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(b) which is specified, or is of a description specified, in the order". In other words, Clause 25(1) says,
"The Authority shall have power to do anything which it considers will further any one or more of its principal purposes", subject to the Secretary of State's opinion under Clause 26(7)(b). That is a completely open restriction. It is a complete power to negate Clause 25(1). It may be that it is a reserve power. But others with experience of local government will understand why some of us have a natural hesitancy about reserve powers.
Under Schedule 19 the Secretary of State has similar powers over the workplace parking levy. In further clauses, he has powers over the future London Development Agency. Under Clause 267(5) and (6) he can deal with any planning matters that he considers inconsistent or affecting outside interests. Under Clause 283(4)(b), he can have a strong influence on what happens with regard to waste. Clause 284 is similar.
Therefore, as one goes though the Bill, it is clear, clause by clause, that the Secretary of State actually has huge power over the detail of what the GLA may do, to say nothing of a little later clause, with which we have not dealt, which says that he can in fact virtually set its budget. I have always held the view in local government, in government--or, indeed, in Europe, for those who are rash enough to get into it--that, if you control the money, you actually control everything.
I submit very seriously indeed that, if this paragraph were to be removed from the Bill, it probably would not affect the Secretary of State's power to control the GLA at all. However, having read out all that detail, if Members of the Committee were to consider that, perhaps they might also consider that to accuse us of being schizophrenic is passing strange.
Lord Whitty: I note that both Front Benches opposite support the amendment, although it seemed to me at times that they were doing so for diametrically opposite reasons. I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is trying to ensure that there is some degree of flexibility for the Secretary of State which might, in certain circumstances, involve encroachment, whereas the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, seemed to suggest that there should be no such encroachment and that by deleting the paragraph there would be provision for limiting the encroachment yet further. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, further confused me, which was probably the intention of his intervention, in that I believe he missed the word "and" in Clause 26(7) between the two paragraphs (a) and (b). He also referred to Clause 26(1), which really relates to the relationship between the GLA and its functional bodies and not between the GLA and the London boroughs, which is dealt with in Clause 26(7)--
I return to Clause 26(7)(b), which provides for the Secretary of State to intervene to specify specific functions of the boroughs, the City or other public bodies which the GLA cannot provide. That is to ensure that the GLA cannot, if it seeks to do so, duplicate the statutory functions of those bodies. Clause 26(l) to (3) specifies the functions on which the GLA cannot incur expenditure.
The list is not exhaustive; nor is it intended to be. We want to give the authority the widest possible scope to co-operate with other authorities and to ensure that London gets the best quality services. Some of that will be achieved by co-operation, with the GLA delivering some of those services. We also believe that it is necessary to give some of those other authorities the reassurance that, where the GLA did seek to intrude into matters which were their responsibility without their agreement, the Secretary of State would have the power to add further functions, and the functions of further bodies, to the list set out explicitly in subsections (1) to (3).
If subsection (7)(b) were removed, it could--somewhat perversely from the point of the Liberal Democrat approach to the matter--remove the Secretary of State's discretion to specify functions which were so affected. It would leave him with the power only to make a blanket order which would prevent the GLA from doing anything which might be done by the boroughs or other bodies. That seems to me to change
Lord Dixon-Smith: I am a trifle puzzled. Therefore, before the Minister finally leaves this amendment, perhaps he could clarify a few points for me. Clause 26(7) specifically refers to the Secretary of State's power to make an order to prevent the,
Lord Whitty: That is one way of describing it, but it is not illogical because powers given in legislation are often limited by subsequent clauses. That is precisely what is happening here. Clause 25(1) gives the general power and Clause 26 sets out limits to it. Indeed, Clause 26(1) to (3) specify the general power and Clause 26(7) states that the Secretary of State may specify a particular function of those authorities.
Some limitations are set out in the first few subsections of Clause 26, which limit Clause 25(1). This then gives a further power to the Secretary of State to specify a specific function of an authority where there is clearly conflict as to whether or not the GLA should undertake that function. If we were to remove the ability to specify a function, all the Secretary of State could do would be to issue a blanket limitation rather than specify the issue which was at stake.
Lord Dixon-Smith: I am sorry to keep harping on this subject and I trust that Members of the Committee will forgive me for doing so. However, if one reads Clause 25(1) in conjunction with Clause 26(7)(b), and bears in mind what the Minister said, it seems to me that we are in fact being invited to legislate completely blind because we simply do not know what this means. These two clauses of the Bill are potentially mutually
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