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Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007

Chapter 2: Overview and Scrutiny Committees
Section 119: Reference of matter by councillor to overview and scrutiny committee

279.Several pieces of legislation introduced in this Act together provide for the process called a “Community Call for Action” in the Local Government White Paper. These are section 119, accompanied by sections 236 and 237. Section 119 inserts section 21A into the Local Government Act 2000. It requires each local authority operating executive arrangements to ensure its overview and scrutiny arrangements enable any member of the authority to refer a local government matter to the relevant overview and scrutiny committee. (Section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000 empowers overview and scrutiny committees to review or scrutinise decisions made, and to make reports and recommendations about matters whether or not they are the responsibility of the executive; and to make reports or recommendations on matters which affect the authority’s area.) Corresponding provision can be made for authorities operating alternative arrangements under secondary legislation made under section 32(3) of the 2000 Act as expanded and replaced by section 127(2).

280.Inserted section 21A(2) provides that such arrangements must enable a councillor to put a local government matter on the agenda, and to have it discussed at a meeting, of the relevant overview and scrutiny committee.

281.Subsections (5) to (8) of inserted section 21A apply to references by councillors who are not members of the committee. Section 21A(6) entitles a committee, when deciding how to proceed, to consider representations from the member who referred the matter, and to take into account the extent to which he has exercised the powers given to him under section 236 of the Act to resolve it. Section 21A(7) makes clear that, although it is open to a committee not to pursue a matter, it must let the member know the reason for the decision. Section 21A(8) requires the committee to copy its report or recommendations on the matter to the member who referred the matter. Section 21A(10) defines the matters which can be referred to overview and scrutiny committees in this way. Those matters are intended to be any matter that relates to the work of the local authority other than a local crime and disorder matter (such matters being dealt with by the Police and Justice Act 2006, which is amended by section 126 of this Act), or a matter in a category which the Secretary of State has excluded by order.

Section 120: Power of overview and scrutiny committee to question members of authority

282.By virtue of section 236 of the Act, an authority can make arrangements for individual members to exercise functions of the authority in relation to the electoral division or ward for which the member is elected. Section 120, inserts a provision into section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000 allowing overview and scrutiny committees to require such members to appear before the committee to answer questions in relation to any functions that they exercise.

Section 121: Powers to require information from partner authorities

283.This section inserts section 22A after section 22 of the Local Government Act 2000.

284.Subsection (1) of inserted section 22A provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations which determine what information relevant partner authorities must provide to a relevant committee or may not disclose to such a committee.

285.“Relevant partner authority” is defined in new section 21C(8), which is inserted by section 122, and means a person who is a partner authority in relation to a local authority for the purposes of Chapter 1 of Part 5 (local area agreements), except for a police authority or a chief officer of police.

286.“Relevant committee” is defined in section 21C(8) of the Local Government Act 2000, which is inserted by section 122, and means any overview and scrutiny committee of an authority which is required to prepare LAAs under Chapter 1 of Part 5 of the Act.

287.The type of information about which regulations may be made under subsection (1) of section 22A does not include information that can be the subject of regulations made under section 20(5)(c) or (d) of the Police and Justice Act 2006 or section 244(2)(d) or (e) of the National Health Service Act 2006.

288.Section 22A(4) will enable regulations to be made about the information which “associated authorities” may or may not provide to a “relevant district council committee”. A relevant district council committee is defined by section 22A(6) as the overview and scrutiny committee of a district council which is not a responsible local authority – that is, the committee of a district council in a two-tier area, or a sub-committee of such a committee. An associated authority is defined in section 22A(6) as either a partner authority (except a police authority or the chief officer of police) or the county council in that two-tier area.

289.Section 22A(5) sets out that information about which the Secretary of State can make provision, under new section 22A(4), does not include information for which provision can be made under either section 20(5)(c) or (d) of the Police and Justice Act 2006. As section 244 of the National Health Service Act 2006 does not apply to district authorities in two tier areas, the Secretary of State may make provision about health related information in the regulations that can be made under new section 22A(4).

290.Section 22A(7) allows for regulations made under this section to make different provision in relation to different persons – that is, partner authorities or associated authorities – and committees and in relation to different descriptions of such persons or committees. Section 22A(8) makes clear that the power in section 22A(7) does not affect the power in section 105(2)(b) of the Local Government Act 2000 that orders and regulations may make different provisions for different cases, authorities or descriptions of authority.

291.Subsection (6A) of section 20 of the Police and Justice Act 2006, which is inserted by subsection (2) of section 121, makes it clear that information about which provision can be made in regulations made under that section can only relate to the discharge of crime and disorder functions and local crime and disorder matters.

292.Subsection (2A) of section 244 of the National Health Service Act 2006, which is inserted by subsection (4) of section 121, makes it clear that information about which provision can be made in regulations made under that section can only relate to the health service in the local authority’s area.

Section 122: Overview and scrutiny committees: reports and recommendations

293.Subsection (1) inserts new sections 21B, 21C and 21D of the Local Government Act 2000after section 21A of that Act, which is inserted by section 122 of this Act.

294.Section 21B applies where an overview and scrutiny committee of an authority in England makes a report or recommendations to the authority or the executive. It does not apply where the report or recommendation is made to the authority or the executive by a crime and disorder committee by virtue of subsection (1)(b) or (3)(a) of section 19 of the Police and Justice Act 2006.

295.Subsection (2) of inserted section 21B empowers the overview and scrutiny committee to publish its report or recommendations.

296.Where the overview ands scrutiny committee does this, it must give the local authority or executive notice in writing specifying the steps which the local authority or executive must take within two months of receiving the report or recommendations or, if later, the notice. These steps include responding to the report or recommendations and, if these documents have been published by the overview and scrutiny committee, publishing the response.

297.The local authority or executive must comply with the notice.

298.The provisions about confidential and exempt information in section 21D (which is also inserted by section 122) apply in relation to the publishing of a report or recommendations or a response to any of these documents.

299.Section 21C applies where a relevant committee make a report or recommendations to an authority or an executive and the report or recommendations relate to a local improvement target which relates to a relevant partner authority and is specified in a LAA of the authority. It does not apply where the report or recommendations are made by a crime and disorder committee by virtue of subsections (1)(b) or (3)(a) of section 19 of the Police and Justice Act 2006.

300.“Local improvement target” and “local area agreement” are defined in subsection (8) of section 21C and have the same meanings as in Chapter 1 of Part 5 of the Act.

301.The overview and scrutiny committee may give the relevant partner authority notice in writing requiring them to have regard to the report or recommendations in exercising their functions. A relevant partner authority which is a health service body i.e. a National Health Service Trust, an NHS Foundation Trust or a Primary Care Trust cannot be required to have regard to a report or recommendations made to that body under regulations made under section 244 of the National Health Service Act 2006.

302.The relevant partner authority has a duty to comply with the requirement specified in the notice.

303.Section 21D applies to the publication under section 21B of any document comprising a report or recommendations of any overview and scrutiny committee or a response of an authority to any such report or recommendations. It also applies to the provision of a copy of such a document to a member of an authority under new section 21A(8) or 21B or to a relevant partner authority under section 21C.

304.Subsection (2) of inserted section 21D places a requirement on an overview and scrutiny committee or a local authority to exclude confidential information when publishing a document or providing a copy of it to a relevant partner authority. “Confidential information” is defined in subsection (6) of section 21D and has the meaning given by section 100A(3) of the Local Government Act 1972.

305.Section 21D also gives a power to an overview and scrutiny committee to exclude any relevant exempt information. “Relevant exempt information” is defined in subsection (6) of section 21D and means, in relation to a report or recommendations of an overview and scrutiny committee, exempt information specified in a resolution of the overview and scrutiny committee under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, and, in relation, to a response of the local authority, exempt information of a description specified in such a resolution of the authority. In both cases, the resolution must apply to a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee or the executive at which the report or response was, or the recommendations were, considered The definition of “relevant exempt information” includes, in relation to an overview and scrutiny committee with functions under section 21(2)(f) of the Local Government Act 2000, information which is exempt information under section 246 of the National Health Service Act 2006.

306.It should be noted that section 21D does not apply to the executive of an authority. This is because the meaning of “relevant exempt information” has been imported from Part 5A of the Local Government Act 1972 which applies to an authority but not to an executive of that authority.

307.Subsection (3) of inserted section 21D enables the overview and scrutiny committee or an authority to exclude if they wish any confidential information or relevant exempt information from a copy of a document provided to a member of the local authority.

308.When information is excluded from any document, subsection (4) of inserted section 21D enables the overview and scrutiny committee or the authority, in publishing, or providing a copy of it, to replace any part of the document which discloses confidential information or exempt information with a summary that does not disclose that information. Where in consequence of the exclusion of confidential information or exempt information, the document would be misleading or not reasonably comprehensible, subsection (4) requires the authority to provide a summary of the part concerned.

309.An overview and scrutiny committee which, in publishing, or providing a copy of, a document, excludes information or replaces part of the document with a summary, will be taken to have complied with the requirement in subsection (3)(c) or (d) of section 21B. This is by virtue of subsection (5) of section 21D.

310.Subsection (2) of section 122 amends section 22 of the Local Government Act 2000 by inserting new subsection (12A) to give the Secretary of State a power to make regulations in relation to local authority executives in England which replicate the provision contained in section 21D.

Section 123: Joint overview and scrutiny committees: local improvement targets

311.Subsection (2) of section 123 allows the Secretary of State to make regulations enabling a county council in a two tier area to establish a joint overview and scrutiny committee with one or more district councils in its area.

312.By virtue of subsections (2)(b), (3) and (4), regulations under this section may confer on such joint overview and scrutiny committees the functions of making reports and recommendations to the county council or to the county council and one or more of the district councils which established that committee on matters (except excluded matters) relating to the attainment of a local improvement target in the relevant LAA (ie in the LAA of the county council in the group of authorities which established the joint committee). Subsection (4) sets out that crime and disorder matters, on which a crime and disorder committee may make reports and recommendations by virtue of section 19 of the Police and Justice Act 2006, are excluded. This is because under section 21 of the Police and Justice Act 2006 provision may be made in respect of the functions of a joint crime and disorder committee in relation to crime and disorder scrutiny functions.

313.Subsection (5) allows these regulations to make provision as to the relevant information which an “associated authority” must or must not disclose to a joint committee. Subsection (6) sets out that an associated authority means the county council which is the responsible local authority in relation to the district council and partner authorities to the responsible authority, other than a police authority or chief of police. Subsections (6) and (8) set out that relevant information means information which is relevant to a local improvement target in the relevant LAA which relates to the associated authority. However, subsection (7) makes clear that regulations may not make provision in relation to crime and disorder related information, as the joint overview and scrutiny committee may not report on crime and disorder matters.

314.Subsection (5) also provides that regulations may make provision generally as to the discharge of functions, appointment of sub-committees, and co-opting of persons who are not members of the authority by applying the provisions of, or making corresponding provision to, section 21(4) and (6) to (12) of the Local Government Act 2000. Regulations may also apply or make equivalent provision to new sections 21A to 21D of the Local Government Act 2000 as to the reference of matters to overview and scrutiny by councillors, the duty of an authority or executive to respond to an overview and scrutiny committee, the duties on associated authorities to have regard to reports and recommendations and as to confidential and exempt information in relation to the publication of reports. There is no power to apply subsections (13) to (15) of section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000, so joint overview and scrutiny committees will not have power to require members or officers of local authorities to appear and answer questions. Provision equivalent to or applying section 246 of, and Schedule 17 to, the National Health Service Act 2006 (exempt health related information) may also be made under this last head. Section 246 of, and Schedule 17 to, the National Health Service Act 2006 apply to an item of business of an overview and scrutiny committee considering matters relating to the health service in the authority’s area and provide that certain information will be exempt from disclosure in accordance with the provisions of section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 which means that the public may be excluded from the meeting during that item of business, if an appropriate resolution of the council is in place.

315.Subsection (9) requires joint overview and scrutiny committees to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

Section 124: Overview and scrutiny committees of district councils: local improvement targets

316.Section 124 inserts a new section 21E into the Local Government Act 2000.

317.Section 21E(1) and (2) allow the Secretary of State to make regulations enabling a district council in a two tier area to make reports and recommendations to its county council or to that county council’s executive, on matters relating to a local improvement target in the area’s LAA, where that local improvement target relates to a partner authority. Section 21E(4) sets out that a partner authority for these purposes means the county council and any authority which is a partner authority of the county council other than a police authority or the chief of police.

318.Section 21E(3) provides that regulations may also apply or make provision corresponding to the duty of an authority or executive to respond to an overview and scrutiny committee, the duties of associated authorities to have regard to reports and recommendations and the treatment of reports and recommendations, and responses to them, which contain confidential and exempt information, i.e. the regulations may make provision applying the provisions of new sections 21B to 21D of the Local Government Act 2000.

Section 125: Guidance

319.Section 125 amends section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000 to provide for new subsections (16) and (17). These will enable the Secretary of State to require overview and scrutiny committees to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State. It is intended that guidance issued under these powers and under section 123(9) will clarify how overview and scrutiny committees and joint overview and scrutiny committees should avoid duplication of each other’s work.

Section 126: Reference of local crime and disorder matters to crime and disorder committees etc

320.Section 126 amends sections 19 and 20 of the Police and Justice Act 2006. It brings the provision for references of local crime and disorder matters by local councillors to crime and disorder committees into line with the treatment of local government matters in the new section 21A of the Local Government Act 2000 inserted by section 119. New section 19(3) provides that every local authority must ensure that its crime and disorder committee has power to make a report or recommendations to the local authority with respect to any local crime and disorder matter referred to it, and that it must make arrangements which enable any member of the authority to refer any local crime and disorder matter to the local authority.

321.New section 19(4) provides that arrangements enable a person to refer a matter to a committee if they enable him to ensure that the matter is included in the agenda for, and discussed at, a meeting of the committee.

322.Section 19(5) applies subsections (6) and (7) where a local crime and disorder matter is referred to a crime and disorder committee by a member of a local authority in accordance with arrangements made under subsection (3)(b). Subsection (6) provides that, when considering whether or not to make a report or recommendations to the local authority in relation to the matter, the committee may have regard to any powers which the member may exercise in relation to the matter by virtue of section 236 of this Act, and to any representations made by the member as to why it would be appropriate for the committee to exercise any of its relevant powers in relation to the matter.

323.Section 19(7) provides that the committee must notify the member of its decision, and the reasons for it, if it decides not to make a report or recommendations to the local authority in relation to the matter.

324.Section 19(8) requires that the crime and disorder committee copy reports or recommendations to the authority in relation to a crime and disorder matter to any member of the authority who referred the matter to the committee in accordance with arrangements made under subsection (3)(b), and to such of the responsible authorities and co-operating persons and bodies as it thinks appropriate.

325.Section 19(8A) provides that section 19(8B) applies where the crime and disorder committee of a local authority makes a report or recommendations to the authority by virtue of subsection (3)(a), or where it provides a copy of a report or recommendations under subsection (2) or (8)(b). Section 19(8B) provides that in such circumstances, the crime and disorder committee must notify the authority, body or person to whom it makes the report or recommendations, or provides the copy, that it must consider the report or recommendations; respond to the committee indicating what (if any) action it proposes to take; and have regard to the report or recommendations in exercising its functions.

326.Subsection (4) of section 126 inserts in section 19(11) of the Police and Justice Act 2006 an amended definition of “local crime and disorder matter”. The new definition includes crime and disorder and substance misuse that affects all or part of the electoral area for which the member is elected or any person who lives or works in that area.

327.Sections 126(6), (7) and (8) make consequential amendments to Section 20 of the Police and Justice Act 2006.

Section 127: Overview and scrutiny committees: consequential amendments

328.Section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000 requires local authorities operating executive arrangements to ensure that their overview and scrutiny committee has certain powers. Where a local authority has more than one overview and scrutiny committee, that obligation can be satisfied by ensuring that those committees have those powers between them. Subsection (1) amends section 21 of the Local Government Act 2000 so that the reference to overview and scrutiny committees also includes any joint overview and scrutiny committees. Subsection (1) provides that a joint overview and scrutiny committee means:

a)

a joint overview and scrutiny committee within the meaning given in subsection (2)(a) and (b) of section 245 of the National Health Service Act 2006.

b)

a joint overview and scrutiny committee within the meaning given in subsection (2)(a) and (b) of section 185 of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006; or

c)

a joint overview and scrutiny committee within the meaning of section 123 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.

329.Section 21(4) of the Local Government Act 2000 provides that, subject to 21(5), an overview and scrutiny committee of a local authority may not discharge any functions other than its functions under that section.

330.Subsection (1) of section 127 also amends section 21(4) of the Local Government Act 2000 to add into the list of functions which an overview and scrutiny committee may exercise, functions under section 21A to 21C or any functions conferred on it through regulations under 21E.

331.Section 32 of the Local Government Act 2000 enables the Secretary of State to establish arrangements for local authorities to discharge their functions without having a separate executive (i.e. for those local authorities operating alternative arrangements). Subsection (2) replaces section 32(3) of the Local Government Act 2000 with a new subsection (3) which amplifies the current provision under that section, so that the Secretary of State may make regulations for councils operating alternative arrangements, which may include similar provision to that provided for in this Act for overview and scrutiny committees. It also splits the powers of the Secretary of State into powers which he may exercise in relation to England and powers which the Welsh Ministers may exercise in relation to Wales.

332.Subsection (3) also makes consequential amendments to section 245(3)(b) of the National Health Service Act 2006 so that the Secretary of State may, by regulations, apply the revised overview and scrutiny provisions to joint health overview and scrutiny committees established under regulations under that section. Subsection (4) makes equivalent provision for Wales.

Section 128: Transitional provision

333.The new procedure for altering governance arrangements set on out new section 33E of the Local Government Act 2000 (inserted by section 64 of the Act) also applies to changes to executive arrangements and alternative arrangements which are required to be made by virtue of any of the provisions of Chapter 2 of Part 5 of the Act.

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