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Lord Clinton-Davis moved Amendment No. 128:

Page 21, line 9, at end insert ("and in respect of any matter related to the River Thames, any voluntary body whose purposes encompass all aspects of its amenity and use").

The noble Lord said: The effect of this amendment would be to extend the scope of consultation required. I firmly believe that consultation in these areas with essential bodies is of particular importance, not least for the development of the River Thames.

There is a plethora of agencies currently responsible for the management, use and planning of the River Thames. Some are statutory: there are partnerships, non-statutory co-ordinating advisory bodies and interest and user groups. It is clear that there needs to be some form of rationalisation of the functions of these bodies.

The amendment provides that organisations which provide a co-ordinating role and are representative would be drawn into the consultative process of the GLA and thereby able to influence the authority towards adopting measures reflecting the needs of different user groups.

I have referred to the organisations involved with the river. Many are represented on an umbrella body, the London Rivers Association. The River Thames Society, a sister organisation, deals with amenity and recreational issues affecting the River Thames.

A consultative body would help to resolve the current complexities that abound and provide an important advisory and co-ordinating role for issues impacting on the River Thames. I am not saying that what I suggest here is the last word, but it is the direction in which I urge the Government to go. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The other evening my noble friend spelt out the importance of the River Thames in developing strategies for London. I broadly concurred. It is important that in developing those strategies the mayor consults those who have the responsibilities and represent interests concerned with the river. As regards the way in which the mayor carries out the consultations, we have not sought to create consultative committees. We have not sought to lay that down in statute. It would be inflexible to do so. The general intent of the Bill is that we do not single out one specific grouping with whom the mayor should consult. If we did that here, we would have to do it at many other points in the Bill. That would lead to an even more unwieldy Bill than we have at the moment. It would be

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an unnecessary constraint on the mayor to put such a provision on the face of the Bill. The mayor needs to have some discretion in this regard.

I recognise the importance of what the noble Lord says. We would expect the mayor to consult in any event. But the way in which he does so and those he consults must be left to the mayor himself. I hope that my noble friend can withdraw his amendment.

Lord Avebury: Before the noble Lord replies, perhaps I may ask the Minister a question. Will the draft strategies mentioned in the Bill be published as drafts? That will enable any NGO or voluntary body to make representations if it wishes to do so, even if it is not specifically mentioned as having to be consulted. I do not see anything on the face of the Bill which requires such strategies to be promulgated in a form which would allow members of the public to make representations in this respect.

In the particular case of the Thames, I can think of several bodies which might well not be thought of by the mayor but which may have something useful to say to enable better strategies to be developed. If the Minister can assure me that there will be some provision requiring these strategies to be published in draft--and, for example, to be placed on the world wide web--so that anyone can inspect them before they become set in stone, that would be a very useful and democratic measure and would enhance the purposes of the Bill.

Lord Whitty: In most circumstances, the expectation is that there would be the opportunity for bodies which have not been picked out here, or mentioned in a list for consultation which the mayor may initially draw up, to have such a facility. We would not wish to prescribe that explicitly in all particulars in the Bill, but that is the way in which we envisage the mayor carrying out his duties.

Lord Clinton-Davis: I recognise that my noble friend does not wish to be too prescriptive about the organisational structure required for consultative purposes, especially as he would not be carrying out the responsibility; indeed, it would be the responsibility of the mayor. I understand that perfectly. However, I was seeking to emphasise the huge number of different organisations whose views need to be taken into account. I believe that it will be necessary for some clear machinery to be established to enable those voices to be heard effectively. They have a great deal to offer. There is a collective wisdom here which is important for when we come to the development of this major waterway.

I did not sense that my noble friend was too distressed about the principle behind the amendment. I believe he underlined, as he has previously, the importance of a form of delegation, so to speak, involving the mayor; in other words, that he or she

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should have the ability to devise a policy with colleagues on the authority. The organisations to which I referred will want to see some coherence in this respect. We have discussed, albeit briefly, the importance of that particular theme.

It was an idea expressed by such an organisation which led to my tabling the amendment. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, for what he said. He made an important contribution to this short, but not insignificant, debate. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 129:

Page 21, line 22, after ("considers") insert (", and the Assembly agree,").

The noble Baroness said: Under Clause 34(6) the mayor need not consult on revisions to a strategy if he considers that the strategy will not be materially altered. I am not suggesting that that proposition should be reversed, but I believe that there should be a check on the mayor's view on the matter. Therefore, I propose that the assembly should be required to agree that there is no material alteration in order to allow the mayor to rely on this provision.

The assembly has a scrutiny role and I believe that my amendment would be consistent with it. However, although the matter could be raised under the provisions for dialogue and public debate between the assembly and the mayor, I think that this is important enough to receive its own focus and for it to be a matter for provision in itself. That would not simply allow the assembly to question the matter, as no doubt it could under other provisions; it would also give it the right to say, "Mayor, you're making too great an assumption about your revision not bringing about an alteration that the rest of London would consider material. We think that it's a matter on which you should consult London and that you should follow the provisions laid down". I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: As the noble Baroness said, the amendment would require the assembly to be in agreement before the mayor could waive the consultation requirements set out in Clause 34 in relation to revising strategies.

As noble Lords know, we have made provision for extensive consultation to take place in relation to the mayor's strategies. That is essential to ensure that where particular interests are affected, their views are listened to and taken into account. However, under Clause 34(6), if the mayor considers that a proposed revision to a strategy will "not materially alter" the strategy in question, he will not be required to carry out consultation.

This provision is intended to ensure that the mayor does not have to consult on every minor and technical amendment he may make to the strategies. However, I must emphasise the words "not materially alter" a strategy. For consultation requirements to be waived, the proposed changes must satisfy that test.

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The mayor must be able to demonstrate that he has good reasons for deciding not to consult on a particular strategy. He would have to be able to justify the view that revision did not materially affect the strategy. Those reasons could be challenged and tested if the mayor failed to consult where consultation was, in fact, appropriate. Of course, through its monthly meetings, the assembly will be in a prime position to question a mayor about any changes that he may intend to make to the strategies.

I hope that my response has reassured the noble Baroness that the mayor will not be able to use subsection (6) to circumvent the consultation requirements elsewhere in Clause 36. It is simply a way to ensure that minor and drafting changes can be made in a sensible way. I trust, therefore, that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: I am sad to say that I do not believe the Minister's response has taken the matter forward. Of course I accept that the mayor should have the ability to make what the noble Baroness describes as "minor and drafting changes" but the clause leaves the matter to the mayor's consideration in a case where,

    "he considers that the proposed revisions will not materially alter the strategy in question".

As the Minister said, and as I suggested in my opening remarks, if there is a proposed revision the assembly can of course raise it at the next monthly meeting. However, the raising of the matter in that context will not require the mayor to follow the provisions of Clause 36. That would leave judicial review, which is an extraordinarily heavy sledgehammer, as the only really effective means of redress. It is clear that I did not explain myself sufficiently. The Minister's response repeated very much of what I said in my opening remarks. My concern is that the assembly should have the ability to make the mayor think again and do the right thing, which would be quite consistent with its scrutiny role.

I shall read what the noble Baroness said. I certainly wish to consider the matter further. We are concerned that the assembly, which has a clear scrutiny role--I accept that for this purpose it does not have a policy-making role--should be able to exercise that scrutiny role effectively. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 34 agreed to.

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