The Minister will be aware of the amendment that we and colleagues in the Commons pressed about the prevention and detection of maladministration and error. As we have heard, there was some debate around excluding maladministration from the amendment, but the main thrust of the Government’s position was the overlap with the ombudsman’s responsibilities to look at this. I do not propose to rerun the arguments advanced by Andy Sawford about the omission of maladministration being a lost opportunity. However, we understand that the Audit Commission has confirmed that the Government’s amendment would enable the NFI to carry on the data matching it conducts through other powers—I think the Minister has actually confirmed that. This was our key starting point, so although we are a tad disappointed at the omission of maladministration, we are grateful that the Government have responded to our arguments and will not press the matter further today. Can the Minister say when it is planned to take the steps, including the necessary consultation, to add these purposes to the NFI’s powers to data match? We accept that Amendments 74 and 75 maintain the status quo in relation to the cross-boundary work of the NFI and we have no points to raise on that. We are happy, indeed pleased, to support these amendments.

7.15 pm

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, for his very gracious welcome to this amendment, which, as I said before, stems from an amendment that he originally proposed. I will just confirm to the noble Lord, and indeed your Lordships’ House, that we are in discussions with the Cabinet Office regarding the future operation of the National Fraud Initiative and the commencement

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of the relevant parts of the Bill that are required to ensure the safe continuation of the commission’s data-matching exercises. This is something that is very important and I can confirm that this will continue when the National Fraud Initiative moves to sit with the Cabinet Office. The enactment of the further purpose which we have been discussing tonight is not required to support the transition of the National Fraud Initiative but, as we have identified through the course of the Bill, it is a useful addition to the potential powers for which exercises can be undertaken. It will allow the national fraud initiative to undertake the ad hoc data-matching exercises that it does at present under the Audit Commission’s wider powers once it moves over to the Cabinet Office in 2015. The addition of this potential extension also fits well with the Cabinet Office’s overarching remit, covering fraud, error and debt.

As to the noble Lord’s question about timescales, at present, we do not have a draft timeline for the introduction of such powers should the Cabinet Office determine that it intends to bring them forward. However, I hope that I have been able, through the introduction of this amendment, to give the noble Lord the reassurance that the extension of these powers will be possible at such time that the Government decide to bring forward these regulations.

Motion on Amendments 74 to 76 agreed.

Motion on Amendments 77 to 101

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 77 to 101.

77: Schedule 10, page 75, line 4, leave out “paragraphs (a) and (b)” and insert “paragraph (a)”

78: Schedule 10, page 75, line 10, leave out paragraph 5

79: Schedule 10, page 75, line 29, leave out paragraph 7

80: Schedule 10, page 75, line 34, leave out paragraph 10 and insert—

“10 In section 25(2) (coordination of inspections: persons to whom the section applies), for paragraph (a) substitute—

“(a) an inspector or assistant inspector appointed under section 10(1) or (2);”.”

81: Schedule 10, page 75, line 36, leave out “and (3A)”

82: Schedule 10, page 75, line 36, leave out “and Auditor General for Wales”

83: Schedule 10, page 75, line 38, leave out “Auditor General for Wales” and insert “Wales Audit Office”

84: Schedule 10, page 75, line 39, leave out from “(3)(a)” to end of line 40

85: Schedule 12, page 81, line 9, at end insert—

“Transport Act 1985 (c. 67)

12A (1) Section 76 of the Transport Act 1985 (audit of accounts of public transport companies) is amended as follows.

(2) For subsection (1) substitute—

“(1A) In a case where a public transport company’s controlling authority are—

(a) a county council or county borough council in Wales, or

(b) a composite authority of which both or all the constituent councils are county councils or county borough councils in Wales,

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it shall be the duty of the controlling authority to exercise their control over that company so as to ensure that the company appoints as auditors of the company only persons who, in addition to meeting the requirements of Part 42 of the Companies Act 2006 (statutory auditors), are approved for appointment as such auditors by the Auditor General for Wales.

(1B) In any other case, it shall be the duty of a public transport company’s controlling authority to exercise their control over that company so as to ensure that the company appoints as requirements of Part 42 of the Companies Act 2006 (statutory auditors).”

(3) In subsection (2), after “(1)” insert “or (as the case may be) (1A)”.”

86: Schedule 12, page 82, line 24, leave out from first “the” to end of line 25 and insert “definitions of “the first financial year” and “financial year” and insert—

““financial year” means—

(a) the period commencing with the date on which the corporation is established and ending with the second 31st March following that date, and

(b) each successive period of twelve months.””

87: Schedule 12, page 83, line 19, at end insert—

Social Security Administration (Northern Ireland) Act 1992 (c. 8)

In section 117(8) of the Social Security Administration (Northern Ireland) Act 1992 (unauthorised disclosure of information relating to particular persons: Audit Commission)—

(a) omit paragraph (gb), and

(b) after paragraph (gc) insert—

“(gd) a local auditor within the meaning of the Local

Audit and Accountability Act 2014;

(ge) the Auditor General for Wales and any member of the Auditor General’s staff;

(gf) any member of the staff of the Wales Audit Office, and any person providing services to that Office;”.”

88: Schedule 12, page 84, line 19, at end insert—

“Local Government Act 1999 (c. 27)

33A (1) Section 23 of the Local Government Act 1999 (accounts of best value authorities) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (4) omit paragraph (a).

(3) In subsection (7) for “an auditor appointed by the Audit Commission” substitute “a local auditor appointed in accordance with the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 or provision made under it”.”

89: Schedule 12, page 86, line 16, leave out paragraph 44 and insert—

“ (1) Section 26D of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 (disclosure of results of data matching etc) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (4) for paragraph (b) substitute—

“(b) the Secretary of State,

(ba) the Minister for the Cabinet Office,

(bb) a local auditor within the meaning of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014,”.

(3) In subsection (7) in the definition of “relevant NHS body” for paragraph (b) substitute—

“(b) a body mentioned in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of paragraph 4(11) of Schedule 9 to the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (“relevant NHS body”);”.”

90: Schedule 12, page 88, line 16, at end insert—

“50A(1) Section 100 (exercise of powers by reference to authorities’ performance categories) is amended as follows.

(2) Omit subsections (1) and (2).

(3) In subsection (3), for “those powers” substitute “certain powers”. (4) Omit subsections (4) to (8).”

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91: Schedule 12, page 88, line 24, leave out paragraph 54 and insert—

“ (1) Article 4D of the Audit and Accountability (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 (disclosure of results of data matching etc) is amended as follows.

(2) In paragraph (2)(b) after “body”, in each place, insert “or person”.

(3) In paragraph (3) after “bodies” insert “and persons”.

(4) In that paragraph, for sub-paragraph (a) substitute—

“(a) the Secretary of State,

(aa) the Minister for the Cabinet Office,

(ab) a local auditor within the meaning of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014,”.

(5) In paragraph (4) after “body”, where it first occurs, insert “or person”. (6) In paragraph (6)(b) for paragraph (ii) substitute—

“(ii) a body mentioned in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of paragraph 4(11) of Schedule 9 to the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (“relevant NHS body”);”.”

92: Schedule 12, page 88, line 33, leave out paragraph 58 and insert—

“58 (1) Section 62 (co-operation) is amended as follows. (2) Omit paragraph (b).

(3) In the heading (in its original form and as substituted by paragraph 61(3) of Schedule 4 to the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2013) omit “, Audit Commission”.”

93: Schedule 12, page 88, line 34, leave out paragraph 59 and insert—

“ (1) Section 64D (disclosure of results of data matching etc) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2)(b) after “body”, in each place, insert “or person”.

(3) In subsection (3) after “bodies” insert “and persons”.

(4) In that subsection, for paragraph (a) substitute—

“(a) the Secretary of State,

(aa) the Minister for the Cabinet Office,

(ab) a local auditor within the meaning of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014,”.

(5) In subsection (4) after “body”, where it first occurs, insert “or person”.

(6) In subsection (6)(b) for sub-paragraph (ii) substitute—

“(ii) a body mentioned in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of paragraph 4(11) of Schedule 9 to the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (“relevant NHS body”);”.”

94: Schedule 12, page 89, line 3, leave out paragraph (a) and insert—

“(a) at the end of paragraph (a) insert “and”,”

95: Schedule 12, page 89, line 3, at end insert—

“(aa) in paragraph (b) omit “in the case of an order containing a scheme within paragraph 1(1)(a),”, and”

96: Schedule 12, page 89, line 8, leave out “to the Auditor General for Wales by” and insert “in accordance with”

97: Schedule 12, page 99, line 23, at end insert—

“(za) section 95(4) of the Traffic Management Act 2004;”

98: Schedule 12, page 99, line 25, after first “(b)” insert “paragraph 14 of Schedule 1 and”

99: Schedule 12, page 99, line 26, at end insert—

“(ba) section 31(2) of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006;”

100: Schedule 12, page 99, line 27, after “of” insert “and paragraph 5(6) of Schedule 14 to”

101: Schedule 12, page 99, line 29, leave out “52 and 55” and insert “9 and 52”

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Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, Commons Amendments 77 to 101 make a number of minor and technical related and consequential amendments to Schedules 10 and 12 to the Bill.

Commons Amendments 77 to 79 and 81 to 84, to Schedule 10, simply remove redundant references or make clarifications to related provisions in existing legislation. They are the result of amendments to the Local Government Act 1999 made by the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2013, which removed or amended provisions relating to the Auditor-General for Wales.

Commons Amendment 80 will amend Section 25(2)(a) of the Local Government Act 1999. The amendment ensures that inspectors and assistant inspectors of best value authorities will continue, as they do now, to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State when carrying out investigations or inspections of best value authorities once the Audit Commission is abolished.

Commons Amendments 85 to 101, to Schedule 12, will remove redundant references to the Audit Commission in a range of other Acts and, where necessary, replace them with reference to auditors appointed in accordance with this Bill, and amend provisions already in the Bill to avoid unintended outcomes once the Audit Commission has been abolished. I hope that I have been able to give noble Lords the assurances they need that these are technical, minor and consequential amendments.

In case this is the final time I am on my feet speaking about this Bill, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in this evening’s debate and I am grateful for the support I have received from noble Lords for these various amendments. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Bill team for their consistent hard work on this piece of legislation. It has been my privilege to work with them only for this very final stage of the Bill, but I know that they have had a long and hard-working journey through both Houses. My predecessor would, I am sure, want me to relay her thanks to the Bill team. I beg to move.

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, we accept that these are minor and technical amendments and have no points to raise.

This is my final utterance on this Bill so I, too, would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who have been involved, particularly the Bill team, who have been helpful during the passage of the Bill and in focusing on these amendments. I thank the stalwarts of our debates, the noble Lords, Lord Tope and Lord Shipley, the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, and my noble friend Lord Beecham, who brings with him not only a very serious understanding of local government and its challenges but the fantastic ability to deliver his thoughts in a light-hearted and challenging way. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the noble Baroness’s predecessor, the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham.

The Earl of Lytton: My Lords, I follow the noble Lord in thanking the noble Baroness for her unfailing courtesy, and that of her Bill team, and particularly for keeping me in the loop as matters have proceeded

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through the other place. That was very welcome and I am extremely grateful for that, and I am sure I can say the same for the parish and town council movement for her consideration and care over this matter.

Lord Tope: My Lords, lest my silence should be misunderstood, I echo those sentiments from the Liberal Democrat Benches. I began this evening by paying tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, and wishing well to our Minister now, the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, who has performed eloquently this evening and succeeded in passing more than 100 amendments, which is getting close to a record. I echo the thanks that have been given to the Bill team for the great help they have given all of us in understanding this most interesting Bill.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I am very grateful to all noble Lords.

Motion on Amendments 77 to 101 agreed.

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Motion on Amendments 102 and 103

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 102 and 103.

102: In the Title, line 10, after “publicity;” insert “to make provision about access to meetings and documents of local government bodies;”

103: In the Title, line 10, after “referendums;” insert “to make provision about polls consequent on parish meetings;”

Motion on Amendments 102 and 103 agreed.

Hertfordshire County Council (Filming on Highways) Bill [HL]

Returned from the Commons

The Bill was returned from the Commons agreed to.

House adjourned at 7.23 pm.