Electricity Market Reform (General) Regulations 2014 and 8 related instruments; Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Amendment) (No.2) Order 2014 - Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee Contents


Additional information from the Department for Communities and Local Government

Q1: Did the Government make it explicit in any of the consultations mentioned in 8.2 of the Explanatory Memorandum that it proposed specifically to require publication of a) information about any expenditure incurred by authorities and b) information about any legally enforceable agreement entered into by authorities and any invitations to tender for such agreements? If so, please direct me to the document which the Government published which made this plain.

A1: The Government did make clear that it would be requiring quarterly publication of certain datasets, in its response to consultation document published in December 2013[24]. This document formed the basis of the Government's third consultation on local government transparency and invited feedback and points of clarification, by 17 January 2014, on the draft Code which was annexed to the document (paragraph 8 refers).

In paragraph 7 of the document, the Government said that:

"Therefore he [The Secretary of State] is minded to make regulations under section 3 of the Act to make it a legal requirement to publish data in accordance with Part 2 of the revised Code and to make and Order under that section to ensure certain datasets must be published quarterly."

There were a number of other specific references to the Government intending to require quarterly publication of the datasets you refer to:

·  Paragraph 31 of the document referred to the quarterly publication of details relating to invitations to tender and all legally enforceable agreements;

·  Paragraph 44 third bullet referred to the quarterly publication of details about all transactions on a Government Procurement Card which is a component of incurred expenditure; and,

·  Paragraph 63 set out the datasets where the Government intended to regulate to require local authorities to publish information. The first, second and seventh bullets make clear that the Government intended to require quarterly publication of the datasets you refer to in your question. Furthermore, you will see that each bullet references the relevant paragraph in the draft Code that was annexed to the document.

Crucially, as highlighted earlier, the Government made clear that it was inviting feedback and points of clarification on the draft Code that was annexed to the document. Part 2.1 of the draft Code which was annexed to the document set out the data that the Government would be requiring local authorities to publish on a quarterly basis, following the making of the relevant secondary legislation.

Q2: If this specific proposal was made explicit in any of these consultations, was it explicitly supported or opposed by respondents and, if so, in what proportions of total respondents? If so, please direct me to any published document which makes it plain.

A2: The Government did not receive any responses which referred specifically to whether the data you highlight should be published quarterly or on a different frequency.

In passing, Hertfordshire County Council referred to already publishing expenditure data on a monthly basis and being able to publish purchase card information on a quarterly basis. Newbury Town Council also referred to publishing every expenditure transaction on a monthly basis and complementing this with a detailed quarterly income and expenditure report. Southampton City Council and Surrey County Council both said that monthly publication of expenditure data would be a burden, but this frequency of publication was never part of the Government's proposal under Part 2 of the Code i.e. the mandatory section. One private respondent thought that allowing quarterly publication of expenditure data, instead of requiring monthly publication, might mean that the data would be more inaccurate and so avoid this, the Government should specify that the date of each expenditure transaction should be published in a day/month/year format. The Local Government Association's response made no reference to the frequency of publication of the datasets you highlight.

…the vast majority of responses the Government received were asking detailed questions or making detailed comments about the specific content and/or drafting of the Code itself. The Government judged that these could not be addressed effectively in a traditional government response document. So, in discussion with the Local Government Association, the Government's view was that it would be more helpful to local authorities to publish a Frequently Asked Questions document[25] which answered all of the technical points raised both during the consultation and at three workshops held in January and attended by 63 different local authorities. The Government thought that this would be a more helpful way of getting its responses out to those who need to implement the Code.

Q3: At 10.1, the Explanatory Memorandum says that the Order "has no direct impact on the private, voluntary or public sectors". Given the potentially wide scope of the information to be published quarterly by local authorities, how does the department justify the statement that the Order has no direct impact on the public sector? At 10.2, however, there is acknowledgement of an impact: what is the department's assessment of the impact?

A3: The Government maintains that the Order would have no direct impact on the public sector because it simply expands the scope of the Secretary of State's enabling power - it would enable him to require details of the datasets referred to in the Order to be published more frequently than annually. It is the subsequent use of the power that would have an impact on local authorities. The Government's intention is to make Regulations under section 3 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 to make it a legal requirement for local authorities to publish data in accordance with Part 2 of the Local Government Transparency Code 2014[26]. It is this action which will create an impact on local authorities - of itself the Order would not require local authorities to do anything and so it cannot create an impact on them or other parts of the public sector.

However, the Government does recognise that the Order is a stepping stone towards its overall policy goal of making part of the Code a legal requirement on local authorities. It decided, therefore, that it would be helpful to Parliament and local authorities to publish an Impact Assessment[27] alongside the Order. Table 3 of the Impact Assessment sets out the impact on local authorities to whom the Code applies of publishing the quarterly information set out in the Code. The Government assesses the impact as £1.3 million a year. The Government will be meeting these costs in full, in line with its new burdens doctrine, if the relevant secondary legislation is put in place to make Part 2 of the Code a legal requirement on local authorities.

    10 July 2014

24   Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Data Transparency: Government response to Consultation was published in December 2013,



25   Local government transparency code 2014: frequently asked questions, May 2014,

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/308186/Local_Government_Transparency_Code_2014_Frequently_Asked_Questions_Final.pdf Back

26   Local government transparency code 2014, May 2014,

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/308185/Local_Government_Transparency_Code_2014_Final.pdf Back

27  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/326686/Local_Government_Transparency_code_2014_-_IA.pdf


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