TO BE MOVED
Before Clause 1
Insert the following new Clause—
“Purpose of this Act
(1) The purpose of this Act is to promote a political and administrative system and culture which—
(a) is based on the principle that each decision should be made at the lowest practical and effective level, and that where there is a conflict between decisions at a higher or more local level there is a presumption that the local level will prevail unless there are clear and over-riding reasons why it should not,
(b) is underpinned by basic rights for all persons and safeguards against arbitrary discrimination against any person,
(c) focuses public decision-making on bodies which are elected, representative and accountable,
(d) may incorporate minimum standards for the provision of public services that may be established by parliament, government, and elected bodies at a higher level than that at which decisions are made, but otherwise welcomes diversity of provision on the basis of locally determined needs and preferences,
(e) includes a restriction against regulations and orders by government and bodies at higher levels than the minimum absolutely necessary,
(f) shapes the structures of local government in ways that are designed to facilitate the involvement of local citizens, individually and as members of their communities and neighbourhoods,
(g) welcomes and encourages the involvement of local citizens in the design of such structures and participation within them, and
(h) encourages the formation of bodies by local citizens in which they may organise to influence public decision-making, take part in processes of local governance and help to provide local services.
(2) A public body or public official shall when acting under the provisions of this Act have regard to the political and administrative system and culture described in subsection (1) above.
(3) In subsection (2) “public official” means a government minister or employee, or an employee of any body responsible for making decisions on behalf of the government or a local authority.”