Completely agree with you Steve - my thought was to introduce into the Bill the idea of "designated persons" who should engage with scrutiny. This is a principles that derives from the Welsh legislation, which includes all organisations that provide services, goods or facilities to the public within their local authority area. It's a wide classification but it's about giving scrutiny the clout to influence a wide range of partners, and trusting practitioners that they won't go mad and start dragging in every Tom, Dick and Harry.
Because the first date of committee is next Tuesday - much, much earlier than I had expected - putting these suggested amendments together is going to have to take priority for me at the moment. As such I would strongly encourage and urge you to post below any ideas of how inconsistencies and shortcomings in the Bill (and, by extension, in existing scrutiny powers) can be sorted out.
At the moment I already have:
- making the position relating to partners clearer (as above)
- equalising the powers of districts and other authorities
- integrating the health and social care and crime and disorder powers within the legislation
- putting in place a more streamlined councillor call for action provision which eliminates the need for regulations
- tweaking the official designation of the "statutory scrutiny officer" and inserting the section in the O&S Bill about resourcing
- cleaning up the impossibly and unnecessarily complicated section on exempt and confidential information
- beefing up scrutiny's powers relating to responses to recommendations, attendance at meetings and requests for information
- various drafting errors - the references to LAAs that Steve mentions above that, in the context, makes no sense, and the matter that Matt and I were discussing above; also, the unbelievable amount of repetition that demonstrates that this was for the most part a cut and paste job for CLG
Above all I do want changes to be realistic and I want to be able to demonstrate that they are cost neutral, insofar as is possible. The proposed amendments will be submitted to the MPs on the committee on Monday (I hope) and to officials at CLG at the same time - I will be speaking to civil servants about this in due course in the hope that the Government will bring in some of these amendments itself.
So, post them below and I will make sure I put them in. Sorry for the short timescale (I am basically looking for input by the end of today) but we have rather been caught on the hop with this one.