34th Report, 2012 (Session 4): Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Local Government Finance Bill

SP Paper 162 (Web Only)

SL/S4/12/R34

34th Report, 2012 (Session 4)

Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Local Government Finance Bill

Remit and membership

Remit:

The remit of the Subordinate Legislation Committee is to consider and report on—

(a) any—

(i) subordinate legislation laid before the Parliament;

(ii) [deleted

(iii) pension or grants motion as described in Rule 8.11A.1;

and, in particular, to determine whether the attention of the Parliament should be drawn to any of the matters mentioned in Rule 10.3.1;

(b) proposed powers to make subordinate legislation in particular Bills or other proposed legislation;

(c) general questions relating to powers to make subordinate legislation;

(d) whether any proposed delegated powers in particular Bills or other legislation should be expressed as a power to make subordinate legislation;

(e) any failure to lay an instrument in accordance with section 28(2), 30(2) or 31 of the 2010 Act; and

(f) proposed changes to the procedure to which subordinate legislation laid before the Parliament is subject.

(Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament, Rule 6.11)

Membership:

Chic Brodie
Nigel Don (Convener)
James Dornan (Deputy Convener)
Mike MacKenzie
Michael McMahon
John Pentland
John Scott

Committee Clerking Team:

Clerk to the Committee
Irene Fleming

Assistant Clerk
Rob Littlejohn

Support Manager
Daren Pratt

Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Local Government Finance Bill

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

1. At its meeting on 12 June 2012, the Committee considered the provisions in the Local Government Finance Bill1 (“the Bill”) that confer on the Scottish Ministers powers to make subordinate legislation. Those provisions are contained in clause 15, which introduces new paragraphs 15C and 12(1A) into Schedule 2 to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (“the 1992 Act”).

2. A Legislative Consent Memorandum (“LCM”)2 has been lodged in relation to the Bill. The draft of the motion lodged by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth is:

“That the Parliament agrees that the relevant provision of the Local Government Finance Bill, introduced in the House of Commons on 19 December 2011, which relates to the establishment of a data sharing gateway for purposes relating to council tax liability, in so far as these matters fall within the executive competence of the Scottish Ministers, should be considered by the UK Parliament.”

3. Under Standing Orders Rule 9B.3.6, where the Bill that is the subject of an LCM contains provisions that confer on the Scottish Ministers powers to make subordinate legislation, the Subordinate Legislation Committee shall consider and may report to the lead committee on those provisions.

4. As with bills passed by the Scottish Parliament, the Committee considered whether it is appropriate in principle for the power to be delegated to the Scottish Ministers, whether the terms of the power are appropriately drawn and whether the level of scrutiny applied to the exercise of the power is appropriate.

Local Government Finance Bill

5. The Bill pertains almost entirely to England. Its main purpose is to allow English local authorities to retain a proportion of their business rates receipts and to compel English local authorities to establish council tax reduction schemes to replace council tax benefit.

6. The purpose of clause 15 is to allow the Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”) to supply information it holds to local authorities in Scotland. It would also allow regulations to provide for sharing of information supplied by HMRC between local authorities in Scotland. It is intended that this information gateway would support the assessment of individuals’ council tax liability. A similar arrangement is introduced for England and Wales.

Powers to make subordinate legislation

Clause 15(2)

7. New paragraph 15C confers power on the Scottish Ministers to prescribe the purposes relating to council tax for which HMRC can supply information to qualifying persons as defined in paragraph 15C(2). Power is also conferred on the Scottish Ministers to prescribe the purposes for which information supplied by HMRC can be shared between qualifying persons. The power is exercised by Scottish statutory instrument and is subject to the negative procedure. Regulations made under this power require the consent of HMRC.

Clause 15(4)

8. Paragraph 12(1)(d) of Schedule 2 to the 1992 Act currently permits the Scottish Ministers to prescribe descriptions of information which need not be supplied to local authorities. New paragraph 12(1A) provides that, in addition, this power can be used to specify exempt information by reference to how the person concerned came to be in possession or control of the information or the purposes for which it is requested. This power remains exercisable by Scottish statutory instrument subject to the negative procedure.

Subordinate Legislation Committee consideration

9. At its meeting on 12 June 2012, the Committee considered the delegated powers provisions in the Bill, following the same approach as it does for Scottish Parliament Bills. In doing so, it determined that it does not need to draw the attention of the Parliament to any of them.

10. The Committee noted that, although the power in new paragraph 12(1A) could be used to restrict the supply of information obtained using the data sharing gateway established by paragraph 15C, it is not restricted to that purpose. The Committee therefore considers that it is of wider general application to any information to be supplied in conjunction with the administration of council tax. In the Committee’s view, this represents an alteration to the executive competence of the Scottish Ministers, which is not referred to in the LCM. Accordingly, the Committee draws this alteration to the attention of the lead committee.

Conclusions

11. The Committee is content with the delegated powers provision in clause 15(2) and does not need to draw the attention of the Parliament to it.

12. The Committee notes that paragraph 12(1A) of Schedule 2 to the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as inserted by clause 15(4), alters the executive competence of the Scottish Ministers. The Committee is content with the proposal but draws this alteration to the attention of the Parliament.


Footnotes:

1 The latest version of the Bill can be found at: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/localgovernmentfinance.html

2 LCM on the Local Government Finance Bill. Available at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/LegislativeConsentMemoranda/LGFinanceBill_lcm.pdf

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