be doing everything possible to ensure that the provisional settlement for 2004-5 is made as early as possible this year. We plan to announce the provisional settlement by the middle of November.


    In addition, well in advance of the provisional settlement, we will also be providing local authorities with key information on the minimum increase in funding per pupil to be provided and the floor increase in resources for local authorities which will underpin that guarantee.


    By bringing these announcements forward, we will be providing authorities with adequate time to set their proposed schools budgets by 31st December".

I cannot make it any clearer than that. That is as firm a commitment as I can possibly give and I think that it answers the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, as I said, what happens if the opening of Parliament happens at that crucial time? The figures are crucial. They must be available in mid-November; otherwise it will not be possible to set budgets.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, as I have discovered in the past six years, Parliaments may recess, but

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governments never do. However, the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, raised a fundamental issue—I am now thinking on my feet. He made a point about the proximity of the announcements and the Queen's Speech, the date of which I do not have a clue about. It is right that these announcements are made to Parliament; otherwise, there is a row, because large amounts of public expenditure are involved. I would hope that in a commonsense world, with the type of change that we are proposing—bringing information to school heads and local authorities earlier—we could make whatever announcements were necessary to the relevant people at the right time to enable them to do their job of budget planning.

I am not saying that we would usurp Parliament, because that would be ridiculous, but I quite understand the problem of proximity. I would hope that it would not stand in the way of wrecking what would be a new system. Obviously, getting the information by the middle of November is crucial for local authorities making their budgets by the 31st December deadline. I fully accept that December is not a full working month because of Christmas and the New Year. However, these are practical problems for which the Government are duty bound to find solutions, rather than saying, "We couldn't do it".

If the information is available, we have to make sure that it is published. We must do that for the sake of the 24,000 or so schools in this country, so that their heads have more certainty and clarity and so that the budget planners in the local authority can organise their budgets. I fully accept that.

I have taken the problems on board. I will make sure that I put to my colleagues in the ODPM responsible for this side of local government—as opposed to the education department—how fundamental it is that we keep to the points that I made in the three paragraphs earlier, which were headed,


    "For use if pressed only".

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 26:


    Before Schedule 6, insert the following new schedule—

"SCHEDULE
SECTION (REGULATION OF COSMETIC PIERCING AND SKIN-COLOURING BUSINESSES): TRANSITION
Commencement not to affect existing application of section 15 of the 1982 Act

1 The coming into force of section (Regulation of cosmetic piercing and skin-colouring businesses) shall not affect the descriptions of person in relation to whom section 15 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (c. 30) applies in an area in which that section is already in force.

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Commencement not to affect pending resolutions about the application of section 15 of the 1982 Act

2 (1) This paragraph applies where immediately before the coming into force of section (Regulation of cosmetic piercing and skin-colouring businesses)—
(a) there is in force a resolution under section 13(2) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (c. 30) that section 15 of that Act is to apply to an authority's area, and
(b) the resolution specifies as the day for the coming into force of that section the day on which section (Regulation of cosmetic piercing and skin-colouring businesses) comes into force, or any later day.
(2) The coming into force of section (Regulation of cosmetic piercing and skin-colouring businesses) shall not affect—
(a) the validity of the resolution, or
(b) the descriptions of person in relation to whom section 15 of that Act applies in pursuance of the resolution.
Additional powers of commencement in relation to section 15 of the 1982 Act as amended

3 (1) This paragraph applies where an authority has before the coming into force of section (Regulation of cosmetic piercing and skin-colouring businesses) passed a resolution that provides, or resolutions that between them provide, for section 15 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (c. 30) to apply to the authority's area in relation to all of the existing descriptions of person.
(2) Section 13 of that Act shall have effect for the purpose of enabling the authority to bring section 15 of that Act into force in its area—
(a) in relation to persons carrying on the business of cosmetic piercing, and
(b) in relation to persons carrying on the business of semi-permanent skin-colouring.
(3) In sub-paragraph (1), the reference to the existing descriptions of person is to the descriptions of person specified in section 15(1) of that Act immediately before the coming into force of section (Regulation of cosmetic piercing and skin-colouring businesses).
Effect of existing ear-piercing registrations following extension of control to cosmetic piercing

4 (1) This paragraph applies where, immediately before section 15 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (c. 30) comes into force in an authority's area in relation to persons carrying on the business of cosmetic piercing—
(a) that section is in force in the area in relation to persons carrying on the business of ear-piercing, and
(b) a person is registered under that section by the authority to carry on a business of ear-piercing at premises in the area which are registered under that section for the carrying-on of that business.
(2) From the coming into force of that section in that area in relation to persons carrying on the business of cosmetic piercing, the registrations of the person and the premises in respect of ear-piercing shall have effect as registrations in respect of cosmetic piercing, subject to sub-paragraph (3).
(3) Sub-paragraph (2) ceases to apply when the business of cosmetic piercing carried on by the person at the premises subsequently first involves cosmetic piercing other than ear-piercing.
Interpretation

5 In this Schedule, except paragraph 2(1)(a) and 3(1), any reference to section 15 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (c. 30) includes a reference to section 16 of that Act so far as it has effect for the purposes of that section."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Schedule 6 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Lord Rooker moved Amendments Nos. 27 and 28:


    Page 114, line 10, at end insert—

"School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (c. 31) and Education Act 2002 (c. 32)

65A (1) Sections 45A and 45B of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (which provide for the setting of a local education authority's schools budget) are amended in accordance with sub-paragraphs (3) to (6).
(2) In sections 41 and 42 of the Education Act 2002, the sections 45A and 45B inserted into the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 are amended in accordance with those sub-paragraphs.
(3) In section 45A(5) (authority to set, and give notice of, its schools budget before the end of January), for "end of January" there is substituted "schools budget deadline".
(4) In section 45A, after subsection (5) there is inserted—
"(6) For the purposes of this section and section 45B "the schools budget deadline" is—
(a) the end of December in the case of an authority in England, and
(b) the end of January in the case of an authority in Wales."
(5) In section 45B(1) (appropriate person may serve counter-notice within period of fourteen days beginning with giving of notice), for "day on which the notice was given" there is substituted "schools budget deadline in the financial year preceding that financial year".
(6) In section 45B(2) (power of appropriate person to act where authority has not given notice under section 45A(5) by the end of January)—
(a) for "end of January" there is substituted "schools budget deadline", and
(b) for "the end of that January" there is substituted "that deadline"." Page 114, line 17, at end insert—


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