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The noble Lord said: This is a very fraught and, again, a wholly technical point. Clause 40(3) authorises the Lord Chancellor to delegate the preparation or revision of the code, and I ask why this particular subsection is necessary.
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It is a well established general principle that, unless a Minister is required by law to do something personally, he or she can delegate statutory functions to a subordinate. Introducing specific permission to delegate is unnecessary. Further, it may be taken as an indication that in other places the usual power of delegation does not apply. Does it mean, for example, that the Lord Chancellor must draft the Court of Protection rules under Clause 49(1) himself because there is no specific power to delegate that function? Surely it would be best to leave out subsection (3) and avoid that question ever arising. I beg to move.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: It is unusual for the Government to find themselves in a position where they want something in the Bill that noble Lords feel may not be necessary. I do not have a specific answer as to why the provision has to be in the Bill, but I think the effect of taking it out would not be what the noble Lord wants.
I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the work of Penny Letts, who, as noble Lords will know well, was the expert adviser to the joint scrutiny committee. Penny also acted as secretary to the Law Society's mental health and disability committee and produced the department's Making Decisions series of booklets. Much of the draft code was produced by Penny Letts, and I know that the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and other noble Lords would not want us to be in a position where she could not, if she were so mindedwe have not yet asked herhelp and participate in that.
The provision exists in order to enable us to involve experts. It is out of no disrespect to officials or to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor on these issues that we would want to do that. The provision is necessary for that reason, but I will find out why it needs to be on the face of the Bill and write to the noble Lord specifically.
Lord Goodhart: I am grateful to the Minister. Once again, this is a wholly technical point. If the Government feel it necessary to keep the provision in the Bill, so be it. It is a small point, but it is worth looking at. It is contrary to the normal practice of drafting to put in a specific power of delegation of this kind. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
House adjourned at eighteen minutes before eleven o'clock.<1>
The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): Following the Home Secretary's Statement on 12 January, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have today published a joint statement entitled Householders and the Use of Force Against Intruders. This contains a clear explanation of the law and also explains how the police and CPS would handle the investigation and how they would treat the householder. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of House.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is today publishing the Government's new planning policy statement 1 (PPS1), Delivering Sustainable Development. Copies of the document will be made available in the Libraries of the House. This new statement which applies in England, replaces planning policy guidance note 1 (PPG1), General Policy and Principles, published in February 1997.
PPS1 is one of the new series of shorter, sharper planning policy statements that are an important component of the Government's package of reforms for the planning system. PPS1 itself sets the context for the planning system and for other topic-specific policy statements. The policies set out in PPS1 will need to be taken into account by regional planning bodies in the preparation of regional spatial strategies, by the Mayor of London in relation to the spatial development strategy in London, and by local planning authorities in the preparation of local development documents. They may also be material to decisions on individual planning applications.
The consultation draft of PPS1, entitled Creating Sustainable Communities, was published in February 2004. Over 300 responses to the consultation draft were received. The Government have carefully considered the views expressed in preparing the final version of the document.
With its new title of Delivering Sustainable Development, PPS1 reflects the duty on regional and local planning bodies to contribute towards sustainable development when preparing development plans, as required by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. The policies seek to ensure balance
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in the integrated consideration of environmental issues alongside the need for sustainable economic development and the aim of creating genuinely sustainable communities.
There is also stronger emphasis on good design, reflecting the importance that the Government attach to ensuring high quality design is delivered through the planning system. PPS1 makes it clear that good design is indivisible from good planning in delivering safe, inclusive and successful communities. Spatial planning and the importance of ensuring community involvement in the planning system are other important issues covered by PPS1, within the context of the overall theme of the document.
The original PPG1 also contained a broad range of material covering the general operation of the planning system. This was reproduced in a slightly updated form as Annexe B in the consultation draft of PPS1. Given the new emphasis of PPS1 on sustainable development, we do not consider this material suitable for inclusion in the PPS. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is, however, publishing this material in the interim as a separate document entitled, The Planning System: General Principles, alongside PPS1. We are also considering the scope and content of future "good practice" guidance to support PPS1.
PPS1 demonstrates the Government's commitment to achieving more sustainable development through the reformed planning system. It provides an important, over-arching policy framework which should help improve people's lives and the places where they live, work and enjoy, whilst protecting our environment and natural resourcesnow and in the future. The Government believe this document should be broadly welcomed by planning authorities, developers and other business, community and environmental interests.
I have laid the Audit Commission's revised code of audit practice for consideration by the House. If approved, the code will prescribe the way in which auditors, appointed by the commission, are to carry out their functions to audit local government and NHS bodies under the Audit Commission Act 1998.
The Act requires the code to be approved by both Houses at least every five years. The current version of the code was approved in March 2000. The legislation also provides for the preparation of a "different Code" with respect to the audit of accounts of health services bodies. The Audit Commission has decided to prepare separate codes for local government and the NHS, primarily to reflect the increasingly divergent accounting, corporate governance and performance management frameworks in the two sectors, but also to facilitate the process of agreeing with the Healthcare Commission those elements of the draft NHS code which relate to auditors' local value for money work.
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