|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful for that. I was trying to work out how to make a sceptical noise that would appear in Hansard. I would like to be more satisfied about it than I am, but I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: I can be quick about this. We are unhappy with the unlimited provision set out in subsection (5) of Clause 49. Subsections (1) to (3) set out the arrangements for the BID revenue account to ensure that it is used for legitimate BID purposes. We, of course, welcome those provisions. Subsection (4) allows the Secretary of State to make further provision in relation to the BID revenue account. That is, doubtless, a necessary subsection to allow for flexibility in the management of the BID revenue account as the system gets up and running. However, we see no reason for subsection (5), which gives the Secretary of State unfettered authority to amend,
Lord Bassam of Brighton: There is no problem here. It was a great speech, to which I listened with interest, but we should move on. I understand that we have simultaneously tabled amendments to comply with the recommendations of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform.
The noble Baroness said: I, too, have been having trouble with the groupings. I did not ask for Amendment No. 130A, which is exactly the same, to be moved out of this group, but, somehow, it has gone wandering.
Yesterday, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said that it was a golden rule when drafting legislation not to repeat a provision that is in another Act because somebody would challenge the position if there were differences. I fully agree with that, and it forms the basis of the amendment. Other provisions in the Bill say that certain things may happen and may include what is set out in Clause 50(2). However, such provisions do not limit the power to make regulations. The first example of what I am discussing is found in Clause 3; it refers to making regulations under subsections (6) and (7), but does not include this further provision. So I do not know whether there is anything special about Clause 50. I am sorry to be a bit picky, but that is what we are here for. I beg to move.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Perhaps I should explain what Clause 50 does. It gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations concerning the administration and collection of the BID levy. The amendment seeks to restrict the power of the Secretary of State so that the regulations made under the clause can only set out a system for the collection and enforcement of a BID which mirrors the existing system for non-domestic rates.
We have always made it clear that we intend the BID levy to be collected and enforced through the existing business rates system. We should not, in our view, be inserting restrictions that would not allow alternative systems to be developed.
While the BID levy will be primarily collected through the rating system, BIDs and local authorities may wish to send out a separate bill for the BID levy in addition to the bill for non-domestic rates. This is because rate bills are issued at specific times of the year and the rates are collected in instalments.
A BID may not wish to collect its levy in instalments or at set times of the year. In this case, the Government would have to make provisions allowing local authorities to collect the levy in a manner that was compatible with their local circumstances.
These powers would be used to ensure that the mechanism for introducing BIDs is flexible. The BID levy will be enforced in the same way as non-domestic rates but some parts of the collection procedures may need to be adapted so that BIDs work effectively.
Baroness Hamwee: With respect, I think it was irrelevant. Clause 50(2) says that the provision which the Secretary of State can make by regulation includes paragraphs (a) and (b). I am therefore asking why it is necessary to say that nothing limits the power when the word is "includes". It does not say the provisions which may be made by regulations "are" those in
The noble Baroness said: Clause 53 gives local authorities the power of veto. Clause 53(2) provides that the billing authority can exercise a veto in the circumstances that are "prescribed", to quote the Bill. The regulations dealing with the matter seem particularly important, as one might almost say that the billing authority is being given a veto to say yes or no to primary legislation. I might be putting it at a slightly high level, but it seemed worth suggesting that the regulations should be approved by affirmative resolution of both Houses. That would be the effect of Amendment No. 123A. I beg to move.
Baroness Hanham: Amendment No. 125, which stands in my name, is grouped with Amendment No. 123A. It refers to line 32 of page 22. At present, the circumstances in which a billing authority may exercise its veto under Clause 53 are to be prescribed and are not included in the Bill.
Our amendment picks up the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, on subsection (2), which states that the billing authority may veto proposals within a period that will be prescribed. We wish to probe how long the period is intended to be. Will the Government consider including in the Bill a three-month limit, for example, which we feel to be sensible? We would not like an indefinite period, as that would be damaging for everyone involved in the BID process.
Lord Bassam of Brighton : The clause gives the billing authority the power to veto a business improvement district under circumstances that the Secretary of State may prescribe. Amendment No. 123A seeks to make any regulations concerning the BID ballot subject to affirmative resolution. The Government have already tabled amendments to put in place the recommendations of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform. The committee did not recommend affirmative resolution for those powers. We have a habita good one, I
Amendment No. 125, which would limit the time in which a local authority can veto a BID proposal following a successful ballot, is also unnecessary. Perhaps more importantly, it hinders what should be essentially flexible powers to allow BID arrangements to be as innovative as possible.
In the Bill, the Secretary of State has taken powers that allow him to make regulations governing the circumstances in which a local authority can veto a BID and the period in which the veto can be exercised. The circumstances in which local authorities will be able to exercise their veto are also set out in the draft guidance on business improvement districts. As we have stated, the local authority can veto a BID where it can,
In the rare cases that a veto is used, the Secretary of State will have the power to prescribe the period in which it may be exercised. We see no particular need to include those periods in the Billin primary legislation. We want to learn from the practical experience of those who have set up BIDs before we put the specific periods into regulations. The BIDs provisions are supposed to allow maximum flexibility to allow for different circumstances.
The amendments run counter to the spirit of the legislation. We want the flexibility, and we want to put it into secondary legislation. Obviously, we want to learn from practical experiencethe sort of experience that the noble Baroness talked about earlierand there will need to be some consultation before we finalise what the time-gap might be for the veto to be exercised. That is where we require the flexibility.