The Local Government Act 1986

AuthorC. J. Willmore,H. F. Rawlings
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1987.tb02559.x
Publication Date01 Jan 1987
LEGISLATION
THE
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1986
1.
lritroduction
IN
its “propaganda on the rates” aspect,’ the Local Government
Act 1986 represents the convergence of two previously distinct
aspects
of
present Government policy. The first is the de-
legitimisation, or suppression, of political dissent, a policy summed
up in the catchphrase “There
Is
No Alternative”; the second is the
continuing process of emasculation
of
local government as an
autonomous political entity-the legislation under discussion is the
twelfth Act since 1979 designed to limit the freedom of action
of
elected local authorities. Although the House of Lords, exhibiting
its re-discovered independence in respect
of
Government legislative
proposals,* amended the Bill in important and beneficial respects,
we are still left with an ill-drafted and shabby piece of legislation.
The origins of the Act may be located in the circumstances
of
the 1983 General Election. As Pinto-Duschinsky pointed out, the
1983 election was noteworthy for the scale
of
advertising financed
by interest
group^.^
The traditional wisdom is that such third-party
intervention by way
of
advertising has disproportionately favoured
the Conservative Party, due to the financial strength
of
such bodies
as Aims of Industry and the Economic League. In 1983 the
imbalance was not quite
so
marked. First, the election coincided
with an expensive advertising campaign against reductions in public
service empl~yment.~ This was financed by NALGO out of its
general funds-NALGO had no political fund. Secondly,
“Conservatives
felt
that the public relations efforts
of
some
Labour-controlled local authorities, particularly the Greater
London Council, constituted thinly-veiled political advertising
funded by local tax-payers. When the election date was
announced, the G.L.C. was in the midst of a poster campaign
attacking government plans for cutting public expenditure and
many of these posters remained
in
situ during the ele~tion.”~
The Conservative response, since re-election, has been two-fold.
First,
to
meet the trade union publicity “problem,” the Trade
Union Act 1984 has been enacted. A trade union may only expend
Thc
1986
Act
also
deals with rating, local authority mortgages, and misccllancous
Shell, “The House
of
Lords and the Thatcher Government”
(1985) 38
Pad.
Affairs
Pinto-Duschinsky, “‘Ircnds in British Political Funding
1979-1983”
(1985)
38
Pad.
matters, nonc
of
which arc discusscd hcrc.
16-32.
Affairs
328, 338
el
seq.
Pinto-Duschinsky,
vp,
cit.
pp.33F340.
Op.
cit.
p.339.
52

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT