I beg to move amendment No. 4, in page 3, line 8, at end insert—
Hon. Members will recall that in Committee my hon. Friend undertook to consider whether to bring forward an amendment to put it beyond doubt that the exercise of the power contained in clause 2(3) should be subject to consultation. It was said then that this was already the standard practice of the Department on these matters. Indeed, we have just come to the end of the consultation period on the addition of sport and leisure management, and we are in the process of consulting on phasing in and de minimis levels, and there will be other consultation exercises in connection with this Bill alone—all on a voluntary rather than a statutory basis. We have no desire to inflict upon local authorities totally unworkable legislation. We depend upon consultation responses to ensure that our competition proposals are viable in practice. That is the only way in which competition will be really effective and its benefits may be reaped by all. The amendment will require the Secretary of State to consult such representatives of local government as appear to him to be appropriate before extending competition to other activities in the future. I believe that the amendment should reassure Opposition Members that we shall continue to ask for local government views on the issues that affect them in this part of the Bill, while giving the Secretary of State the flexibility to tailor consultation to the needs of the particular activities under scrutiny at the time.`( ) Before making an order under subsection (3) above, the Secretary of State shall consult such representatives of local government as appear to him to be appropriate.'.
I make a brief contribution to state that the concession is indeed welcome. We have talked to closed minds for most of the evening, but, for once, a mind has been open.
Amendment agreed to.