Debate on local spending reports

29 October 2009

The House of Commons debated an Opposition motion and Government amendment on the publication of local spending reports identifying how much is spent in each area by local authorities

The text of the Opposition motion was as follows:

Mr David Cameron, Mrs Caroline Spelman, Mr Oliver Letwin, Mr Nick Hurd, Robert Neill, Mr Patrick McLoughlin, Dr Vincent Cable, Julia Goldsworthy, Sarah Teather, Dan Rogerson, Mr David Heath, Mr Paul Burstow

That this House welcomes the provisions of the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 requiring the publication of local spending reports; believes that people have a right to know how their money is spent by public bodies; especially welcomes the assurances given by the then Minister for Local Government, the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth, that the local spending reports would include all public agencies; further welcomes the Minister’s assurance that the purpose was to achieve a report that identified how much would be spent in each area by the authorities; is therefore very concerned by the limited information available in the local spending reports produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government; believes them to be a contravention of the expressed assurances of the Minister; and calls for proper local spending reports to be published, which will give effect to those assurances.

The text of the Government amendment:

The Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Tessa Jowell, Mr Pat McFadden, Secretary John Denham, Barbara Follett

Line 1, leave out from ‘House’ to end and add ‘recognises the role of strong, accountable local government in delivering high quality local services and entitlements to services whilst ensuring value for money; welcomes Government investment, through local councils, in providing real help now to families; reiterates the importance of providing information about local spending and service quality to ensuring effective scrutiny and value for money; further welcomes the passage of the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 and the Government’s commitment to work with the Selector on its implementation, and believes that the first local spending reports published in April 2009 marked an important initial step in making local public spending more transparent; further welcomes responses to the consultation confirming the desire to see more data published; welcomes the Government’s intention to extend local spending reports to cover all local public spending which can be readily provided in this format at reasonable cost; further welcomes the Government’s proposals to extend local authorities’ scrutiny of all local public service spending in their area; further welcomes the Total Place pilots mapping in detail all public spending in key services in 13 areas; further welcomes Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s work advising Government on how best to make non-personal public data as widely available as possible; believes that these developments will enhance the Government’s ability to provide local spending information in the most effective manner; and asks Ministers to report back to the House before the end of December 2009 on the next stages in developing local spending reports.’.

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