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Baroness Blatch : What matters is the words on the page, not what the Minister has said in reply. I assume that there can be delegation to a single member of the assembly unless there is an express provision stating that there cannot be delegation to a single member of the assembly. In that event, I cannot understand why there

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is only one area referred to in subsection (3). In the example given by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, a single member of the authority could receive delegated power from the mayor and act without accountability, but there is no mention of those to whom they would be accountable and whether the power would be an absolute power to act as an individual in the name of the assembly. The Minister's reply simply did not address that concern. One must therefore assume that any other provision in the Bill could be delegated not only to a committee but to an individual member who could act without accountability, representing the whole assembly and, I assume, then reporting back to the committee or to the mayor.

Lord Whitty: The functions I referred to in my initial reply are provided for in Clause 44 which deals with meetings. It expressly states that Clause 46 shall not apply. The next reference to Clause 46 not being applicable is in Clause 52(1) and there are others relating to the budget, for example, recurring throughout the Bill. The restrictions are not referred to in this clause because there are already exclusions within the Bill.

It is only the Metropolitan Police point, which does not appear elsewhere in the Bill, that needs to be expressly added in the clause. All other areas where there should be a restriction are dealt with in the Bill. That may not be enough for the noble Baroness. Clearly, it is not enough for the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, in relation to Amendment No.197A which deals with capital spending, but that is how the Bill is drafted.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. He will not be surprised to hear that I am not satisfied with it. Nonetheless, we will study the matter carefully and may return to it later. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 196A not moved.]

Clause 46 agreed to.

Clause 47 agreed to.

Clause 48 [Openness]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 197.

Page 26, line 30, leave out ("which is available to").

The noble Lord said: As a general rule, in local government any document that is in the possession of the authority, unless it contains information which is either commercially sensitive or personally sensitive, is, by right, available to the public.

If I have correctly understood the drafting of Clause 48, it provides that any document in the possession of the authority and available to the assembly shall be available to the public. That puts the mayor of London in a unique situation. As I read it, if he holds documents which are not available to the assembly because he does not make them available, they are not available for publication. The consequence is that it is much more difficult for members of the public to discover and understand what advice the mayor might be receiving on particular issues. Information on planning and highways issues, and many

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other subjects, are of great interest to the general public and are highly contentious. The public will want to know what guidance the mayor is receiving and I believe that they are entitled to know that.

The purpose of Amendments Nos. 197 and 197A is to remove the exclusion so that documents held by the mayor are also available to the public. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The noble Lord said that he was not clear about how the clause operated. I am not clear as to how his amendment would operate. I assume that it is intended to extend the rights of assembly members under Section 100F of the Local Government Act 1972 to inspect documents relating to any business to be transacted at a meeting of the assembly. As currently drafted, Clause 48(3) provides that this right to inspect documents applies only to documents available to the assembly. This means that assembly members will not have the right to inspect advice to the mayor. The amendment would allow assembly members to inspect documents which were in the possession of the GLA and the assembly. It is not certain whether it would in fact allow rights of inspection to all GLA documents, as I assume it is intended to do.

Amendment No. 197A would require the authority to make available for inspection on request any document in its possession which did not contain information defined as exempt or confidential under the terms to which the noble Lord referred.

The Government cannot accept either of these amendments. We have made it clear that the arrangements for access to information for the GLA are to be tailored to the separation of the executive and scrutiny functions within the authority. The provisions of the Bill are designed to provide private space for the mayor to consider policy options and to take decisions. This means that the mayor is being treated more as a Minister than as an equivalent to other local authority leaders, committee chairs or whatever.

We have done that consciously because the GLA is a unique form of city-wide government. We are separating the executive and scrutiny function and it is not structured like other local authorities. It therefore requires tailor-made mechanisms for accountability, and the Bill includes provision for the mayor to make a monthly report to the assembly setting out the decisions he has taken and so forth. However, it does not allow access to the advice from the officials of the authority to the mayor. Therefore, the approach is not identical to that for a traditionally structured local authority. It has more resonance with Whitehall and Westminster, and we believe that the executive power of the mayor requires the personal advice given to him to be outside the provisions of access to other GLA documents.

I expect that there will be some opposition to that provision, but it is intentional. In any case, I am sure that it is not one that the amendment corrects. I am working on the presumption that the amendment was intended to do so, in which case I shall have to oppose it.

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10.30 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I now understand why there is so much difficulty in making progress on the subject of open government. It seems to me that the sort of shadowy secrecy in which the Government indulge is being permitted to spread.

I have listened with interest to what the Minister has had to say. I accept that we are establishing a new type of authority with an entirely new way of working that will have an executive mayor who in some ways will be able to act in a similar fashion to a Minister of government. However, I would have thought that, although we are establishing a new authority, we could have moved the procedures with regard to openness forward in this regard.

I do not accept the Minister's response to these amendments. If they do not wholly achieve what I had set out to achieve, I shall have another go. We can take the matter no further this evening. If my amendments are faulty, as the Minister advises me they may be, it would not be wise to press them. We shall return to this matter. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 48 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 197A not moved.]

Clause 49 agreed to.

Clause 50 [Proposals by the Assembly to the Mayor]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 197B:

Page 27, line 15, at end insert--
("( ) The Mayor shall take such steps as are necessary to implement any proposal submitted by the Assembly under subsection (1) above.").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 197B. Clause 50 provides that,

    "the Assembly may submit a proposal to the Mayor". My amendment adds that,

    "The Mayor shall take such steps as are necessary to implement", such a proposal. I have no doubt that I shall be told by the Government that the assembly should not have the ability to bind the mayor in that way.

The point is that the mayor should be required to do something about it and not just say to the assembly, "That is very nice, thank you", and not even consider the matter. If that is so, why is it necessary to have Clause 50, which says that the assembly can submit a proposal to the mayor? That seems to be the sort of commonsense thing that one would expect the assembly to be able to do. If the assembly cannot bind the mayor but can simply put a point to the mayor, that would not require a clause in the Bill.

Lord Whitty: I find it extraordinary that the exponents of the great Liberal traditions seem unable to grasp the concept of the separation of powers in the Bill. The noble Baroness and the Liberal Democrat Party adopt a logical position: they do not like the separation of powers. Once we have the separation of powers, we have to be logical about the matter, and that is the position of the Government.

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The amendment of the noble Baroness does not say that the mayor should take seriously any proposals. It says that the mayor should implement such proposals. In effect, that turns the assembly into the executive arm of the authority. That is not the intention. Certainly we would expect the mayor to take them seriously and to give a considered response to them. That is not what the amendment says. It therefore cuts across the intention of the whole structure of the authority.

I understand that Clause 37(2)(c) needs to be read with this amendment. That indicates that the mayor must respond to assembly proposals. The fact that the mayor has to take the assembly seriously in such proposals is clearly written into legislation. But this provision would go far further than that and I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.

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