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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Would it help the noble Baroness if I told her that I accept her point that an important part of the process will be the arrangements for people to ask questions? I am sure we can bring forward suitable amendments on Report if necessary.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: I am delighted to hear that the Government will bring forward some amendments to clarify the situation. I do not want to rub salt into the wound, but a number of amendments were added between the other place and this place, and the provision is still very poor. However, it is late at night and I should not like the Minister to think that I am less than gracious in accepting her kind offer. All I say is that more drafting is definitely needed in order to make sense of the clause. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 40 agreed to.

Baroness Miller of Hendon had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 154:


After Clause 40, insert the following new clause--

PUBLICATION OF DOCUMENTS BY AUTHORITY

(" . The Authority shall make available at reasonable cost (or at no cost) copies of all public documents and minutes of the Authority and shall promptly make all such documents freely available to anyone visiting a public internet site to be maintained by the Authority.").

The noble Baroness said: This is a sensible amendment, not one of those silly ones. All I can say is that it needs sensible debate, and in the spirit of trying to hurry things along I do not intend to move it.

[Amendment No. 154 not moved.]

23 Jun 1999 : Column 1016

Clause 41 [The Deputy Mayor]:

[Amendments Nos. 155 and 156 not moved.]

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 157:


Page 23, line 31, leave out ("appointed by the Mayor") and insert ("elected by the Assembly").

The noble Lord said: I am left somewhat breathless from the recent proceedings. One of the more bizarre reasons for not moving an amendment is because it is sensible. I am proposing this amendment and those grouped with it because they are sensible. They provide for the deputy mayor to be elected by the assembly and for other matters which flow from that.

The position of the Liberal Democrats is well known. We would have preferred the mayor to have been elected by the assembly, and I am not going to go over that again. We are not moving the amendment simply as a second best option, trying to go for the deputy mayor if we cannot get the mayor in that way, although there is a good reason for that.

We all agree that the relationship between the assembly and the mayor will be critically important. The deputy mayor will be in a difficult position, at best, if he or she is seen simply as the creature of the mayor, the mayor's nominee. A deputy mayor who is elected by the assembly will mean that that person is in a much stronger position to represent the assembly to the mayor, and the mayor to the assembly. Therefore, having a deputy mayor in that role who is elected by the assembly and answerable to the assembly, but obviously working closely and co-operatively with the mayor, is the best possible solution, given that the mayor is not directly elected by and accountable to the assembly.

The purpose of the amendments is to provide for the deputy mayor to be elected by the assembly for those reasons. Because the deputy mayor will be elected by the assembly, we are providing in Amendment No. 163 that the assembly, having elected the mayor, may also have the right by a two-thirds majority to remove the deputy mayor in the unlikely event that that was felt to be necessary by two-thirds or more of the assembly. It asks the Minister to explain why in all but one of the subsections in Clause 41 there is a reference to "shall", but in subsection (4) the reference is to "a person must"? It is not an important point, but we are intrigued to know the reason. I am sure it is one point which the Minister will be able to clarify to our satisfaction.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: We do not support the amendment for the reasons I touched on earlier. There should be an opportunity for the deputy mayor to be elected, because we believe that the proposal muddies the water by mixing up the executive with the legislature.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: I am very surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, with all his experience believes that this amendment would create a workable situation. The mandate for the mayor will produce someone of certain beliefs and understandings and the mandate for the assembly may produce a body which thinks differently. The assembly may appoint a deputy mayor deliberately to disagree with the mayor in order

23 Jun 1999 : Column 1017

to make life difficult for him. I believe that this is a most unwise amendment. I do not know whether it is light-hearted or serious, but coming from a serious local government politician, I am truthfully surprised. That sounds rather pompous, but I cannot see the proposal working.

I believe that the Government have got this right; that the mayor chooses the deputy mayor from the assembly. My noble friend Lady Miller suggested the alternative; a dream ticket of mayor and deputy mayor elected together. In those two ways, there would be a deputy mayor who could work with the mayor, but I do not believe that this amendment would be at all wise.

Earl Russell: I am surprised that the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, finds the idea of cohabitation quite so shocking. If the French can do it, why cannot we?

Lord Whitty: Yes! If the noble Earl had been here earlier when we spoke of transposing the American constitution for the London one, he would realise that we are not transposing the French one either. We are setting up a new unique authority with two different parts. In a sense, the deputy mayor is a bridge between them.

I cannot but agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, when she says that the Government have got this right. It would be extremely difficult to envisage a situation in which the deputy mayor was elected by an assembly which was of a different political persuasion than the mayor. Indeed, the mayor may be of no political persuasion and the assembly of mixed political persuasion. However, the deputy mayor must share the platform and the commitment of the mayor and must act as his or her deputy and represent him or her and be involved as part of the mayor's executive in the authority's decision-taking structures. It would be a recipe for confrontation and chaos were the deputy mayor to be elected by the assembly.

We believe that all the parts of this new authority need to act together, but we do not want to build in another area of conflict by making the deputy mayor an indirect but nevertheless separate mandate from the mayor. We have been over the arguments in earlier stages in the Bill and I shall not go through them in any more detail. We do not accept this approach to changing the constitution, which we have proposed from the beginning in relation to the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Tope, asked me about an issue of grammar. I do not believe that it is as significant as he suggests. My interpretation would be that "shall" means that someone has to do something and "must" means that someone must not hold two offices at the same time. All the shalls impose a duty on someone.

A noble Lord: Hear, hear!

Lord Whitty: I am glad that I have some support in this matter! My fall-back position is that it is not significant.

Lord Tope : I am prepared to accept the Minister's fallback position. He has done rather better with that one

23 Jun 1999 : Column 1018

than he has with "People's Question Time", the "State of London debates", and so on. I am grateful to the Minister for attempting to answer that point. I shall read Hansard with care to see whether I understand it any better. However, I shall accept his fallback position. It is not a matter of major significance.

On a more substantive matter, I do not accept the election of the deputy mayor by the assembly. I do not accept the rather pessimistic view that it must necessarily or likely be a recipe for confrontation. We are all approaching the Greater London Authority on the basis of a co-operative body. It is on that basis that we propose this. We can all think of more pessimistic "what if" situations. I could, for instance, suggest what if the assembly passes a vote of no confidence in the deputy mayor--a member of the assembly--who has been appointed by the mayor? In what position would that put the deputy mayor?

We can all envisage scenarios that would be entirely negative and destructive. That is not the way in which any of us is approaching this matter. It is highly probable--much though each of us for different reasons may regret it--that the assembly will not normally have a majority of members of any one political party and, therefore, will need to work on a co-operative basis. I believe that the election of the deputy mayor, working co-operatively with the mayor, would strengthen the authority as a whole. I anticipated that that view would not be shared by the Government Front Bench or indeed the Conservative Front Bench, but that does not necessarily make it wrong. Nevertheless, at this time I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 158 to 164 not moved.]

Clause 41 agreed to.

Clause 42 [Functions]:

9.15 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 165:


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