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Column 43Wells, Bowen
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Timothy Wood and
Mr. Timothy Kirkhope.
Question accordingly negatived.
Amendments made : No. 28, in page 28, line 21, at end insert ( ) In considering whether subsection (3)(c) or (d) of this section will apply in relation to a licence, the licensing authority may take into account (if such be the case) that any proposed operating centre of the applicant would be used
(a) as an operating centre of the holders of other operators' licences as well as of the applicant ; or
(b) by the applicant or by other persons for purposes other than keeping vehicles used under the licence.'.
No. 29, in page 29, line 13, leave out from application' to already' and insert was made, that place was'.
No. 30, in page 29, line 15, after licence' insert
and had been so specified for a prescribed period'.
No. 31, in page 29, leave out line 22 and insert
(5A) Subsection (5) of this section does not apply in relation to any place that, at the time the application is determined by the licensing authority, is specified in an operator's licence as mentioned in paragraph (a) of that subsection, and in that paragraph-'.
No. 32, in page 29, line 25, leave out from beginning to specified' in line 26 and insert
(b) references to a place having been specified in an operator's licence do not include a place having been'.--[ Mr. Norris .]
Amendments made : No. 33, in page 35, line 34, leave out from application' to
already' in line 35 and insert was made, the place in question was'.
No. 34, in page 35, line 37, after licence' insert
and had been so specified for a prescribed period'.
No. 35, in page 35, leave out line 46 and insert
(8) Subsection (7) of this section does not apply in relation to any place that, at the time the application is determined by the licensing authority, is specified in an operator's licence as mentioned in paragraph (a) of that subsection, and in that paragraph-'.
No. 36, in page 36, leave out lines 1 and 2 and insert
(b) references to a place having been specified in an operator's licence do not include a place having been'.-- [ Mr. Norris. ]
Amendment made : No. 40, in page 91, line 22, at end insert so far as relating to the suitability of any place specified in the licence for use as an operating centre of the licence-holder ;'.--[ Mr. Norris. ]
Amendment made : No. 37, in page 44, line 15, after purposes' insert , for such period'.--[ Mr. Norris. ]
Amendment made : No. 38, in page 45, line 33, at end insert ( ) Where such a direction is given in respect of an operator's licence
(a) any condition attached to the licence under section 66 of this Act shall be treated as having been of no effect during the period beginning with the time the licence terminated by virtue of subsection (3) or (4) of this section and ending with the time the direction comes into force ; and
(b) subject to paragraph (a) of this subsection, the licensing authority may vary any such condition as it applies in relation to events occurring before the direction comes into force.'.--[ Mr. Norris .]
Amendment made : No. 41, in page 95, leave out lines 24 and 25.--[ Mr. Norris. ]
Amendment made : No. 39, in page 50, line 33, at end insert (2F) Where the traffic commissioner has given a direction under subsection (2E) above in respect of a PSV operator's licence in a case where subsection (2A) or (2C) above has applied, it shall not for the purposes of section 20(1) or (2) of this Act be regarded as having been practicable for the licence-holder to
(a) report any matter to the Secretary of State ; or
(b) give him notice of any alteration,
during the period beginning with the time mentioned in subsection (2A) or (2C) and ending when the direction came into force.'.--[ Mr. Norris. ]
.--(1) If, with respect to any action taken by a public body which imposes a burden on any person, a Minister of the Crown is of the opinion that
(a) the effect of such action is such as to impose, or authorise, or require the imposition of a burden affecting that person in the carrying on of any trade, business, profession or otherwise ; and (b) the burden so imposed is disproportionate to the end or purpose which is sought to be achieved ; and
(c) it would be possible without removing any necessary protection to remove or reduce the burden or, as the case may be, the authorisation or requirement by virtue of which the burden may be imposed,
he may by order require the body to act to remove, or as the case may be, reduce the burden.
(2) The reference in subsection (1)(c) above to reducing the authorisation or requirement by virtue of which a burden may be imposed includes a reference to shortening any period of time within which the burden may be so imposed.
(3) An order under subsection (1)
(a) shall, if it requires the reduction of a burden, specify the manner and extent thereof,
(b) may include such incidental, consequential and transitional provisions and savings as appear to the Minister to be appropriate, (c) may make different provisions for different cases or descriptions of case, including different provisions for different areas,
(d) shall be made by statutory instrument, and
(e) shall be laid before Parliament after it is made.
Column 45(4) A public body in respect of the action of which an order has been made shall comply with the terms thereof within the period of 28 days beginning with the date on which it was made.
(5) It shall be a defence in any proceedings in any court or before any tribunal that a person has failed to comply with any burden to which subsection (1) above applies to prove that
(a) the failure to comply occurred or first occurred after the expiry of the period set out in subsection (4) above, and (b) if the burden had been removed or reduced in accordance with the requirement of the Minister under subsection (1) above there would have been no failure to comply.
(6) In this section
"Minister of the Crown" and "burden" shall have the same meaning as in Chapter I of Part I and "Minister" shall be construed accordingly ; and
"public body" means a body established by or under any enactment, to which the Minister has power to give directions regarding the discharge of its responsibilities, to the controlling organ of which the Minister makes nominations, or the income of which includes money provided by Parliament, but excludes any local authority, fire authority, police authority or civil defence authority.'.-- [Mr. Meacher.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
.--(1) Where a person carrying on a trade or business
(a) is aggrieved by any action lawfully taken on proposed to be taken by a public body ("the action") which imposes, or may reasonably be expected to impose, a burden on the trade or business, and
(b) is of the opinion that any burden so imposed is greater than is reasonably necessary to achieve the intended purpose of the action, he may apply to a magistrates' court for a declaration under subsection (5) below.
(2) An application under subsection (1) above shall be made (a) by the person carrying on the trade or business or any other person duly authorised by him in that respect,
(b) in the prescribed form and manner, and
(c) within a prescribed period beginning with the date on which the person aggrieved became aware of the action or was deemed under any statutory provision to have been notified of it.
(3) The Secretary of State shall prescribe how any date required for the purposes of subsection (2)(c) above is to be determined, and different bases of determination may be prescribed for different circumstances.
(4) A magistrates' court shall consider an application for a declaration under subsection (1) above within the period of seven days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) beginning with the date on which it is made.
(5) A magistrates' court considering an application under subsection (1) above shall
(a) if it is satisfied that the action imposes a burden on the trade or business greater than is reasonably necessary to achieve the intended purpose of the action, make the declaration as sought with such variation, and on such conditions as the court shall think proper in all the circumstances, and
(b) if it is not so satisfied, refuse to make the declaration. (6) In reaching a decision on whether to make a declaration under subsection (5) above the court shall, without prejudice to the generality of sub-paragraph (a) of that subsection, have particular regard to
(a) whether other action which imposes a lesser burden on the trade or business might reasonably be expected to achieve the intended purpose of the action complained of,
(b) the extent of any risk to life, health or property of making, or refusing to make, such a declaration,
(c) the extent to which the granting of a declaration may incidentally cause a burden to be imposed on any other person carrying on a trade or business, or cause an existing burden on any such person to be increased, and
Column 46(d) the likely effect on the commercial prospects of the trade or business of refusing to make a declaration.
(7) The effect of making a declaration under subsection (5) above shall be that
(a) if the action has taken effect, that effect shall be suspended forthwith, but without prejudice to anything done before it was suspended or in consequence of anything so done, and
(b) if the action has not taken effect, it shall not take effect other than in accordance with subsection (10) below.
(8) A declaration under subsection (5) above shall cease to have effect
(a) at the end of a prescribed period beginning with the date on which it is made, or
(b) at the end of any longer period provided for in any statutory provision for an appeal against the action,
unless subsection (9) below applies.
(i) within the period provided for in any statutory provision for an appeal against the action, such an appeal is properly made in accordance with a statutory provision, or
(ii) an application for judicial review of the action is properly made,
subsection (8) shall not apply and a declaration under subsection (5) above shall cease to have effect when the appeal or, as the case may be, the application is finally determined or is withdrawn or abandoned, whichever first occurs, unless both an appeal and an application have been made.
(b) The Secretary of State shall prescribe when and in what circumstances a declaration under subsection (5) above shall cease to have effect if both an appeal as referred to in sub-paragraph (a)(i) above and an application for judicial review as referred to in sub-paragraph (a)(ii) above are properly made.
(10) The effect of a declaration under subsection (5) above ceasing to have effect shall be
(a) if the declaration ceases to have effect in accordance with the provisions of subsection (8) above, the action shall (or as the case may be, shall again) come into effect ; and
(b) if the declaration ceases to have effect in accordance with the provisions of subsection (9) above, the action shall (or as the case may be shall again) come into effect, if and so far as is consistent with the determination (if any) of the appeal or the judgement (if any) of the court on the application for judicial review of the action.
(11) The Secretary of State shall, by order made by statutory instrument, prescribe
(a) anything which under this section is to be prescribed, (b) the procedure to be followed by magistrates' courts on applications for declarations under this section, and
(c) any incidental, consequential and supplementary provisions which are, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, necessary to give effect to the provisions of this section.
(12) In this section
"action" means any order, decision, instruction, or requirement (however described)
(a) with which there is a statutory requirement to comply, or (b) in respect of which it is an offence under any statutory provision to fail to comply ;
"other action" includes delaying the taking of the action ; "public body" does not include any court or tribunal constituted under any statutory provision but, subject to that, means a body established by or under any enactment to which the Minister has power to give directions regarding the discharge of its responsibilities, to the controlling organ of which the Minister makes nominations, or the income of which includes money provided by Parliament. "statutory provision" means any provision in any Act of Parliament or any statutory instrument and "statutory requirement" shall be construed accordingly.'.
Mr. Meacher : The purpose of the new clause is to provide a procedure for removing the burdens imposed by the Government's huge proliferation of quangos. It turns out that the new clause is timely, because yesterday the
Column 47most exhaustive and authoritative survey of quangos was published by an independent organisation called Democratic Audit of the UK. It identified no fewer than 5,500 executive quangos, which is the major part of its total quango count of more than 6,700 appointed bodies. It shows that public spending on executive quangos--I shall concentrate on those today--has increased by 24 per cent. in real terms since 1979 when Mrs. Thatcher came to power pledging to reduce both their number and their cost. Altogether, it found that quangos now control nearly £50 billion of all public expenditure and yet they are totally unaccountable to the taxpayers who provide the money. All of that spending is under the control of an appointed "New Magistracy"--the name given to the business-dominated elite estimated by the report to number about 73,000 quangocrats put there by ministerial appointment. That is nearly three times the total number of all elected councillors, which is about 25,000. That, I submit, is the democrat deficit at the heart of Britain today.
Those executive quangos have usurped major local authority powers for the provision of key local services such as housing, schools, further education, employment training and urban development, and yet their accountability is minimal.
Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams) : I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's speech. Is he saying that he does not like quangos or that there are too many people in the public sector ? Would he, in effect, put those people into Government or would he cut the numbers, because that is the problem ?
Mr. Meacher : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for anticipating my speech. I am in favour of both of those. I am in favour of a substantial reduction in the number of quangos and--this is the real point to which I was just coming--there is the question of accountability. Only about 14 per cent. of the quangos are subject to investigation by any ombudsman. Only one third are subject to public audit. Only 2 per cent. observe the Government's new open government code of practice. Less than half publish annual reports. Only 7 per cent. are obliged to hold at least one public meeting annually. Only one third make their minutes available, none let people see their policy documents and less than half keep a public register of interests.
All of that is a contrast to elected local authorities. Given that huge gap in proper public scrutiny, it is hardly surprising that the process is generating a steady stream of financial scandals, a waste of public resources, burdens on public life and political nepotism. That is why the Public Accounts Committee found in its recent report that standards of conduct in public business were at their lowest ebb since the Northcote- Trevelyan reform of the 1850s buried the old patronage state. However, the Government are fast creating a new patronage state that is as in need of democratic attention as Old Sarum in the 18th century.
The burdens imposed by the partisan expansion of the quango state are huge and growing. For example--I could give many examples--the Public Accounts Committee discovered that the Welsh Development Agency squandered £2 million of public money with unauthorised golden handshakes, paid the private motoring bills of