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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer : I thank the Minister for her reply, which holds out a little hope. However, I am aware that the working party has been looking at this matter for some time. On the last occasion that the matter was considered all those who spoke supported the reduction of the age of candidates to 18, with the exception of the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson, who made a small point about financial responsibility. All the other contributors were agreed that there was huge merit in consistency.

The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Hendon, made the point that it is important for the minimum age to be consistent with that for MPs. The argument is that if we believe people are adult at 18, we should be consistent and give them all of the rights that go with being an adult at 18. I do not believe that people acquire a huge amount of wisdom that enables them to turn from a voter to a candidate in three years. One will either have the energy, enthusiasm and intelligence to be a good candidate at the age of 18, when one is an adult, or one may never have it. A great deal of experience is gained with age, but not necessarily outlook, intelligence and an ability to represent people. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 57:


Page 10, line 34, after ("occupied") insert ("and continues to occupy")

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 58 and 59. They all relate to Clause 19(4), which deals with the personal connection of the mayor and assembly members with Greater London. Any person who wishes to be a

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candidate for either office and, if elected, to continue to be either the mayor or an assembly member must meet any one of the four criteria in Clause 19(4).

Clauses 7(a) and 14(a) declare the offices of assemblyman and mayor respectively vacant if the person ceases to be qualified. Paragraph (a) of Clause 19(4) states that


    "on the relevant day he is, and from that day continues to be, a local government elector for Greater London". I repeat those important words:


    "and from that day, continues to be"; that is, continues throughout his term of office. Paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) respectively require him during the whole of the preceding 12 months to have occupied as owner or tenant land or premises in Greater London or to have had his principal or only place of work in Greater London or to have resided in Greater London. The requirement to have occupied land, or worked, or to have resided in Greater London is entirely appropriate and necessary. But it is a strange anomaly that a person has to continue to be a local government elector for the whole of his term of office but need not continue to have one of the other three relevant qualifications for one minute after the declaration of the poll.

I simply do not understand the reason for this discrepancy. It seems to be nothing but an invitation to carpetbaggers to parachute in, or to be parachuted in by his party hierarchy; acquire one of the three qualifications for 12 months; get himself elected; and then take off again--and yet retain the office that he has acquired. Our amendment ensures that all four of the alternative qualifications follow the identical standards and have the same value. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Despite what the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Hendon, has said, these amendments would appear to be unnecessary. The subsections of Clause 19 which she described require a candidate to satisfy at least one of the four conditions to which she referred. These conditions are consistent with the conditions imposed in other local elections, including London borough elections.

I remain unconvinced by the arguments that I have heard so far that the elections to the Greater London Authority should be considered differently. The personal circumstances of candidates may change during their periods of office in such a way as to make it impossible for them to reside within the boundaries of Greater London. For example, there may be family responsibilities which would cause somebody to live just over the boundaries in one of the adjacent county areas, perhaps because of responsibility for elderly parents or other family commitments. That would mean that they could not register to vote, but it does not mean that they could not continue to carry out their responsibilities and duties either as mayor or as an assembly member.

The candidate elected as mayor will certainly be expected to be doing a full-time job, and this will also be so for assembly members. They will all be paid salaries. Even if it is expected that their GLA duties are

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their only or principal work, they will continue to be qualified by the provisions of Clause 19(4)(c). From the example I have given, I hope the noble Baroness will understand that the amendment she proposes may have effects that I am quite sure she did not intend. I am sure that in those circumstances she will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: There is not much validity in the argument that the Minister just made. If it is all right for the person to move a little outside the Greater London area provided that he resides or works there during the time that the proceedings are started, I do not understand why the candidate must, as it states in Clause 19(2)(a),


    "on the relevant day ... and from that day, continues to be, a local government elector for Greater London". It seems extraordinary that somebody who wishes to be a mayor or assemblyman can be there one day but not the next day after the election.

I shall read carefully the Minister's comments and withdraw the amendment. I suggest, however, that the noble Lord the Minister also reflects. We will read the debate carefully. It would be helpful if Ministers read it carefully and sometimes were prepared to meet us half way.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My noble friend always does.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: I am sure that the noble Baroness and the Minister do so but somewhere along the line, it would be rather nice if we could understand the reasoning. It does not make all that much sense to me. I beg to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 58 and 59 not moved.]

Clause 19 agreed to.

Clause 20 [Disqualification from being the Mayor or an Assembly member]:

[Amendments Nos. 60 and 61 not moved.]

10 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 62:


Page 11, line 35, at end insert ("; or
(f) he holds a politically restricted post (as defined in Part I of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989) under any local authority (as similarly defined) whose area, or part of it, lies within Greater London.")

The noble Baroness said: Part I of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 disqualifies a person from becoming, whether by election or otherwise, or remaining a member of a local authority if he holds a politically restricted post with that or any other local authority in Great Britain. That provision was enacted as a result of the recommendations of the Widdecombe inquiry into the conduct of local authority business.

Clause 2 of the 1989 Act defines a politically restrictive post under eight headings. I am sure that the Minister and other Members of the Committee do not

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require me to read them. The purpose of that provision is to safeguard against twin-tracking--that is, persons working for one council and holding elected office with another. As Section 1(2) of the 1989 Act excludes a person holding a restricted post even from becoming a Member of Parliament, there is every reason for it applying to the mayor and members of the assembly. Consistency should be the key. There is no reason for the mayor and members of the assembly being an elite group to whom the law of the land does not apply equally with members of other local authorities. I beg to move.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: In the context of this new authority, I wonder whether there is some merit in allowing persons holding politically sensitive offices to stand--albeit that if they were elected, they would have to resign those offices. Has the noble Baroness considered that possibility or does she believe that such persons should neither stand nor be elected and serve while holding a politically sensitive office?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I point out to the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Hendon, that I certainly listen most carefully to everything said and consider it. If I do not understand fully the points raised, I assure the noble Baroness that I discuss them carefully with my noble friend the Minister and officials.

Amendment No. 62 would prevent holders of politically restricted posts in any of the London boroughs from being elected to or remaining as mayor or an assembly member. Clause 57(1) already specifies that the GLA will be treated as a local authority for the purposes of Sections 1 to 3 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, which are the provisions covering politically restricted posts in local authorities.

Section 1(1) of the 1989 Act states:


    "A person shall be disqualified from becoming (whether by election or otherwise) or remaining a member of a local authority if he holds a politically restrictive post under that local authority or any other local authority in Great Britain". Subsequently, any person holding a politically restricted post in a London borough would already be prohibited from being elected or serving as mayor or an assembly member. Indeed, the prohibition actually extends to holders of politically restricted posts in local authorities outside Greater London. That is the normal local government regime. In those circumstances, I am sure that the noble Baroness will be happy to withdraw her amendment.


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