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The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill 2015-16 forms part of the Government’s policy of devolving the powers and budgets of public bodies to local authorities and combined authorities. The wider policy priorities of both the Government and local areas extend beyond the Bill itself, which is largely technical in nature. For this reason, this briefing contains an extensive introduction to recent policy debates on devolution, to put the Bill in an appropriate context. Additional background and detail on recent ‘devolution deals’ can be found in the Library briefing paper Devolution to local government in England.

The Bill received its First Reading in the House of Lords on 28 May 2015; Second Reading on 8 June; spent three days in Committee between 22 and 29 June; had its Report Stage on 13 and 15 July; and its Third Reading on 21 July. Documents related to the Bill can be found on its pages on the Parliamentary website.

A number of amendments were passed in the Lords despite opposition from the Government. These included clauses requiring an annual ‘devolution report’ to Parliament, and a ‘devolution statement’ to be included in every Government Bill; a clause lowering the voting age in local elections to 16; a clause preventing the Government from making the devolution of powers conditional on the creation of an elected mayor; and a clause permitting a future referendum to abolish any local authority elected mayor established following a Government-mandated referendum.

The Bill was introduced into the Commons, as Bill 64, via its First Reading on 21 July 2015, and Second Reading is scheduled for 14 October 2015. A copy of the Bill as amended in the House of Lords has been published. Explanatory notes have been published on the Parliamentary website. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee also considered the Bill in June 2015.

The Bill formally extends to England and Wales, but its practical effect is in England only, with the exception of Clause 20 (covering the voting age for local government elections), which would also have effect in Wales.

The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has announced an inquiry into the Bill and related policy matters. It will take oral evidence during Autumn 2015, with the first session on 12 October.

This briefing paper describes the establishment of city deals, Local Enterprise Partnerships, combined authorities and ‘devolution deals’ during the 2010-15 Parliament, and analyses the characteristics of the powers devolved under the deals agreed thus far. It then provides a clause-by-clause analysis of the Bill, followed by a bibliography of relevant documents.

Documents to download