Magazine article Public Finance

Ministers Back MP's Bill to Give Councils More Scrutiny Powers

Magazine article Public Finance

Ministers Back MP's Bill to Give Councils More Scrutiny Powers

Article excerpt

Ministers are giving tacit backing to aPrivate Members' Bill that could significantly extend the powers of councils to oversee local services and utilities.

The Local Authorities (Overview and Scrutiny) Bill has been tabled by Labour backbencher David Chaytor, with the backing of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The news came in a week when rriinisters were under fire for failing to recognise the role councils could play in stimulating the economies in their areas and tackling unemployment.

Chaytor came second in the private Bills ballot for the 2009/10 parliamentary session - meaning his BiE will be guaranteed a full day's debate in the Commons.

The final text of the Bill, which will have its second reading on February 5, has not yet been released, but Public Finance understands it will be based on proposals put out to consultation by Communities Secretary John Denham in July.

In Strengthening local democracy, Denham argued that councils should be given the role of overseeing locally provided services such as policing and the NHS. He called the proposals the biggest transfer of power for a generation, bringing an extra £100bn of public spending under council scrutiny.

A DCLG spokesman said the department would be 'working dosel·/ with Chaytor, adding that the results of Denham's consultation would be published around the time of the second reading.

Andy Sawford, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit praised the Bill, but said there might not be enough parliamentary time before the general election for it to become law. …

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