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3.6 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m., my noble friend the Leader of the House will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement which is being made in another place on the G8 Summit. The Statement is likely to be taken immediately after the grouping of amendments to the Local Government Bill that commences with Amendment No. 10.

Protection of Animals (Amendment) Bill

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Bill

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

Business of the House: Disqualifications Bill

Lord Carter: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Leader of the House, I beg to move the Motion standing in her name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That Standing Order 49 (Commons Bills, if not taken up in twelve sitting days, to be dropped and not to be further proceeded with except after eight days' notice) be dispensed with to allow the Second Reading of the Disqualifications Bill to be taken on Thursday next.--(Lord Carter.)

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I am grateful to the Government Chief Whip for moving this Motion standing in the name of his noble friend the Leader of the House. I saw that she was present in the Chamber a moment ago. Perhaps she slipped away to do something more important.

The Opposition have given their approval to taking the Disqualifications Bill on Thursday afternoon. However, can the Chief Whip explain why this Motion is necessary and why eight days' warning was not given to the House? After all, this is a piece of legislation which since January has been languishing in the black hole of the legislative dustbin in this House.

Lord Carter: My Lords, I believe that the Leader of the Opposition knows that a Standing Order of this kind has not been used since 1980. Indeed, I had the privilege of serving with the group charged to revise the Companion. The members wondered whether this Standing Order was still required, but apparently that is the case.

It was last used on 1st August 1980, a year when the House finally rose for the Summer Recess on 8th August 1980. The Standing Order is required

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because we received notice about it only at the end of the last week. I am sure noble Lords will appreciate that the timing of Bills relating to Northern Ireland is always sensitive. The Government have sought to take this Bill forward at a time when it was felt that it would be most helpful to the process taking place in Northern Ireland. It was agreed that it would be best to take the Second Reading before the Summer Recess. The only way in which that could be done was to table the Motion before the House today.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I am not sure that I understand the Government Chief Whip correctly. Did he mean to say that the last time that this Standing Order was set aside was in 1980? I suppose that he takes some comfort from that; but I do not. It is extraordinary that we should be setting aside the order purely for the convenience of Her Majesty's Government, who have made a mess of their legislative programme. If they do so, that is their problem, but we should not alter the Standing Orders of the House to make it easier for an incompetent administration to shove through more legislation.

Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, I welcome the words of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that the Conservative Party was prepared to agree to this Motion being passed. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, I do not think it is a question of incompetence. What the noble Lord, Lord Carter, has said is manifestly sensible. It is desirable to have this matter dealt with on Thursday at a time when we shall be dealing with Northern Ireland business.

Lord Carter: My Lords, that is exactly the position. We are merely suspending the Standing Order; we are not exactly doing away with it. It was the intention to take the Second Reading of the Bill in the overspill. It became apparent towards the end of last week that, as part of the sensitivity of the Northern Ireland process, it would be helpful if the Second Reading were taken before the Summer Recess. I am extremely grateful to the Official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats for their assistance.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Standing Orders (Private Business)

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Standing Orders relating to Private Business be amended as follows:

Table of Fees

Line 2, leave out "£3,500" and insert "£4,000"

Line 3, leave out "£3,500" and insert "£4,000"

Line 23, leave out "£3,500" and insert "£4,000"

Line 29, leave out "£1,750" and insert "£2,000"

Line 36, leave out "£1,750" and insert "£2,000"

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Line 41, leave out "£1.40" and insert "£1.60"--(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Sea Fishing Grants (Charges) Bill

Read a third time, and passed.

Local Government Bill [H.L.]

3.12 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons amendments be now considered.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

[The page and line refer to Bill 87 as first printed for the Commons.]

1Clause 2, page 2, line 8, leave out from ("to") to end of line 10 and insert ("their strategy under section 4")
2Clause 4, page 3, line 6, leave out ("is to have power to") and insert ("must")
3Page 3, line 6, after ("strategy") insert ("(referred to in this section as a community strategy)")
4Page 3, line 8, at end insert ("and contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom.
( ) A local authority may from time to time modify their community strategy.")
5Page 3, line 9, leave out ("any strategy under this section") and insert ("or modifying their community strategy")
6Page 3, line 10, leave out ("may consult or") and insert ("must consult and")
7Page 3, line 16, at end insert--
("( ) In its application to Wales, this section has effect as if for any reference to the Secretary of State there were substituted a reference to the National Assembly for Wales.")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 1 to 7.

These amendments relate to matters that we discussed in some detail when the Bill was first considered by this House. After considering carefully the views expressed by your Lordships and others, the Government concluded that there should be a requirement on local authorities to have regard to the community strategy when exercising the well-being power. Amendment No. 1 introduces that requirement.

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Amendment No. 2 would place authorities under a duty to prepare community strategies. We agree with the arguments that such a duty provides the best way to encourage councils to tackle local problems in a more effective way. We have added to that through Amendment No. 4, so that community strategies will contribute at the local level to achieving sustainable development in the UK.

Amendment No. 6 introduces a requirement for local authorities to consult and seek the participation of such persons as they consider appropriate when preparing a community strategy.

Amendment No. 7 makes it clear that the provision of guidance on community strategies in Wales will be a matter for the National Assembly, not the Secretary of State.

I believe that these amendments reflect concerns expressed in this place and elsewhere at earlier stages. I therefore commend the amendments to the House. I hope that noble Lords will also support the other amendments in the group.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 1 to 7.--(Lord Whitty.)

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, we welcome the inclusion of the requirement that the strategy should contribute to sustainable development and to the duty (rather than merely providing a power) on local authorities to prepare an over-arching strategy for well-being and sustainable development.

The Minister will not be surprised that I ask whether he can give any even slightly warm words of reassurance to local authorities in regard to the funding that they may look for in exercising this important new duty. I hope that the Secretary of State will use the opportunity given to him in the Bill to lift the obligation to undertake many other strategies, and that the new strategy will be in its place. Even so, this will be quite an exercise for local authorities. It is one which many will be enthusiastic to undertake; nevertheless, one should not ignore the costs that will be incurred.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Baroness will recognise that the increase in available resources indicated by my right honourable friend the Chancellor last week will provide significant sums to local authorities. It is up to local authorities in the main to decide how they apply those funds, within the guidance given by legislation and by the Government. I should therefore expect resources to be adequate for them to be able to carry out the duty laid down in these clauses.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

24 Jul 2000 : Column 16

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