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Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for the commencement of each of the substantive provisions of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. (307068)

The arrangements for the commencement of provisions contained in the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 are set out in sections 148 and 149 of the Act. A number of provisions will come into force on a day specified by the Secretary of State.

Commencement Order No. l (2009 No. 3087 (C.137)) was made on 24 November 2009. This commenced a number of minor provisions relating to the local authority economic assessment duty and the regional strategy.

We plan to make a further commencement order shortly. The likely details of this are set out in the following table:

Provision

Commencement date

Economic prosperity boards/combined authorities (Sections 88 to 113, sections 118 to 120 & Schedule 6)

Day after the order is made

Economic prosperity boards/combined authorities (Sections 114 to 117)

12 January 2010

Duty of public authorities to secure involvement

1 April 2010

Scrutiny officers (section 31)

1 April 2010

Local government boundary and electoral change

1 April 2010

Remaining provisions relating to the local authority economic assessment duty

1 April 2010

Remaining provisions relating to the regional strategy

1 April 2010

My Department published a consultation on draft statutory guidance and secondary legislation to support the petitions duty on 2 December. The consultation includes questions about the most appropriate timescale for bringing the provisions into force. Ministers will take a decision about when to commence the petitions duty after the consultation closes on 24 February.

The Government recognise the importance of embedding the promotion of democracy and engagement of local people at the heart of local government. We have recently consulted on how best to engage with and strengthen the role of local people, to influence decisions in their local area and restore the status of the town hall by boosting the status, powers and accountability of local councils. We will be responding to the “Strengthening Local Democracy” consultation in due course.

The duty to promote democracy is important in helping take this work forward and we want to ensure that its introduction has a positive and proactive response from local government given the likely costs involved in implementing it effectively. We have therefore been looking at when the duty should be implemented. We have concluded that given the current economic situation implementation of the duty should be considered as part of the next spending review.

In respect of the audit and mutual insurance provisions in Part 2, it will be necessary to prepare and consult on draft regulations and guidance before we commence the provisions. Any final decision on commencement will depend on the outcome of this consultation.

The commencement date for construction contract provisions in Part 8 is dependent on the revision of the Scheme for Construction Contracts (England and Wales) Regulations 1998. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will consult on the necessary changes in the new year.