- `.—(1) Paragraph 18 of Schedule 13 to the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 (provisions for winding up of Residuary Body for Wales) is amended as follows.
- (2) In sub-paragraph (2) (meaning of "the transitional period" within which the Residuary Body must try to complete its work and at the end of which it is to be wound up), for "period of five years
726 beginning with the establishment of the Residuary Body" substitute "period beginning with the establishment of the Residuary Body and ending with 31st March 1999".
- (3) Omit—
- (a) in sub—paragraph (3), "Subject to sub—paragraph (4),", and
- (b) sub—paragraph (4),
- (4) For sub—paragraphs (5) to (7) (duty of Residuary Body to submit scheme for its winding up and to make arrangements for transfers etc. and power of Secretary of State to make orders) substitute—
- "(5) The Residuary Body shall, before the end of the period of three months beginning with the day on which the Government of Wales Act 1998 is passed, submit to the Secretary of State a scheme for the winding up of the Residuary Body.
- (6) The scheme shall include in relation to the Residuary Body's remaining functions, property, rights and liabilities—
- (a) a statement of arrangements made by the Residuary Body for their transfer by the Residuary Body to another body or bodies,
- (b) proposals for their transfer by the Secretary of State to another body or bodies, or
- (c) such a statement in relation to some of them and such proposals in relation to the rest.
- (7) The Secretary of State may by order make provision for giving effect to the scheme (with or without modifications) and for the transfer of functions, property, rights and liabilities of the Residuary Body to another body or bodies (whether or not as proposed in the scheme).".'.—[Mr. Ron Davies.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. Davies
The White Paper made clear the intention to wind up the Residuary Body for Wales before 2000. The view was taken that the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 provided the necessary legal framework to effect the wind-up before the assembly was established. However, further consideration has concluded that the powers in the 1994 Act do not allow the certainty that will be necessary to wind up the residuary body in the time scale necessary. The issue is not a point of controversy between the Government and the Opposition, and new clause 29 and Government amendment No. 515 are intended to provide the necessary certainty.
From the outset, I wish to make it clear that the residuary body and the local authorities in Wales agree that an early wind-up is desirable. Following the local government reorganisation of 1996, the residuary body inherited 21 properties, of which only six remain to be disposed of. The residuary body hopes to sell them in the coming months, although there is no guarantee that that will happen. None the less, new clause 29 and Government amendment No. 515 are designed to ensure that the residuary body can be wound up by 1 April 1999, irrespective of whether it still has any unresolved property disposals.
727 Furthermore, the residuary body will be required to submit a wind-up scheme that includes proposals for the subsequent transfer of property within three months of the Bill being enacted. Local authorities will be consulted on the residuary body's draft scheme before any wind-up order is made. The new clause does not stipulate how, at the wind-up, property vested in the residuary body should be disposed of, and we await its proposals in the wind-up plan on whether the properties, if unsold, should be transferred to an appropriate local authority by agreement or, in the absence of such agreement, by order.
§ Mr. Evans
As the Secretary of State says, the new clause is not controversial. He referred to the six properties that will remain in the hands of the residuary body. Is there any controversy about any of those six properties? Does he expect any problems with their sale or transfer to local authorities?
The Secretary of State said that he had talked with the local authorities and found that they were keen for the residuary body to be wound up early. In his discussions, did he encounter any reservations about the possibility of the residuary body being wound up? Has he had talks about the residuary body—gosh, that is difficult to say; the sooner it is wound up, the better—and, if so, what representations have been made to him about the early winding up?
§ Mr. Davies
I have had no talks with the residuary body, but my officials have and, to answer the hon. Gentleman's question directly, I am given to understand that both local government and the residuary body are anxious for the residuary body to be wound up.
The hon. Gentleman asked whether any problem attached to the remaining properties. I hesitate, when talking about property in Wales, to give him a categorical statement that there is no unresolved problem, but he asked specifically about the six properties that remain. They are the staff club at Westgate street in Cardiff; Greyfriars house and offices, Cardiff—which I understand are the subject of some offers at the moment; Nos. 3 to 5 Goring road, Llanelli; unit 7, Castle park, Flint; phase IV of county hall, Mold; and No. 3 High street, Caernarfon.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.