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Baroness Miller of Hendon: I am greatly disappointed by the Minister's reply and surprised by it. In my book when you give someone the power that he "may" exercise that is a flexible power, not a prescriptive power. Earlier the Minister introduced the idea that if that were to happen we would have to find a way of dealing with it. The White Paper, Building Partnerships for Prosperity, talks about the agencies working in partnership with central and local government. It does not talk about working with just a local councillor. It goes on to say,


The words are, "local authorities". If these councillors have lost their seats they are no longer on the local authorities. It may well be that the Secretary of State might want to put them back on the agency for another skill that they might have but they are certainly not there as a representative of the local authority.

The Minister said earlier that there would probably be four local councillors and an agency of about 12. All we are trying to do is to protect them. I cannot see what he is giving up if he accepts the amendment. All it says is that the Secretary of State could, if he wished, remove someone who loses his seat a year later, or whenever. He does not have to. If we were to take literally what the Minister said, the Secretary of State has the power in that same section to remove a member if he is unable or unfit to carry out the functions of a member. Who is to say between two members whether they are unable or unfit? We would need to have medical certificates. The Secretary of State will have a discretion. Why he cannot use the discretion in this case I really do not know. Under the circumstances, I should like to test the opinion of the Committee.

6.24 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 12) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 63; Not-Contents, 81.

Division No. 2

CONTENTS

Addington, L.
Aldington, L.
Annaly, L.
Attlee, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blaker, L.
Bowness, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller.]
Cadman, L.
Carlisle, E.
Chesham, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Craigavon, V.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Greenway, L.
Grey, E.
Hampton, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Hesketh, L.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Jopling, L.
Kenyon, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Kitchener, E.
Knutsford, V.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Middleton, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Mottistone, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pender, L.
Perry of Walton, L.
Rees, L.
Russell, E.
Seccombe, B. [Teller.]
Skelmersdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strathcarron, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Ullswater, V.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.

NOT-CONTENTS

Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Borrie, L.
Burlison, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Ely, Bp.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grantchester, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Hardie, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Judd, L.
Kintore, E.
Lockwood, B.
Longford, E.
Lytton, E.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Palmer, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thornton, B.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Waverley, V.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

7 Oct 1998 : Column 485

6.32 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 13


Page 22, leave out lines 17 to 19.

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 13, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 14. The amendments relate to pay and pensions that the

7 Oct 1998 : Column 486

Secretary of State may award to members of RDAs. As drafted, paragraph 3 gives the Secretary of State an unfettered discretion to pay whatever salaries he chooses to members of RDAs. It allows him to pay whatever pension he chooses to former members of RDAs. It allows him to pay such golden handshakes or, perhaps more appropriately, golden kicks in the rear, when he decides that a member's services are no longer required and when perhaps equally golden silence is required from the recipient.

When paragraph 3(2)(a)--the subject of Amendment No. 13--was debated in Committee in the other place, the Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning spoke in terms of the Secretary of State paying the "appropriate rate" for the job (a welcome conversion to the concept by the party opposite that there is an "appropriate rate" for the job and that the recipient of the appropriate rate is not ipso facto a "fat cat"). He made some vague promises about the salary reflecting,


    "what is required of board members in terms of the nature of the job and of the time commitment. Remuneration will be in line with payments made for service on similar bodies".

However, despite being pressed by my honourable friend the Member for South Suffolk, the Minister did not say when a decision would be made about the rates of remuneration and the factors affecting it.

Since that debate took place, eight months have passed. That is more than enough time for even this very busy Secretary of State to have reached some sort of conclusion. This Government have asked for far too many blank cheques. On this occasion the minimum we require as the price for paragraph 3(2)(a) is a cast iron guarantee that some sort of ceiling or formula will be applied for fixing the remuneration.

I turn to Amendment No. 14 which relates to sub-paragraph (2)(c) and the power of the Secretary of State to award pensions of, as matters stand at present, any amount he chooses. The Minister in the other place claimed that pensions are part of a standard remuneration package. With respect, in this situation they most certainly are not. Before coming to your Lordships' House I had the privilege of serving on three public bodies. Nobody whispered a word to me about pensions; on the contrary I was told that although my appointments were each for a definite term, I could be arbitrarily whipped off at the whim of he who appointed me--the Minister giveth and the Minister taketh away.

The reason why appointments to RDAs are different from ordinary commercial employment contracts and remuneration packages is that they are inevitably part-time. The recipient will almost certainly have other employment, sources of remuneration and pension rights; the recipient will in many cases be there in a representative capacity--for example, of the local authorities in the region. The appointments, by their nature, will be short-term, however long an individual one will continue in practice. Clearly the Government are not planning freehold appointments to RDAs--at least I hope that they are not. Whatever the rights and wrongs about the rates of salary paid to board members, there can be no justification for adding pensions to their remuneration.

7 Oct 1998 : Column 487

The Minister in the other place was good enough to admit,


    "I am sure that Conservative Members have more experience of such matters than we do".
Perhaps in the circumstances he will accept advice from the Opposition and drop this ill-conceived and unnecessary provision. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: To accept Amendment No. 13 would mean that the Secretary of State could not require the regional development agency to pay past or current board members a pension, allowance or gratuity. I do not think that it is right to remove this power from the Bill as the provisions are part of the standard package of measures available to NDPBs in dealing with their members' remuneration and pensions.

The provisions relating to remuneration, pensions and compensation in paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 are nothing new. They are standard provisions and are included in most legislation to set up NDPBs, including English Partnerships, Scottish Enterprise and the Welsh Development Agency. The standards were set by the previous administration and have been clarified to some extent by the Nolan Committee.

A board member's entitlement to a pension would be dependent on the amount of work involved in his board membership. In practice, that is likely only to apply to board chairmen.

Amendment No. 14 would mean that the Secretary of State could not allow the regional development agency to compensate board members, in special circumstances, when they leave the board. Once again, I do not think that it is right to remove that power from the Bill. I can again confirm that the provisions made are part of the standard package of measures available to NDPBs in dealing with their members' remuneration.

Amendment No. 14 would seek to prevent the payment of compensation to members. The Bill states that such compensation would only be paid in exceptional circumstances. I can reassure Members of the Committee that this would be the case; again this is a standard provision. I therefore urge that the amendments be withdrawn.

In moving the amendment, the noble Baroness indicated that some information may be of help in securing her acceptance of the need to withdraw the amendment. Board members will be paid at a rate to secure the best quality candidates. We propose to pay the chairman of each RDA £44,000 for two days a week; that is a notional full-time rate of £110,000 a year. Deputy chairmen will be paid £14,000 for one day a week; that equates to a notional full-time rate of £70,000 a year. Board members will be paid £7,000 for two days a month--a notional full-time rate of £42,000 a year. These payments are in line with those made for service on comparable NDPBs. Pensions will be paid

7 Oct 1998 : Column 488

only in limited circumstances. With this information, I hope that the noble Baroness feels able to withdraw the amendment.


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