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Page 25, line 32, at end insert ("and may publish standing orders accordingly").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 192 I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 193. Neither amendment raises a major point. Amendment No. 192 provides that the assembly, having determined its own procedure and that of its committees under Clause 45(1),

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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Clause 45 enables the assembly to determine its own procedure and that of its committees (including quorum) except where provisions in this Bill provide otherwise. Amendment No. 192 would steer it towards publishing its standing orders but would not require it to do so. In the circumstances, this seems to be an unintended effect of the amendment. As currently drafted, Clause 45 permits the assembly to determine its own procedures. Therefore, the option of whether or not to publish its standing orders already exists under that discretion. Frankly, I find it difficult to conceive of an authority which would think it other than sensible to publish its standing orders to assist its members, staff and the public to understand its proceedings.

Amendment No. 193 would delete subsection (3) of Clause 45 from the Bill. This is an essential provision. Although the assembly is rightly allowed a considerable degree of discretion, it must still follow the provisions of this Bill and legislation that affect the procedures of the assembly which we believe are essential for the effective and transparent working of the authority. For example, we have provided in the Bill for a series of meetings and debates, which we have debated with great seriousness in this House, and also required that the political balance of the authority should be reflected in its committees.

We do not believe that it should be possible for the assembly to disregard these matters. I am sure the noble Baroness agrees that it is important for the committees to reflect the political balance of the authority. They and other provisions of the Bill play an important part in determining the culture and nature of the authority. I hope that I have answered the points raised by the noble Baroness, and therefore I ask her to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: As to the first matter, the Minister has answered my question in the affirmative. I am still not convinced that it is necessary to have Clause 45(2)(c). I do not for a moment part company with the noble Baroness on the proposition that the procedure of the assembly must be subject to legislation. I would have thought that that was the case without the need to say so, but I shall not labour the point.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: It may assist the noble Baroness if I make clear that the procedures can be subject to future legislation, but sometimes legal arguments arise as to whether a later Act overrides an earlier one.

Baroness Hamwee: I thank the Minister for that indication. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 192A and 193 not moved.]

Clause 45 agreed to.

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10 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 194:

After Clause 45, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) The Authority shall provide facilities to enable proceedings of the Assembly and its committees or extracts therefrom, to be broadcast both live and as recorded on radio and television, and at the Authority's discretion, over the internet.
(2) The Authority may provide such facilities free of charge, or may make a reasonable charge approximately equal to the cost to it of it providing such facilities.
(3) The Authority shall provide without charge adequate facilities to enable representatives of all bodies having functions under this Act and the London boroughs and the Common Council and accredited representatives of the media and a reasonable number of members of the public to attend--
(a) any meetings of the Assembly, and
(b) any meetings of its committees at which the public is entitled to be present.").

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 194 speaks for itself. First, it requires the authority to provide facilities for broadcasting on the radio and television. It gives the authority a discretion about additional broadcasting over the Internet, but I freely admit that that cautious approach about this new means of communication is only because it is new, and possibly all the ramifications and implications of it have not yet been discovered.

It allows the authority to make a reasonable charge for providing the facility because I suppose that it could cost the authority something by way of heating, lighting and the supply of electricity and so on. On the other hand, the authority has a discretion not to charge if, for example, the sums involved are not worth the bookkeeping trouble, or if the authority felt it ought not to make a charge as part of its public service.

Parliament fought a rearguard action for years, decades even, first against radio broadcasting and later against television. No-one would now doubt the value of both means, especially television, in informing the public about the activities of Parliament, especially of the other place. If there is some reservation in some quarters about the public actually seeing the antics that sometimes occur in the other place, they have only themselves to blame. The same applies to the temptation for some members to play to the camera in the hope that they may get on the "Six O'Clock News".

My only complaint about the broadcasting of Parliament is that not enough is shown of the proceedings in your Lordships' House and, when one listens to the debate here and compares it to the debate in the other place, one is really disappointed that the public do not see more of what is happening here. Perhaps the public would have a much better idea of what we do if they saw more of our very well-informed debates and Question Times and, if I may say so, the very courteous way in which they are conducted on all sides of the House.

In our opinion, if the broadcasting of Parliament or extracts from its proceedings is an everyday feature of the news, there is no reason why the affairs of the assembly should not be the same. Of course, there is no

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obligation at all on the broadcasters to broadcast anything, but that will depend on how interesting or otherwise the assembly's proceedings are. There is certainly enough space on the new digital and cable channels to fit in the assembly without depriving anybody of the re-runs of old soap operas and sitcoms, even though they do not seem to make programmes like them any more.

Apart from providing facilities for broadcasting its proceedings, the amendment requires the authority to provide facilities for the London boroughs and the Common Council, and for a reasonable number of members of the public to be present at the meetings of the assembly and at committee meetings. I am surprised that this last item is not already provided for specifically in the Bill. I do not think we should be told that such matters are provided for in this or that local government act. If I do not have the time to look it up--and, frankly, I do not--why should members of the public, with fewer facilities than I enjoy, have to do so?

This Bill is about the Greater London Authority and, so far as possible, it should be self-contained, even if an extra couple of lines of text are needed in an already giant-sized Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Tope: I entirely agree with the noble Baroness that the Greater London Authority should provide these facilities for broadcasting. However, I find it difficult to conceive that the 25 politicians who will comprise the assembly, and still less, the mayor, will be so publicity shy and so reluctant that they have to be required by statute to do so. That is just not a real probability, either with the nature of the authority or in this day and age. Whilst I have every sympathy for, and indeed support, the intentions here, I do wonder how it squares with the view which we take on these Benches, and indeed has been taken on the Conservative Benches on a number of occasions, that the Bill is already much too prescriptive. I question why it is necessary to put it on the face of the Bill when it is so improbable that a publicity shy mayor and a publicity shy assembly will refuse to allow the people of London to know or to hear what they are saying.

Therefore, I have considerable doubts about the amendment and suspect that I am about to hear the Minister tell us that it is not necessary.

Lord Whitty: I am about to echo the noble Lord's views on the matter. It is fairly unlikely that London's politicians will decide that the proceedings should not be broadcast. This amendment asks us to compel the authority to do so. When your Lordships' House, well ahead of the other place, decided that it wanted its proceedings broadcast, that was our decision. It was not laid down by statute. We should favour the new authority with the same freedom to decide whether or not its proceedings should be broadcast. I believe that it will decide so to do.

In specifying the requirements of the new GLA building, the Government will require the provision of media facilities. Therefore, in one sense, we are anticipating such a decision. But it is a decision for the authority to make.

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With regard to the provision of adequate facilities, the noble Baroness is absolutely correct because I refer her to the arrangements for the public to attend which exist in other legislation relating to local authorities; in particular, the Local Government Act 1972. The provisions will require the proceedings of the authority, unless subject to confidentiality, to be open to the public. The same criteria which apply to other local authorities in relation to access to meetings and documents will apply to the GLA. I am sure that the GLA members will wish to make clear to their public the facilities which are available for them to view their debates.

Therefore, the first part of the amendment is over-prescriptive and the second part is unnecessary.

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