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Lord Jenkin of Roding: The Minister has made an extremely helpful point. I wish to give careful consideration to the further detailed changes which she suggested. I believe that she indicated that this amendment is acceptable so far as it goes and perhaps the Committee may therefore be able to agree to its incorporation in the Bill. I give a clear undertaking that we shall look carefully at the other points which the Minister made.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 2, line 37, leave out ("28") and insert ("42").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment is grouped with Amendment No. 5, which I do not intend to move. Amendment No. 4 proposes that representations received within 42 days--rather than 28 days--after the date of the first advertisement should be considered by the local authority. Six weeks is not a very long period; it seems to me a more suitable period than 28 days. The local chamber of commerce, for example--which I hope would be involved in the drawing up of the scheme, but may not be--should perhaps have an opportunity to consult its members and put considered comments to the local authority; or perhaps individual businesses might need that longer period in order to consult other local businesses and generally to consider the matter.

The period runs from the date of the first advertisement. Clause 2(5) requires both an advertisement and the service of a copy of the application on individual ratepayers included in the list. I believe that six weeks would be a more useful period. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I am pleased to note Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, to Clause 3(2) and the intention to have a clear time-frame within which interested people could submit their comments. I note that the noble Baroness does not intend to move Amendment No. 5. As originally drafted, there would have been a degree of uncertainty as to when the last date for representations to the draft scheme should be submitted, depending on the date the scheme was advertised under the provisions of Clause 2(5)(b). This

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meant that there was some degree of latitude as to when the advertisement could be submitted. This amendment reinforces the importance of full consultation.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: I am happy to tell the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that we are willing to accept this amendment. I am glad that she has decided not to move Amendment No. 5 because I could not have been so forthcoming on that; I believe that in certain circumstances it might have had a rather perverse effect. Amendment No. 4 seems to me to be a considerable improvement to the Bill and I hope that she will press it.

Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful for that. I came to the same conclusion with regard to Amendment No. 5 a couple of minutes before I rose to speak to Amendment No. 4.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 [Making of election order]:

Lord Jenkin of Roding moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 3, line 4, leave out ("subsection (2)") and insert ("subsections (2) and (5)").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 6 and hope that the Committee will agree to discuss with it Amendment No. 15. These amendments concern the case where a local authority, having received an application and considered it, is prepared to embark on the procedure but wishes to see modifications to the application. New subsection (5) is intended to provide that, where a scheme has been modified, the local authority shall inform the applicant of the modifications. I am advised that it is necessary to include that provision in order to make absolutely clear that the applicant should know of the modifications. It seems unlikely that the local authority would make modifications and the applicant not know about it, but modifications may affect an applicant's decision as to whether to go forward. The modifications may be substantial and significantly change the nature of the scheme originally submitted. The applicant may therefore decide in the light of the modification that it would not be appropriate to go forward at that stage without more consultation. Therefore, the application can be withdrawn, consideration can take place and, if thought proper, another application can be submitted. It is for that reason that applicants must be told of any modifications. That is what these amendments are intended to provide, and I hope that the Committee will accept them.

Lord Bowness: Perhaps I may ask my noble friend how that provision would affect the other interested parties whom we talked about under the amendment to Clause 3. Will there be an obligation on the local

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authority, if it makes the substantial modifications to which my noble friend referred, to re-consult those who have to be consulted under the amended Clause 3?

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My noble friend has raised a very good point, which we should like to consider. A further amendment may be required.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: This seems a sensible requirement that should be included within the Bill. The noble Lord may also wish to consider whether in such a situation provision should be made to establish whether the applicant would want to proceed with the application, with the local authority's modifications, prior to the local authority making an election order.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: I hoped I had covered that point. I am not sure that it would require a provision in the Bill. Taking the point made by my noble friend Lord Bowness, perhaps we need to look at the procedure as a whole. As the noble Baroness indicated, this amendment seems to be a good one, and perhaps the Committee can accept it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 3, line 5, after ("may") insert ("at its discretion").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 7, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 10, which is grouped with it. Also in this group is Amendment No. 8 standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, which is, I believe, a drafting amendment.

Amendment No. 7 proposes that in Clause 4(1)(b) it be made clear that the local authority has complete discretion as to whether it can refuse to make an election order. I assume that that is the case but believe it may be helpful to have confirmation of that.

Amendment No. 10 proposes that under Clause 4 (3) a local authority should be able to make modifications which it not only thinks are necessary but which are also reasonable. I tabled the amendment because the term "necessary" seems to me to be an extremely narrow one, even though I note that the modifications would be those that the authority "thinks" are necessary rather than, more objectively, "are" necessary. Nevertheless, to allow it to take account of what it considers to be "reasonable" would allow it to assist in the creation of a better scheme. I beg to move.

12.30 p.m.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: It might be helpful to the Committee if I say a brief word about Amendment No. 8. The Minister may then like to express a view on the whole group and I could then respond.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, suggested, Amendment No. 8 is a drafting amendment. It is technical and intended to make clear that local authorities should not make an election order where the scheme does not appear to be to the benefit of all the scheme chargepayers, as opposed to all the

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ratepayers in the area, some of whom may not be included because they have been exempted under, for instance, Clause 2(4)(j).

The reason for the amendment is that there has been some concern by small businesses that large occupiers might dominate bids and result in skewed projects which leave the small occupiers on the sidelines. The amendment is intended to reassure people that the local authority has to take account of whether the scheme will benefit all chargepayers.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Amendments Nos. 7 and 10 appear to be sensible clarifications of Clause 4(1)(b) and (3). The amendments improve the Bill, which otherwise might not make clear what scope local authorities have in considering applications.

We fully support the principle behind Clause 4(2) in ensuring that the local authority takes into account the impact of the draft BID scheme. However, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, may wish to consider the effect of Amendment No. 8, especially when seen in conjunction with Amendments Nos. 11 and 16 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. It seems to me that the local authority would not be required to take account of the impact that the proposed BID might have on those ratepayers who would not be scheme chargepayers under the draft scheme.

While all businesses within the proposed BID can make representations to the local authority, the noble Lord may wish to consider whether it is desirable for the local authority, in assessing the potential impact of the draft scheme, to exclude from its consideration the impact it might have on those businesses within the BID boundary which the local authority has decided will not be scheme chargepayers by virtue of the level of the NDR that they pay.

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