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Division No. 159
[4.19 pm


Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Ashton, Joe
Ballard, Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Best, Harold
Borrow, David
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Butler, Mrs Christine
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cotter, Brian
Cummings, John
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davidson, Ian
Donohoe, Brian H
Etherington, Bill
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Fyfe, Maria
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Harris, Dr Evan
Humble, Mrs Joan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
McAllion, John
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Oaten, Mark
Pike, Peter L
Pollard, Kerry
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Rapson, Syd
Rendel, David
Roy, Frank
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Savidge, Malcolm
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soames, Nicholas
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Vis, Dr Rudi
White, Brian
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Dr. Nick Palmer and
Ms Jenny Jones.


Amess, David
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bennett, Andrew F
Burnett, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Crausby, David
Fallon, Michael
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Livsey, Richard
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Nicholls, Patrick
O'Hara, Eddie
Öpik, Lembit
Plaskitt, James
Robathan, Andrew
Sanders, Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Townend, John
Trend, Michael
Waterson, Nigel
Wilshire, David

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Edward Leigh and
Dr. Julian Lewis.

Question accordingly agreed to.

11 Apr 2000 : Column 202

Bill ordered to be brought in by Dr. Nick Palmer, Mr. Vernon Coaker, Dr. Evan Harris, Dr. Howard Stoate, Mr. Michael Jabez Foster, Jane Griffiths, Ms Jenny Jones and Dr. Ian Gibson.

Organ Transplants (Presumed Consent)

Dr. Nick Palmer accordingly presented a Bill to establish a national register of people who have not given their consent to transplant of their organs after death; to lay down procedures to be followed before an organ transplant takes place; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 21 July, and to be printed [Bill 109].

11 Apr 2000 : Column 203

Orders of the Day

Local Government Bill [Lords]

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I should inform the House that Madam Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. Madam Speaker has also imposed a 15-minute restriction on Back Benchers' speeches.

4.30 pm

The Minister for Local Government and the Regions (Ms Hilary Armstrong): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State rang me last night sending his apologies to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. He also sent very special greetings to the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Norman). My right hon. Friend has, of course, been in Japan at a G8 meeting of Environment Ministers, and has also had a meeting with the new Japanese Prime Minister. He is currently travelling home.

Last spring, the House debated the Government's first Local Government Bill. That legislation introduced the new duty of best value, which came into force last week. This Bill takes another firm step towards modern local government. It has already been considered in draft by a Joint Committee of both Houses last Session, and by their lordships.

Over the past three years--in stark contrast to the ideological dogma that underpinned the Conservative party's approach to local government--the Government have worked to develop a new partnership with local people and local councils. We have worked to give local people a bigger stake in shaping their future, and to revitalise local democracy--fostering new local democratic institutions that are appropriate for the new millennium.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): Will the Minister explain how, in a scripted speech, she has the brass neck to go on about ideological dogma when the principal purpose of the Bill is compulsorily to impose a system that thousands of councillors regard as less accountable, less transparent and less representative? Why does not she listen to the view of Lord Dixon-Smith, who opposes the compulsory provision? He has 28 years of experience in local government, in contrast to her meagre three years of service there.

Ms Armstrong: I was clearly wrong to give way, so I shall continue with my speech. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will learn something from it, and realise that he has made a few mistakes.

We have increased the level of resources available to local councils to meet local needs. We have established new partnerships, giving local councillors real influence in shaping national policies. We have abolished crude and universal capping, and we have replaced the ideological dead hand of compulsory competitive tendering with a new best value regime that has been widely welcomed by local authorities and is already delivering better value

11 Apr 2000 : Column 204

local services for local people. We are putting local people at the centre of determining what works best for them in their localities.

The new Local Government Bill builds on the foundations of that new partnership and delivers a new democratic settlement for local communities. The Bill will bring new life to local government, bringing an end to the red-tape town hall committee culture and building modern local government that puts local people at the centre of decision making and enlivens local democracy.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire): How does the right hon. Lady square this extraordinary paean for her own efforts over the past three years with the brutal shift of £500 million of central Government money from the shire counties to the inner cities?

Ms Armstrong: The hon. Gentleman cannot add up. This Government, in contrast to the previous Government, have put a further 7.8 per cent. in real terms into local government over the past three years. It is not true that £500 million less goes to shire areas now than they had at the start of this Parliament, or than they would have had if the Conservative Government had continued in office. Over the three years before the election, local government finance was cut by 4.3 per cent.

The Government's modernising agenda for local government is a unified package: changes in local political structures are integral to effective service delivery. Modern local government is, in turn, a vital part of the fabric of the dynamic, democratic, fair and inclusive society that people want to see. It is vital to securing the quality of life that people deserve and have a right to expect.

The Bill makes much clearer to the public the fact that local councils are there to serve, and the public will understand more clearly who is accountable for local decisions and where the buck stops when things go wrong. That is a vital component of any democratic renewal. The Bill is intended to bring new life to local democracy and to create dynamic local government that listens to what people really want.

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