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Local Authority Performance

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the means by which scores for (a) OFSTED, (b) SSI and (c) other inspections are aggregated in the Comprehensive Performance Assessment process; and what criteria must be met for a local authority to achieve each CPA grade. [83590]

Mr. Raynsford: The Audit Commission are responsible for the methodology used in the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) of local authorities. Full details are available in the Audit Commission's publication, XFinal Framework for CPA for Single Tier and County Councils", and on their website at with a summary in Annex A, which has been placed in the Library.

In practice, OFSTED, SSI and other inspection scores are translated into a 1 to 4 scale, multiplied by the appropriate weighting, and added together to produce an overall performance score. Councils are allocated to a CPA category on the basis of their overall performance score and their corporate assessment score, together with the application of various rules that, for example, mean that a council must achieve a level of performance in key services to be 'excellent' or 'good'.

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Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the dates of (a) CPA inspections of each local authority and (b) other inspections which contribute to the CPA process. [83591]

Mr. Raynsford: The dates on which Corporate Assessments were carried out for English county, metropolitan and unitary councils and London boroughs, are tabled below. Other inspection work contributing to the overall performance score for each authority is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Annex A—Comprehensive Performance Assessment List of Phases for Single Tier and County Councils

The corporate assessments for the 10 pathfinder councils took place in April 2002:

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Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) qualifications are required and (b) criteria are adopted for selection of members of CPA inspection teams. [83592]

Mr. Raynsford: The composition and recruitment of CPA inspection teams is a matter for the Audit Commission. However, I understand that the teams that conducted the corporate assessment element of CPA were made up of: a team leadereither a senior Audit Commission inspector or auditor; an Audit Commission inspector; an appointed auditor; a peer councillor; and a peer officer.

Peer Councillors and officers were appointed with the help of the Local Government Association and the Improvement and Development Agency. Team members were all senior staff with the relevant skills and experience.

Local Government Bill

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he plans that each order laid before the House under Clause 97 of the Local Government Bill relating to charging and trading will (a) contain a provision for the Secretary of State to revoke such an order and (b) specify the circumstances for such a revocation. [84424]

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Mr. Leslie: Clause 97 confers powers enabling my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister by order, to amend, repeal, revoke or disapply the application of any order, to amend, repeal, revoke or disapply the application of any enactment that restricts a best value authority's ability to charge for the provision of a discretionary service or carrying out trading in its functions. By virtue of provisions contained in the XInterpretation Act 1978," it is unnecessary for the order itself to make express provision as to its revocation. Having made an order under clause 97 for the purpose of revoking an enactment which restricts charging or trading, we would not expect to make a further order revoking that initial order.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister under clause 99 of the Local Government Bill relating to the Audit Commission assessment of English Local Authorities Performance, whether the Audit Commission will be free to set its own criteria; and what appeal mechanism there will be against a particular assessment. [84425]

Mr. Raynsford: The clause requires the Audit Commission to provide a report on local authorities' performance and to categorise individual authorities. The Commission will be responsible for all decisions on such a report and the categorisations.

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The Commission have set out their disputes procedure in the publication XQuality Assurance Procedures and Dispute Resolution for Single Tier and County Councils". Full details are available on the Audit Commission's website at www.audit-commission.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what safeguards there will be to stop trade distortion and unfair competition in the proposed new powers to allow local authorities to trade; and how full cost recovery will be included in the pricing of services or goods traded. [84426]

Mr. Leslie: The power to trade conferred by the provisions is only exercisable through a company within the meaning of Part V of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. The Competition Act 1998 and the Companies Act 1985 will apply in the normal way to these operations. The new trading powers will therefore be subject to the same regulation as other commercial bodies. This will help ensure a level playing field with private sector competitors.

Clause 97 provides for my right hon. Friend, the Deputy Prime Minister to make an Order enabling best value authorities to trade in any of their ordinary functions. Trading is expected to take place on a commercial basis, that is, charges fixed at more than cost recovery. We expect to issue guidance on the ways in which local authorities may use the powers, aspects of competition law that authorities will need to take into account and how to avoid distortion of markets.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what reason underlies his policy on the abolition of the statutory safeguards relating to local authorities powers to borrow in relation to charging and trading. [84427]

Mr. Leslie: The Local Government Bill makes provision to allow local authorities to borrow for capital expenditure without Government consent, where they can service the debt from their revenues. This freedom would be subject to safeguards for national and local taxpayers. Any borrowing by an authority relating to services where it is exercising its powers to charge or to trade would therefore be subject to these rules.

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