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Mr. Adrian Sanders (Torbay): As the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) explained, new clause 10 would place a duty on the leader of each political group to disclose whether any matter on the agenda had been subject to prior discussion by that group. It is an admirable proposal, and a worthy attempt to prevent the whipping of members, but I suspect that it is unworkable. Whether or not the new clause is accepted, the system will probably encourage group members who want promotion to the executive not to rock the boat. That is the fundamental flaw in the split between executive and scrutiny committees, as it sets up two classes of councillor.
The other amendments in the group would water down the Government's explicit split between executive and scrutiny committees, and give councillors more flexibility over the arrangements. That would destroy what the Government are intending to do, but we have some sympathy for making the arrangements more flexible.
The really important amendment is No. 79, which the hon. Member for Eastbourne said deserved a debate in its own right. It would require separate officers to serve the executive and scrutiny committees. Clearly, if scrutiny is to work, that is a good idea, but there is a resource implication. The amendments do not cover the question of whether the paid head of service should line-manage the officers of both committees--
AMENDMENTS TO THE 1972 ACT
1.--(1) Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1972 (constitution of principal councils in England) is amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (2) there is inserted--
"(2A) Where a council mentioned in subsection (1) or (2) above are operating executive arrangements which involve a mayor and cabinet executive or a mayor and council manager executive, the council shall consist of an elected mayor, a chairman and councillors."
Amendments made: No. 101, in page 9, line 1, leave out paragraph (b) and insert--
'( ) may be discharged only in accordance with any provisions made by or under this Part which apply to the discharge of any such function by that form of executive.'.
No. 102, in page 9, line 3, at beginning insert "Accordingly".--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]
Amendments made: No. 103, in page 11, line 10, after "makes" insert "or has made".
No. 104, in page 11, line 11, leave out--
'at that or any subsequent time'.--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]
Amendments made: No. 106, in page 12, line 23, leave out from "authority" to end of line 33 and insert--
'which satisfies the conditions in subsection (4),'.
No. 107, in page 12, line 34, at end insert--
'(4) A committee or sub-committee of a local authority satisfies the conditions in this subsection if--
(a) the committee or sub-committee is established to discharge functions in respect of part of the area of the authority,
(b) the members of the committee or sub-committee who are members of the authority are elected for electoral divisions or wards which fall wholly or partly within that part, and
(c) either or both of the conditions in subsection (5) are satisfied in relation to that part.
(5) Those conditions are--
(a) that the area of that part does not exceed two-fifths of the total area of the authority,
(b) that the population of that part, as estimated by the authority, does not exceed two-fifths of the total population of the area of the authority as so estimated.'--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]
Amendment made: No. 108, in page 13, line 22, leave out "(3) and (4)" and insert "(3) to (5)".--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]
Amendments made: No. 109, in page 14, line 34, leave out "and" and insert "or".
No. 110, in page 14, line 35, leave out "their inhabitants" and insert--
'the inhabitants of that area'.
No. 208, in page 16, line 3, at end insert--
'( ) A person is not obliged by subsection (14) to answer any question which he would be entitled to refuse to answer in or for the purposes of proceedings in a court in England and Wales.'.--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]
'.--(1) In section 100D of the Local Government Act 1972 (inspection of background papers) for subsection (1) there is substituted--
"(1) Subject, in the case of section 100C(1), to subsection (2) below, if and so long as copies of the whole or part of a report for a meeting of a principal council are required by section 100B(1) or 100C(1) above to be open to inspection by members of the public--
(a) those copies shall each include a copy of a list, compiled by the proper officer, of the background papers for the report or the part of the report, and
(b) at least one copy of each of the documents included in that list shall also be open to inspection at the offices of the council."
'.--(1) A prescribed decision shall not be taken by a decision taker unless public notice containing the details specified in subsection (2) has been given by him at least five clear days in advance of the date on which it is proposed to take the decision by posting it at the offices of the local authority.
(2) The details referred to in subsection (1) are
(i) the name of the individual taking the decision
(ii) details of how he may be contacted
(iii) a short description of the decision to be taken
(iv) the date on which the decision is to be taken
(v) a list of the reports and background papers relevant to the decision.
(3) The provisions of Part VA of the Local Government Act 1972 shall apply to any report relating to the proposed decision and to any background papers used in preparing that report, as if the report were to be considered at a meeting of a principal council.
(4) Nothing in subsection (1) shall prevent a decision being taken without giving such notice where by reason of special circumstances, which shall be specified in the written record of the decision, the decision taker is of the opinion that it should be taken as a matter of urgency.
(5) In this section--
"prescribed" has the meaning given by section 21(11).
"decision taker" means
(a) an individual member of a local authority executive or
(b) an officer of the authority discharging functions of the executive delegated to him.'.