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Baroness Miller of Hendon: We support Amendment No. 93 moved very ably by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. We too on these Benches have been lobbied by the Environment Agency. There is no point at all in my going over the same points that the noble Baroness raised.
The only other point I make is that during Committee stage in the other place there were several amendments to Clause 27 which increased the range of organisations which the authority will have to consult. As other Members of the Committee have said, the list can continue to grow like Topsy. The fact is that, if there is a range of voluntary and other bodies which have to be consulted, as there is no corresponding provision for statutory bodies, this matter needs to be considered.
As regards Amendment No. 94, we also agree that it is very necessary, particularly because the various changes that are to take place concerning transport will have a bearing on disabled and older people. It is right that consultation should take place.
We have difficulty with Amendment No. 95, as drafted, simply because it refers to bodies which represent educational and training interests. We very much believe that, as those are matters normally dealt with by the boroughs, we do not want to come into conflict immediately.
When the noble Lord began moving his amendment in such an excellent manner he discussed at length adult education and further and higher education. We agree with that, but those organisations do not appear in the amendment as drafted, but simply,
It is our view that the interpretation means that it is inevitable that, as a result of this clause and Clause 34(2), where a general power is exercised in the preparation or revision of any strategy, the authority must--and I emphasise that word--consult those people whose interests are affected or bodies who represent those interests or a mixture of the two. In other words, these provisions impose a duty on the authority to consult such people as it considers appropriate.
The most appropriate consultees are the people whose interests are affected and those representing them. Therefore, in all those contexts, the authority must--I emphasise "must"--consult, among others, organisations representing the disabled, the elderly, education, training services, the Environment Agency and other statutory bodies in those situations where their interests are affected by the use of the general power or by the use of any strategies which are developed.
If we were to add to Clause 27(3) a whole range of bodies, that list would never end. It is best to define those bodies whose interests are affected by the strategy or by the particular power being exercised. Undoubtedly, representatives of the disabled and the elderly are subsumed in the title "voluntary bodies". That list is not intended to be exhaustive. Therefore, I do not believe that it is necessary to add to the list.
In relation to educational establishments, I concur with what the noble Lord, Lord Quirk, said. He made a strong case on the importance of the whole structure of the contribution of London's economy and employment. However, in certain aspects, their activities are not relevant to the activities of the GLA but, for example, they
The other problem in adding to the list is not simply the length of the list--although that would be a problem in itself--but that the longer the list, the more likely the presumption that all other bodies are thereby excluded. Therefore, what is intended by these amendments to be a move towards inclusiveness could be exclusive of other interests which have yet to be the subject of any amendment at this stage.
The amendments are unnecessary and, in certain circumstances, could be counterproductive. In all cases, the local authority must consult appropriate bodies and persons. Under that heading, all those that have been referred to in this discussion would be included.
In relation to the disabled and transport, there is particular provision in the transport provisions of the Bill for ensuring accessibility to transport systems within London. I believe that the anxiety of the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, will be met later in the Bill.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: I have listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Quirk. He spoke on a subject in which I take a great interest and about which I believe I know a certain amount. I also listened with care to the Minister's reply.
The Minister gave a classic reply--I have heard it many times before--that we must keep the list short, that it should be all-embracing and that those not included in the list will wish that they were and that they had asked to be included. One understands that that causes trouble.
However, it is not just that the authority may, in its decisions, affect the interests of the educational institutions. I would suggest that the authority will not be able to promote economic development and wealth creation, or to promote social development and the improvement of the environment without drawing on the resources of the educational institutions in London. It is not a matter of simply not treading on their toes. If the authority does not consult such people, it will not use the resources of the area where the responsibility lies. I believe that the Minister's reply was not appropriate in the case of the educational institutions.
I have not been lobbied on this matter. I have a flat in London and live here for two or three days a week. I do not know in detail how the institutions work in relation to local authorities. But I feel that this over-arching authority will have to draw a great deal upon the educational resources of Greater London. If it does not consult, it will not get on too well.
The Government should therefore reflect on this matter. It is an area where the authorities have to consult; they have to pick the brains of those who have the resources at their disposal. If they do not do that, they will not do a very good job. The Government should think hard about this amendment before the next stage because,
Lord Swinfen: I agree with my noble friend Lord Renton. I do not know whether the Minister is aware that 10.7 per cent or approximately three-quarters of a million Londoners are disabled. There are probably at least twice that number who are elderly. It is a high proportion and there should be a specific provision on the face of the Bill that they and their organisations should be properly consulted.
The Minister was arguing against the Bill as drafted when he said that by producing a list we exclude those who are not on the list. But the Bill already contains a list. It is either a question of taking this clause and redrafting it completely or producing a proper list that will satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Quirk, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and myself--all of whom spoke to different amendments--and those who supported us from all around the Committee, except from behind the Minister. When we started he had no supporters behind him. He had been sent naked out into the world by his party without any support. So I am glad that he has someone to support him now.
Lord Quirk: Perhaps I may return briefly to what the Minister said in his response to Amendment No. 95. I take the points that he has made and I shall study them very carefully. But I am afraid that there is no match between local authorities and the higher and further education sector. The latter--that is, the educational and training sector--cuts across all the London boroughs.
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