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Baroness Ludford moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 1, line 9, leave out from ("Authority") to end of line 10.

The noble Baroness said: I wish to move Amendment No. 3 standing in the name of my noble friend Lady Hamwee. This is really a linking amendment, linking the group of amendments that we have just discussed and the two amendments that we shall discuss which concern a two-question referendum. This amendment, in striking out the words which specify what a greater London authority should be composed of, seeks to do two things. First, we should not in this Bill--which concerns the holding of a referendum--prejudge what the legislation will finally produce. Secondly, we should not impose a take it or leave it package. That links on to the question of the referendum.

This amendment, in seeking to remove those words, is in a sense consequential on the amendments we have just discussed and Amendments Nos. 6 and 8. As I have said, we should not prejudge the legislation and we should not prejudge what people will have a chance to vote on in the referendum. I beg to move.

Baroness Hayman: The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, described the amendment as a linking, consequential amendment. That is not the Government's view of it. It amends Clause 1(1) of the Bill. The Bill states--at its heart is the Government's proposition--that we shall put a referendum to the people of London to establish a greater London authority,

That is the proposition that was clear in our manifesto; and it is the proposition which we are committed to putting to the people of London.

In effect, the noble Baroness seeks to take out the guts of Clause 1 of the Bill because she recognises that it goes to the core of the legislation and of the Government's belief as to what is the right form of government for London.

Perhaps at this point it might be helpful to the Committee to explain--it is a theme that will recur throughout the debate--why the Government believe that having both a mayor and an assembly, separately elected, is the right composite package of government for London. We favour a mayor who will provide firm leadership, set the strategic direction and be able to get things done. At home and abroad the mayor will represent London's interests and aspirations. But checks and balances are important. The assembly is equally essential to provide a proper framework of accountability, and to scrutinise the mayor's plans and strategies and their delivery.

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This is not a package from which the Government believe that it is right that we should pick and choose. A mayor alone, unfettered by an assembly, would wield too much power; and an assembly alone would not give London the focus and the leadership it desperately needs. Together, the mayor and the assembly are the best deal for London. We are convinced that, unlike the half-considered alternatives offered by some, it will work. For London to be governed properly it is necessary to have both the mayor and the assembly coming together to create the authority. That is why we have put forward a clear, unambiguous, comprehensive, single question that allows people to express a view on that package of government being proposed for London.

I have made it clear that we favour a mayor and an assembly as a complete framework: a mayor to provide a voice for London and to articulate its interests at home and abroad; and an assembly to provide an essential framework of accountability. The two elements are the cornerstone of our proposals. To remove them from the face of the Bill would be to wreck the purpose of the Bill. I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: Perhaps the Minister will explain this point to me. The noble Baroness said that the two elements must come together. She implies, presumably, that the assembly will monitor the financial position as much as anything else. But where will the question be put to the people of London as to whether or not the authority should have tax-raising powers? Where will the money come from?

Baroness Hayman: We made it clear that we shall not propose additional tax-raising powers for the assembly. That was made clear in the Second Reading debate; it has been made clear in another place; and it will be spelt out once again in the proposal. I am giving that assurance. The disposable budgets of which the mayor will have control are the budgets of the functions which will be taken over by the strategic authority.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: Perhaps the Minister will expand a little on that. What does she mean by no additional expenditure? Is it envisaged that there will be a precept on local authorities, or will the funding come directly from the Government? It is not clear from what she said.

Baroness Hayman: The programme budgets for the functions to be undertaken by the authority will be passed to the new greater London authority. We are making it clear that unlike, for example, the Scottish parliament, there will not be new tax-raising powers for the greater London authority, but the detail will be spelt out. Amendment No. 3 removes the two component parts of any authority and provides that the Bill will create only a greater London authority.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: Does not the amendment avoid a pre-emption? As the Bill stands, Clause 1(1) states that the authority will be,

    "made up of an elected assembly and a separately elected mayor".

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I shall support Amendment No. 7. I am asked to do so by the Council of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Let us suppose that Amendment No. 7 is carried. Two questions are put and it is decided that there shall be an elected assembly and not a separately elected mayor, or vice versa. Is it not far better to accept the amendment, which does no violence to the intendment of the Bill, and to leave the question open for the decision of this House as to whether, as in the case of Scotland, we should have two questions and not one?

It is right that the Labour manifesto, which I read often, makes the point that there will be an elected assembly and a separately elected mayor. But it does not make the point that people shall not be able to have one without the other. I merely ask that perhaps this point might receive consideration.

Baroness Hayman: I am grateful for the spirit in which the noble Lord puts forward his argument. It is a point to which we shall return during the course of our debates in Committee.

This is firmly at the core of the Government's position. We believe that the two elements which would form together the Greater London authority are inseparable, and therefore that is what the Bill provides. A breach of that principle then allows for the possibility of expressions of support for constitutional settlements that the Government do not believe they could responsibly implement. That is why--we shall come to the debate again and again--we do not believe that two questions are sensible.

There were indeed two questions in the referendum for Scotland, but not two questions about two variants of the constitutional body that would be set up. The additional question related to tax-varying powers. That was an issue to which the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, referred. But there were not two alternatives about whether there should be a Scottish parliament. The whole parcel of constitutional reform was covered by one question.

In Wales, where there was no proposal for tax-varying powers, there was only one constitutional proposal, to which assent was or was not given.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: I accept 100 per cent. what the Minister says: that that is what the Government want. But what is the object of having a referendum geared to produce what the Government want? If one has a referendum one wants to find out what the people want. I take the noble Baroness's point but I hope that she can take mine.

Baroness Hayman: I understand what the noble Lord says. As I say, we shall return to the issue. The point I seek to make is that the referendum tests support for the Government's proposal. It is not a piece of market research to see which of a number of variant constitutional settlements might meet with support from various groups. I suggest that that would not be responsible government. We have never pretended that the proposal is about putting forward a wide range of

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constitutional settlements. It is about testing the support of the people of London for a proposition which the Government believe is a workable, responsible, creative and effective constitutional settlement for the nation's capital.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I wish to express my increasing anxiety as to the constitutional propriety of the Government's intentions. The heart of this Bill is about holding a referendum. As the noble Lord has just remarked, it is about consulting the people. The Minister seems to be making two other, incompatible arguments. One is that this proposal was in the Government's manifesto and therefore, on the old doctrine of the mandate, it should go through and there is no need whatever to hold a referendum. The second is that we are allowed to have a referendum only on what the Government want. The Minister referred to a new constitutional settlement. My party believes that Britain should be moving towards such a new settlement. But if we are to be told that the only new constitutional settlement we can have is the one that was written into the Labour Party manifesto, then we are rather unhappy about the proposal.

The Minister referred to, "the clear precedent of Scotland and Wales". Taking that as a precedent, in the case of Scotland the Government insisted on a two-question referendum. We need some rather clearer rules about referenda. This will not be the last referendum to be held under this Government. We may anticipate more. My party has a certain interest in the referendum that will follow the report of the Jenkins Commission on proposals for forms of proportional representation. If I understood the Minister correctly and there is no need, for example, to make clear when a referendum is held what exactly Parliament is to be asked to do, and it is possible to return to the proposals and change them, I presume that means that following a referendum the Government could change in some substantial detail what had been put to the people.

There is a distinction between referenda and plebiscites. Plebiscites are what governments do to demonstrate the illusion of consultation but to get their will. Referenda are real consultations with the public. We have moved a little bit away from parliamentary sovereignty in accepting referenda, but only a little bit. The Government are now telling us that the people of London are to be consulted a little bit, but only in regard to one particular package.

I have no doubt that the popular wish in London will be overwhelmingly to have an elected assembly. The case for a directly elected mayor has to be made. I am not entirely sure which line I take on the matter. It would be highly desirable to have a referendum in which the Government would have to make that case to the people of London. It would be an educating process, an encouragement of popular participation. That is what I thought New Labour was supposed to be about: educating the public, involving the public and persuading the public.

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I suggest that, as many of your Lordships will have noted well, there are two aspects to New Labour's approach to a new constitutional settlement. There is the side of Labour which is decentralist and in favour of more open democracy and more participation; and there is another side which wants to maintain central control, to have an appearance of consultation and to have a government who tell us what the people think as they regard themselves as representing what the people think.

The constitutional dimensions of sliding towards referenda on terms whereby only the Government decide what questions are allowed to be asked are extremely dangerous. I therefore hope very strongly that in the course of the Committee and Report stages we shall change the nature of the way in which the Government define the purpose of referenda, which seems to be the underlying purpose of the Bill.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Mishcon: If I over-simplify matters, may I be forgiven? I have a very simple mind. Would any government be responsible if they put forward a proposal--referendum or no referendum--which gave dictatorial powers to one individual without any responsibility on that individual to account to an assembly such as is suggested? Any government who did so would be wholly irresponsible.

When it comes to the question of a referendum, with true democratic backing for any such principle, the Government say this: "We think it is a good idea to have a Greater London Assembly, together with a mayor. People, do you agree with us, or don't you?" That is the simple position as I see it; and I support it.

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