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Baroness Blatch: Because Clause 46 is not disapplied, does that mean that this function can be delegated to another member of the assembly?

Lord Whitty: Which function?

Baroness Blatch: The function of Clause 56.

Lord Whitty: I am not sure that that relates directly to the amendment. Under Clause 46, if there is not a disapplication, functions can be delegated to a single member of the assembly. But the amendments to which we were referring concern the appointment by the mayor of members of his personal staff, not the power in Clause 46.

Baroness Blatch: We were indeed talking about the mayor and his ability to appoint staff, but I was saying that if Clause 46 is not disapplied the mayor can delegate this to a single member of the assembly.

Lord Whitty: The mayor cannot delegate it. The assembly can delegate it to a single member. But we are talking, in relation to the amendment, about the mayor's power to appoint, not the assembly's role in appointments of the rest of the staff. Of course, the assembly does have the authority to appoint staff, and could theoretically delegate that to a single member. So I suppose the noble Baroness is right, if that is what she is driving at.

Lord Tope: The essential point that my noble friend Lady Hamwee was making in moving the amendment was that the issue here, surely, is one of the total expenditure on such staff, rather than their actual number. The Minister seems to be suggesting that it is otherwise. I would have thought that it was the amount of public money spent which was crucial, not how the

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mayor chooses to divide up the amount of money allocated to him. That is the crucial point we are driving at here.

The Minister seems to be suggesting that the actual number is more important than the cost. If the mayor chooses to pay below the national minimum wage--and, unless it has escaped my notice, I do not think it is proposed that he shall be exempt from that legislation--he will be caught by the legislation, just like any other employer. Therefore, that does not apply. If he chose to have people working for him who were so rich that they did not need to be paid, I imagine they would be volunteers and not staff. So I think that is a rather spurious argument.

I should like the Minister to clarify what is meant in the clause. It refers very specifically to two persons and to not more than 10 other members of staff. It does not say "full-time equivalent." Is this legislation actually prohibiting the mayor from, for instance, appointing 20 part-time members of staff equivalent to 10 full-time members? It appears to be so. Is he not able to have four or five part-time political advisers equivalent to two full-time?

The Minister seems to be concerned that numbers matter more than cost. The wording here is very specific--two persons and 10 other members of staff--so it would seem that the mayor is not able to employ a greater number of people part-time, but must restrict himself to full-time employees. If that is the case, can the Minister tell us why the Government wish to restrict to such a great extent the individual liberty of the mayor to determine his most personal staff?

Lord Whitty: I would have thought that the provision related to full-time equivalents, but it seems that my previous understanding needs to be revised, and that it applies to 10 members of staff and two political advisers. I think I had better clarify that to the noble Lord in writing.

However, the point is that the numbers of staff are the limitation. The remuneration, of course, has to be dealt with in the budget. In relation to political advisers, it is also affected by the Secretary of State's ability to prescribe the maximum limit for political advisers to political groups within local authorities. I believe that we are dealing with subjects related to that in the next amendment.

The aim is not primarily to determine the level of remuneration; it is to determine that the mayor shall have only a small level of personal staff. The rest of the staff will not be political appointments, and the responsibility for appointing them will be a matter for the assembly. The budget can be altered by the assembly, but only by a two-thirds majority, should the mayor over-provide on remuneration. I think that the issue in certain circumstances might be remuneration. The second main issue is how many personal staff, outside the normal practice of appointment for local authorities the assembly will exert, can the mayor make by himself. We are limiting that by number. That will be the general expectation: that we shall limit it by number.

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11.30 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: Before the noble Baroness decides what she will do about the amendment, I was interested in the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Tope, about whether or not it could be part-time workers; and even more interested by the answer that the Minister gave. Wearing a different hat, I lead for the Opposition on the Employment Relations Bill. In that Bill several clauses make sure that part-time workers should not in any way be discriminated against or dealt with differently from full-time workers. The Greater London Authority Bill seems an extraordinary Bill.

Lord Whitty: My initial reaction to the noble Lord's question was along those lines. That is why I need to clarify that aspect of my response.

Baroness Blatch : It was not clear whether the answer referred to full or part-time. Is it 10 full or part-time personnel?

Lord Whitty: As prescribed here, it is 10 personal appointments and two political advisers. There is a total of 12. The noble Lord asked whether the number can be broken down into full-time equivalents and therefore more part-time than 12. My initial reaction would be, yes. I think that the noble Baroness's reaction would be yes. My latest understanding, however, indicates that there is a different answer. I had better clarify that to noble Lords.

Lord Tope: I understand the position in which the Minister finds himself. I await the letter with interest, as I am sure we all shall do. From reading the provision, my understanding--he has confirmed it--is that it relates to the number two and the number 10 and how many hours those people work is a matter to be determined between them and the mayor. But he can have no more than 10 whether they work for two hours or 42 hours a week.

If the Minister writes to me confirming that that is what is meant, I hope that he will also tell me why the Government feel it necessary so to restrict the mayor in determining how he disposes of the total hours available to him. This seems ludicrously restrictive on a mayor. If we are going to do this by number, surely the number is two full-time equivalent, and 10 full-time equivalent. To say to the mayor, "If you are going to get your number's worth, you must employ full-time staff whether or not that is sensible", is ludicrous. The Minister has taken the point. I look forward with considerable interest to receiving the letter from him, and the subsequent amendments.

Baroness Hamwee: The Minister's point about needing a two-thirds majority of assembly members to overturn the mayor's budget was telling. It is a point at which we shall arrive on Monday. Our concerns about the majority needed to make any alterations to the budget are amply confirmed by the warnings tonight of the difficulty of doing so.

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The point highlighted by my noble friend and supported by others is important. On the question of the minimum wage, we referred to national policy. Clearly, that would apply. However, I add to my noble friend's points that in a modern authority one would want employers to be able to encourage, for instance, job shares. That might be desirable. I, too, look forward to the amendments. And if they are not forthcoming from the Government, they will be forthcoming from these Benches. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 56 agreed to.

Clauses 57 and 58 agreed to.

Clause 59 [Terms and conditions of employment]:

[Amendments Nos. 211 and 212 not moved.]

Clause 59 agreed to.

Clauses 60 to 66 agreed to.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 212ZA.


After Clause 66, insert the following new clause--

EXERCISE OF ORDER-MAKING POWERS

(" . Any power conferred by this Part on a Minister of the Crown to make an order which has not been exercised before 1st May 2004 shall become null and void.").

The noble Baroness said: This is what one might call the sunset clause, moved rather after sunset, but I shall not spend long tonight on this point.

We have talked a great deal about the control exercised by central government in relation to many aspects of the new authority. We have previously made the point that trust between the different spheres is very important. That is a term which my noble friend tells me is used in certain European contexts to avoid any notion of a hierarchy by reference to tiers. I referred on Monday to the report of the Select Committee of your Lordships' House which concerned rebuilding trust between the two spheres of government. The constraints on the exercise of powers also tend to constrain success.

If the Government are concerned that they may be creating a monster, a creature that will get out of control, then they should know fairly soon whether it is necessary to retain powers in central government. I accept that the example of the GLC may be quoted back at me. We, on these Benches, have always felt that there were other methods that could have been used to deal with the GLC rather than abolition.

We propose that the sun should go down on the Secretary of State's powers if he does not exercise them, on a power by power basis. We propose that if any given power is not exercised by May 2004, immediately prior

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to the second election of the mayor and members of the assembly, then that power should disappear. I beg to move.


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