Communities and Local Government Committee: Press Notice

New Inquiry and Call for Evidence

The Balance of Power: Central and Local Government

The Communities and Local Government Committee is today launching an inquiry into the balance of power between central and local government.

The Committee's inquiry will focus on answering the following questions:

Further devolution

€ Does local government need greater autonomy from central government? If so, in what ways?

€ Do local government's role and influence need to be strengthened in relation to other public services, such as policing and health?

Financial autonomy

€ To what extent do the current arrangements for local government funding act as a barrier to local authorities fulfilling their 'place-shaping' role? In particular:

€” Does local government need greater financial freedom? If so, in what ways?

€” Should local government be able to raise a greater proportion of its expenditure locally?

€” What effect does the capping of council tax rises have on local accountability?

Existing powers

€ To what extent are local government services a product of national or local decision-making?

€ Does local government make adequate use of its existing powers, such as its well-being, charging and trading powers? What scope is there for greater use of those powers?

Improving the relationship between central and local government

€ What difference has the central-local concordat made to central-local relations?

€ Should an independent commission be established to oversee the financial settlement for local government?

The constitutional position

€ Given the UK's constitutional settlement, what protections should be placed in law to ensure local government's ability to fulfil its responsibility as a balance on the powers of central government?

€ What role should Parliament have in the protection of local government's position within the UK's constitutional settlement?

The Chair of the Committee, Dr Phyllis Starkey MP, is today speaking at a national seminar on the new localism agenda, hosted by the Local Government Association, where she will launch the inquiry. The seminar will take place at 5 pm on 16 July, and will be held at Local Government House, Smith Square, London. For more information about this event please contact the LGA on tel: 020 7664 3099. Journalists are welcome to attend.

The progress of the inquiry can be followed at:

If you have any queries on the submission of evidence contact Sara Turnbull, Inquiry Manager, tel: 020 7219 3290, email:

The Committee invites interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence , in accordance with the guidelines below, by Monday 29 September 2008.


Guidelines on submitting evidence

Each submission should:

€ Be accompanied by a covering letter containing the name and contact details of the individual or organisation submitting evidence.

€ Begin with a short summary in bullet point form; and

€ Have numbered paragraphs.

Ideally, submissions should be sent in electronic form, preferably in MS Word format, and sent by email to and marked 'Balance of Power'. If you are unable to send an electronic version, please send a paper copy to:

Nicola McCoy

Committee Secretary

Communities and Local Government Committee

House of Commons

7 Millbank



It is helpful, for Data Protection purposes, for contact details not to be included in the text of submissions, but sent separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:

Please also note that:

€ Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work may be included.

€ Memoranda submitted should be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless specifically authorised. Authorisation to publish your submission, which is normally granted, should be sought from the Inquiry Manager.

€ Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

Committee information

1. The Committee held two introductory evidence sessions, in June and July, on the balance of power prior to launching this inquiry. These sessions helped inform the Committee's inquiry scope. Transcripts of these evidence sessions are available on the Committee's website.

2. Committee Membership is as follows: Dr Phyllis Starkey MP (Chair, Lab), Sir Paul Beresford MP (Con), Mr Clive Betts MP (Lab), John Cummings MP (Lab), Jim Dobbin MP (Lab/Co-op), Andrew George (Lib Dem), Mr Greg Hands MP (Con), Anne Main MP (Con), Mr Bill Olner MP (Lab), Dr John Pugh MP (Lib Dem), Emily Thornberry MP (Lab).

Specific Committee Information: 020 7219 1353 or 020 7219 4972

Media Information: Laura Kibby, 020 7219 0718

Committee Website:

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on