Select Committee on Regulatory Reform Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-223)


20 MAY 2008

  Q220  Judy Mallaber: Are you saying that it should not exist, that you are opposed to it? The things we have been sent as lobby material by LGA and yourselves is slightly more nuanced than that. They do not say, "We think this is a bad idea and we should not do it." Is that your official position?

  Councillor Sutton: That is the official position, yes.

  Q221  Judy Mallaber: That the LBRO should not exist.

  Councillor Sutton: As somebody who has tackled local authority budgets and had to deliver budgets within low council tax increases, I think the £4.5 million would perhaps have been better placed at the coal face rather than on another tier of bureaucracy, when we have something like the LGA and LACORS which do that function to some degree.

  Q222  Judy Mallaber: To go back to my question on what would be the relationship between local authorities and the LBRO, it sounds as though you are saying there will not really be one because it is not relevant.

  Councillor Sutton: No, there is a relationship now. I think the question is: What is the relationship between the LBRO, the LGA, LACORS and other government spending departments? There is anecdotal evidence of government spending departments holding their hands up when certain things are coming out of this and this is absolutely not the way we want to move forward. That goes back to the question: Where are the BRE and the LBRO best placed to have those influences?

  Q223  Dr Naysmith: Can you give an example of where that is happening, where spending departments are holding their hands up and saying, "This is not the way we want to go"?

  Ms Martin: Yes, I could follow those up in writing. It tends to happen around negotiation. Given that the LBRO exists now, one of the roles we have always felt it could be very important in doing is being the government's advisers on regulatory issues, yet we have had issues with new legislation still coming through or being discussed or debated where we have real concerns about the need for that legislation. Certainly local councils do not necessarily want to be enforcing it. We would really like the LBRO to be able to have a role in influencing the ministerial departments about whether that is an appropriate process or not. It may well simply be a feature that until they have their statutory powers it is difficult for them to do that, so, again, we are in a state of flux at the moment, but we would really like to see the LBRO exert influence. The political realities are the question of how much they will if you have a department with a Secretary of State and the LBRO is a very separate organisation. We have tried to use those routes before when we have had concerns about legislation. We have really not been able to get very far in getting changes. I can give specific examples as supplementary evidence if that would help the Committee. I will do that. Thank you.

  Chairman: Thank you very much. That was an enlightening session. We look forward to your additional evidence. Thank you.

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