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Regional Development Agencies Bill

Lords amendments considered.

Clause 2

Constitution


Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 2, line 4, after ("area,") insert--
("( ) such persons as appear to him to represent the interests of those who live, work or carry on business in rural parts of the agency's area,")

7.10 pm

The Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning (Mr. Richard Caborn): I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

The Bill, as we sent it to the other place, provided a general list of the types of people whom the Secretary of State must consult before making an appointment. The list included representatives of local authorities, employers, employees and others. Each heading in the list could be said to encompass rural interests no less than non-rural interests. I can confirm that that is how we have proceeded.

None the less, we are a listening Government, and we have been happy to listen to those who have said that their concern about identifying board members with rural expertise will persist unless the Government put it beyond any doubt that rural interests will be consulted about appointments now and--what seemed to cause most concern--in the future. We were happy to table the amendment in the other place to do just that. I commend the amendment to the House.

Mr. Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South): This is a minimalist, grudging amendment that has been brought about by effective Conservative opposition. The Minister says that he wants to place it beyond any doubt that the Government are concerned about rural interests. That has been in doubt for a long time, particularly during the passage of the Bill, and it remains in doubt to this day.

The amendment goes some way towards meeting the Conservative party's point about rural representation. In the other place, a similar amendment was rejected, on the odd ground that it was not appropriate for London. That amendment proposed that a representative who was an expert or had some involvement in rural interests should sit on the development agency.

We accept that this amendment ensures that rural interests will be consulted. Our concern is that pressures grow, and it will be all too easy for urban interests to dominate debates inside the development agency. The amendment does not fully alleviate that concern, but it provides some consultation of rural interests, and as such we are happy to support it.

Mr. Adrian Sanders (Torbay): The Liberal Democrats are grateful that this matter has been considered and an acceptable form of words has been found. Many of the divisions in our society between urban and rural areas are based on misconceptions. It was important to address this issue, and it has come back before us today. Many people in rural areas will feel more satisfied that their voice will be heard under these new structures.

Mr. Howard Flight (Arundel and South Downs): I, too, am relieved that some element of rural representation

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has been accepted in the amendment from the other place. As the representative of a rural area in West Sussex, I have two concerns outstanding. The RDAs will, in effect, clearly take the lead on transport policy, and, in practice, may take the lead on structural planning. Those are two key rural issues, and I express the great concern of my constituents from all parties that the powers of county councils, particularly rural county councils, will be emasculated.

Mr. Caborn: I can clarify the position for the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight). Planning and transport powers will not be assigned to regional development agencies.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Clause 25

Power to alter regions


Lords amendment: No. 2, in page 13, line 20, leave out from ("instrument") to end of line 21 and insert--
("(8) No order shall be made under this section unless a draft of it has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.
(9) An order under this section which would, apart from this subsection, be treated for the purposes of the standing orders of either House of Parliament as a hybrid instrument shall proceed in that House as if it were not such an instrument.")

7.15 pm

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Clause 25 deals with the Secretary of State's powers to alter the regions of RDAs by order. In the Bill sent to the other place, the order was to be subject to the negative resolution procedure in both Houses, following consultation with interested parties and, where appropriate, a public inquiry.

Amendment No. 2 provides for orders made under clause 25 to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure rather than the negative resolution procedure, as provided for in the Bill as drafted. That reflects a recommendation from the House of Lords Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee, which the Government were content to accept.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Clause 35

Powers in relation to the Commission


Lords amendment: No. 3, in page 16, line 6, at end insert--
("( ) make provision conferring on the Commission functions with respect to the provision of services of any description to regional development agencies,")

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 4 to 6.

Mr. Caborn: These amendments are purely technical. Amendments Nos. 3 and 5 allow the Secretary of State to

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specify, by order, that English Partnerships and the Rural Development Commission may provide services to the RDAs. We have in mind the provision of IT services in particular, so as to ensure that the expertise and the IT systems of EP and the RDC are available to the RDAs in the early days, to enable them to become established quickly and seamlessly. That is without prejudice to the wishes of the RDAs to consider their long-term strategies.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 6 relate to the making of schemes to transfer staff and assets from EP or the RDC to other public bodies, other than RDAs. Throughout the Bill, transfers of staff and assets from EP, the RDC or Government offices to RDAs are effected by transfer schemes to be approved by the Secretary of State. The amendments make it clear that transfer schemes relating to transfers from EP and RDC to other public bodies can be prepared in a similar way, separate from the orders made under clauses 35 or 37. I commend the amendments to the House.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 4 to 6 agreed to.

New clause


Lords amendment: No. 7, before clause 38, to insert the following new clause--Corporation tax--
".--(1) The following provisions apply for the purposes of the Corporation Tax Acts.
(2) Any trade or part of a trade transferred under a transfer scheme is to be treated as having been, at the time of its commencement and at all times since that time, a separate trade carried on by the transferee.
(3) Where any trade, or part of a trade, is transferred under a transfer scheme, the trade carried on by the transferee after the date of the transfer is to be treated as the same trade as that which, by virtue of subsection (2), it is treated as having carried on before that date.
(4) All property, rights and liabilities transferred under a transfer scheme are to be treated as having been, at the time when they became vested in the transferor, and at all times since that time, property, rights and liabilities of the transferee.
(5) Anything done, in relation to property, rights and liabilities transferred under a transfer scheme, by the transferor is to be deemed to have been done by the transferee.
(6) Where any property, rights and liabilities transferred under a transfer scheme became vested in the transferor by virtue of a transfer made by a company in which, at the time of the transfer, the transferor held an interest, that interest is to be deemed to have been held at that time by the transferee.
(7) Where any property, rights and liabilities transferred under a transfer scheme became vested in the transferor by virtue of a qualifying transfer, or two or more successive qualifying transfers--
(a) subsection (4) has effect as if the reference to the time when the property, rights and liabilities became vested in the transferor were a reference to the time when they became vested in the original transferor (that is to say, the transferor under the qualifying transfer or, as the case may be, the first of the qualifying transfers), and
(b) if the property, rights and liabilities became vested in the original transferor by virtue of a transfer made by a company in which, at the time of the transfer, the original transferor held an interest, that interest is to be deemed to have been held at that time by the transferee under the transfer scheme.

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(8) The previous provisions of this section are subject to such apportionments of unallowed tax losses and of expenditure by reference to which capital allowances may be made as may be specified in the transfer scheme concerned.
(9) This section has effect in relation to accounting periods beginning after the final accounting period.
(10) In this section--
"capital allowance" has the same meaning as in the Tax Acts;
"final accounting period" means the last complete accounting period of the transferor under the transfer scheme concerned;
"qualifying transfer" means a transfer made to one of the following bodies by another such body--
(a) the Development Commission,
(b) the Urban Regeneration Agency,
(c) a regional development agency;
"transfer scheme" means--
(a) an order under section 25 which includes provision for the transfer of property, rights or liabilities, and
(b) a scheme under any of sections 34 to 37 for the transfer of property, rights or liabilities;
"unallowed tax losses" means any losses, allowances or amounts which, as at the end of the final accounting period, are tax losses within the meaning given by section 400(2) of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988."

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.


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