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Local Government (Access To Information) Bill

Volume 79: debated on Friday 17 May 1985

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As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.

New Clause3

Consequential Amendments And Repeals

  • '(1) The enactments mentioned in Schedule (Consequential amendments) to this Act shall have effect with the amendments there specified, being amendments consequential on the provisions of this Act.
  • (2) The enactments mentioned in Schedule (Repeals) to this Act are hereby repealed to the extent specified in the thud column of that Schedule.'. — [Mr. Squire]
  • Brought up, and read the First time

    9.37 am

    I beg to move, that the clause be read a Second time.

    No. 42, in clause 2, page 21, line 16, leave out from beginning to end of line 17.

    No. 44, in clause 4, page 21, line 24, at beginning insert

    'Except for this section and section (Consequential amendments and repeals) in so far as it relates to paragraph 2 of Schedule (Consequential amendments)'.

    No. 47, new schedule — Consequential amendments — 'Defamation Act 1952 (c. 66)

    1. —(1) The Schedule to the Defamation Act 1952 (by virtue of which, among other things, newspaper reports of all proceedings at meetings of local authorities and their committees are privileged unless admission to the meetings is denied to representatives of newspapers and other members of the public) shall be amended as follows.

    (2) At the beginning of paragraph 13 (interpretation) there shall be inserted "(1)" and for the definition of "local authority" in that paragraph there shall be substituted the following "'local authority' means —

  • (a) any principal council, within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1972, any body falling within any paragraph of section 10011(1) of that Act and any local authority, within the meaning of the Local Government (Scotland) Act1973;
  • (b) any authority or body to which the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 applies; and
  • (c) any authority or body to which sections 23 to 27 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 apply;
  • and any reference to a committee of a local authority shall be construed in accordance with sub-paragraph (2) below."

    (3)After paragraph 13(1) there shall be added the following sub-paragraph—

    "(2) Any reference in this Schedule to a committee of a local authority includes a reference—

  • (a) to any committee or sub-committee in relation to which sections 100A to 100D of the Local Government Act 1972 apply by virtue of section 100E of that Act (whether or not also by virtue of section 100II of that Act); and
  • (b) to any committee or sub-committee in relation to which sections 50A to 50D of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 apply by virtue of section 50E of that Act."
  • Defamation Act(Northern Ireland) 1955 (c.11, N.,1.)

    2. —(1) The Schedule to the Defamation Act (Northern Ireland) 1955 (which makes similar provision to the Schedule to the Defamation Act 1952)shall be amended as follows.

    (2) At the beginning of paragraph 13(interpretation) there shall be inserted "(1)" and for the definition of "local authority" in that paragraph there shall be substituted the following —

    "'local authority' means —

  • (a) any authority or body to which sections 23 to 27 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 apply;
  • (b) any principal council, within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1972, any body falling within any paragraph of section 100II(1) of that Act and any local authority, within the meaning of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973;
  • (c.) any authority or body to which the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 applies;
  • and any reference to a committee of a local authority shall be construed in accordance with sub-paragraph (2) below."

    (3) After paragraph 13(1) there shall be added the following sub-paragraph—

    "(2) Any reference in this Schedule to a committee of a local authority includes a reference—

  • (a) to any committee or sub-committee in relation to which sections 100A to 100D of the Local Government Act 1972 apply by virtue of section 100E of that Act(whether or not also by virtue of section 100II of that Act);and
  • (b) to any committee or sub-committee in relation to which sections 50A to 50D of the Local Government (Scotland) Act1973 apply by virtue of section 50E of that Act."
  • Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960(c.67)

    3. —(1) The Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 shall be amended as follows.

    (2)In section 1(1), the words "local authority or other" shall be omitted and for the words "an authority or other body" there shall be substituted the words "a body".

    (3) Section 2(2) shall be omitted.

    (4) In the Schedule (which defines the bodies to which the Act applies) for paragraph 1 (a) there shall be substituted the following paragraph—

  • "(a) parish or community councils, the Council of the Isles of Scilly and joint boards or joint committees which discharge functions of any of those bodies (or of any of those bodies and of a principal council, within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1972, or a body falling within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of section 100II(1) of that Act)".
  • (5) In paragraph I of the Schedule, paragraphs (aa) and (ab) (as inserted by the Local Government Act 1985) and (d) shall be omitted.

    (6) In paragraph1 (h) of the Schedule, for the words "police authorities" there shall be substituted the words "bodies to which sections 100A to 100D of the Local Government Act 1972 apply, whether or not by virtue of section 100E or 100II of that Act".

    (7) In paragraph 2 of the Schedule, paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (f) shall be omitted.

    Police Act 1964 (c. 48)

    4. In section 3 of the Police Act 1964 (police authorities for combined areas) after subsection (3) there shall be inserted the following subsection —

    "(3A) Meetings of a combined police authority which is (as well as one which is not) a body corporate are open to the public, and documents relating to such meetings are open to inspection by the public, in accordance with the provisions of Part VA of the Local Government Act 1972."

    Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70)

    (5) In section 100 of the Local Government Act 1972 (which applies the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 in relation to all committees of local authorities)—

  • (a) in subsection (2), the words from "to any committee constituted" to "101(9) below and" shall be omitted; and
  • (b) at the end of that subsection there shall be added the words "or section 100E(3)(a) or (b) below (whether or not by virtue of section 100II below)".
  • Local Government Finance Act 1982 (c. 32)

    6. In section 18 of the Local Government Finance Act 1982, in subsection (5)(auditor's report to be supplied to members and

    newspapers) after the word "excluded" there shall be inserted "(a)" and at the end of that subsection there shall be added the following words, that is to say, "or under section 100B(6) of the 1972 Act (which makes similar provision); or

    (b) from the documents open to inspection by members of the public under section 100B(1) of the 1972 Act (agenda and reports open to the public before a meeting);

    and Part VA of the 1972 Act shall have effect in relation to the report as if in section 100C(1) (d) of that Act (by virtue of which only so much of a report as relates to proceedings open to the public is open to public inspection after the meeting) the words 'so much of' and from 'as relates' onwards were omitted.

    (6) In subsection (5)above, 'the 1972 Act' means the Local Government Act 1972.".'.

    No. 48, new schedules— Repeals

    Chapter

    Short title

    Extent of repeal

    8 & 9 Eliz. 2 c. 67.Public bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960In section 1(1), the words, "local authority or other". Section 2(2). In the Schedule, paragraph 1(aa),(ab) and (d) and paragraph 2(a), (b),(c) and (f).
    1972 c.70.Local Government Act 1972.In Section 100(2)the words from "to any committee constituted" to "101(9) below and".
    1973 c. 65.Local Government(Scotland) Act 1973.Section 44.'.

    It may be somewhat strange that the first group of amendments that we tackle consists exclusively of consequential amendments arising from other amendments. That may need explaining to people outside the House, but the tell-tale clue is the magic words "new clause 3", which enables various repeals to take place.

    It may be for the general benefit of the House if I cite but one example rather than stumble at considerable length through all my notes. The Defamation Act 1952 currently provides that newspaper reports of proceedings at meetings of local authorities and their committees are privileged unless access to the meeting is denied to representatives of the press and members of the public. As a direct result of various clauses in the Bill, the 1952 Act will be extended so that there will be qualified privilege for newspaper reports of all proceedings of sub-committee meetings of local authorities as well as meetings of the local authority and its committees, in exactly the same circumstances as before.

    That is but an example of the effects of the amendments. I shall go into greater detail only if so requested by hon. Members.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

    Clause 1

    Access To Meetings And Documents Of Principal Councils And Certain Committees And Sub-Committees

    I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 8, leave out 'PRINCIPAL COUNCILS' and insert 'CERTAIN AUTHORITIES'.

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 25, in page 10, line 32, at end insert—

    'Application to new authorities, Common Council, etc 100II—(1) Except in this section, any reference in this Part to a principal council includes a reference to—

  • (a) the Inner London Education Authority;
  • (b) a joint authority;
  • (c) the Common Council;
  • (d) a joint board or joint committee falling within subsection (2) below;
  • (e) a combined police authority which is a body corporate.
  • (2) A joint board or joint committee falls within this subsection if—

  • (a) it is constituted under any enactment as a body corporate; and
  • (b) it discharges functions of two or more principal councils;
  • and for the purposes of this subsection any body falling within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of subsection (1) above shall be treated as a principal council.

    (3) In its application by virtue of subsection (1) above in relation to a body falling within paragraph (a), (b), (d) or (e) of that subsection, section 100A(6)(a) above shall have effect with the insertion after the word "council" of the words "(and, if the meeting is to be held at premises other than those offices, at those premises)".

    (4) In its application by virtue of subsection (1) above, section 100G(1) (a) above shall have effect—

  • (a) in relation to a joint authority or a combined police authority, with the substitution for the words from "ward" onwards of the words "name or description of the body which appointed him"; and
  • (b) in relation to a joint board or joint committee falling within subsection (2) above with the omission of the words from "ward" onwards.'
  • No. 28, in page 11, line 11, at end insert—

    "principal council" shall be construed in accordance with section 100II above.'.

    No. 45, in page 21, line 25, leave out clause 5.

    This group of amendments concerns extensions of the Bill to various new bodies such as joint authorities, ILEA, including the new form of the Inner London education authority, and combined police authorities. Amendment No. 1 deletes the words "PRINCIPAL COUNCILS" and inserts "CERTAIN AUTHORITIES" in recognition of the fact that part VA when linked with amendment No. 25 will apply to bodies other than principal councils as defined under section 270 of the Local Government Act 1972.

    Amendment No. 25 adds new section 100II to the Local Government Act 1972. Under subsection (1), the Bill's provisions are extended to the new ILEA, joint authorities created under parts III and IV of the Local Government Bill, the Common Council of the City of London and the joint bodies which are bodies corporate —for instance, the joint planning boards in respect of national park areas constituted under schedule 17(I) of the 1972 Act and combined police authorities which are bodies corporate.

    The amendment does this by treating these bodies as principal councils for the purposes of the Bill. The application to combined police authorities which are bodies corporate stems from the fact that, of the 10 combined police authorities, nine are bodies corporate under section 3(1) of the Police Act 1964 and one—Hampshire and the Isle of Wight —is a committee of the constituent county council under section 3(4) of the Police Act 1964. At present, therefore, the provisions of the Bill apply to the latter but not to the other combined police authorities which are bodies corporate and therefore not committees.

    It would be anomalous to have one combined police authority subject to the Bill's provisions and not the others. By extending the provisions to combined police authorities which are bodies corporate, the amendment recognises the anomaly which exists as a result of the extensions of the provisions of the 1960 Act to section 101(9) committees by section 100 of the 1972 Act.

    I hope that my hon. Friend can restrain herself for a moment, because I may well deal with her question in the balance of my opening comments.

    Subsection (2) defines the joint board or joint committee as one
    "constituted under any enactment as a body corporate"
    which
    "discharges functions of two or more principal councils'.
    It includes as a principal council for this purpose the new ILEA, the joint authority and the Common Council of the City of London.

    I understand my hon. Friend's comments on the way in which the provisions dealing with bodies corporate will apply to this Bill. Does my hon. Friend expect that at some time in the future the Bill will be extended to those authorities that are not bodies corporate, such as the district health authorities and the new water authorities? I believe that that would be a highly desirable move.

    Even at this relatively early hour my hon. Friend has touched on a matter which I am sure will strike a sympathetic chord among hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber. Were Ito follow my hon. Friend with a deliberation on the advantages and disadvantages of her suggested course of action, I would be rapidly ruled out of order by you, Mr. Speaker, because my Bill cannot extend to all those bodies. I am, however, happy to join my hon. Friend in expressing a wish that there should he legislation in due course to extend these measures to bodies such as those that she described.

    Subsection (3) modifies the requirement in new section 100A(6) (a) that
    "public notice of the time and place of the meeting should be given by posting it at the offices of the council"
    by providing that notice should also be given at the premises where the meeting is to be held, if it is not held at the council's offices. While principal councils under the 1972 Act will have prominent, well-known offices, the offices of some of the bodies introduced by subsection (1) of the amendment may be less conspicious. For example, a joint board's offices might simply be a room in the council's offices.

    Subsection (4) provides the necessary modifications to the requirement under new section 100G(1) (a) —to maintain a register stating
    "the name and address of every member of the council for the time being and the ward or division which he represents"
    in relation to a joint authority or combined police authority which is a body corporate and in relation to a joint board or joint committee. Similar modification is not required in respect of ILEA, where it will be possible to state the division which the elected member represents, or in relation to the Common Council of the City of London, where there are electoral wards. The effect of the modifications is that for joint authorities and combined police authorities the body which appointed the member must be registered. For joint authorities, the body will be a London borough.

    Amendment agreed to.

    9.45 am

    I beg to move amendment No. 2, in page 2, line 12, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—

    '(b) information the disclosure of which to the public is prohibited by or under any enactment, other than the Data Protection Act 1984, or by the order of a court'.

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 21, in page 9, line 14, at end insert—

    '(2B) The Data Protection Act 1984 (and, in particular section 26(1) of that Act) shall have effect as if the following words were added at the end of section 34(5) (personal data exempt from nondisclosure provisions in certain cases), namely, "or
    (c) made in the course of proceedings which, by virtue of section 100A(1) of the local Government Act 1972, are open to the public at a meeting of a principal council or a committee or sub-committee of a principal council ('principal council' and 'committee or sub-committee of a principal council' being construed in accordance with Part VA of that Act)".'.
    No. 29 in clause 2, page 12, line 10, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—
    '(b) information the disclosure of which to the public is prohibited by or under any enactment other than the Data Protection Act 1984, or by the order of a court.'.

    The amendment concerns an important area of data protection and trade secrets. Amendment No. 2 replaces section 100A(3) (b) by deleting the words

    "obtained by or furnished to the authority in pursuance of any power or duty conferred or imposed by or under any enactment where",
    and adding the words
    "other than the Data Protection Act 1984, or by the order of a court".
    The existing section 100A(3) (b) forbids disclosure of information protected by the law and specifically collected by a council. One purpose of the amendment — the reason for deleting those words —is to cover information of the type incidentally collected by a council and not simply obtained by or furnished to it in pursuance of a power or duty. An example is in relation to the various prohibitions on disclosure of trade secrets. Under various Acts an officer of a local authority has the power to enter a factory. He may incidentally gain information about trade secrets. If so, the Acts impose a criminal offence on his disclosing that information except in the course of his duties. It is therefore necessary for section 100A(3) (b) to be wide enough to prevent disclosure of such information incidentally obtained.

    The other purpose of the amendment —the addition of the words
    "other than the Data Protection Act 1984, or by the order of a court"—
    is, in the case of the Data Protection Act 1984, to make it clear that the category of confidential information under section 100A(3) (b) does not cover information the disclosure of which is prohibited by that Act.

    I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way yet again. I am sorry if I am being a bit of a pest, but it is important to clarify what is being said. Local authority officers may not fully comprehend what my hon. Friend is saying. Earlier this week, it was drawn to my attention that a local authority officer might have access to secret trade information which is gathered by, say, the chemical industry. The officer might not recognise that the information could pose a danger if the contents were exposed to public scrutiny. The contents might be in danger of being misinterpreted by the people reading it. Does my hon. Friend intend that explanatory notes will go out to authorities to emphasise the importance of making this part of the Bill fully understood by those who will have to operate under it?

    My hon. Friend has touched on a serious point. I hope that she will accept, with her wide experience in local government prior to becoming a Member, that local authorities in general have been very responsible in handling trade secrets and allied matters. I submit that the number of occasions on which a body corporate can complain that its trade secret has been released is small. I am sure that that will continue, because local authorities act responsibly. I, too, by chance, have had discussions with the chemical industries on this matter. They will be happier with the position that results from this amendment. As my hon. Friend says, they were concerned 'not just about trade secrets but about licence details and so on, for dangerous chemicals, and the fact that such information might fall into unauthorised hands. It is important that the local authority should be protected in that way.

    I cannot tell my hon. Friend the exact form in which local authorities may be advised, but I have strong indications that one or more local authority associations are likely, following the passage of the Bill into law, to be advising their members as to the areas to which authorities should be paying attention.

    Amendment No. 21 adds a new subsection (2B) to section 100H, which in effect amends the Data Protection Act 1984. The purpose of that Act is to prevent the disclosure of personal data or information extracted from that data. Disclosure in breach of the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1984 is a criminal offence and may also lead to the registrar removing the name of a data holder from the register. It is an offence to hold data without being registered. Data are defined as information recorded in a form in which it can be processed by equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose.

    Section 34 of the Data Protection Act contains exemptions from the disclosure provisions. There is an exemption if the disclosure is required by or under any enactment. Accordingly, it is considered that disclosure in any documents required to be made available under the Bill —minutes, reports, background papers and so on —would not contravene the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1984. However, section 100A merely deals with whether the public have a right to attend a meeting; it does not deal with what is required to be said or disclosed at meetings. The Bill allows the public to be excluded, depending on the information which may be disclosed at the meeting. It should not depend on whether or not that information has been extracted from data. Accordingly, the amendment is necessary to provide that the disclosure of information extracted from data in the course of a council meeting is not a contravention of the Data Protection Act 1984.

    Finally, in the case of a reference to the "order of a court", if somebody had given a local authority information in confidence, he may in the right circumstances be able to obtain an injunction from the court against the authority, if it appeared that the authority were intending to disclose the information without proper cause. An example might be the details of a secret chemical process, in the circumstances that I mentioned earlier.

    If an order is made, it is right that the public should be excluded from a meeting during discussion of the item of business in which the information is likely to be disclosed. In many cases, it is likely that the information would fall into the categories of exemption under schedule 12A, so the authority would already have the power to exclude the public. The amendment is necessary to cover information which may not be covered under schedule 12A and to make it clear that the public should be excluded.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move amendment No. 97, in page 4, line 11, at end insert— '(3A) An item of business may not be considered at, a meeting of a principal council unless either—

  • (a) a copy of the agenda including the item (or a copy of the item) is open to inspection by members of the public in pursuance of subsection (1) above for at least three clear days before the meeting or, where the meeting is convened at shorter notice, from the time the meeting is convened; or
  • (b) by reason of special circumstances which shall be specified in the minutes, the chairman of the meeting is of the opinion that the item should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.'.
  • With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 95, in clause 2, page 14, line 11, at end insert—

    '(3A) An item of business may not be considered at a meeting of a local authority unless either—
  • (a) a copy of the agenda including the item (or a copy of the item) is open to inspection by members of the public in pursuance of subsection (1) above for at least three clear days before the meeting or, where the meeting is convened at shorter notice, from the time the meeting is convened; or
  • (b) by reason of special circumstances, which shall be specified in the minutes, the chairman of the meeting is of the opinion that the item should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.'.
  • I meant to say earlier that hon. Members will no doubt have noticed that, for each of the references to English legislation, there is a parallel reference to Scottish legislation. If I do not immediately refer to that on each and every occasion, I am sure that on balance hon. Members will be prepared to assume that each of the amendments is being moved in parallel in that sense. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, who is on the Front Bench, will be particularly relieved to have that piece of information.

    The sponsors and I have had a number of discussions with local authority associations to try to find a form of words which would cover urgent business but, by the same token, not create a form of words through which it would be possible to drive the proverbial coach and four by allowing matters to be tabled at the last minute, and thus in practice to frustrate one of the purposes of the Bill, which is to allow members of the general public an opportunity to see reports and agendas in advance of the meetings.

    The amendment introduces a new subsection (3A) of section 100B. It provides:
    "An item of business may not be considered at a meeting of a principal council unless either— (a) a copy of the agenda including the item (or a copy of the item) is open to inspection by members of the public in pursuance of subsection (1) above for at least three clear days before the meeting or, where the meeting is convened at shorter notice, from the time the meeting is convened; or (b) by reason of special circumstances, which shall be specified in the minutes, the chairman of the meeting is of the opinion that the item should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency".
    The effect of the amendment is to prohibit the consideration of any late item of business unless it has been open to public inspection in accordance with paragraph (a) or unless
    "by reason of special circumstances…the chairman of the meeting is of the opinion that the item of business should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency".
    In the latter case, the reason for considering the item of business must be specified in the minutes. It takes account of the views expressed by the local authority associations, which, in relation to the difficulties which could arise in connection with the preparation of the summary report after the exclusion of exempt information, consider that the word "record" would be more appropriate than the word "account".

    Does the hon. Member not feel that in paragraph (b) of amendment No. 97 the provision for the opinion of the chairman to be the only deciding factor as to whether there are"special circumstances" leaves the matter wide open, and could remove the safeguards which he is trying to built: into the Bill?

    The hon. Member has been an assiduous supporter of the Bill and it is good to see him here with us this morning. He makes a valid point. There is inevitably, perhaps, an area of compromise here. Whatever the form of words upon which we were to settle, we would have to recognise that there would need to be at the very least the right to take matters as a matter of urgency, and that ultimately the interpretation of that would lie, so to speak, in the self-same hands of councillors and officers, as suggested by the amendment.

    I recognise what the hon. Member says as being a possibility, but I hope that in the post-legislation atmosphere in which we shall be operating councillors and members of the public will be able to highlight such matters, particularly if they seemed to be taking place as a matter of course, and thus shame the relevant authority into behaving in a more responsible manner. As I said, I accept what the hon. Member says as being possible. It is equally a possibility in several other clauses. All I can do is to set a framework and hope that the House will recognise the problems under which we operate.

    I share the concern that has been expressed about paragraph (b). of the amendment, not because I do not think that it is necessary —indeed, I think it is exceedingly necessary — but from my experience in local government I know that there are occasions when certain items are put to a chairman and that, if they are not taken through committee at the time in question, they inevitably cause delay to the work of the local authority and affect the good management of the local authority in general. I believe that some provision such as this is necessary in the Bill. I am merely concerned that the phrasing of the provision may be open to misinterpretation. I can offer no solutions whatever.

    My other concern is that the amendment does not specifically refer to those matters which might be brought before a committee, in the opinion of the chairman, as a matter of urgency, and which are also matters which would be taken in private by the local authority. That is a device that those of us who have years of experience in local government could easily use if we wished to exclude information from the eyes of the general public.

    I wish to draw attention to those matters. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire) has already said, it is impossible to stop up every gap in any legislation. The possibilities of misuse should be fully understood at the beginning, so that local authorities know that we in the House would take a rather dim view of a local authority that did not put into practice the spirit of the Bill. That important point should be made. The intention encapsulated in the amendment is important and should not be used and abused by local government, easy though that might be.

    10 am

    I should like to ask the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire) why what is provided in amendment No. 97 is not applied to sub-committees, unless I misunderstand the Bill. I have seen open examples of this in the past few days. The use of subcommittees is much more open to abuse than meetings of principal councils. Indeed, the more one applies pressure on the main meetings of the council, the more business is hidden away in a committee, and the more one applies pressure to the committee, the more business is hidden away in sub-committee. Had the hon. Gentleman thought of applying the same principle to sub-committees as is contained in amendment No. 95?

    I sympathise with the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser) trying to puzzle his way through some of the amendments, because they are complex. My clear understanding is that elsewhere we have agreed that a meeting of a principal council will include, in this context, a committee and sub-committee—for the reasons that the hon. Gentleman rightly gives, that the provision must apply to all meetings, not merely the council meeting itself. I accept his point and assure him that my understanding is that the matter is covered.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move amendment No. 3, in page 5, line25, leave out from 'not' to 'of' in line 26 and insert 'provide members of the public with a reasonably fair and coherent record'.

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 4, in page 5, line29, leave out from beginning to end of line 30 and insert 'the part, as the case may be, which provides such a record without disclosing the exempt information'.

    No. 30, in clause 2, page 15, line 25, leave out from 'not' to 'of' in line 26 and insert

    'provide members of the public with a reasonably fair and coherent record'.

    No. 31, in clause 2, page 15, line 29, leave out from beginning to end of line 30 and insert

    'the part, as the case may be, which provides such a record without disclosing the exempt information'.

    As keen-eared listeners will have noted and kindly not pointed out, I inadvertently referred to amendment No. 3 in my speech on amendment No. 97. I am grateful to the House for not pulling me up.

    This is a minor group of amendments. Amendments Nos. 3 and 30 have the effect of deleting the words
    "reasonably fair and coherent account"
    and substituting
    "reasonably fair and coherent record".
    Amendment No. 4 is consequential.

    The purpose of these minor amendments is to take account of the views of local authority associations. Throughout the proceedings on the Bill there have been detailed discussions with local authority associations, which I have much welcomed. I should like to pay tribute to them. Their advice has been invaluable and their co-operation, as we have gone through each stage of the Bill, has been critical. They felt that in connection with the preparation of the summary after the exclusion of exempt information the word "record" would be more appropriate than the word "account".

    Amendment agree to.

    Amendment made: No. 4, in page 5, line 29, leave out from beginning to end of line 30 and insert

    'the part, as the case may be, which provides such a record without disclosing the exempt information'.—[Mr. Squire.]

    I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 6, line 40, leave out from 'council' to end of line 43.

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 6, in page 7, line 8, leave out '(if any)'.

    No. 7, in page 7, line 21, leave out from beginning to end of line 34 and insert—

    '(3) Any reference in this Part to a committee or subcommittee of a principal council is a reference to—

  • (a) a committee which is constituted under an enactment specified in section 101(9) below or which is appointed by one or more principal councils under section 102 below; or
  • (b) a joint committee not falling within paragraph (a) above which is appointed or established under any enactment by two or more principal councils and is not a body corporate; or
  • (c) a sub-committee appointed or established under any enactment by one or more committees falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above.
  • (4) Any reference in this Part to a constituent principal council, in relation to a committee or sub-committee, is a reference—

  • (a) in the case of a committee, to the principal council, or any of the principal councils, of which it is a committee; and
  • (b) in the case of a sub-committee, to any principal council which, by virtue of paragraph (a) above, is a constituent principal council in relation to the committee, or any of the committees, which established or appointed the sub-committee.
  • No. 8 in page 7, line 40, leave out from 'council' to end of line 42.

    No. 14, in page 8, line 10, leave out from beginning to end of line 22.

    No. 22, in page 9, line 38, leave out from 'of' to 'and' in line 40 and insert

    'a committee or sub-committee of a principal council'.

    No. 26, in page 10, line 33, at end insert—

    "committee or sub-committee of a principal council" shall be construed in accordance with section 100E(3) above;
    "constituent principal council" shall be construed in accordance with section 100E(4) above'.

    No. 27, in page 11, line 11, leave out from beginning to end of line 19.

    No. 41, in clause 2, page 21, line 4, after 'below', insert

    'other than a committee constituted under the enactment specified in paragraph (d) of that section'.

    No. 71, in the schedule, page 23, line 45, leave out 'or constitued by'.

    No. 72, in the schedule, page 24, line 1, leave out from beginning to end of line 10 and insert—

    '

    (b) in the case of a committee, to—
  • (i) any constituent principal council;
  • (ii) any other principal council by which appointments are made to the committee or whose functions the committee discharges; and
  • (iii) any other committee or sub-committee of a principal council failing within sub-paragraph (i) or (ii) above; and
  • (c) in the case of a sub-committee, to—
  • (i) the committee, or any of the committees, of which it is a sub-committee; and
  • (ii) any principal council which falls within paragraph (b) above in relation to that committee.'.
  • Although many amendments are in this group, only a couple are what might be termed major amendments. All the others are consequential. These amendments deal with the definition of committees, subcommittees and so on. Amendment No. 5 deletes the words in section 100E(1) (b) relating to committees or subcommittees constituted under an enactment specified in section 101(9) of the Local Government Act 1972. The purpose of the amendment is to simplify the definition of a committee or sub-committee of a principal council. That has been made possible because of the extension of the Bill to cover other bodies —for example, the Common Council of the City of London and combined police authorities. It means that the Bill now covers all committees and sub-committees constituted under the enactment specified in section 101(9) of the 1972 Act as well as all committees constituted under section 102 of that Act.

    Amendment No. 7 deletes the words after subsection (2) (c) in section 100E and also subsection (3) of section 100E, and replaces them with new subsections (3) and (4). New subsection 100E(3) defines which committees and sub-committees of a principal council are covered by the Bill. They are, first, in paragraph (a).
    "a committee … constituted under an enactment specified in section 101(9)"
    of the 1972 Act, or a committee or joint committee appointed by principal councils only under section 102 of the 1972 Act; secondly, in paragraph (b)., joint committees established by two or more principal councils under enactments other than those covered by paragraph (a); and, thirdly, in paragraph (c), sub-committees established
    "under any enactment by one or more committees falling within paragraph .(a). or (b) ".
    New subsection 100E(4) replaces the existing section 100E(3) in defining what a constituent principal council means in relation to a committee or sub-committee.

    The purpose of the amendment is to introduce another part of the simplification of drafting in relation to committees and sub-committees. It applies the Bill to joint committees established by two or more principal councils under enactments other than section 102 of the 1972 Act. That is because there are several Acts, apart from that section of the 1972 Act, which empower councils to set up joint committees. All those Acts cannot be listed comprehensively as many are local Act powers; for example, the Humber Bridge Act 1973 and the Clifton Suspension Bridge Act 1980. New section 100E(3)(c) will cover joint sub-committees set up by two committees. An example is joint social services sub-committees under section 4 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970.

    All the other amendments are consequential and, despite my delivery, and not necessarily having said so, I assure the House that these are clarifying and simplifying amendments.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 6, in page 7, line 8, leave out (if any)'.

    No. 7, in page 7, line 21, leave out from beginning to end of line 34 and insert—

    '(3) Any reference in this Part to a committee or subcommittee of a principal council is a reference to—
  • (a) a committee which is constituted under an enactment specified in section 101(9) below or which is appointed by one or more principal councils under section 102 below; or
  • (b) a joint committee not falling within paragraph (a) above which is appointed or established under any enactment by two or more principal councils and is not a body corporate; or
  • (c) a sub-committee appointed or established under any enactment by one or more committees falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above.
  • (4) Any reference in this Part to a constituent principal council, in relation to a committee or sub-committee, is a reference—
  • (a) in the case of a committee, to the principal council, or any of the principal councils, of which it is a committee; and
  • (a) in the case of a sub-committee, to any principal council which, by virtue of paragraph (a) above, is a constituent principal council in relation to the committee, or any of the committees, which established or appointed the sub-committee.
  • No. 8, in page 7, line 40, leave out from 'council' to end of line 42 — [Mr. Squire.]

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 49, the schedule, page 22, line 12, at end insert—

    '1A, Information relating to a particular employee, former employee or applicant to become an employee of, or a particular officer, former officer or applicant to become an officer appointed by—
  • (a) a magistrates' court committee, within the meaning of section 19 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1979; or
  • (b) a probation committee appointed under paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973'.
  • No. 59, in the schedule, page 23, line 4, after '1', insert'1A'.

    This group of amendments is concerned with magistrate and probation committee employees. They add paragraph IA to schedule 12A, part I, paragraph references already in section 100F(2). At the moment, a councillor may not automatically see documents which disclose exempt information of a description falling within this paragraph. Paragraph 1A of schedule 12A, part I, covers information relating to employees of magistrates courts and probation committees. It is needed because county councils are the paying authority for those committees and may therefore have to discuss information relating to a particular employee of such a committee.

    Such information would not be exempt under paragraph 1 of part I of the schedule because the persons concerned are employees not of the local authority but of the committees referred to. I see no reason for councillors having an automatic right to see papers on those matters, any more than they have an automatic right to see them on employee matters. Therefore, with this sample amendment I am bringing employees in magistrates courts and probation committees into line with all other staff.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move amendment No. 10, in page 8, line 4, after '8', insert '8B'.

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 52, in the schedule, page 22 line 31, leave out '

    or (b) a collective agreement'.
    No. 53, in the schedule, in page 22, line 32, at end insert—
    '8B. Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office-holders under, the auhority.'
    No. 62, in the schedule, in page 23, line 19, leave out from 'services' to end of line 20.

    No. 63, in the schedule, in page 23, line 20, at end insert—

    '5. Information falling within paragraph 8B of Part I above is exempt information if and so long as disclosure to the public of the information would prejudice the authority in those or any other consultations or negotiations in connection with a labour relations matter arising as mentioned in that paragraph.'
    No.65, in the schedule, in page 23, line 30, leave out from beginning to end of line 31.

    No. 68, in the schedule, in page 23, line 33, at end insert—

    '"labour relations matter" means—
  • (a) any of the matters specified in paragraphs (a) to (g) of section 29(1) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 (matters which may be the subject of a trade dispute, within the meaning of that Act); or
  • (b) any dispute about a matter falling within paragraph (a) above;
  • and for the purposes of this definition the enactments mentioned in paragraph (a) above, with the necessary modifications, shall apply in relation to office-holders under the authority as they apply in relation to employees of the authority'
    No. 75, in the schedule, in page 25, line 5 at end insert—
    '9A. Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or officeholders under, the authority.'.
    No. 83, in the schedule, in page 25, line 33, at end insert—
    '5. Information falling within paragraph 9A of Part 1 above is exempt information if and so long as disclosure to the public of the information would prejudice the authority in those or any other consultations or negotiations in connection with a labour relations matter arising as mentioned in that paragraph.'.
    No. 85, in the schedule in page 25, line 40, leave out from beginning to end of line 41.

    No. 88, in the schedule, in page 25, line 43, at end insert—

    '"labour relations matter" means—
  • (a) any of the matters specified in paragraphs (a) to (g) of section 29(1) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974(matters which may be the subject of a trade dispute, within the meaning of that Act); or
  • (b) any dispute about a matter falling within paragraph (a) above;
  • and for the purposes of this definition the enactments mentioned in paragraph (a) above, with the necessary modifications, shall apply in relation to office-holders under the authority as they apply in relation to employees of the authority.'.

    We now come to industrial relations matters, although I hope that we shall not use the opportunity to break out into any unofficial action.

    These amendments restrict the automatic right of a councillor to see documents falling within paragraph 8A of schedule 12A, not least because, as with the previous group of amendments, there is currently no automatic right—I stress the word "automatic"-to see papers on these matters.

    Amendment No. 53 provides more comprehensively than the existing provision in paragraph 8 of part I of the schedule for exempt information in respect of labour relations matters. It covers:

    "Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office-holders under, the authority."
    The term "labour relations matter" is defined in part III of the schedule.

    Amendments Nos. 52, 62 and 65 are consequential.

    Amendment No. 63 adds a new paragraph to part II of the schedule qualifying paragraph 8B of part I. Paragraph 8B includes information relating to consultations or negotiations in connection with labour relations matters as exempt information. New paragraph 5 provides that information is exempt under paragraph 8B only so long as its disclosure to the public would prejudice the authority in consultations or negotiations referred to in that paragraph or arising under it.

    In short, information is capable of protection under paragraph 8B only so long as disclosure would prejudice the authority in relevant consultations or negotiations. With your wide experience of these matters, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am sure that you and other hon. Members will appreciate that there are various stages in industrial relations negotiations and that matters which may be deemed exempt and confidential at one stage may be expected to become non-confidential and able to be released at a later stage. While the local authority as employer is considering its position, it seems right that it should be protected in this way.

    Amendment No. 68 defines the term "labour relations matter" used in paragraph 8B of part I of the schedule. The definition reads:
    "'labour relations matter' means—
  • (a) any of the matters specified in paragraphs (a) to (g) of section 29(1) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 (matters which may be the subject of a trade dispute, within the meaning of that Act): or
  • (b) any dispute about a matter falling within paragraph (a) above".
  • I wished to achieve a generally accepted definition and I submit that that set out in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974, regardless of the way in which individual Members may feel about the Act itself, is a useful bench mark in this respect. Amendment No. 68 further provides:

    "for the purposes of this definition the enactments mentioned in paragraph (a) above, with the necessary modifications, shall apply in relation to office-holders under the authority as they apply in relation to employees of the authority."
    This provision is necessary because section 29(1) of the 1974 Act deals with disputes between employers and workers.

    Subject to those comments, the remaining amendments are consequential and, I submit, clarify what is and is not to be regarded as an industrial relations matter.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move amendment No. 11, in page 8, line 4, leave out 'and 9' and insert '9 and 10'.

    With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 12, in page 8, line 4, after 'of', insert 'Part I of.

    This is the third and final group of amendments dealing with restrictions on council members' automatic rights. It deals with a small but important aspect concerning the prevention of crime. Paragraph 10 of part I of schedule 12A concerning the prevention of crime is being added to the list of categories of exempt information which councillors may not automatically see.

    10.15 am

    The purpose is to prevent a councillor investigating on behalf of an interested constituent and beyond his remit as a member of a functioning committee or subcommittee legal advice available to the council of which he is a corporate member. I do not suggest for one moment that this land is peopled with councillors who would act in that way, but it is clearly possible that a member of the public facing potential criminal proceedings by a local authority might, through his or her local councillor, seek to obtain information surrounding that in a way which might frustrate the enforcement of the law and the punishment of criminal activity. To protect that position, but recognising that this places some small restraint on councillors' lawful activities, it seems right and proper that councillors should not have automatic access to such information. The purpose of amendment No. 11 is to make that clear.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendment made: No. 12, in page 8, line 4, after 'of, insert 'Part I of'.— [Mr. Squire.]

    I beg to move amendment No. 13, in page 8, line 6, at end insert—

    '(2A) The Secretary of State may by order amend subsection (2) above—
  • (a) by adding to the description of exempt information to which that subsection refers for the time being; or
  • (b) by removing any description of exempt information to which it refers for the time being.
  • (2B) Any statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (2A) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.'

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 24, in page 10, line 30, leave out from begining to 'subject' in line 31 and insert—

    '(4) Any statutory instrument containing an order under this section shall be'.
    No. 33, in clause 2, page 17, line 45, at end insert—

    '(2A) The Secretary of State may by order amend subsection (2) above—
  • (a) by adding to the descriptions of exempt information to which that subsection refers for time being; or
  • (b) by removing any description of exempt information to which it refers for the time being.
  • (2B) Any statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (2A) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.'.
    No. 40, in clause 2, page 20, line 10, leave out from beginning to 'subject' in line 11 and insert—

    '(3) Any statutory instrument containing an order under this section shall be.'.

    I hope that the House is not becoming bored with this near-monologue. These amendments cover important areas and I am grateful for the patience of the House.

    Amendment No. 13 gives the Secretary of State power to amend section 100F(2) relating to the whole area of exempt information. It provides that the Secretary of State may, by negative resolution order, vary the categories of exempt information in schedule 12A which councilors may not automatically see. The purpose of the amendment is perhaps obvious, in that section 1001 gives the Secretary of State power, by negative resolution order, to vary the categories of exempt information in schedule 12A. Section 100F(2) dealing with councillors' rights, or lack of them, clearly relates to certain paragraphs in part I of schedule 12A and there is a need to be able to vary those references as well.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendment made: No. 14, in page 8, line 10, leave out from beginning to end of line 22. — [Mr. Squire.]

    I beg to move amendment No. 15, in page 8, line 30, at end insert—

    '(1 A) A principal council shall maintain a list—
  • (a) specifying those powers of the council which are for the time being delegated, otherwise than temporarily, to officers of the council and exercisable accordingly from time to time by those officers; and
  • (b) stating the title of the officer to whom each of those powers is for the time being so delegated;
  • and for the purposes of this subsection powers are delegated "temporarily" if they are delegated for a specified period not exceeding six months.'.

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 17, in page 8, line 37, after 'above', insert

    'the list maintained under subsection (1A)above'.
    No. 34, in clause 2, page 18, line 12, at end insert—

    '(1A) A local authority shall maintain a list—
  • (a) specifying those powers of the authority which are for the time being delegated otherwise than temporarily, to officers of the authority and exercisable accordingly from time to time during that period by these officers; and
  • (b) stating the title of the officer to whom each of these powers is for the time being so delegated;
  • and for the puposes of this subsection powers are delegated "temporarily" if they are delegated for a specified period not exceeding six months.'.
    No. 36, in clause 2, page 18, line 21, after 'above', insert
    ', the list maintained under subsection (1A) above'.
    No. 43, in page 21, line 18, leave out Clause 3.

    I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold) will be following this closely, as the purpose is to amenc the new clause introduced by her and accepted by the Standing Committee with regard to the delegated powers of officers.

    The amendment provides:
    "(1A) A principal council shall maintain a list—
  • (a) specifying those powers of the council which are for the time being delegated, otherwise than temporarily, to officers of the council and exercisable accordingly from time to time by those officers; and
  • (b) stating the title of the officer to whom each of those powers is for the time being so delegated;
  • and for the purposes of this subsection powers are delegated "temporarily" if they are delegated for a specified period not exceeding six months".
    I do not suggest that six months is necessarily ideal. As always, there is no doubt a range of opinion. After discussion with the local authority associations, however, and especially in view of difficulties that may arise in the summer holiday period, my initial proposal of three months was replaced by a six-month period, which was regarded as better and safer.

    The amendment replaces the present clause 3, which would be impracticable in that it would cover every type of delegation made by a council, including the thousands of temporary delegations. The amendment seeks to overcome the problem by limiting the list to delegations made for a period exceeding six months and by excluding delegations to do something on one occasion only.

    The list is open to public inspection at the council offices by virtue of consequential amendment No. 17. Many authorities already publish the information in any event, but I remind the House, and especially hon. Members who were not members of the Standing Committee, that the purpose of these provisions is to ensure that there is a regular opportunity for members of the council to review the delegated powers being exercised by officers and to establish whether they are inadequate, sufficient or excessive vis-à-vis their own powers and those exercised by other local authorities.

    The hon. Gentleman referred to amendments Nos. 15, 17 and 43, which stand in his name. Has he any comments to make on amendments Nos. 34 and 36, which do not stand in his name? When dealing with previous batches of amendments he has similarly not referred to amendments that have been tabled by others. Does this mean that the amendments will not be moved, or does it mean that he accepts them?

    I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman was in his place when I referred to amendments Nos. 34 and 36. They represent the Scottish equivalents— not that I would ever suggest that anything in Scotland could ever be an equivalent—of the proposed English and Welsh legislation of which I am speaking.

    When I was in local government, I was one of the few who believed in delegation. I should have welcomed a great deal more of it. I believed that the locally elected members were there to determine policy and that, once policy had been determined, it was not sensible for them to spend hours of public time and considerable public money scruitinising every decision that they had made when that work could well have been delegated to officers.

    I am concerned about the amendment — I am probably not understanding it fully—as it provides that delegated powers will have to be reviewed over a period. I accept that it is proper that delegated powers should be published—that is what I wanted in the first place—but the idea of consistent and continuous review concerns me.

    Experience has told me that if individuals are given opportunities to claw back responsibilities which they have delegated in the past, they will often think to themselves, "Perhaps it would be quite nice to have that bit back again." This extends — in my view, needlessly — the work that is done by local authorities, and leads them to expend more public money unnecessarily, thus encouraging those who would otherwise be pursuing matters of major policy to delve into minor matters that are better given to those who are employed by the authorities and paid by them.

    I am worried that local authorities, and especially elected members, spend far too much time trying to duplicate the work of those whom they employ. For this reason, I am slightly concerned that the proposed amendment to the original idea, which provides an opportunity to scrutinise what has been delegated, should imply that the elected members might claw back some of their earlier responsibilities.

    I accept that with this amendment, as with many others and as with the Bill itself, there is a question of balance. My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold) is right to emphasise that. In taking the entirely neutral view that all hon. Members take when considering the activities of local authorities, it would be fairly easy for me to produce a list of authorities which seem at first sight to give excessive delegated powers to officers. That list could be balanced by a second list of other authorities where individual councillors seem to regard themselves as equivalent to officers, as evidenced by the time that they sit in the council offices and the energies that they there expend.

    Being an old-fashioned thing, I tend to side with what I take to be the implications of my hon. Friend's intervention. I accept that the essential role of councillors is to take strategic decisions and that council officers are there to administer and to carry out councillors' decisions. If the amendment is accepted, it will not seek to impose any particular balance. It will allow councillors to review the delegated powers to ascertain whether they are doing too much or too little.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move amendment No. 16, in page 8, line 31, leave out from beginning to end of line 35 and insert—

    '(2) There shall be kept at the offices of every principal council a written summary of the rights—
  • (a) to attend meetings of a principal council and of committees and sub-committees of a principal council, and
  • (b) to inspect and copy documents and to be furnished with documents,
  • which are for the time being conferred by this Part, Part XI below and such other enactments as the Secretary of State by order specifies.'

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 18, in page 8, line 37, leave out 'made' and insert 'kept'.

    No. 35, in Clause 2, page 18, line 13, leave out from beginning to end of line 19 and insert—

    '(2) There shall be kept at the offices of every local authority a written summary of the rights—
  • (a) to attend meetings of the authority and of committees and sub-committees of the authority, and
  • (b) to inspect and copy documents and to be furnished with documents,
  • which are for the time being conferred by this Part, Part XI below and such other enactments as the Secretary of State by order specifies.'.
    No. 37, in Clause 2, page 18, line 21, leave out 'made' and insert 'kept'.

    The amendment is directed to a summary of the public's rights and the powers of the Secretary of State to amend. It provides for a principal council to keep in its offices

    "a written summary of the rights … to attend meetings of a principal council and of committees and sub-committees of a principal council, and … to inspect and copy documents and to be furnished with documents which are conferred"
    by part VA, as proposed, and part 11 of the 1972 Act and such other enactments as the Secretary of State may by order specify. The amendment will replace section 100G(2) and represents a compromise when set against my original intention that the Bill should oblige councillors to publish a summary of the public's right of access to information under all enactments. I now accept that such a requirement would not be practicable in view of the diversity of legislation involved.

    The amendment widens the summary of rights to the extent of adding an order which gives the Secretary of State power to specify which enactments other than the Bill and part 11 of the 1972 Act are to be covered. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has it in mind to issue such an order should the Bill become law, and that that will be done after discussions with relevant local authority associations.

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment
    (Mr. William Waldegrave)

    I confirm that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will exercise his power as my hon. Friend has said and will make an order that will list the relevant enactments. It is important that the consultations that precede the making of such an order should be widespread both with the local authority associations and with other interested parties.

    The consultations which my right hon. Friend will undertake might be somewhat extended to cover consultations with local authorities about further information which might be made available by the Department to help with the working of the Bill, which we hope will shortly be an Act. Without making any specific commitments, may I say that there may be room for consideration of advice from my Department. The Government have made strenuous efforts to reduce the number of circulars sent to local authorities, on the ground that circulars are part of the nannying that local authorities, on the whole, do not want. However, in the context of a new enactment, we shall discuss with authorities whether it would be helpful to them to be given some advice and explanation. I am sure that my hon. Friend will be willing to take part in such discussions.

    I congratulate my hon. Friend on the great skill and care with which he has wended his way through extremely complex amendments. Of course, there are plenty more to come. I congratulate him also on the progress that he is making. The speed with which we are progressing represents the fact that my hon. Friend, my officials and those concerned with the Bill in general have worked together closely and effectively. Our consideration of the Bill this morning is really the tip of the iceberg. A great deal of work had to be done to enable us to make such speedy progress, and I congratulate my hon. Friend.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 17, in page 8, line 37, after 'above', insert

    'the list maintained under subsection (1A) above'.

    No. 18, in page 8, line 37, leave out 'made' and insert 'kept'.— [Mr. Squire.]

    10.30 am

    I beg to move amendment No. 19, in page 9, line 6, after 'may', insert 'subject to subsection (2A) below'.

    With this it will be convenient to consider the following amendments: No. 20, in page 9, line 14 at end insert—

    '(2A) Subsection (2) above does not require or authorise the doing of any act which infringes the copyright in any work except that, where the owner of the copyright is a principal council, nothing done in pursuance of that subsection shall constitute an infringement of the copyright.'.

    No. 38, in clause 2, page 18, line 34, after 'may', insert

    'subject to subsection (2A) below'.

    No. 39, in clause 2, page 18, line 42, at end insert—

    ' (2A) Subsection (2) above does not require or authorise the doing of any act which infringes the copyright in any work except that, where the owner of the copyright is a local authority, nothing done in pursuance of that subsection shall constitute an infringement of the copyright.
    (2B) The Data Protection Act 1984 (and, in any particular, section 26(1) of that Act) shall have effect as if the following words were added at the end of section 34(5) (personal data exempt from non-disclosure provisions in certain cases), namely,", or
    (d) made in the course of proceedings which, by virtue of section 50A(1) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, are open to the public at a meeting of a local authority (within the meaning of that Act) or a committee or sub-committee of a local authority in relation to which sections 50A to 50D of that Act apply by virtue of section 50E of that Act"; '

    In responding to the comments made on the last amendment by the Minister, for which I thank him, it might be of interest to hon. Members to know that we are now slightly past half way through the amendments that have been tabled, which news will be treated either with horror or amazement, according to taste.

    This is another important group of amendment.; because it is concerned with the whole question of copyright, and the amendment introduces a new subsection to cover copyright. It provides that there is no duty to supply copies where to make a copy would infringe the copyright in the document. It does not apply where the owner of the copyright is the principal council, as copyright will not be infringed if the owner of the copyright consents to the copy. Councils should not be allowed to refuse to furnish copies by refusing to give that consent.

    The purpose of the amendment is to prevent the Bill from overriding copyright law. An example of how that could happen, were the amendment not accepted, would be copies of plans with which councils are supplied in connection with applications for planning permission or building regulation approval. The architect will own the copyright in such plans, and his copyright would be infringed if the council reproduced the plans, for example, by supplying copies to the public pursuant to the rights in section 100D or to councillors pursuant to section 100F.

    Will the amendment help to do away with the nonsense that goes on in the education world, when people who take copies of music from which children sing in schools are uncertain whether they must pay copyright dues to the Performing Right Society?

    Up to now I have regarded my hon. Friend's interventions as helpful. I regard any intervention that expects me to make an immediate judgment on anything involving not merely children but teachers to be so loaded with implications that I hesitate to commit myself. I cannot comment on the subject. Sheltering perhaps behind a predictable response, I can only tell my hon. Friend that nothing that I am proposing here will affect the existing position.

    Although my hon. Friend says that I am highlighting an existing abuse, I fear that I am not tackling it in this measure, so that, if the position is unsatisfactory, that may continue to be the case following the passage of my Bill.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire) must have been astonished at some of the areas in which his Bill has had to make him become expert, though I doubt if, when he set out on this route, he thought that he would have to become an expert on copyright law. That shows how complex is legislation of this kind, and I congratulate him again on wending his way through it.

    Copyright law is one of the most complex matters with which my hon. Friend has had to wrestle in the Bill. The point to be resolved is whether the measure, in providing for local government information to be open to the public, should override existing copyright law, or whether that law should remain unaffected. There are two schools of thought on that.

    The Government believe that my hon. Friend is wise to have opted, at least for the time being, for the latter course and to have left the present law unaffected. That seems to be the right decision in the context of the Bill. The rights and interests of a significant number of third parties, other than local authorities and persons wishing to have information, would be affected by a change in the copyright law.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold) mentioned architects as one example. It would not be practicable to assess the precise merits or demerits of such a change without consulting properly the kinds of bodies that would be expected to represent the interests of those who would be likely to be affected.

    In the education world a dispute has been going on for a number of years about the way in which copyright operates in relation to educational information for children in schools. That issue has presented, and still presents, many problems, and although I am now some distance from the argument, two or three years ago there were great problems in that area. While I accept that they are probably best not dealt with in the context of this measure, I hope that the Minister has taken note of the point.

    I too remember, although with less depth of experience than my hon. Friend, this problem when we served together on the national advisory body for local authority higher education, and I recall it being a matter that affected polytechnics. I also have some tangential contact with it now because of my responsibility for the ordnance survey, which gives various copyright privileges to schools; for example, its maps are important.

    I will follow up my hon. Friend's remarks with Government colleagues who are more directly responsible in this area. While it does not affect the Bill, it is an important issue and I will ask colleagues to write to my hon. Friend to clarify the position, and I will send her details of the ordnance survey practice, which is important in this context.

    If we were to have made changes to the existing copyright law in the Bill, we should have wanted to consult, for example, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the British Property Federation, the Joint Contracts Tribunal and the Law Society; and I have no doubt that we should want to add others to the list.

    In the time available for the preparation of the Bill, and with the many other complicated matters with which my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch has had to deal, there has not been a chance—it would not have been realistic to expect him to have had the chance — to consult in the necessary depth on this issue, and in the time remaining to him it would be impossible for him to do that. I am glad, therefore, that my hon. Friend is agreeing that it is sensible for his Bill to maintain the existing position, rather than to tackle a matter the ramifications of which could prove even more intricate than those with which he has had to deal. The course that he is recommending to the House is therefore sensible.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 20, in page 9, line 14, at end insert—

    '(2A) Subsection (2) above does not require or authorise the doing of any act which infringes the copyright in any work except that, where the owner of the copyright is a principal council, nothing done in pursuance of that subsection shall constitute an infringement of the copyright.'.

    No. 21, in page 9, line 14, at end insert—

    '(2B) The Data Protection Act 1984 (and, in particular, section 26(1) of that Act) shall have effect as if the following words were added at the end of section 34(5) (personal data exempt from non-disclosure provisions in certain cases), namely, "or
    (c) made in the course of proceedings which, by virtue of section 100A(1) of the Local Government Act 1972, ae open to the public at a meeting of a principal council or a committee or sub-committee of a principal council ('principal council' and 'committee or sub-committee of a principal council' being construed in accordance with Part VA of that Act)".'.

    No. 22, in page 9, line 38, leave out from 'of' to 'and' in line 40 and insert

    'a committee or sub-committee of a principal council'.—[Mr. Squire.]

    I beg to move amendment No. 23, in page 10, line 13, at end insert—

    '(6) The rights conferred by this Part to inspect, copy and be furnished with documents are in addition, and without prejudice, to any such rights conferred by or under any other enactment'.

    It will be convenient for the House to consider at the same time amendment No. 91, in clause 2, page 19, line 41, at end insert—

    '(6) The rights conferred by this Part to inspect, copy and be furnished with documents are in addition, and without prejudice, to any such rights conferred by or under any other enactment.'.

    This is a minor amendment designed to avoid doubt that the rights under the Bill to inspect copy, and to be furnished with photocopies of documents, should be additional to, and without any prejudice to, rights to inspect documents under any other enactments. For example, the Local Government Finance Act 1982 has a number of provisions in that respect.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 24, in page 10, line 30, leave out from beginning to 'subject' in line 31 and insert—

    '(4) Any statutory instrument containing an order under this section shall be'.

    No. 25, in page 10, line 32, at end insert—

    'Application to new authorities, Common Council, etc.
    100II—(1) Except in this section, any reference in this Part to a principal council includes a reference to—,
  • (a) the Inner London Education Authority;
  • (b) a joint authority;
  • (c) the Common Council;
  • (d) a joint board or joint committee falling within subsection (2) below;
  • (e) a combined police authority which is a body corporate.
  • (2) A joint board or joint committee falls within this subsection if—
  • (a) it is constituted under any enactment as a body corporate; and
  • (b) it discharges functions of two or more principal councils;
  • and for the purposes of this subsection any body falling within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of subsection (1) above shall be treated as a principal council.
    (3) In its application by virtue of subsection (1) above in relation to a body falling within paragraph (a), (b), (d) or (e) of that subsection, section 100A(6)(a) above shall have effect with the insertion after the word "council" of the words "(and, if the meeting is to be held at premises other than those offices, at those premises)".
    (4) In its application by virtue of subsection (1) above, section 100G(1)(a) above shall have effect—
  • (a) in relation to a joint authority or a combined police authority, with the substitution for the words from "ward" onwards of the words "name or description of the body which appointed him"; and
  • (b) in relation to a joint board or joint committee falling within subsection (2) above with the omission of the words from "ward" onwards.'.
  • No. 26, in page 10, line 33, at end insert—

    "'committee or sub-committee of a principal council" shall be construed in accordance with section 100E(3) above;
    "constituent principal council" shall be construed in accordance with section 100E(4) above'.

    No. 27, in page 11, line 11, leave out from beginning to end of line 19.

    No. 28, in page 11, line 11, at end insert—

    "principal council" shall be construed in accordance with section 100II above. '.-[Mr. Squire.]

    Clause 2

    Access To Meetings And Documents Of Local Authorities And Certain Committees And Sub- Committees In Scotland

    Amendments made: No. 29, in page 12, line 10, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—

    '(b) information the disclosure of which to the public is prohibited by or under any enactment other than the Data Protection Act 1984, or by the order of a court.'.

    No. 95, in page 14, line 11, at end insert—

    '(3A) An item of business may not be considered at a meeting of a local authority unless either—
  • (a) a copy of the agenda including the item (or a copy of the item) is open to inspection by members of the public in pursuance of subsection (1) above for at least three clear days before the meeting or, where the meeting is convened at shorter notice, from the time the meeting is convened; or
  • (b) by reason of special circumstances, which shall be specified in the minutes, the chairman of the meeting is of the opinion that the item should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency. '.
  • No. 30, in page 15, line 25, leave out from 'not' to 'of in line 26 and insert

    'provide members of the public with a reasonably fair and coherent record'.

    No. 31, in page 15, line 29, leave out from beginning to end of line 30 and insert

    'the part, as the case may be, which provides such a record without disclosing the exempt information'.-[Mr. Squire.]

    I beg to move amendment No. 32, in page 17, line 43, leave out '6, 8 and 9' and insert

    '5, 7, 9 to 11 and 13 of Part I'.
    This is a simple amendment designed to cover the Scottish position concerning members' rights. It is identical to the matter discussed on amendments Nos. 11 and 12.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 33, in page 17, line 45, at end insert—

    '(2A) The Secretary of State may by order amend subsection (2) above—
  • (a) by adding to the descriptions of exempt information to which that subsection refers for the time being; or
  • (b) by removing any description of exempt information to which it refers for the time being.
  • (2B) Any statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (2A) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament. '.

    No. 34, in page 18, line 12, at end insert—

    '(1A) A local authority shall maintain a list—
  • (a) specifying those powers of the authority which are for the time being delegated otherwise than temporarily, to officers of the authority and exercisable accordingly from time to time during that period by these officers; and
  • (b) stating the title of the officer to whom each of these powers is for the time being so delegated;
  • and for the purposes of this subsection powers are delegated "temporarily" if they are delegated for a specified period not exceeding six months.'.

    No. 35, in page 18, line 13, leave out from beginning to end of line 19 and insert—

    '(2) There shall be kept at the offices of every local authority a written summary of the rights—
  • (a) to attend meetings of the authority and of committees and sub-committees of the authority, and
  • (b) to inspect and copy documents and to be furnished with documents,
  • which are for the time being conferred by this Part, Part XI below and such other enactments as the Secretary of State by order specifies.'.

    No. 36, in page 18, line 21, after 'above', insert

    ' the list maintained under subsection (1A) above'.

    No. 37, in page 18, line 21, leave out 'made' and insert

    No. 38, in page 18, line 34, after 'may', insert

    'subject to subsection (2A) below'.

    No. 39, in page 18, line 42, at end insert—

    '(2A) Subsection (2) above does not require or authorise the doing of any act which infringes the copyright in any work except that, where the owner of the copyright is a local authority, nothing done in pursuance of that subsection shall constitute an infringement of the copyright.
    (2B) The Data Protection Act 1984 (and, in any particular, section 26(1) of that Act) shall have effect as if the following words were added at the end of section 34(5) (persona]. data exempt from non-disclosure provisions in certain cases), namely,", or
    (d) made in the course of proceedings which, by virtue of section 50A(1) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, are open to the public at a meeting of a local authority (within the meaning of that Act) or a committee or sub-committee of a local authority in relation to which sections 50A to 50D of that Act apply by virtue of section 50E of that Act";'.

    No. 91, in page 19, line 41, at end insert—

    '(6) The rights conferred by this Part to inspect, copy and be furnished with documents are in addition, and without prejudice, to any such rights conferred by or under any other enactment. '.

    No. 40, in page 20, line 10, leave out from beginning to 'subject' in line 11 and insert—

    '(3) Any statutory instrument containing an order under this section shall be. '.

    No. 41, in page 21, line 4, after 'below', insert

    'other than a committee constituted under the enactment specified in paragraph (d) of that section'.

    No. 42, in page 21, line 16, leave out from beginning to end of line 17. — [Mr. Squire.]

    Clause 3

    List Of Delegated Powers

    Amendment made: No. 43, in page 21, line 18, leave out Clause 3.— [Mr. Squire.]

    Clause 4

    Extent

    Amendment made: No. 44, in page 21, line 24, at beginning insert

    'Except for this section and section (Consequential amendments and repeals) in so far as it relates to paragraph 2 of Schedule (Consequential amendments) '.—[Mr. Squire.]

    Clause 5

    Application

    Amendment made: No. 45, in page 21, line 25, leave out Clause 5.— [Mr. Squire.]

    Clause 6

    Commencement

    10.45 am

    I beg to move amendment No. 46, in page 21, line 28, leave out 'take effect' and insert 'come into force'.

    This is a drafting amendment that alters the wording to what I am advised is the standard terminology.

    Amendment agreed to.

    New Schedule

    'Consequential Amendments

    Defamation Act 1952 (c. 66)
    1. — (1) The Schedule to the Defamation Act 1952 (by virtue of which, among other things, newspaper reports of all proceedings at meetings of local authorities and their committees are privileged unless admission to the meetings is denied to representatives of newspapers and other members of the public) shall be amended as follows.
    (2) At the beginning of paragraph 13 (interpretation) there shall be inserted "(1)" and for the definition of "local authority" in that paragraph there shall be substituted the following " 'local authority' means—
  • (a) any principal council, within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1972, any body falling within any paragraph of section 100II(1) of that Act and any local authority, within the meaning of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973;
  • (b) any authority or body to which the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 applies; and
  • (c) any authority or body to which sections 23 to 27 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 apply;
  • and any reference to a committee of a local authority shall be construed in accordance with sub-paragraph (2) below."
    (3) After paragraph 13(1) there shall be added the following sub-paragraph—
    "(2) Any reference in this Schedule to a committee of a local authority includes a reference—
  • (a) to any committee or sub-committee in relation to which sections 100A to 100D of the Local Government Act 1972 apply by virtue of section 100E of that Act (whether or not also by virtue of section 100II of that Act); and
  • (b) to any committee or sub-committee in relation to which sections 50A to 50D of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 apply by virtue of section 50E of that Act."
  • Defamation Act (Northern Ireland) 1955 (c.11, N.I.)

    2. — (1) The Schedule to the Defamation Act (Northern Ireland) 1955 (which makes similar provision to the Schedule to the Defamation Act 1952) shall be amended as follows.
    (2) At the beginning of paragraph 13 (interpretation) there shall be inserted "(1)" and for the definition of "local authority" in that paragraph there shall be substituted the following—
    " 'local authority' means—
  • (a) any authority or body to which sections 23 to 27 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 apply;
  • (b) any principal council, within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1972, any body falling within any paragraph of section 100II(1) of that Act and any local authority, within the meaning of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973;
  • (c) any authority or body to which the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 applies;
  • and any reference to a committee of a local authority shall be construed in accordance with sub-paragraph (2) below."
    (3) After paragraph 13(1) there shall be added the following sub-paragraph—
    "(2) Any reference in this Schedule to a committee of a local authority includes a reference—
  • (a) to any committee or sub-committee in relation to which sections 100A to 100D of the Local Government Act 1972 apply by virtue of section 100E of that Act (whether or not also by virtue of section 100II of that Act); and
  • (b) to any committee or sub-committee in relation to which sections 50A to 50D of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 apply by virtue of section 50E of that Act."
  • Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 (c.67)

    3. —(1) The Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 shall be amended as follows.
    (2) In section 1(1), the words "local authority or other" shall be omitted and for the words "an authority or other body" there shall be substituted the words "a body".
    (3) Section 2(2) shall be omitted.
    (4) In the Schedule (which defines the bodies to which the Act applies) for paragraph 1 (a) there shall be substituted the following paragraph—
    " (a) parish or community councils, the Council of the Isles of Scilly and joint boards or joint committees which discharge functions of any of those bodies (or of any of those bodies and of a principal council, within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1972, or a body falling within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of section 100II(1) of that Act)".
    (5) In paragraph 1 of the Schedule, paragraphs (aa) and (ab) (as inserted by the Local Government Act 1985) and (d) shall be omitted.
    (6) In paragraph 1(h) of the Schedule, for the words "police authorities" there shall be substituted the words "bodies to which sections 100A to 100D of the Local Government Act 1972 apply, whether or not by virtue of section 100E or 100II of that Act".
    (7) In paragraph 2 of the Schedule, paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (f) shall be omitted.

    Police Act 1964 (c. 48)

    4. In section 3 of the Police Act 1964 (police authorities for combined areas) after subsection (3) there shall be inserted the following subsection—
    "(3A) Meetings of a combined police authority which is (as well as one which is not) a body corporate are open to the public, and documents relating to such meetings are open to inspection by the public, in accordance with the provisions of Part VA of the Local Government Act 1972."

    Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70)

    (5) In section 100 of the Local Government Act 1972 (which applies the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 in relation to all committees of local authorities)—
  • (a) in subsection (2), the words from "to any committee constituted" to "101(9) below and" shall be omitted; and
  • (b) at the end of that subsection there shall be added the words "or section 100E(3)(a) or (b) below (whether or not by virtue of section 100II below)".
  • Local Government Finance Act 1982 (c. 32)

    6. In section 18 of the Local Government Finance Act 1982, in subsection (5) (auditor's report to be supplied to members and newspapers) after the word "excluded" there shall be inserted "(a)" and at the end of that subsection there shall be added the following words, that is to say, "or under section 100B(6) of the 1972 Act (which makes similar provision); or
    (b) from the documents open to inspection by members of the public under section 100B(1) of the 1972 Act (agenda and reports open to the public before a meeting);
    and Part VA of the 1972 Act shall have effect in relation to the report as if in section 100C(1) (d) of that Act (by virtue of which only so much of a report as relates to proceedings open to the public is open to public inspection after the meeting) the words 'so much of and from 'as relates' onwards were omitted.
    (6) In subsection (5) above, 'the 1972 Act' means the Local Government Act 1972.".'.—[Mr. Squire.]

    Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

    New Schedule

    Repeals

    ChapterShort titleExtent of repeal
    8 & 9 Eliz. 2 C. 67Public bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960In section 1(1), the words, c. 67. to Meetings) Act 1960"localauthorityor other". Section 2(2). In the Schedule, paragraph 1(aa), (ab) and (d) and paragraph 2 (a), (b),(c) and (f).
    1972 c. 65.Local Government Act 1972.In Section 100(2) the 1972. words from "to any committee constituted" to "101(9) below and".
    1973 C. 65.Local Government (Scot-land) Act 1973Section 44.'. — [Mr. Squire.]

    Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

    Schedule

    Exempt Information

    Amendment made: No. 49, in page 22, line 12, at end insert—

    '1A. Information relating to a particular employee, former employee or applicant to become an employee of, or a particular officer, former officer or applicant to become an officer appointed by—
  • (a) a magistrates' court committee, within the meaning of section 19 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1979; or
  • (b) a probation committee appointed under paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973'.—[Mr. Squire.]
  • I beg to move amendment No. 50, in page 22, line 24, at end insert '(other than the authority)'.

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 60, in page 23, line 8, leave out from 'paragraph' to end of line 9 and insert

    'if it is required to be registered under—
  • (a) the Companies Act 1985;
  • (b) the Friendly Societies Act 1974;
  • (c) the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 to 1978;
  • (d) the Building Societies Act 1962; or
  • (e) the Charities Act 1960.'
  • No. 67, in page 23, line 33, at end insert

    ' "financial or business affairs" includes contemplated, as well as past or current, activities'.

    No. 73, in page 24, line 36, at end insert '(other than the authority)'.

    No. 80, in page 25, line 21, leave out from 'paragraph' to end of line 22 and insert

    'if it is required to be registered under—
  • (a) the Companies Act 1985;
  • (b) the Friendly Societies Act 1974;
  • (c) the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 to 1978; or
  • (d) the Building Societies Act 1962;
  • No. 87, in page 25, line 43, at end insert—

    '"financial or business affairs" includes contemplated, as well as past or current activities.'.

    This is an important area. It concerns the information that may or may not be released by a local authority in respect of business and financial matters or other information coming into the authority's possession.

    Amendment No. 50 makes it clear that the words "any particular person" in paragraph 6 of part I of the schedule, which term includes the body corporate, do not include the local authority in question. The financial or business affairs of the local authority will thus not be exempt information.

    Amendment 60 is most important. It amends paragraph 2 of part II of the schedule, and qualifies paragraph 6 of part I, which makes
    "Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person"
    —including a company—exempt information. Paragraph 2 of part II as it stands provides that such information
    "is not exempt information unless it was obtained by the authority in the course of negotiations for a contract."
    I have had a number of discussions on this area. I am satisfied that the wording needs clarification for the benefit of local authorities as well as for those who deal with them. The amendment removes the reference to "negotiations for a contract" and provides instead that information is not exempt under paragraph 6 of part I if it is required to be registered under the Companies Act 1985 or other specified enactments. The intention is that information about the financial or business affairs of a person or company shall be exempt unless it is already required to be publicly available by virtue of the specified enactments. The amendment thus widens considerably the category of exempt information under paragraph 6 of part 1 of the schedule.

    Hon. Members of a more radical nature may be disappointed, but I hope not. It seems to me to be a fair compromise to require that information that is already required to be made public, under, for instance, the Companies Act 1985, should fairly and properly still be regarded as public information even though it may have come into the hands of the local authority by another route.

    We would be treading in very difficult territory if we suggested that information not otherwise required to be made public by a company under any existing legislation should none the less be subject to deliberate or accidental release by a local authority—so far as one can legislate for the accidental. That would bring in a number of other questions that I cannot cover in this measure.

    I hope that hon. Members will realise that, although it is a compromise, the route suggested in amendment No. 60 has the advantage of clarity, which must be very important, especially to local government officers dealing with requests.

    Amendment No. 67 inserts a definition of "financial or business affairs", which term is used in paragraph 6 of part 1 of the schedule. It defines the term to include
    "contemplated, as well as past or current, activities".
    It would thus include the forward planning of a person or company with regard to financial or business matters, details of which had been disclosed to the local authority. The amendment is designed to avoid doubt on that point.

    This is a very important group of amendments. I admit that I am marginally disappointed by my hon. Friend's compromise, although I accept that information that can now be disclosed under the Companies Act 1985 is—if there must be a compromise —the right information to be subject to disclosure.

    Local authorities face certain difficulties in their negotiations with companies, especially in relation to development. Many local authorities today are in the business of development, especially urban authorities that are anxious to redevelop and improve their towns because of the age of the buildings and the new requirements of the community. Today, nearly all those negotiations are carried on not only with private sector companies, some of them major ones, but also with financial institutions in order to secure funding for the project.

    Such negotiations could be completely undermined if they were dragged out into the open long before the concluding negotiations had been undertaken by the local authority, the funding institution and the developer. At such a stage, such negotiations are very delicate. People are often in competition. The local authority is charged with responsibility for getting not only the best development for its town but also the best deal for the people whom it represents. The authority is both seeking finance from financial institutions and making a contribution from public funds, by donation or negotiation of land.

    It is therefore important that safeguards should be built in to enable local authority officers, if not local authority members, to participate in the early stages of negotiation and, to some extent, the medium-term stages, in a climate that provides for stability and sensible negotiation. No financial institution, and certainly no private developer, will risk putting plans on the table if those plans could be undermined immediately by competitors because of disclosure at an early stage of the development proposals.

    Let us suppose that a local authority wished to build a new public library, block of offices or shopping centre. If design and development were disclosed at an early stage the local authority officers could not make progress, especially as they are charged with looking after the public sector, as well as protecting those who come to them from the private sector in terms of the way in which finance is to be arranged. I make those points clear, because it is important that they should be put on the record and so that the Bill, which I hope will shortly become an Act, will be understood as well as possible.

    Having said those few words, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire) will acknowledge that I accept his compromise, but with some reluctance.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move amendment No. 51, in page 22, line 30, leave out from 'acquisition' to third 'or' in line 31 and insert

    'or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services'.

    With this, it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 66, in page 23, line 31, at end insert—

    ' "disposal", in relation to property, includes the granting of an interest in or right over it'.

    No. 74, in page 25, line 3, leave out from 'acquisition' to the end of line 5 and insert

    'or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services'.

    No. 86, in page 25, line 41, at end insert—

    "'disposal" in relation to property, includes the granting of an interest in or right over it,'.

    This group of amendments is fairly simple and essentially tidies up the wording, leaving out "acquisition" and inserting

    "or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services".
    The effect is to delete the word "development" in paragraph (8) (a). It is unnecessary to refer to "development", since that is encompassed within
    "the supply of goods or services".
    It is also, in a sense, undesirable, because "development" is not referred to in paragraph (7). It is preferable that paragraphs (7) and (8) should refer to the same matters in this respect.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 52, in page 22, line 31, leave out

    'or (b) a collective agreement'.

    No. 53, in page 22, line 32, at end insert—

    '8B. Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office-holders under the authority.'—[Mr. Squirej

    I beg to move amendment No. 54, in page 22, line 32, at end insert—

    '8A. The identity of the authority (as well as of any other person, by virtue of paragraph 6 above) as the person offeing any particular tender for a contract for the supply of goods or services.'.

    With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 70, in page 23, line 38, at end insert—

    '"tender for a contract" includes a written statement prepared by the authority in pursuance of section 9(2) of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 (estimated cost of carrying out functional work by direct labour)'.

    No. 92, in page 25, line 5, at end insert—

    '9A. The identity of the authority (as well as of any other person, by virtue of paragraph 6 above) as the person offering any particular tender for a contract for the supply of goods or services.'.

    No. 94, in page 26, line 6, at end insert—

    "tender for a contract" includes a written statement prepared by the authority in pursuance of section 9(2) of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 (estimated cost of carrying out functional work by direct labour)'.

    These amendments cover direct labour organisations. As has been remarked, we are certainly covering a range of areas today. As I believe my hon. Friend the Minister has said, it is quite extraordinary how many other aspects of life have been drawn into a Bill that started with very simple intentions.

    Amendment No. 54 inserts a new paragraph (8A) into part I of schedule 12A. It provides that the identity of the authority as the person offering any particular tender for a contract for the supply of goods or services shall be exempt information. The intention is to put the authority in the same position as any private contractor in this respect, where the authority's direct labour organisation puts in a bid in an endeavour to secure work which the authority wishes to have carried out.

    The words in parentheses—
    "(as well as of any other person, by virtue of paragraph 6 above)"—
    make it clear that the identity of a private contractor tendering for a contract is exempt information under paragraph (6) of part I of schedule 12A. Contractors are generally concerned that the amount of their tender, where it is unsuccessful, should not be revealed and it is the practice of many authorities to publish lists of unsuccessful tenders and tenders in a way that prevents the two from being related.

    The term "tender for a contract" in new paragraph (8A) is defined in part III of the schedule to include a written statement prepared by the authority in pursuance of section 9(2) of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. That is the section covering the estimated cost of carrying out functional work by direct labour. The reason for this is that the local authority cannot enter into the contract with itself, in the form of its direct labour organisation. The direct labour organisation cannot, therefore, tender for a contract, but under the terms of section 9(2) of the 1980 Act it puts forward a statement of estimated cost.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move amendment No. 98, in page 22, line 33, leave out paragraph 9 and insert—

    '9. Any instructions to counsel and any opinion of counsel (whether or not in connection with any proceedings) and any advice received, information obtained or action to be taken in connection with—
  • (a) any legal proceedings by or against the authority, or
  • (b) the determination of any matter affecting the authority, (whether, in either case, proceedings have been commenced or are in contemplation).'
  • With this, it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 93, in page 25, line 6, leave out paragraph 10 and insert—

    10. Any instructions to counsel and any opinion of counsel (whether or not in connection with any proceedings) and any advice received, information obtained or action to be taken in connection with—
  • (a) any legal proceedings by or against the authority, or
  • (b) the determination of any matter affecting the authority,
  • (whether, in either case, proceedings have been commenced or are in contemplation).'

    So far we may have discussed subjects that have led us to enter rather dangerous waters—or perhaps, if I am lucky today, I should say that have led us to walk on rather dangerous waters—but this group of amendments, which seeks to look at the whole question of legal privilege, may well, in the opinion of many non-barristers and lawyers, lead us into the most dangerous waters of all.

    In essence, the amendment represents a small extension of legal privilege. It substitutes a new paragraph (9) for the existing one. As one might expect me to say, it follows, again, considerable consultation. I thank my hon. Friend the Minister most warmly for the fulsome co-operation of his staff at the Department of Employment—

    I apologise for that mistake. I was not suggesting that my hon. Friend had been transferred. His staff have been of outstanding assistance to me in relation to this and many other amendments under discussion.

    The addition of the opening words
    "Any instructions to counsel and any opinion of counsel whether or not in connection with any proceedings"
    marginally widens the extent of the legal privilege; while the addition of the words in the added sub-paragraph (b) makes information exempt not only where legal proceedings are in train or contemplated, as in subparagraph (a), but also where a matter affecting the authority is for determination, or a determination is contemplated other than in a court of law. Sub-paragraph (b) applies only where the determination of the matter rests with some person or body other than the authority. It is intended to give the authority privacy in preparing its case for an inquiry, such as a compulsory purchase inquiry, or in making written representations, or representations before somebody appointed by the Secretary of State to hear them.

    In an area in which many people could dance on the head of the proverbial pin, the amendment nevertheless represents another reasonable compromise which protects the legitimate interests of counsel to be able to lake and discuss possible courses of action without revealing that prematurely, and also grants the public access to information to which they have a right to expect access.

    I hope that I am not dancing too finely on the head of a pin, but perhaps the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire) could clear up one point. It is difficult to interrelate some of the amendments. The House has already agreed to amendment No. 32, and it would appear that members of a council would not necessarily have the right to receive advice on exempt information.

    A recent case involving Strathclyde regional council was the subject of some notoriety or prominence in the press. The auditor of the local government accounts advised the leader of the council that certain payments made under social work legislation to miners and their families were illegal. A report was drawn up by the director of social work, and the leader of the council discussed it privately with the leader of the Conservative group, the leader of the alliance and with the Scottish nationalist groups on the council. Apparently, other members of the council were not made aware of the contents of the report.

    Would members of the council still not have the right to see such a report? The leader of Strathclyde regional council interpreted the position as meaning that, when the auditor made a report to him, it was to him personally and not to the council. He thought that it was his duty not to divulge it to the council. Under the legislation. would members of the council be able to exercise a right to see the terms of such an auditor's report, as well as the report drafted in response to it from the director of social work?

    In responding to that important point, I should perhaps underline that the protection that the amendment seeks to give arises only where legal action is in train or is contemplated. The hon. Gentleman will be well aware that in such conflicts, legal action will. or will not, be ultimately involved. But the point that he has made is important, and I confirm that the information will be exempt information being in the category that is initially protected from the automatic right of councillor access.

    I invite the hon. Gentleman, although I do not think I need to, to glance at authorities other than his own, where I fear that he will readily see that the opposition party— I make no allegations about the nature of that opposition because I am not even sure that it will always be other than my own — could, or just one councillor could, by obtaining the sort of information that we are talking of here, where legal action is contemplated but the matter has not been resolved, prevent the local authority from carrying out a proper and reasonable discussion of its actions on behalf of the community. That would have the net effect of frustrating what, arguably, many would want, because of premature disclosure.

    As I have already said, this is an area in which, however many lawyers we have, we shall always have one more judgment. However, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will recognise that timing is important as well as access. In time, if something untoward happens, the fact of that would need to be reported, because where the action is passed it would be a matter of record and would then be published. I regret that I cannot comment in detail on the Strathclyde matter.

    Amendment agreed to.

    11 am

    I beg to move amendment No. 55, in page 22, line 35, at end insert—

    '9A. Information relating to the proposed service by the authority of a notice under any enactment.'

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 64, in page 23, line 20, at end insert—

    '6. Information falling within paragraph 9A of Part I above shall cease to be exempt information by virtue of that paragraph if—
  • (a) the notice there referred to is served; or
  • (b) the authority finally decides not to serve the notice in question.'
  • No. 76, in page 25, line 9, at end insert—

    '10A. Information relating to the proposed service by the authority of a notice under any enactment.

    No. 84, in page 25, line 33, at end insert—

    '6. Information falling within paragraph 10A of Part I above shall cease to be exempt information by virtue of that paragraph if—
  • (a) the notice there referred to is served; or
  • (b) the authority finally decides not to serve the notice in question.'.
  • This is another important but small amendment, which covers the serving of notices by a local authority. It inserts a new paragraph 9A in part I of schedule 12A. The effect is to make information relating to the proposed service by the authority of a notice under any enactment exempt information. The intention is to enable the authority to consider the case for such a notice — for example, an enforcement notice under the planning Acts — and reach a decision in the matter without the person on whom it would be served becoming aware of it in advance in circumstances where, perhaps not unnaturally, he or she might take steps to thwart the authority's purpose. The provision is thus designed to protect the authority's action, not the person against whom the action might be taken.

    The paragraph is qualified by new paragraph 6 of part II of the schedule to ensure that the information is exempt only for as long as the authority's action might be prejudiced as I have described.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move amendment No. 90, in page 22, line 36, after 'action', insert 'taken or'.

    With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 56, in page 22, line 36, leave out 'by the authority'.

    No. 57, in page 22, line 38, leave out paragraph 11.

    No. 77, in page 25, line 10, leave out 'by the authority'.

    No. 96, in page 25, line 10, after 'action', insert 'taken or'.

    No. 78, in page 25, line 12, leave our paragraph 12.

    The amendment deals with crime prevention matters which arise as a consequence of the Bill. The three amendments seek to tidy up and clarify.

    Amendment No. 90 inserts the words "taken or" after "action", so that the paragraph will read:
    "action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime".
    The effect of the amendment is that action already taken, as well as that which it is proposed to take for the purposes stated, will be exempt. If that were not so, the purpose of taking such action might be frustrated by the subsequent leaking of specific information.

    Amendment No. 56 deletes the words "by the authority" in paragraph 10, so that any information that the authority might have about action to be taken, whether by the authority or anyone else—for example, the police—is exempt information. The amendment is designed to provide for sensitive operational information — for instance, intended police action on a series of drug raids —which the chief constable might wish to convey to the local authority but could hardly do so if it were to become public knowledge.

    Amendment No. 57 deletes paragraph 11 of part I of schedule 12A which designates as exempt information arrangements for the security of premises or persons. I, and those whom I have consulted, feel that that paragraph is unnecessary in that the matters that it covers fall completely within paragraph 10—action in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 56, in page 22, line 36, leave out 'by the authority'.

    No. 57, in page 22, line 38, leave out paragraph 11. — [Mr. Squire.]

    I beg to move amendment No. 58, in page 22, line 39, at end insert—

    '12. The identity of a protected informant'.

    With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 69, in page 23, line 38, at end insert—

    ' "protected informant" means a person giving the authority information which tends to show that—
  • (a) a criminal offence,
  • (b) a breach of statutory duty,
  • (c) a breach of planning control, as defined in section 87(3) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, or
  • (d) a nuisance,
  • has been, is being or is about to be committed.'

    No. 79, in page 25, line 13, at end insert—

    '13. The identity of a protected informant.'.

    No. 89, in page 26. line 6, at end insert—

    "protected informant" means a person giving the authority information which tends to show that—
  • (a) a criminal offence,
  • (b) a breach of statutory duty,
  • (c) a breach of planning control, as defined in section 84(2) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972, or
  • (d) a nuisance, has been, is being or is about to be committed.'.
  • I would be the first to say that I do not find the words "protected informant" the choicest. I have struggled without success to find words that would convey the relevant meaning, but I regret that I have failed to do so. "Protected informant" is the best that I have been able to come up with.

    The amendment adds a new paragraph 12 to part I of the schedule. It makes the identity of a protected informant exempt information. The term "protected informant" will be defined in part III, paragraph (2) of the schedule, under amendment No. 69. It means

    "a person giving the authority information which tends to show that—
  • (a) a criminal offence,
  • (b) a breach of statutory duty,
  • (c) a breach of planning control ․or
  • (d) a nuisance, has been, is being or is about to be committed."
  • Will my hon. Friend consider that the words "rat" or "canary" might be more suitable for what he seeks to describe?

    I am conscious, as I know that my hon. Friend is, that the animal lobby in the House and outside is strong. Were Ito follow his suggestion, I am sure that I would receive even more letters than I might receive as a result of putting into statute the words "protected informant".

    The purpose of the provision is to prevent persons in a position to give the authority information that it requires from being inhibited from doing so by fear that their identity will become known to the person committing the offence.

    The only thing that worries me about this is that it could lead to a considerable increase in the number of what I would describe as mischievous informants, who might think that they were raising issues which might fall into the categories that have been listed as a criminal offence or a breach of statutory duty or, more worringly, a breach of planning control or nuisance. In my experience as a member of a local council and a Member of the House, there are a number of such people around who sadly find little else to do but to try, rather mischievously, to stir up trouble. I hope that my hon. Friend will consider that point when he looks at the provision for a protected informant.

    As I have come to expect from her, my hon. Friend makes a valid point. She will know that laws already exist to which people who persistently or outrageously behave in that way will be subject. Behind the rather jocular way in which I have spoken so far, all hon. Members will recognise that some letters should go to the local authority because they show for the first time that something serious may be taking place. Indeed, we have received a few such letters ourselves. If someone suggested to a local authority that a serious crime had been committed, it would be outrageous if the identity of that person were revealed. Therefore, we need to extend protection in that area to ensure that the source of such information continues.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 59, in page 23, line 4, after '1', insert '1A'.

    No. 60, in page 23, line 8, leave out from 'paragraph' to end of line 9 and insert

    'if it is required to be registered under—
  • (a) the Companies Act 1985;
  • (b) the Friendly Societies Act 1974;
  • (c) the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 to 1978;
  • (d) the Building Societies Act 1962; or
  • (e) the Charities Act 1960.'—[Mr. Squire.]
  • I beg to move amendment No. 61, in page 23, line 12, after 'would', insert 'be likely to'.

    With this it will be covenient to take amendment No. 82, in page 25, line 25, after 'would', insert 'be likely to'.

    This is a simple amendment which inserts the words "be likely to" after "would", so that information is exempt so long as disclosure would be likely to give advantage to a person entering into a contract with the local authority. The amendment is designed to provide a more easily satisfied test than the absolute certainty that disclosure would confer such an advantage.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made: No. 62, in page 23, line 19, leave out from 'services' to end of line 20.

    No 63, in page 23, line 20, at end insert—

    '5. Information falling within paragraph 8B of Pan I above is exempt information if and so long as disclosure to the public of the information would prejudice the authority in those or any other consultations or negotiations in connection with a labour relations matter arising as mentioned in that paragraph.'

    No. 64, in page 23, line 20, at end insert—

    '6. Information falling within paragraph 9A of Part I above shall cease to be exempt information by virtue of that paragraph if—
  • (a) the notice there referred to is served; or
  • (b) the authority finally decides not to serve the notice in question.'
  • No. 65, in page 23, line 30, leave out from beginning to end of line 31.

    No. 66, in page 23, line 31 at end insert—

    ' "disposal", in relation to property, includes the granting of an interest in or right over it'.

    No. 67, in page 23, line 33, at end insert

    ' "financial or business affairs" includes contemplated, as well as past or current, activities'.

    No. 68, in page 23, line 33 at end insert—

    '"labour relations matter" means—
  • (a) any of the matters specified in paragraphs (a) to (g) of section 29(1) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 (matters which may be the subject of a trade dispute, within the meaning of that Act); or
  • (b) any dispute about a matter falling within paragraph (a) above; and for the purposes of this definition the enactments mentioned in paragraph (a) above, with the necessary modifications, shall apply in relation to office-holders under the authority as they apply in relation to employees of the authority.'
  • No. 69, in page 23, line 38 at end insert —

    ' "protected informant" means a person giving the authority information which tends to show that—
  • (a) a criminal offence,
  • (b) a breach of statutory duty,
  • (c) a breach of planning control, as defined in section 87(3) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, or
  • (d) a nuisance, has been, is being or is about to be committed.'
  • No. 70, in page 23, line 38, at end insert—

    '"tender for a contract" includes a written statement prepared by the authority in pursuance of section 9(2) of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 (estimated cost of carrying out functional work by direct labour)'.

    No. 71, in page 23, line 45, leave out 'or constituted by'.

    No. 72, in page 24, line 1, leave out from beginning to end of line 10 and insert—

  • ' (b) in the case of a committee, to—
  • (i) any constituent principal council;
  • (ii) any other principal council by which appointments are made to the committee or whose functions the committee discharges; and
  • (iii) any other committee or sub-committee of a principal council falling within sub-paragraph (i) or (ii) above; and
  • (c) in the case of a sub committee to—
  • (i) the committee, or any of the committees, of which it is a sub-committee; and
  • (ii) any principal council which falls within paragraph (b) above in relation to that committee.'.
  • No. 73, in page 24, line 36, at end insert '(other than the authority)'.

    No. 74, in page 25, line 3, leave out from 'acquisition' to the end of line 5 and insert

    'or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services'.

    No. 75, in page 25, line 5, at end insert—

    '9A. Information relating to any consultations or negotia-tions, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or officeholders under, the authority.'

    No. 92, in page 25, line 5, at end insert—

    '9A. The identity of the authority (as well as of any other person, by virtue of paragraph 6 above) as the person offering any particular tender for a contract for the supply of goods or services.'

    No. 93, in page 25, line 6, leave out paragraph 10 and insert—

    '10. Any instructions to counsel and any opinion of counsel (whether or not in connection with any proceedings) and any advice received, information obtained or action to be taken in connection with—
  • (a) any legal proceedings by or against the authority, or
  • (b) the determination of any matter affecting the authority,
  • (whether, in either case, proceedings have been commenced or are in contemplation.'

    No. 76, in page 25, line 9, at end insert—

    '10A. Information relating to the proposed service by the authority of a notice under any enactment.'

    No. 96, in page 25, line 10, after 'action', insert 'taken or'

    No. 77, in page 25, line 10, leave out 'by the authority'.

    No. 78, in page 25, line 12, leave out paragraph 12.

    No. 79, in page 25, line 13, at end insert—

    '13. The identity of a protected informant.'.

    No. 80, in page 25, line 21, leave out from 'paragraph' to end of line 22 and insert

    'if it is required to be registered under—
  • (a) the Companies Act 1985;
  • (b) the Friendly Societies Act 1974;
  • (c) the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 to 1978; or
  • (d) the Building Societies Act 1962.'—[Mr. Squire.]
  • Clause 6

    Commencement

    I beg to move amendment No. 81, in page 3, line 15, leave out 'England and Wales only' and insert 'the United Kingdom'.

    The amendment simply corrects a mistake, and normally I would move such an amendment formally, but since this might be the last occasion on which the House, probably to its relief, will hear from me this morning, I should like to make a few extra comments.

    I want to thank the House for its patience this morning. I pay tribute to my fellow sponsors. I should like to thank Mr. Des Wilson of the Freedom of Information Campaign, and Mr. Ron Bailey and his team, who have assisted me many times in the last few months.

    I thank the local authority associations, which have had to respond promptly to my urgent requests. I have met their representatives many times to try to clarify the legislation, which they recognise to be important. All of them have been constructive in their approach. They have sought to understand the thrust and sense of the Bill and have given it their full support.

    I do not intend to summarise the purposes of the Bill, because that would be an abuse, but it is an attempt to spread more information—

    Order. I allowed the hon. Gentleman a little latitude, recognising that he would want to thank those who have assisted him, but he must avoid turning the debate on this amendment into a Third Reading debate.

    I should not dream of doing that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I respond immediately to your well-merited correction. I hope hon. Members feel that they have done a good day's work. I hope, too, that the legislation will be a tribute to the House and a starting point for other measures of a similar nature.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendments made:

    No. 82, in page 3, line 15, leave out 'England and'.

    No. 83, in page 3, line 15, leave out 'and Wales'.— [Mr. Squire.]

    Schedule

    Exempt Information

    Amendments made:

    No. 84, in page 25, line 33, at end insert—

    '6. Information falling within paragraph 10A of Part I above shall cease to be exempt information by virtue of that paragraph if—
  • (a) the notice there referred to is served; or
  • (b) the authority finally decides not to serve the notice in question.'
  • No. 85, in page 25, line 40, leave out from beginning to end of line 41.

    No. 86, in page 25, line 41, at end insert—

    ' "disposal" in relation to property, includes the granting of an interest in or right over it,'.

    No. 87, in page 25, line 43, at end insert—

    ' "financial or business affairs" includes contemplated, as well as past or current activities.'

    No. 88, in page 25, line 43, at end insert—

    ' "labour relations matter" means—
  • (a) any of the matters specified in paragraphs (a) to (g) of section 29(1) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 (matters which may be the subject of a trade dispute, within the meaning of that Act); or
  • (b) any dispute about a matter falling within paragraph (a) above;
  • and for the purposes of this definition the enactments mentioned in paragraph (a) above, with the necessary modifications, shall apply in relation to office-holders under the authority as they apply in relation to employees of the authority.

    'No. 89, in page 26, line 6 at end insert—

    ' "protected informant" means a person giving the authority information which tends to show that—
  • (a) a criminal offence;
  • (b) a breach of statutory duty;
  • (c) a breach of planning control, as defined in section 84(2) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972, or
  • (d) a nuisance,
  • has been, is being or is about to be committed.'

    No. 94, in page 26, line 6, at end insert— '

    "tender for a contract" includes a written statement prepared by the authority in pursuance of section 9(2) of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 (estimated cost of carrying out financial work by direct labour)'.—[Mr. Squire.]

    Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 58 (Third Reading), and agreed to.

    Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

    Dangerous Vessels Bill Lords

    Not amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.

    Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 58 (Third Reading), and agreed to.

    Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, without amendments.