Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Twelfth Report


Statutory Powers


The form of intervention might include a direction by the Secretary of State:

  • to prepare or amend a performance plan;
  • to follow specified procedures in relation to a performance plan;
  • to carry out a review of its exercise of specified functions;
  • to take such other action as in the Secretary of State's opinion is necessary or expedient to secure compliance with;
  • to make sure a function is carried out so as to achieve specified objectives;
  • to secure advice/consultancy on the performance of that function;
  • to secure the function from a specified provider or put the function out to tender to expose a particular service or work of a particular description to competition (with or without an in-house bid to carry out the work);
  • to accept external advice from a specified source relating to the performance of a management function;
  • to obtain a function from a specified provider;
  • to transfer responsibility to another authority or third party.

The Secretary of State may direct a local inquiry to be held into the exercise by the authority of specified functions.


The Secretary of State may issue a direction to an authority to:

  • form a waste disposal company or join other authorities to form a Local Authority Waste Disposal company (LAWDC);
  • transfer undertakings to a LAWDC (with Secretary of State approval).

The Secretary of State may:

  • modify a proposed transfer scheme or substitute a scheme of his own, to come into effect on a date specified in the scheme.

Fire Services Act 1947

Formal powers held by the Home Secretary:

Reinforcement schemes (section 2)

  • Power to make, vary or revoke a reinforcement scheme and to provide for uniformity of equipment in the absence of agreement between fire authorities or on the request of either.
  • Where fire authorities cannot agree on the reinforcement scheme (cross border arrangements for neighbouring brigades), the scheme may be specified in a direction by the Secretary of State.
  • The Secretary of State may (but is not obliged to) to hold a public local enquiry in connection with his duties under this section.


  • The Secretary of State has power to order the combination of two or more fire authorities. The Secretary of State must give the authorities concerned notice of the general nature of the proposed scheme.
  • Unless the authorities concerned have given their assent to the proposed scheme, the Secretary of State shall order a public-local inquiry to be held by an independent person.
  • The draft proposed scheme should be laid before Parliament with a report of the inquiry.


  • The Secretary of State may direct that an arrangement should be entered into between two authorities for one of them to discharge all or any of the functions of the other.
  • The Secretary of State shall, on request from a fire authority, determine what arrangements should apply on the provision of services by one authority for another.
  • Where it is considered to be in the interests of efficiency, the Secretary of State may give notice that arrangements should be entered into, revised or revoked. The authorities concerned should have the opportunity to make representations. If requested, he shall order a public local inquiry.
  • After considering any representations or report of the public local inquiry, the Secretary of State may give a direction on the nature of the arrangements to be made.


  • The Secretary of State has power to remake a fire authority's operational establishment scheme.
  • Where the Secretary of State considers that the establishment scheme (number of fire stations, fire appliances, fire fighting posts) of a fire authority is unsatisfactory, he may, after giving the authority the opportunity to make representations, make a revised scheme.
  • If the fire authority so requires, the Secretary of State shall cause a public local inquiry to be held before making the scheme.


  • The Secretary of State has power to prescribe standards of training and the design or performance of equipment.
  • The Secretary of State may make regulations on standards of training or equipment and may impose a requirement for prior consultation with Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council.


  • The Secretary of State may hold a public local inquiry into the manner in which a fire authority is performing its functions under the Act, or the circumstances of, or steps taken to deal with, any particular outbreak of fire.


  • Subsections (2), (3), (5) of section 250 of the Local Government Act 1972 shall apply to any public local inquiry held under the 1947 Act.

Police Act 1976

To address poor performance the Secretary of State has power to:

  • require HMIC to carry out an inspection on the efficiency and effectiveness of a force;
  • direct the police authority to take such measures as may be specified (after an adverse report);
  • direct the minimum budget which the police authority may set;
  • require a police authority to call upon a Chief Constable or Assistant Chief Constable to retire in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness;
  • order a Chief Constable to submit a report to him on such matters as may be specified.

The Secretary of State has the general power to:

  • set objectives for all police authorities;
  • direct police authorities to set performance targets for these key objectives;
  • issue codes of practice relating to the discharge by police authorities of any of their functions as to police grants, grants for capital expenditure and grants for expenditure on safeguarding national security;
  • cause a local inquiry to be held by a person appointed by him into any matter connected with the policing of any area;
  • make regulations as to the government, administration and conditions of service of police forces, special constables and police cadets;
  • make regulations requiring equipment provided or used for police purposes to satisfy such requirements as to design and performance as may be prescribed in the regulations;
  • make provision for requiring all police forces in England and Wales to use specified facilities or services of a specified description if he considered that it would be in the interests of police efficiency or effectiveness. Before making any such regulations, the Secretary of State is required to consult representatives of police authorities and chief officers and, in the case of regulations about IT, PITO.

Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997

Social Security Administration Act 1992

Local Finance Act 1982

The Secretary of State has the power to:

  • direct the authority as to standards it is to attain and the time within which to attain them;
  • issue an 'enforcement notice' where the local authority has not attained standards set out in the direction, or is unlikely to do so in the specified time;
  • deduct an amount of subsidy which the Secretary of State considers it unreasonable to pay;
  • require all or part of housing benefit/council tax benefit administration to be put out to tender and, where appropriate, that the work may not be carried out by the authority, or by the contractor who has been carrying it out.

Local Authority Social Service Act 1970

Children's Act 1996 (section 84)

The Secretary of State has the general power to:

  • request an inquiry into the exercise of social service functions.

Where an authority has failed the Secretary of State has power to:

  • make an order declaring the authority in default with respect to duty.
  • issue direction to ensure duty is complied with in a specified period of time enforceable by order of mandamus.

Education Act 1996 (section 497)

The Secretary of State has the power to:

  • make directions to the LEA for the purpose of enforcing the performance of the duty.

School Standards and Framework Act 1988 (section 8, which amends section 697 of the 1996 Act)

The Secretary of State has the right to:

  • notify the LEA of intention to intervene, if a LEA's action plan is inadequate or not implemented.
  • direct an officer of the authority to carry out a function to achieve specified objectives, or to contract it out to a specified person.

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