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Local Government

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will take steps to allow local authorities to decide policies and strategies through specialist committees rather than through a Cabinet monitored by scrutiny boards. (99295)

The Local Government White Paper published on 26 October sets out our plans for stronger and more stable executive leadership and giving local authority overview and scrutiny committees new powers to review the actions of key public bodies. We have no plans to return to the old committee system.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent communication her Department has had with Coventry city council on the Local Government White Paper. (98886)

My Department has engaged extensively with local government representatives and individual authorities across England in developing “Strong and Prosperous Communities—The Local Government White Paper”.

Contact with Coventry city council as part of this broad agenda has included the following:

officials met with the leader and chief executive of Coventry city council in May 2005, as part of the engagement programme for the discussion document on “Vibrant Local Leadership”; and

as a member of the Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country city-region, Coventry city council were involved in the development of the city-region business case which was presented to the Secretary of State on 23 May 2006. Further engagement on this agenda took place in relation to the city-region’s joint growth point bid, with the funding allocations being announced on 24 October 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she proposes a limit on the number of unitary authorities further to section 3.55 of the local government white paper. (100183)

As we made clear in paragraph 5.16 of the invitation to councils to make proposals for future unitary structures that was published alongside the Local Government White Paper, the Government think they will be unlikely to be able to implement more than eight proposals. However, the final decision on the number of proposals that will be implemented will depend crucially on the content of local authority submissions and the potential impact on public expenditure totals if these proposals were approved. This expected maximum number would not preclude the Government from deciding to implement more if they offered good value for money and were affordable.