The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill has passed its second reading in the House of Commons, despite stiff opposition.
MPs voted 271 to 199 in favour of the bill, which is designed to tighten partnership arrangements between councils and other public bodies and streamline performance management. Now it passes to the committee stage.
The bill implements most of the proposals in the local government white paper. It would also strengthen local overview and scrutiny committees and allow shire counties to become unitary authorities.
Ruth Kelly, communities and local government secretary, told MPs: “I want to see all our councils leading the drive for sustainable communities, regenerating our city centres, lifting people out of poverty and improving local public services.”
But Caroline Spelman, shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, said instead of “confronting the real problems facing councils, including council tax levels, and the lack of care for the elderly”, the government had opted for the “distraction” of restructuring local government.
Andrew Stunell said the bill needed “a more vigorous engagement and participation with communities and individuals” and “more local services, tailored more accurately to the needs of local communities, delivered and designed by local people.”