Previous Section Index Home Page

12.52 pm

Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): Having served on the Public Bill Committee, I pay tribute to the Minister for the work that was done during the evidence-gathering sessions. We had the opportunity to carry out a pretty full analysis of what the Bill was about. However, I endorse the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood). He did not serve on the Committee, but he recognises the Bill’s huge importance to the financing of large-scale infrastructure projects; I suspect that it will even go beyond that. That will affect our constituents throughout the UK, not least because much of this money will be raised through a supplementary charge on local businesses during difficult times.

It is regrettable that these constraints have been imposed by business managers; I accept that the Minister may not necessarily be directly to blame. Given that other elements of our business have fallen away quite easily, and that may well apply to much of the work in the next week or two, given what is likely to be dealt with, it is surprising that this did not warrant a full day’s debate instead of being truncated to four hours.

Given that the motion is likely to go to a vote, the danger is that the longer I and colleagues speak in this debate, the more we reduce the amount of time available for proper scrutiny, and there are important matters to be debated later on. This is regrettable. I hope that even if the Minister decides not to take on board our concerns at this juncture, he will at least consider them and ensure that when we discuss such crucial Bills in the future involving tax-raising we can deal with them properly.

Mr. Redwood: Is this not an unreasonable pressure to place on us? There is nothing wrong with debating whether the House should receive this summary treatment or be given a proper length of time for consideration, but why should that be taken out of the time spent on the Bill? It is absolutely outrageous. This is all part of the thuggery of this Government’s approach towards the House of Commons. They will not let us have time to discuss anything: they say, “If you discuss A, you can’t discuss B.” They need to get used to democracy.

Mr. Field: I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend’s every word. I only hope that there are not too many hostages to fortune for a future Conservative Government and that we will ensure we do not go down this path when these matters arise.

11 Mar 2009 : Column 304

I will not detain the House any further. I hope that the Minister will take on board our concerns even if he will not allow a longer debate today. These are very important issues that affect all of us as constituency Members, and they deserve full and proper consideration by this House.

12.55 pm

Mr. Brian Binley (Northampton, South) (Con): This programme motion surprises me. We hear many fine words from the Government about the importance of small and medium-sized businesses, but see little action. We have talked a lot about giving money to that sector through the banks, but it is not getting through, and we still do not get a reaction from the Government that suggests they really understand that.

However, that is not what we are discussing. We are talking about loading more financial burdens on to small and medium-sized businesses from April 2010. I bet you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that many local authorities will jump on this bandwagon, not least because they consider that they have been starved of cash over recent years and see this as an opportunity to do a little more than they have been able to hitherto. I suppose that that could be considered a good thing.

The Minister will know how many business organisations have objected to this measure. He will know how much they fear the role of local government in extracting more money from them.

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): Why is my hon. Friend surprised by the motion, given that this Government have a history of curtailing debate?

Mr. Binley: I will be delighted to answer that if I can get into the mindset of the Government, which is difficult. I would have thought that they would not want this motion because they wanted to make it clear to the business communities affected that they wanted it to be fully debated. The eyes of the business community are on us at this moment. That community is very aware of the Bill and deeply concerned about it. It has made representations in sizeable numbers and of sizeable length. I would have thought that the Government were concerned about that particular constituency, as they are opinion formers who talk to the electorate and come into contact with them all the time. I would have thought that, with an election looming, the Government may feel that that was a good reason to want to prove that they were being fair to small business. The fact is, however, that they are not being fair to small business, because they are not providing the opportunity to have this measure fully and properly debated without the constraints of a programme motion. That is why I am surprised by the motion. I hope that the Government will reconsider at this last moment and withdraw it.

12.58 pm

The Minister for Local Government (John Healey): I quite understand why the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) and his friends are using the programme motion to make arguments that go well beyond the scope of the Bill, and well beyond the issue of the scrutiny that the House will, quite properly, give the subjects before it this afternoon, once we are able to
11 Mar 2009 : Column 305
get on to them. He was right to say that the Bill has been well debated so far, so let me remind him of something as he tries to argue for more time this afternoon than the Government have proposed. I say this to the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Dan Rogerson), too, who accuses the Government of undue haste. We had three very good evidence sessions, as the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) said. We then agreed to hold six scrutiny sessions. We finished early on the fifth, and we did not need the sixth. The Bill was, as the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst said, well debated and properly scrutinised in the Public Bill Committee.

The programme motion gives the House ample time to do its job properly. I urge my hon. Friends to support the programme motion if the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst insists on opposing it.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes 255, Noes 180.
Division No. 61]
[1 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Brown, Lyn
Brown, Mr. Russell
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John

Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul

Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Walley, Joan
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Helen Jones and
Ms Dawn Butler

Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Bercow, John
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Dorries, Nadine
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Herbert, Nick
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David

Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Rogerson, Dan
Rowen, Paul
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Noes:

Bill Wiggin and
Mr. Stephen Crabb
Question accordingly agreed to.
11 Mar 2009 : Column 306

11 Mar 2009 : Column 307

11 Mar 2009 : Column 308

11 Mar 2009 : Column 309

Business Rate Supplements Bill

Consideration of Bill, not amended in the Public Bill Committee

New Clause 1

Project Delivery Board

‘(1) Where a levying authority imposes a BRS it shall set up a body corporate called the Project Delivery Board (in this Act referred to to as “the Board”) to oversee delivery of the project to be funded by the BRS.

(2) Schedule [Project Delivery Board] is about the Board.’.— (Dan Rogerson.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

1.12 pm

Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall) (LD): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment 1, page 13, line 6, leave out clause 19.

New schedule 1— ‘Project Delivery Board—

1 A Board shall be established at the first instance of an initial prospectus being published for the imposition of an approved BRS.2 A Board shall exisit for the period in which the BRS is in existence.3 The members of the Board are to be appointed by the relevant levying authority in the following way—

(a) a third are to be representatives from the affected local authority;

(b) a third are to be representatives from the affected local business community;

(c) the remainder is to be made up of members appointed as thought appropriate by the relevant levying authority.

4 In appointing members to the Board the levying authority must have regard to the desirability of securing that the Board is able to perform its functions effectively and efficiently.5 Where two or more levying authorities are acting jointly by virtue of a BRS the Board shall be established by arrangement between those levying authorities.6 The Board’s functions are to be specified by regulations.7 Regulations under paragraph 6 must be made by the Secretary of State within 90 days of the commencement of this Act.8 Regulations under paragraph 6 may authorise a levying authority to use a prescribed proportion of such sums as it collects or recovers in respect of a BRS to meet expenses incurred by the Board.9 Expenses incurred under paragraph 8 may not extend to a salary for any Board member.’.

Amendment 16, in schedule 1, page 22, line 16, at end insert—

‘11A A description of the arrangements by which persons paying the BRS shall—

(a) be kept informed of what monies have been raised in pursuance of the BRS and how they have been expended, and

(b) be represented upon the governing body of any organisation set up for the purposes of delivering the objectives of the BRS, or, if such organisation is not to be set up, how such persons are to be involved in the oversight of the delivery of such objectives.’.

11 Mar 2009 : Column 310

Dan Rogerson: As we heard in the previous debate, the Bill is attracting increasing attention from business people throughout the country whose business may be affected, should the local authority or a group of local authorities in their area choose to opt for the mechanism set out in the Bill in order to fund a local infrastructure project. Although I said on Second Reading that my party is not opposed to the principle of a business contribution to important infrastructure projects, we believe that safeguards are needed so that the businesses affected feel that they have an input, first, into the proposal being drawn up, and secondly, into whether the proposal meets with approval, as we shall discuss later.

Businesses and organisations that I have spoken to felt that the business improvement districts process was valuable because it enabled the continuing engagement of the business community in the delivery of a project, so that businesses can be reassured that the project is proceeding to schedule and in the way originally envisaged, and so that they can make a contribution to delivery through their experience in delivering similar projects in the private sector.

The new clause would set up a project delivery board as a mechanism for businesses that were making a contribution through business rate supplement, local authority representatives and others appointed to the board to enable them to come together to ensure that there was adequate oversight of the project as progressed. The positive relations that, hopefully, would have been fostered during the putting together of the prospectus would continue, increasing opportunities for joint working.

As we heard in Committee, many hon. Members consider it important to put on the record that relationships between local authorities and the business community are much better now than they have been in the past. I know that the Minister and his colleagues have used that point to argue that the ballot is not necessary in all circumstances.

Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): The hon. Gentleman and the Minister have both said that the relationship between businesses and local authorities is profound, particularly in the case of high- profile business regeneration in our inner cities, but does the hon. Gentleman not have some concerns that the third element, the residential population, especially in our bigger cities, has often been left out? How would he try to ensure that there was input from residential communities whose vibrancy is an important part of ensuring that such initiatives are maintained, particularly in our inner-city areas, where they are most likely to take place?

Dan Rogerson: The hon. Gentleman raises a good point. In his constituency there is an organisation that represents a small residential community which does not participate as strongly in elections to that body as does the business community represented in the Corporation of London, although I note from the press that that may change and that there are moves afoot for residents to mount more of a challenge at the next elections.

Next Section Index Home Page