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Lord Bowness: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. I hope she will concede that I did not say there were an even greater number of outcomes; I said there were a number of issues that the people would wish to consider when casting their vote. I did not argue for more than two questions. That strictly limits the possible outcomes.
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, it strictly limits the possible outcomes but people would not know with any clarity what the outcome of their vote would be as they would not know how other Londoners would vote and they would not know what the Government's response would be. I return to the accusation of totalitarianism and imposing a referendum to which people can vote only yes. That is not correct; people can vote yes or no.
Baroness Ludford: My Lords, I hope the Minister will address that point. People may have to vote no when they are voting no to only one element of the package. However, they will be forced to vote no to the whole thing precisely because the Government are not giving them the option to vote no to only one element. Would it not be better to have some government for London rather than none if people's votes are being distorted by the Government's refusal to give choice?
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I cannot agree with the noble Baroness that it is definitely better to have some government rather than none. Neither I nor the Government want to have an unaccountable mayor. We do not think that is the right way forward. I do not wish to see--I do not think those on the Bench opposite wish to see this--a recreated GLC without the leadership and the counterbalance of a mayor. We need some clarity here. We were accused of not being able to risk the judgment of the people. However, we are willing to risk the judgment of the people on the package that we are putting forward. I do not think it is appropriate to analyse the speeches of a noble Lord in his absence in terms of the thinking behind them. I believe that the words of the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, that I mentioned were absolutely clear. People can read them in the Official Report and draw their own conclusions.
Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: My Lords, I have listened to the argument with great interest that was academically given to the House with all the forensic skill of the noble Baroness. Will she be kind enough to explain to me why in Scotland there could not have been one question: "Do you want an assembly with tax raising authority"?
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness. The noble Baroness said that people would have to vote no when they were only 90, 80, or 70 per cent. against a measure and that they would not be able to express the nuances of their views. I am afraid that life is sometimes like that. At general elections we have to take the totality of a party's policies and come to a view on them. It would be irresponsible of the Government to offer the people of London the possibility of splitting up a constitutional settlement when the Government do not believe that would be in the interest of Londoners. We are willing to risk the judgment of the people of London on the proposition for which we shall definitely argue. We have no temerity about that. We are not uncertain about the robust nature of the proposals, but we wish to see some clarity.
Lord Bowness: My Lords, the Minister speaks about the robustness of the proposals. Does the noble Baroness agree that there are no proposals? The Government have produced no White Paper or Bill. The Government intend to put forward an unknown proposal to the people of London. They are not even prepared to divide the proposal so that the people of London can make a considered judgment when they have a few details, which will presumably come from the White Paper rather than the Bill as we would prefer.
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that there will not be "a few details" in the White Paper. The White Paper will be comprehensive. It will deal with all the issues with which this House is rightly concerned across the range of complex issues involved in the government of London. The White Paper will be published in the week of 23rd March. We shall make sure that a summary of that White Paper goes through the door of every household in London.
We have talked seriously in this House about how we can make people aware clearly of the details of the proposal. To do so clearly, and to give proper information, in such a complex area will not be aided if many variable answers may result--the mayor without the assembly; the assembly without the mayor. If we are to have clarity, we cannot also have a variety of outcomes other than "yes" or "no".
That leads me to another issue that I hope your Lordships will consider carefully if the amendment is pressed to a Division. I refer to the behaviour of the Chamber, and the amendment which was passed in Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Bowness, discounted his victory in Committee; but victory it was. The Committee amended the Bill so that a Bill has to be published eight weeks before a referendum is held. The Government advised your Lordships' House that that was not appropriate. We thought that it was wrong. We did not think that it would aid clarity and understanding; and we knew that it would delay fatally the referendum. It would mean that we could not hold the referendum on 7th May of this year, the same day as the local elections. Nevertheless, the Committee took a different view. It took the view that there should be a Bill and those who propounded the amendment were clear that it should contain the detail of the Government's proposals. The Bill should not contain clauses which provided for the relationship were there to be an assembly but an indirectly elected mayor, or, alternatively, the relationship were there to be a directly elected mayor with an indirectly elected assembly. The noble Lord, Lord Bowness, was clear that the Bill should contain the specifics of the Government's proposals so that people knew exactly what they were voting for or against.
Lord Bowness: My Lords, I hope that the noble Baroness will forgive my intervention. I do not wish to delay the House longer than necessary. Does the noble Baroness agree that we proposed that there should be a Bill? That is the decision of the House as it stands. The Government's proposal--it is second best in our view--is that there should be a White Paper with proposals. Does that not support--
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, perhaps I may remind the noble Lord that we are on Report. This is the third intervention and interruption of the Minister's winding up speech. Normally one is considered sufficient.
We want as many details as possible put forward. Does the Minister agree that in the light of those details it would be quite possible for the people to express one view about one aspect and a different view about another?
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, that is the point on which I differ with the noble Lord. While I do not think that it is justified, there is an intellectual coherence in being more specific, getting more detail, and having the legislation in front of people before they vote in the referendum so that they know the government's proposals and exactly what would be entailed in voting "yes" or "no" for the package of the greater London authority, which is the assembly and a mayor.
Each amendment has a logic of its own. It makes the outcome either more black and white, more certain, with a more specific background against which people vote "yes" or "no"; or it opens up the situation and makes the referendum less a test of assent to a given proposition and more a consultative exercise on different options. But together the amendments pull in completely different directions. Together they destroy what was a clearly set out commitment by this Government in their election manifesto to implement proposals for a directly elected authority for London; that it should comprise two separately directly elected elements, and that we would test that proposition with the people of London. We were willing to risk the people of London rejecting what we put forward. As a responsible Government we were not willing to put before people a false menu of a constitutional settlement for London which we do not believe to be workable or in the interests of the capital. On that basis I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.
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