5 Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale debates involving the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

Mon 13th Jul 2020
Business and Planning Bill
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Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage

Prime Minister: Meeting with First Ministers

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Wednesday 20th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

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Asked by
Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the Prime Minister will next meet the First Ministers of the United Kingdom’s devolved Governments, and what they will discuss.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office and Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (Lord Greenhalgh) (Con)
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The Prime Minister met the First Ministers on Monday to discuss the next steps of Covid recovery and the upcoming COP 26 summit. He expects to meet them again early next year.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, next Wednesday the Chancellor will present his annual Budget to Parliament. I understand that that Budget was not on the agenda, despite some economic references in the items discussed on Monday at the meeting with the First Ministers. After 22 years of the devolution settlement, which has since expanded the tax-raising and tax-varying powers of the Scottish Government and others, surely it is time for Budgets to be prepared in the United Kingdom on a slightly different basis, with some consultation and engagement in advance with all levels of government, including the devolved Governments.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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I know that the intergovernmental review is specifically looking at arrangements for the development of Budgets. I point out that there have been a number of meetings between the UK Government and the devolved Governments in the run-up to the spending review.

Minister for Intergovernmental Relations

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Monday 18th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, I accept that it is important that all government decisions should be based on sound analysis and data, which I am sure will be the case as we look to work closely with the devolved Administrations to spend money that was previously as a result of our membership of the European Union.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I hope that we can all agree that good intergovernmental relations are based on strong mutual respect, so will the Government please stop referring to the devolved Governments as devolved Administrations and call them Governments, which they clearly are?

Wales: Replacement Funding

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Wednesday 3rd March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, the whole purpose of the UK levelling-up fund of some £4.8 billion is precisely to provide the funding to underpin the regeneration required to make areas in Wales as competitive as possible. Of course, we keep changes in the industrial landscape under close scrutiny.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the partnership between local communities, the devolved Governments and other local authorities in England inside the UK and the European Commission was a real strength of the old structural funds. They had their problems but they also had those strengths. Why have the Government moved away from that model? There was a real opportunity here to set a structural fund-type analysis for the whole of the UK and priorities that could be shared within this shared prosperity fund, and then to implement it in practice with the devolved Governments and regional and local authorities throughout the UK. That partnership will be missing from this new model and simply sticking a UK flag on a fund then distributed straight to Scotland or Wales will not solve the problems the United Kingdom has in terms of respect in Scotland and Wales right now.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, I underpin the commitment to collaborate very closely with the devolved Administrations. That is why they will be an important part of the governance structure of this new fund. The new fund gives us opportunities to improve on the funding approach used by the EU structural fund, not least because there are now only two layers of government that need to work closely together.

Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority (Functions and Amendment) Order 2020

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Friday 24th July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I am not sure how to follow some of the speeches that have been made so far. They have certainly been diverse and entertaining—at times. I welcome the order and congratulate all those who have been involved in the very difficult negotiations around the establishment of the new combined authority. In particular, as my noble friend Lord Adonis mentioned, I praise the hard work of Dan Jarvis MP as the Sheffield City Mayor in pulling people together and finding a way forward. I hope that this is an initial step and that there will be further devolution of more power and more resources, perhaps to a bigger authority covering and combining more of Yorkshire in the future. But it is a step in the right direction and we should welcome it for that reason.

As the Government move further in this direction—rightly, in my opinion—to create more and stronger voices around the country, we can reflect on the fact that over recent months in both the West Midlands and Manchester we have seen the benefit of having strong local mayors who can speak on behalf of their region at a time of national crisis. We should encourage this development of stronger voices throughout the whole country to diversify political debate away from your Lordships’ House, the House of Commons and Whitehall and into the regions and, of course, already, the nations of the United Kingdom.

However, we also need to have more energy in pushing this agenda—more ambition, perhaps. I welcome the fact that the Government are committed to more investment and diversification of jobs and institutions around the country, in particular to the north. Alongside that, there should be stronger recognition of the need for devolution of political power, so that power is diversified around the country and people are not just allocated benefits from Westminster and Whitehall but can take control of their own destiny and speak for themselves.

In line with that, I again urge the Government, as I have in the past—I recognise that this may now be in the longer term, since they have taken a stance against this in the short term—to look ahead and move away from a situation where those who speak for and work with the nations and regions of the country inside the UK Government are diversified between a Scotland Office that is largely redundant, a Wales Office, a Northern Ireland Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The creation of a proper department of the nations and regions of the United Kingdom—a fourth great office of state with a powerful seat at the Cabinet table—would be a far better position for the nations and regions to be in, in terms of dialogue with central government. It would also be better for central government to have to recognise the importance of the different parts of the United Kingdom.

Business and Planning Bill

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 13th July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

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Earl of Clancarty Portrait The Earl of Clancarty (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I support pavement licences not only for the purposes of the Bill but because, as I said at Second Reading, they have the potential to help knit together communities. But there must—“must” is the operative word—be access for all pavement users. Otherwise, our pavements are not a shared space in the wider sense of the term.

Anyone who knows Berlin and smaller towns in various countries on the continent will see how well this can work. As a pedestrian in Berlin, I do not recall ever having to walk around tables and chairs, which is an important point. The scheme is not working if you cannot walk down the centre of the payment, and where the pavement is wide enough, there is no reason why café furniture cannot be split into two sections so that it can be right up against the road or fence between for safety.

I am sure that there is a whole art to this, but things such as large wooden tubs with flowers and large umbrellas marking the corners of the café territory can give the area a structure that is both open and rigid, so that pedestrians know precisely where they can walk on a predictable, routine basis. That is extremely important, particularly in the context of the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Low. You should be able to walk down a pavement and know precisely where you will be walking on different days.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I had the pleasure yesterday afternoon of my first meal out since before the lockdown, at the fabulous Drift Inn in Lamlash, on the Isle of Arran. The young proprietors and members of staff there had been looking forward to their first full spring and summer, with tourists and locals enjoying their hospitality. Of course, the business has had to stand still for several months. For them and so many others, small businesses in particular, I welcomed the Bill last week and I welcome it again today. I hope that, beyond England and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, there will be a bit more enthusiasm for supporting these businesses to get safely back on the rails over the coming weeks and months.

Turning to the amendments, I counsel the Government not to go against the grain when pushing through the Bill and the important powers it will enable. The Government themselves have spoken about building back better after the lockdown and Covid-19. There have been many negatives and terrible impacts of Covid-19 and the lockdown over recent months, but for those of us lucky enough to have had the opportunity to leave our homes, at times it has also been a pleasure to reclaim our streets and parks for walks or runs and relaxation. Many people have commented on that.

On the issue of off-sales, which I mentioned last week and which will come up later in Committee, I think it would be wrong for those to become too readily available in a society where they are already far too readily available. That is a major mistake. Also, we cannot talk about “building back better” if we leave people out of the equation. Without the amendment so ably introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, whose introduction to this group was excellent, and without the consultation that was so well described by my noble friend Lord Harris, we will be, yes, rightly encouraging businesses to become entrepreneurial in this new environment and encouraging customers to go out and enjoy the hospitality of those businesses, but if we do that to the exclusion of sections of our society, whether they are there as customers or are just passing by, that will be a terrible error. We should leave no one behind as we emerge from this lockdown period.

I urge the Government not to go ahead with the Bill in its current form just because it has been through the House of Commons and because it was drafted by Ministers and officials before these debates but to listen to the debates and make the changes. They will get a much stronger welcome in the country for the Bill when enacted, and it will be more successful as a result, if it involves everybody and does not leave anybody behind.