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Baroness Hamwee: I have paused to see whether there are any further contributions. My noble friend has responded to a number of points made by the Minister. When she asked what Londoners might expect by way of leadership if they voted for an assembly but not a directly elected mayor, I wrote down "Blair". As my noble friend has said, most government bodies and parliaments have a leader who is a voice of that body. It is quite reasonable--of course this would be part of the debate--to allow Londoners to make that assumption.

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The Minister said that we must not have a mayor untrammelled by an assembly. That was pretty much the same point as that made by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, earlier. We are still not convinced that it is possible for an assembly to have sufficient control over a directly elected mayor. That is why we want to have a debate on this matter and that is why we wish to present the two points separately to the electorate of London.

The Minister also said that if the answer is a clear no, proposals will be dropped. I fear that that could lead to shelving something which the voters want--one element of that package.

I do not think that the Minister addressed the point that the amendment proposes a preamble to set the context. However, I shall read Hansard to check whether she addressed that point.

In introducing Amendment No. 6 I said the matter is so serious and capable of continued debate that I shall be prepared to consider it again. It is an issue to which I believe we must return. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.


The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne): I call Amendment No. 7. If the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, intends to move it, I must point out that if the amendment is agreed to it will pre-empt Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 and I shall not be able to call them.

Lord Bowness had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 7:

Page 6, leave out lines 3 to 7 and insert--
("Question 1: Are you in favour of a directly elected mayor for Greater London?
Put a cross (X) in one box:

Question 2: Are you in favour of a directly elected assembly for Greater London?
Put a cross (X) in one box:
NO ")

The noble Lord said: I was under the impression that I had spoken to the amendment when we discussed Amendment No. 6.

In replying to that debate, the Minister, interestingly enough, referred to the many discussions that have taken place over the years about the form of local government in London. For a moment I wondered whether she was agreeing with me that what had gone before, and what we might now undertake, was the reorganisation of local government in London.

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In replying to noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, the Minister accused me of wanting to put ill-advised propositions to the people. I ask only that we put the Government's proposals to the people. The Minister said that if there was a no vote to the composite question that the Government wish to put she would have to think again. If there were two questions, that is all that we ask the Government to do in the event of a no reply to one of them.

The referendum does not commit the Government to anything, especially if the answer is different from that which they seek. In the face of a no vote for an assembly, I would not expect the Government to legislate for an executive mayor with no checks and balances and no kind of assembly.

In Amendment No. 7 we do not ask the Government to put our alternative proposal for an assembly of borough leaders. We are putting the Government's own proposals. If that were refused by the people, the Government would have to think again; and likewise if there were a positive vote for an assembly and against a mayor.

I believe that the alternatives envisaged by the Minister regarding the outcome are too confusing and would not give the result which she suggests. However, like the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, I believe that the form in which we put the question is one of the most important factors in connection with the proposals. Like the noble Baroness, I shall read again carefully what the Minister said. With regard to Amendment No. 7, and the form of the question, I reserve the right to return to the matter at a later stage in our deliberations.

[Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

6.15 p.m.

Lord Bowness moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 6, line 3, after ("government's") insert ("draft").

The noble Lord said: I shall not detain the Committee long on Amendment No. 9. It is very short. It provides that the word "draft" should be inserted on the form on the ballot paper. We have discussed already that these can be only draft proposals, given that we shall not seek the public's view on legislation that has already passed through Parliament. I hope that the Minister will concede that in the interests of accuracy people should understand that the proposals are not firm and that the question should include the word "draft". I beg to move.

Baroness Hayman: I understand the spirit of what the noble Lord argues. We do not believe that the amendment is necessary. We have made it clear that the White Paper will set out clear and detailed proposals for the establishment of a Greater London authority, and that the people of London will be able to make an informed decision in the referendum on the basis of those proposals.

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Clarity is tremendously important. That is one of the reasons that I argued that the more possible variations, the more uncertain the results, the less clear the position, the more one is in a position of having to analyse people's motivations for their votes.

I do not believe that inserting this single word would assist. I suspect that those who are suspicious of government would seize upon the fact that these are only draft proposals and would throw back at us that we were asking for carte blanche for draft proposals which we might change at any time in the future. We shall certainly enable Londoners to make a clear and considered judgment on clear and detailed proposals. But I do not think the suggestion that the insertion of the word "draft" would help is correct.

Lord Bowness: I thank the Minister for her reply. I do not pretend to be happy with it. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 10 not moved.]

Schedule agreed to.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Counting officers]:

Lord Bowness moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 2, line 14, after ("certify") insert ("the total number of eligible electors in the area for which he is appointed,").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 11 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 12 to 14.

In respect of Amendments Nos. 11 and 12, I believe that it is necessary and desirable properly to ascertain the measure of support in specific parts of the capital for the proposals. People will want to know how their borough voted. I hope that the Government will be able to give a favourable response to this group of amendments.

My principal concern relates to Amendments Nos. 13 and 14. Those amendments provide that at least 50 per cent. of the persons entitled to vote in the referendum shall have voted, and that at least 30 per cent. of the people entitled to vote shall have voted in favour of the proposal.

The Government have embarked upon the reorganisation of the government of Greater London. I shall be interested to hear whether the Minister perceives that as a regional or local government reorganisation. However, the Government seek the approval of the voters of Greater London through a referendum. They propose a system of regional or local government which will be unique in the United Kingdom. For the first time there will be a direct election for an executive official. The structure will not at this time be replicated in any other authority in the United Kingdom. To that end it is quite unlike any other reorganisation of the government of London which has taken place in the past.

The Minister took me to task for referring to the abolition of the former GLC as a local government reorganisation. But, I repeat, that is essentially what it was--the removal of one tier of local government in its area and a redistribution of the functions between the

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remaining first tier authorities. That happened more recently elsewhere within the United Kingdom and was certainly not described as anything other than a local government reorganisation. It was not very different, I suggest, from the creation of the LCC or the redistribution of functions between the former metropolitan counties and the metropolitan districts. But this reorganisation will be different.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, alluded to this matter in a previous debate. London has always struggled to find a lasting form of government. There is a history, albeit over different areas from time to time, of a struggle between what might be described as the top tier, or the centre, and the boroughs, the old metropolitan boroughs and, as they now exist, the London boroughs. At different times one or the other has been in the ascendency. I have no doubt that it would be to the benefit of the area of the capital as a whole if there could be an acceptance of a particular form that the governance of the capital should take.

I suggest that all the reorganisations, not merely the abolition of the GLC, have been surrounded with controversy. It would be a pity if this reorganisation suffered in the same way. One way to ensure that it does is to have a particular solution imposed upon it by a minority of voters. It is for that reason that we propose two thresholds: the first to ensure that at least 50 per cent. of the electorate, or 2½ million of the 5 million voters of Greater London, have voted; the second to ensure that the proposals are approved by at least 30 per cent. of the possible voters, or 1½ million voters, of Greater London in total. It is, I suggest a modest proposal, but one which, if accepted, would at least enable the Government to know with a degree of confidence that their proposals had the support of a majority of the people. I beg to move.

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