The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) has now reached its final stages and about to be given Royal Assent. Disappointingly, on 17 October, the government disagreed with the House of Lords amendment that would have enabled the option of remote meetings. During a period of ‘ping-pong’ which is the toing and froing of amendments to Bills between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, a revised amendment was submitted by peers which would have allowed flexibility for virtual meetings to be held in certain circumstances. This was one of only two amendments that the Lords batted back to MPs, but this was again overturned by the House of Commons by a large majority (292 votes to 197). In the face of this opposition to the amendment, peers agreed not to take it further.
Our thanks go to Baroness MacIntosh of Pickering and others who tabled and supported the amendments urging the government to reconsider.
Though this is not the outcome the sector was working hard towards, there is much cross-party support for the flexibility to allow for remote meetings for all tiers of local government. As the Earl of Lytton in his summing up said: “This issue will come back through sheer force of practicality and necessity. We have to move into the modern age….”
SLCC with the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), Association of Democratic Service Officers (ADSO), Lawyers in Local Government (LLG), Local Government Association (LGA) – all referred to at various points in the parliamentary debates – will continue to campaign for this change.
The ping pong process on this can be followed here:
23 October – The House of Lords debate (columns 411-426)
24 October – The House of Commons debate (columns 777-791)
25 October – The House of Lords debate (columns 644-649)