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Lord Swinfen: Before the Minister replies, perhaps I may ask him one, I hope, simple question. What do the Government understand by the word "age" in the amendment? Does it refer only to those of what I may describe as mature years or does it apply also to those of rather more tender years?

Lord Whitty: As I said to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, this is not my amendment. Clearly, there are problems of unjustifiable discrimination against both those of mature years, to which the noble Lord, Lord Renton, referred as "doddery"--which is quite unjustifiable in his case but may apply to some of us as we approach those years--and against young people. We shall have to consider whether we can frame an appropriate provision, as we shall have to consider all the other aspects which have been raised in relation to how it will be appropriate to word an amendment, should we consider it sensible to do so, at a later stage in the light of this debate. We shall take all of that into account.

I am not in a position to make any commitment which is firmer than that which I have already made; namely, that we shall take everything into consideration and let Members of the Committee know our intentions in that regard as soon as possible. But we are keeping an open mind as to what the appropriate course of action should now be.

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The noble Lord, Lord Tope, mentioned Section 28. It is indeed the Government's intention to change that. Progress on that will depend on parliamentary proceedings, including those in this House. With that caveat, I endorse what he said.

Lord Harris of Haringey: I am grateful to all Members of the Committee who have contributed to this debate. It has been extremely useful and I hope that it has sharpened the feelings of the Minister and his colleagues in terms of what needs to be brought forward at a later stage.

I listened with particular care to the comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, and the noble Lord, Lord Renton. I do not accept the argument that much of that is already covered by adequate legislation. Certainly, the analyses carried out by the Commission for Racial Equality and the parallel analyses carried out in relation to other legislation recognise that there are significant shortcomings; that people who cannot take legal proceedings are subjected to unjust discrimination; that nothing is done to make the institutions affected by the legislation proactive in ending or combating discrimination; and that nothing is done to promote or implement good progress. The provision made for positive action is at best confusing and in many cases limited.

Therefore, there is a whole series of areas in which it is widely accepted that there are problems with the existing legislation. It seems silly to perpetuate that within this Bill rather than looking forward and trying to make progress on the various matters.

Those two contributions were extremely interesting. In the context of what is being proposed here, I found it difficult to understand the image conjured up by the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, of "badgism" rampant again across the streets of London as a consequence of this change. The debate has moved on substantially in the past 15 years. People recognise that the wearing of a badge does not indicate that action will follow from it. We are concerned to make sure that clear leadership is given by the mayor and assembly as regards those issues.

I am extremely grateful for the comments made by my noble friend Lord Whitty. I am pleased to hear that there is considerable sympathy for the sentiments expressed by your Lordships in relation to the amendment. It is quite clearly the Government's intention that the Greater London Authority should tackle discrimination and should be proactive rather than reactive in that field.

My noble friend has undertaken that the Government will take into account the views which have been expressed so widely in this House. They will need to consider whether and how it is possible to make their expectation more explicit in the Bill, either in this clause or elsewhere within the Bill. I believe that my noble friend's statement is extremely helpful.

In tabling this amendment, I was clear that perhaps it needed further definition and precision. My references to age were not just to 90 year-old tennis champions, but also to younger people who are also discriminated

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against in certain circumstances. We shall have to look at precisely what is the definition of unjustifiable discrimination or whether that is the right approach.

Quite clearly there is a lot of support within the Committee for the idea that we should write onto the face of the Bill a clear responsibility on the mayor and the assembly to promote good relations, good equal opportunities and to tackle unjustifiable discrimination. In the light of the Minster's assurances and the statements about listening to the views which have been expressed, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Viscount Allenby of Megiddo): Before calling Amendment No. 75, I have to inform the Committee that if it is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 76.

[Amendments Nos. 75 to 79 not moved.]

7 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 80:


Page 15, line 4, leave out subsections (7) to (9)

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 81, 82, 83, 85, 86 and 87. Although there are seven amendments in this group, I am sure that we can deal with them much more quickly than the last single and important amendment.

Amendment No. 80 seeks to leave out of Clause 25 subsections (7), (8) and (9). In subsection (7) the Secretary of State can give guidance to the authority concerning the exercise of the power conferred by subsection (1). Under subsection (8) the authority must have regard to that guidance. Under subsection (9) the guidance given by the Secretary of State will be published. Leaving that out is consequential on previous omissions.

The Bill is very detailed as regards the power conferred on the new authority. It is also detailed as to the exercise of that power. We shall come to the functional bodies later on. As my noble friend Lady Thomas said a few minutes ago, this clause concerning the general power of the authority is probably the most important clause in the Bill. It will be no surprise to the Government to hear that we are concerned that the Secretary of State is retaining such control. It seems to us that the detail in the early part of Clause 25 is entirely adequate when read with the limits on the general powers, to which we shall come in a few moments, the consultation provisions and the general principles applying to the authority in the exercise of its functions.

In an earlier debate I may not have been entirely clear about the way we go about creating new constitutional bodies and the requirement that we have in this country that they cannot do anything that they are not specifically allowed to do by legislation. If it is not spelt out, it is not permitted. Therefore, that supports my view about the adequacy of the rest of the Bill.

We do not believe that the authority should be fettered and constrained in a way that is made possible by the retention of the subsections. The Secretary of

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State will have the opportunity to be extremely prescriptive in the guidance that is issued. The authority is specifically required to have regard to the guidance. The Bill does not provide that the authority must follow the guidance, but comes very close to it.

However, if there is to be guidance to the authority, then it should be for the assembly and the body of 25 members to make sure that the mayor exercises the powers that he or she has in the best way for London. Therefore, guidance to the mayor as to the exercise of his or her powers should come from that body. That is Amendment No. 82. It means giving guidance to the mayor about the exercise of the mayor's powers.

In Amendment No. 85 we propose to leave out subsection (8) of the clause as regards guidance. It gives considerable authority to the Secretary of State's guidance. In Amendment No. 86, if regard is to be had for the guidance, it should be the mayor and not the assembly which will have that regard. That follows on from an earlier amendment which seeks to re-order responsibilities in this area. Amendment No. 87 is a consequential amendment. I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: I have to inform the Committee that, if Amendment No. 80 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 81 to 87.

Lord Whitty: I believe that I can deal with these amendments reasonably quickly. They reflect a degree of misunderstanding between us as regards the new constitution of the authority. Amendment No. 80 deletes subsections (7) to (9), which effectively remove entirely the powers of the Secretary of State to give guidance to the authority about the use of its general powers.

We have just been reminded that the other amendments will in a sense be incompatible with that. Presumably they are a second chance to remove the conditions on those powers.

We indicated earlier that we need a degree of balance. The authority has been given wide powers. The general power in particular is there to ensure that the authority can act in ways it sees fit in pursuit of its purposes and in co-operation with London authorities and organisations.

We believe that the GLA has to have that flexibility and range of powers. We also need to ensure that there is no abuse of those powers or that flexibility. In particular, we have to make sure that the new authority does not intrude in a detrimental way in areas which are the statutory responsibility of other authorities or organisations other than where there is agreement to do so: where they wish to co-operate in the provision or co-ordination of services or where there is specific provision within this or other legislation.

In Clause 26, therefore, we impose certain limits on the use of the general power. I understood at an earlier stage that Members of the Committee opposite were anxious for us to do that in areas where the provision of fundamental and key services provided by the health service and London boroughs arise. I do not see that that kind of guidance could be given by the assembly which, after all, is part of the authority.

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The assembly is not an executive part of the authority. Its function is to scrutinise and test what the executive, in the form of the mayor, proposes to do or has done. Its function is not to decree from the beginning what the limits to that action are, but to judge, comment, advise and reflect the views of the population on how the mayor is carrying out those functions. It must be the job of Parliament and the Secretary of State to lay down the limits of those functions and, therefore, in this case, the guidance on exercising those functions in relation to the statutory and related functions of other authorities operating within the Greater London area.

I am slightly puzzled as to the logic of these amendments. I understand that there may be an argument for reducing the powers of intervention of the Secretary of State. In this area I would argue strongly that it is important to make it clear that the remit of the London boroughs and the health service is preserved and that the Secretary of State should do that. However, I cannot understand the idea of handing those powers over to the assembly, which itself is part of the authority that we are trying to limit. Therefore, I believe that this group of amendments is not particularly logical, and that this amendment is detrimental to the ability of the Secretary of State and, therefore, the ability of some other authorities to be protected by the Secretary of State. I hope that the noble Baroness will not press the amendment.


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