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Mr. John Denham accordingly presented a Bill to require all employment vacancies to be advertised with a combined valuation of pay and pension rights; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on 3 March, and to be printed [Bill 93].
[Relevant documents: The Minutes of Evidence taken before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on 18th October, 25th October and 1st November, on London Olympics: First Steps, HC 552-i, -ii and -iii, Session 200506.]
Mr. Caborn: New clause 3 and new schedule 1 are needed to make the transfer of contracts to the Olympic delivery authority a quick and efficient process. In advance of the ODA being set up, the London Development Agency and Transport for London have been driving forward the work to deliver the games. We are grateful for that work, but a complication has developed as those authorities have had to enter into the first major contracts. Once the ODA is set up, those contracts and some of the equipment and people involved will have to be transferred to the ODAthe body that will ultimately deliver the Olympics.
Transferring a large number of individual contracts can be a lengthy and costly process. We want to avoid any unnecessary cost or delay. Where the Secretary of State thinks it necessary, the amendments allow for the creation of transfer schemes, which will ensure that contracts are efficiently moved from authorities such as the London Development Agency or Transport for London to the Olympic delivery authority. The Secretary of State may make a scheme if others have not complied with a direction or if their scheme has not been approved.
Using transfer schemes means that batches of contracts can be moved, requiring a single negotiation process rather than many individual ones. The Secretary of State will not be able to approve or make a scheme unless she has consulted the person who submitted it, or ought to have submitted it, the ODA and anyone who may be affected by it. She will also have to obtain the consent of the Mayor.
Transfer schemes are usual practice when setting up a new public body that takes over specific responsibilities from another public body. For example, the Greater London Authority Act 1999 used a similar process to transfer contracts to the GLA and TFL from predecessor bodies.
Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): As this is the first group of amendments on Report, I begin by thanking the Minister for extending the courtesy of a briefing for myself and the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the amendments tabled since the Committee stage. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to pass on my thanks to his civil servants who were responsible for that briefing and for other aspects of the Bill?
New clause 3 and new schedule 1 allow for the creation of transfer schemes to move contracts across from the Greater London Authority, the London Development Agency and Transport for London to the Olympic delivery authority. If the Secretary of State believes that it will best serve the ability of the ODA to carry out its functions, he or she may direct any of those bodies to make a transfer scheme.
I wholly accept that a single body is needed to manage public sector investment in staging the games if we are to be best placed to deliver the games on time and to budget. The ODA creates a single point of contact for various public sector organisations involved in the delivery of those games. However, as the new clause has been moved since the Committee stage, will the Minister answer a number of points when he winds up?
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First, what safeguards are in place to look after the interests of the originators of those contracts? Secondly, how will accountability be preserved once the transfer is effected from an elected body such as the GLA to the ODA? Finally, how can the House continue to exercise scrutiny? Subject to the Minister's reassurances on those three points, I am happy to signal my party's support.
Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): I join the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Hugh Robertson) in thanking the Minister and his civil servants for the very helpful briefings that we have had in preparation for the moving of these and other amendments. I also thank the Minister and the hon. Gentleman for the close co-operation that there has been in relation to almost all aspects of the Bill, which means that there will be a fairly uncontroversial passage of much of what is to be debated this evening. However, the debate is an opportunity to raise remaining questions with the Minister. In view of the fact that a number of the powers of the GLA will be passed on to other bodies if the new clause and new schedule are agreed, will the Minister answer some further questions, in addition to those asked by the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent?
First, I seek the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that the GLA will be one of the organisations that are to be consulted on the Olympic transport plan, which is the subject of clause 9. Secondly, will the GLA be able to summons the ODA to public evidence sessions? What assurance can the Minister give that the GLA will be able to use section 61 of the Greater London Authority Act to summon the ODA in the way that I described? Finally, can the Minister provide an assurance that LOCOGthe London organising committee of the Olympic gamesthe other body being established by the Bill, will also have to comply with any reasonable request to appear before the assembly and to update the assembly on progress? With those assurances from the Minister, I can confirm that my party, too, is willing to support the amendments.
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