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Baroness Scott of Needham Market: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. Before she sits down, will she take the opportunity to put on the record how she sees proceedings over the next six months, as regards the results of the Lyons review, and how they are going to feed into processes for council tax? The nub of the concerns expressed from both sides of the House during the passage of these Bills has been a combination of uncertainty over local government finance because of the Lyons review, and the absence of parliamentary scrutiny of any future revaluations by this House. While I understand and have a certain amount of sympathy with the amendment, with the Conservative Benches seeking more reassurance, they are misguided in seeking revaluation in this case because they leave no power in place to order a subsequent one. Noble Lords will know that, while we
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on these Benches do not support this tax, if we are to have it, then power to revalue is going to be necessary at some point.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I am grateful for that intervention and will address that point in what I have to say. I am coming to the broader politics now.

To finish my thought on the link between having gone ahead with revaluation and the way it would have fed into the Lyons report, as originally conceived—as strictly about local government finance—it would have informed that procedure, and there would have been that link. When his remit was extended, in our statement on 20 September on the way forward we emphasised that there was a need to postpone revaluation to give time for his recommendations to be properly considered, consulted on, and for a properly developed package of reforms to be brought forward with a date for revaluation. In a shorthand way, that explains what we think will happen. The remit was extended for good reason. As Sir Michael recognised and explained in his interim report, there have been such a lot of changes in structure and organisation, not least the financial arrangements for local authorities' three-year budgets and so on, that it was logical to extend the remit. Having done so, it made perfect sense to postpone revaluation so that it can be informed.

We cannot predict what Sir Michael Lyons will come forward with. It will happen at the end of the year and may well involve primary legislation. We cannot possibly know that at this point. But, whatever happens, it will precede an open debate on revaluation and the implication of what he comes forward with. Running alongside that—he is looking at local government functions, as the noble Baroness knows—we are conducting a much wider debate on local government as a whole and the whole set of relationships, not least with neighbourhoods.

3.45 pm

We will bring forward a White Paper in July, which will be part of this wider debate, into which Sir Michael will feed his own thoughts, obviously reflecting on where he has reached with his deliberations. But the two processes will go side by side. I am absolutely confident that it will be an open process. The noble Baroness has expressed concerns about the nature of the debate. It will be addressed by debates not only with all partners in local government but in this House and in the other place, alongside what we intend to do.

I conclude with one final important matter. I believe that because of the nature of the amendment the noble Baroness should be reluctant to return this to the other House in this way. She is a very credible politician. I hope that the arguments I have brought forward, which have been across the spectrum, will have convinced her and that she will feel we have had a good debate on the Bill, as I would have intended. But
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I believe that the amendment is unworkable and unnecessary and I hope very sincerely that she will agree with me on that point.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for her reply. It is very much along the lines that we have heard throughout the course of this legislation. My concern remains that without an amendment such as this there is still the possibility of tinkering taking place with council tax bands in a way which is not coherent with the future consideration of local government finance.

It is essential that a sustainable long-term solution to local government finance is found. We are in the middle of an enormous amount of consideration about the way local government is going, about its structures and functions and its finance. If we are postponing the revaluation—which we are in this Bill—it seems to me to be perfectly logical that we say for the other element of the value of property, which as far as concerns local government finance is the council tax bands, that nothing should be done to those until this whole mess of pottage is sorted out. For those reasons I seek to test the opinion of the House.

3.47 pm

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-Contents, 186.

Division No. 1


Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Ballyedmond, L.
Bowness, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cuckney, L.
De Mauley, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dundee, E.
Eccles, V.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Fowler, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Glentoran, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hamilton of Epsom, L.
Hanham, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Hooper, B.
Howard of Rising, L.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Inglewood, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jopling, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkham, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lindsay, E.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Maginnis of Drumglass, L.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Montrose, D.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Naseby, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Peel, E.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plumb, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Quinton, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shephard of Northwold, B.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stewartby, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thatcher, B.
Trumpington, B.
Vinson, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walker of Worcester, L.
Windlesham, L.


Ackner, L.
Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Adonis, L.
Ahmed, L.
Amos, B. [Lord President]
Anderson of Swansea, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.
Avebury, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bhattacharyya, L.
Bilston, L.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Borrie, L.
Boston of Faversham, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chidgey, L.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crawley, B.
Cunningham of Felling, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Drayson, L.
Dubs, L.
Dykes, L.
Elder, L.
Elystan-Morgan, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. [Lord Chancellor]
Falkender, B.
Falkner of Margravine, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Garden, L.
Gilbert, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Brookwood, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greaves, L.
Griffiths of Burry Port, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Haworth, L.
Hayman, B.
Henig, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hylton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
Kilclooney, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kinnock, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Maclennan of Rogart, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mitchell, L.
Moonie, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morgan of Huyton, B.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Northover, B.
O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Peston, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rooker, L.
Roper, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sewel, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sheldon, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Slim, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Sutherland of Houndwood, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Bolton, B.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tonge, B.
Tope, L.
Triesman, L.
Truscott, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Tyler, L.
Wall of New Barnet, B.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warner, L.
Whitaker, B.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Norwood Green, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

8 Mar 2006 : Column 761

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Baroness Andrews.)

On Question, Bill passed.

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