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Lord Clinton-Davis moved Amendment No. 108:


Page 19, line 36, at end insert (", and
( ) the strategy for the River Thames prepared and published under section (River Thames Strategy) below.")

The noble Lord said: It may be for the convenience of the Committee to consider also Amendment No. 451 which sets out in detail the nature of the strategy that I suggest. These amendments express a wide strategy for utilising London's crowning glory, the River Thames, far more purposefully than has ever been the case before. The measure extends right across the whole spectrum of policies to provide that additional strategy for the River Thames. It includes in that transport, spatial development--if I dare say that after the previous debate--biodiversity, municipal waste, air quality, ambient noise, and indeed cultural activities too. In other words, it is all about the provision of a strategy for this wonderful waterway that we have the privilege of having in our great city, and indeed beyond.

In my submission, the River Thames could be much more effectively used as an activity of the metropolis. As far as I can see, there is no corresponding or complementary provision in the Bill and this is why I think it ought to be included. As some have suggested,

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it is not intended that these provisions should have the effect of arrogating to the GLA areas of authority over which it is not entitled to adjudicate.

Nevertheless, the authority has a direct interest in seeking, with others, to draw together those diverse strands to give effect to the provision of a coherent approach. My amendment demonstrates the inter-relationship of policies relevant to those considerations. I believe that it contributes to the need overall to bring back, effectively, a public transport service to the river and to address issues affecting transport, freight and water.

I understand that the Government will argue--unless they have changed their minds since the matter was before another place--that there is no necessity for a document separate from the provisions contained in the Bill. I am aware that, inter alia, in Clause 264 and in the provisions of Clause 33, the mayor's duties include the promotion and encouragement of the use of the Thames; and that he will be obliged to address as part of his strategies issues of waste, transport, biodiversity and public access. It follows that if my noble friend can establish satisfactorily that those issues are comprehensively dealt with in the Bill, he will demonstrate equally that my amendment is otiose--but it is important to get that very clear assurance from the Minister this evening.

My concern, which has been expressed by the London Rivers Association--notwithstanding the reply that was given to a similar debate in the other place--is that the reply given by the Minister is not wholly accurate; that it leaves too much by way of discretionary powers. In my judgment, there is a clear necessity to provide a holistic strategy for the River Thames. Clause 33 provides for "the desirability" to promote the river, emphasising above all its transport role. Of course, that is of critical importance, but the river is also important in terms of enhancing civic and cultural qualities and as a resource for public amenity in the widest possible sense.

The difference therefore between the Minister in another place--and, presumably, my noble friend--and those who have suggested the amendment, is the need to reflect these powers as a statutory duty on the mayor to pursue a spatial development strategy. I remain unconvinced by the argument adduced by the Minister in another place that there is no need to translate this duty into the Bill. Apparently, the Government take the view that there is a need to avoid the risk of what is called "compartmentalisation" or "marginalisation" of Thames policies and that a separate strategy is not desirable. With respect, that represents an unco-ordinated approach, or at least the risk of providing an unco-ordinated approach, and the consequence could ensue that significant elements of policies affecting the river are overlooked altogether.

The amendment seeks to import into the Bill a specific Thames strategy and the strengthening of the LRA's consultative status. These are matters worthy of further consideration. I look forward to hearing my noble friend's reply. I beg to move.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I tend to support the spirit of the noble Lord's amendment. I will not

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make a long speech because, if we continue to go at this speed, we shall be here for another 15 hours--and I do not think that is acceptable.

I add bridges for both foot and vehicular traffic to the features that the noble Lord said were so important to the River Thames. They will be much affected by the mayor's other strategies. It is tempting to have a special strategy for the river that combines its leisure, open air recreational, transport and other uses. I look forward to the Minister's arguments against the proposal, for I am sure that the Government are against it, so that we can decide whether to take this issue further. For the present, I think that we are all rather sympathetic to the noble Lord's ideas.

Lord Luke: Speaking entirely on my own behalf, I too support the noble Lord's ideas. About 18 months ago, I undertook a lot of research into the use of the River Thames--or its non-use, as I regret is very much the case these days. At least half the problem is lack of co-ordination between the various bodies concerned--the Port of London Authority, local authorities and so on. If the mayor has some strategy or authority--or both, he may get things done a great deal better. We will have the opportunity to return to this issue but I support the amendment in principle.

Lord Whitty: Like the noble Lord, Lord Luke, I recognise the importance of the river and the concerns that my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis outlined. The Thames guidance, which is an annex to the Secretary of State's strategic guidance for London planning authorities, provides the current strategic framework for planning policies on the Thames. The mayor's spatial development strategy will in due course replace the regional planning guidance, and we make specific provision in Clause 264 for the SDS to cover particular parts of London, such as the Thames, in more detail--in at least the same way that the Thames guidance does. The mayor will be able to include in SDS policies a strategy for addressing the wide-ranging topics of the river's built and natural environment, its use in transportation and recreation, and the development of the river front.

Our intention is that the Secretary of State's strategic guidance will remain until it is replaced by the spatial development policy--at which point it will be open to the mayor to reproduce or improve on current policies relating to the Thames. That will be a matter for the mayor and is not something that should be or needs to be in the Bill.

In addition to the coverage that will be given to the Thames in the SDS, Clause 33 provides for the mayor to have regard to the desirability of promoting and encouraging transportation use of the Thames and other applications such as recreation and public access. Other aspects of the mayor's strategy include waste disposal, the biodiversity plan, and cultural and recreational use.

The Thames will be covered in a number of ways in the Bill as it stands and be considered in a number of dimensions in the mayor's strategy--particularly in relation to spatial development. There are distinct

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advantages in that approach, which embeds policies for the river within other strategies rather than drawing them out into a separate strategy.

There is one particular reason for our avoiding compartmentalisation in this respect. By keeping the strategic guidance for the Thames within the ambit of the spatial development strategy, it will enjoy the benefit of the requirement that the boroughs' unitary development plans must be in general conformity with the mayor's planning strategy. A separate strategy for the Thames would not enjoy the same teeth when it came to securing the implementation in practice at borough level in relation to those boroughs with a Thames frontage. So the effect of this amendment could be that the Thames would in reality have less, not more, protection than it does now.

I hope that the noble Lord does not infer from my words that we do not regard the development of the Thames as a central feature for the responsibilities of the mayor. We do. But we do not believe that specifying a Thames strategy in advance in that way would be appropriate. I hope that he can, at least at this stage, withdraw his amendment.

11 p.m.

Lord Clinton-Davis : I thank my noble friend for his reply, although I am not entirely convinced. I feel that he is thrusting aside a gem of wisdom. But that is for him to decide. I am not convinced that this amendment would diminish the protection afforded to the Thames. However, I shall look carefully at what my noble friend has said and may well return to the matter at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 109 not moved.]

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 110:


Page 19, line 39, at end insert--
("( ) Each of the said strategies shall include specific performance indicators and targets by reference to which it is proposed that the success of each strategy may be measured.")

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 143. Amendment No. 110 relates to Clause 33 which sets out the duties of the mayor in relation to his various strategies. The duties under the clause relate to review and appraisal and revising the strategies where necessary.

There is one important feature missing from this review and appraisal; namely, that the mayor, when formulating his strategies, should also publicly state what the performance indicators are under which the success or failure of the various strategies can be judged by the public. The objects of the strategies cannot be kept confidential. The targets of the strategies--the performance indicators--must be made public in advance. There is nothing very complicated, nothing very difficult for the mayor to comply with.

The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, tabled a similar amendment, with one variation, referring to Clause 25(1), which we do not like, as we indicated in

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the recent debate. We believe that our amendment is correctly positioned. Otherwise, we should certainly have supported the noble Lord's amendment. Although the noble Lord is not in his place, I hope that he supports our amendment in spirit.

Amendment No. 143 jumps ahead to Clause 38. In subsection (2)(a) as drafted the mayor is required to include in his annual report an assessment of the mayor's progress in implementing his strategies. That is in line with the regime affecting regional development agencies, which are required to have measurable targets, which is presumably why Section 7A(2) of the 1998 Act is mentioned in the subsection.

So far, so good. The provision is entirely commendable--commendable, that is, as far as it goes. But it does not go quite far enough. Apart from his initial strategies as published by him, under Clause 33(2) the mayor is to keep those strategies under review--constant review, one hopes--and to revise them as necessary. The amendment merely makes it clear that it is the amended strategies that are the ones to be included in the annual report.

It may be suggested that that is obvious and that an amendment is not necessary in order for it to be done. However, what gives us concern is that, in reviewing his activities for the year for the purpose of publishing his annual report, the mayor's attention may be drawn to the need to amend a strategy. What we do not want to happen is for the mayor to be able to claim that the revision of his strategy came too late to be covered by the annual report.

The amendment does not cast an extra burden on the mayor, especially if he would be likely to meet its provision anyway. If the amendment is stating the obvious, then it clearly would not adversely affect the Bill and might simply be regarded as belt and braces. I beg to move.


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