Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment 105:


Page 18, line 41, leave out subsection (8)

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 31, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 32 agreed to.

Clause 33 [General duties of the Mayor in relation to his strategies]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 106:


Page 19, line 26, leave out ("spatial") and insert ("London")

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 106 appears to have attracted a long list in its grouping, but all the amendments are identical. About five minutes after I had thought that the point was worth debating, I began to regret it. We had to go through the Bill and discover in how many places "spatial development strategy" was mentioned. If one makes this amendment, it is necessary to amend the Bill.

The problem is the meaning of "spatial". The Collins dictionary refers to it as relating to space. Of course, we are talking about London's development strategy, but the Bill simply says "spatial development strategy". Development implies buildings rather than space and it also implies enclosure. I have some difficulty with that.

I then turned to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary where spatial is defined as,


The real problem with spatial development strategy is that there is no conception or mention of spatial development in any of the planning laws. Everybody is familiar with the idea of a structure plan that could be a spatial development plan, a unitary development plan for a borough, or a local development plan. If one had a London development plan everyone would know what that was. However, a spatial development plan seems to be a difficult concept.

Therefore, I want to suggest to the Minister, quite seriously, that everyone may consider themselves back on terra firma, instead of slightly out in orbit, were we to change the word "spatial" to "London". With that in mind, I beg to move the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: I was looking forward to the noble Lord reading that long list of amendments; we would all have cheered at the end!

21 Jun 1999 : Column 764

I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, in his amendment. The title of a strategy should reflect its content and to me "London development strategy" sounds like something the new London Development Agency should produce.

The term "spatial" may not trip off the tongue in this context, though it is increasingly used in planning circles, more perhaps by those involved in planning in the European context than locally, which is our experience. I hope that that of itself does not persuade the noble Lord it is a bad expression.

"Spatial" involves space or place and that is what the spatial development strategy will be about. I am sorry not to be able to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith.

Lord Whitty: I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, objects to the term "spatial". On his first tack his references to being in orbit suggested a Star Trek connotation. This has nothing to do with that. It is very much down to earth in relation to the use of space and place.

We make no apology for introducing a new term into planning law, which is precisely what we are doing. In this instance it could well be that insisting on the familiar could limit the intention of this part of the Bill. We are bringing in a new type of planning instrument for a new type of authority. The word was chosen advisedly and has some significance. It is the first time it has been used in English law, but it is important that we move in that direction.

The term is intended to embrace more than just the conventional development and use of land concepts, and should include the spatial--that is to say, the geographical--elements of transport, economic development and other strategies, bringing them together in one single comprehensive framework for London's future development.

As the noble Baroness said, this is not an unfamiliar term to planners, particularly those who have operated beyond this country. It is a term that is well understood in countries such as the Netherlands and Germany where "spatial planning" or similar terms signify an integrated approach to public policy. The results in many German and Dutch cities are there to be seen.

The term is now being used in our own draft guidance which my department recently issued on regional planning guidance--PPG 11. So we are moving in the direction of using this term more widely. The main purpose of the spatial development strategy would be to provide longer-term strategic guidance on the broad location of housing, industry, transport provision and other infrastructure. But it will also affect matters that are strictly related to the use and development of land, matters which may be taken forward outside the statutory planning system; for example, transport investment priorities and integration, road user charging policies or economic regeneration projects as a whole.

21 Jun 1999 : Column 765

It is a new concept. My belief is that the noble Lord's amendment will narrow that concept and I urge the Committee to stick with the new, wider and I suggest more visionary view of how this should develop under the new authority.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation, which I shall study with care. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Clement-Jones moved Amendment No. 107:


Page 19, line 36, at end insert (", and
( ) the health strategy prepared and published under section (The Health Strategy Group for London).")

The noble Lord said: The relevant provisions regarding the health of persons in Greater London are now included in Clauses 33(7)(a) and 25(4)(a) of the Bill. The former places a duty on the authority to carry out a health impact assessment in the exercise of its powers; the latter provides a duty on the mayor to promote improvements in health when considering the various strategies adopted by the GLA. However, the fact is that those clauses do not go far enough in the view of these Benches. Health, particularly public health, is an essential aspect of any strategy, whether it is for transport, planning or urban regeneration. Above all, it is highly relevant to tackling inequalities in the capital.

Currently, the Bill provides for a very wide variety of strategies. I do not need to adumbrate all of these; but clearly they include strategies for transport, for the London Development Agency and for London air quality. Why, in this context, should health be the poor relation and not have provision for its own strategy? What makes it so very different? Almost all of the strategies concerned require a variety of different agencies to fulfil them and health is no different.

Now that London has its own single London NHS region, it is surely highly desirable that there should be a strategy for health that can tie in with all the other strategies. Some 13 of the 20 most deprived boroughs in England are in London, with all that that implies for the health of the people in those areas. Detentions under the Mental Health Act in London are nearly twice as high as the national average; indeed, 42 per cent of all HIV positive adults in the UK live in inner-London and 40 per cent of Londoners live in wards that are among the most deprived in the country. Those are just some of the figures that are unique to London as a city. They show some of the unique health problems that London has.

The approach of the Healthy Cities project, co-ordinated by the World Health Organisation, has been to develop partnerships and joint local strategies between all local and other authorities that contribute to health. Without a strategy determined for London as a whole in this way, the task of achieving a healthier London will be made immeasurably more difficult. A health strategy is in fact already being drawn up by various partners in London. Why should the mayor and

21 Jun 1999 : Column 766

the assembly not take a leading role in this effort? Without an amendment such as the one I propose, the GLA will be marginalised in the consideration of London's health.

The noble Lord, Lord Rea, has written to me today. Unfortunately, he is unable to be present this evening but has asked for his support to be put on the record. As we know, the noble Lord has a long record in public health in London. If government in London is genuinely to be joined-up at London level, as much as it is becoming at national level, then this amendment is very much needed. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: These amendments would provide for a health strategy group for London with the function of drafting a health strategy and advising the mayor on its contents. We have listened to a number of representations, both in the other place and from outside organisations, about how the role of the GLA in respect of health should best be expressed in the Bill. We brought forward a number of amendments on Report to sharpen the mayor's role.

The effect of those amendments is that health considerations will be a top priority for the mayor in discharging his or her two most important functions--the preparation of strategies and the exercise of the general power. For example, in deciding whether or not to exercise the authority's general power, the mayor must have regard to the effect that the proposed exercise of the power would have on the health of Londoners. If the mayor then proceeds to exercise the general power, he must do so in a way best calculated to promote improvements in the health of persons in London.

Similarly, in relation to strategies, the mayor must have regard to the effect which a proposed strategy, or revision, would have on the health of persons in Greater London. In addition, where the mayor prepares or revises any strategy, he or she shall include such available policies and proposals relating to the subject matter of the strategy as he or she considers best calculated to promote improvements in the health of persons in Greater London.

This framework will ensure that the mayor acts in such a way as to further improvements in the health of Londoners. In addition, because the mayor will have to have regard to the need to ensure that all strategies are consistent with each other--a provision, incidentally, which the noble Lord's Amendment No. 117 seeks to remove--there will be an integrated approach to health issues across the board.

I do not therefore accept the case for a separate health strategy. As we have explained, the promotion of health improvements will be taken into account in the exercise of mayoral functions. But as the mayor will have no executive responsibilities in respect of health services and major health service providers in London will be outside the remit of the authority, it would be misleading to require a separate health strategy to be produced. Similarly we see no need for a health strategy group to assist in the carrying out of that function.

However, of course the mayor would be free to publish a document and call it a health strategy if she or he wished to do so, although it would not be covered

21 Jun 1999 : Column 767

by the provisions set out in Clauses 33 to 36. She or he could also convene an advisory group of health experts if this was thought to be appropriate, for example in the case that the noble Lord referred to; namely, involvement in the Healthy Cities project. But these are properly matters for the mayor to decide. We have sought to ensure that health concerns permeate throughout the strategy-making process. Therefore I feel able to ask the noble Lord to withdraw this amendment.

10.45 p.m.

Lord Clement-Jones: I thank the Minister for some of the olive branches and the interesting ideas for voluntary action by the mayor that were mentioned at the end of her response. Some of those matters are worth building on. Unfortunately, the problem with purely voluntary action is that it does not have that legitimacy which it would have if it were built into the primary legislation. I do not deny that a multi-agency strategy would be needed. Of course I note that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, in the context of fluoridation argued for a multi-agency strategy that works with regard to the key issues that affect every Londoner. I say "Amen" to that. I believe that it is very much the way forward.

We on these Benches do not think it is absolutely necessary that the authority should have responsibility for London's health in an executive capacity. We shall table an amendment later in the Bill which has that effect, but it is not an absolutely sine qua non of the Bill in order for the mayor and the authority to have the responsibility for making a strategy. We shall consider carefully in Hansard the noble Baroness's words and may well return to this matter at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page