§ Mr. Heddle
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what sanction he proposes to impose upon local authorities who do not take full and particular account of representations made by business ratepayers; what rights business ratepayers will have to seek for redress through the courts to invalidate a rate set if a local authority has not properly consulted or seriously considered the views of business ratepayers; if he will publish the code of guidance on the consultation procedures introduced in the Rates Act 1984; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
The new duty on local authorities to consult representatives of business ratepayers on their proposals for expenditure and its financing should improve local accountability and provide a valuable opportunity for the business community to have its voice heard.
On 4 September we issued a code of guidance providing advice on the timing and manner of such consultations and those who might be consulted, to which local authorities must have regard. Regulations setting out the information which authorities will be required to provide (the Industrial and Commercial Ratepayers (Consultation) Regulations 1984 (SI 1984 No. 1355)) were laid before Parliament on 3 September. Copies of both documents have been placed in the Library. The duty to make available the information prescribed by the regulations and to give proper consideration to the views represented would be enforceable through the courts were it to be flagrantly disregarded.