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Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009

Section 32 - Joint overview & scrutiny committees

84.Section 123 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (the “2007 Act”) as originally enacted, allows the Secretary of State to make regulations enabling a county council in a two tier area to establish a joint overview and scrutiny committee with one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, for the purpose of making reports and recommendations relating to the attainment of “local improvement targets” as defined in Part 5 of that Act. Such regulations may also make provision for information relating to local improvement targets to be provided to joint overview and scrutiny committees by certain ‘associated authorities’.

85.The purpose of section 32 is to broaden the scope of joint overview and scrutiny arrangements so that:

  • joint overview and scrutiny committees may be set up by any two or more local authorities;

  • such committees may make reports and recommendations on any matter (other than an excluded matter);

  • associated authorities may be required to provide any information to joint overview and scrutiny committees (other than that relating to crime and disorder matters) and not just that relevant to local improvement targets.

86.Section 32 achieves this by replacing section 123 of the 2007 Act with a new section 123.

87.Subsection (1) of new section 123 allows the Secretary of State to make regulations enabling any two or more local authorities in England to appoint a joint overview and scrutiny committee.

88.Subsections (1)(b) and (2) mean that such joint overview and scrutiny committees may be given the power to make reports and recommendations on any matter, other than an excluded matter. Subsection (3) provides that certain crime and disorder matters are “excluded matters”. This is because Police and Justice Act 2006 makes separate provision for scrutiny of crime and disorder matters, and for the appointment of joint committees in relation to crime and disorder scrutiny functions.

89.Subsection (5) provides the detail as to what regulations made under the new section 123 may do, mainly by reference to the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000 that apply to normal (non-joint) overview and scrutiny committees. The provision that can be made is broadly the same as for those overview and scrutiny committees, with the exception that there is no power to make provision for councillors or officers of an authority to be required to attend before a joint overview and scrutiny committee to answer questions. Provision may also be made that is equivalent to or applies section 246 of, and schedule 17 to, the National Health Service Act 2006. These provisions are concerned with the exclusion of the public from meetings at which certain health related information is under consideration.

90.Subsection (5) also allows regulations to make provision as to the information which an “associated authority” of an appointing authority must provide or may not disclose to a joint committee. This is no longer limited to information relating to local improvement targets.

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