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Page 205, line 22, at end insert ("; and
( ) the Assembly, the London borough councils, the Common Council and such other bodies as appear to him to be appropriate").

The noble Lord said: This amendment deals with a situation in Schedule 7 where the mayor is requesting the Audit Commission to undertake a study of one of the functional bodies. It is interesting that, before making a request under subsection (1) to make such a study,


I have some difficulty in understanding why associations of employees should be the only people who are consulted before the mayor invites the Audit Commission to make a particular study. It seems to me that there may well be many groups, possibly user groups, people who are affected directly by the particular service, who would have a view. They may also have a perspective on the study which should be taken into account by the mayor before making a request for a particular study.

It would be possible--I put it no higher than that--to argue that that wording was included as a sop to the trade unions. I do not think that that is what should be intended in a Bill of this nature. We should play these matters absolutely straight. We have widened out the list of consultees in this situation. That is reasonable. Although the proposal may not be totally effective to undertake the purposes that I have enunciated, I beg to move.

11.15 p.m.

Lord Whitty: Without wishing to engage in a degree of controversy at this stage, I am always slightly resentful when a sensible requirement to consult the trade unions is regarded as a sop. In regard to Audit Commission reports, it is sensible to engage employees in this matter. The noble Lord suggests that certain other people should, by statute, be consulted as well. I do not see a need to place a statutory duty on the mayor to consult bodies that are already included in the general list of bodies which the mayor has to consider whether it is appropriate to consult in this and other contexts. It is not necessarily right that the mayor should be required to consult the London boroughs and the Common Council in this particular context.

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However, I accept that it would be sensible to consult the assembly before requesting a study. It may therefore be that some greater clarification and a possible extension of the areas of required consultation are required. Having started on an antagonistic note, I shall give the noble Lord some comfort that we shall consider his amendment and consider whether in this context any amendments are required at a later stage.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for the conciliation at the end of his remarks. I accept, almost with equal pleasure since this is the last of my amendments that we shall debate for some time, the smack over the head that he has duly administered. I shall study the Minister's remarks with care and I look forward to his response. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 7 agreed to.

Clauses 119 to 121 agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 243A:


After Clause 121, insert the following new clause--

NO DISCRETIONARY RATE RELIEF FOR FUNCTIONAL BODIES

(" .--(1) Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (discretionary relief) shall be amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (9) (which provides that a hereditament is an excepted hereditament, and accordingly not eligible for relief, if all or part of it is occupied by any body there mentioned) at the end of paragraph (b) (which relates to precepting authorities) there shall be added "; or
(c) a functional body, within the meaning of the Greater London Authority Act 1999".

The noble Lord said: This new clause amends Section 47 of the Local Government Act to ensure that properties occupied by the functional bodies cannot be granted discretionary rate relief by billing authorities.

The situation at present is that Clause 47 will allow billing authorities to grant rate relief to organisations such as charities and so on. That provision will explicitly exclude the precepting authorities. But it needs also to exclude the functional bodies. The GLA itself therefore already falls within the scope of the exception, but the functional authorities do not. That needs clarification. I hope the Committee will accept the amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 243B:


After Clause 121, insert the following new clause--

LOCAL LOANS

(" .--(1) In Schedule 4 to the National Loans Act 1968 (which specifies the bodies to which local loans may be made) in paragraph 1, in paragraph (a) of the definition of "local authority", the word "and" immediately preceding sub-paragraph (iii) shall be omitted and after that sub-paragraph there shall be added "; and
(iv) a functional body, within the meaning of the Greater London Authority Act 1999".

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(2) In section 2 of the Public Works Loans Act 1965 (new form of local loan and automatic charge for securing it) in sub-paragraph (1) (which includes a definition of "relevant authority") in paragraph (a), the word "and" immediately preceding sub-paragraph (iii) shall be omitted and after that sub-paragraph there shall be added "; and
(iv) a functional body, within the meaning of the Greater London Authority Act 1999".").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 243B, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 455F to 455H. A range of bodies, including local authorities, whose capital finances are regulated by the Local Government Acts, borrow from the Public Works Loans Commissioners. The GLA and the functional bodies will be among those local authorities. These amendments are necessary to give the commissioners a complementary power to lend money to the functional authorities. This means that amendments need to be made to the National Loans Act 1968 and the Public Works Loans Act 1965, which refer back to the Public Works Loans Act 1875. Such loans are secured by a charge on the revenues of the authority concerned. The GLA is already a local authority for this purpose, but the amendment is needed to make a functional body a local authority for these purposes. The other amendments are consequential repeals in parallel with the words omitted by these amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 122 agreed to.

Clause 123 [General transport duty]:

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 243C:


Page 67, line 18, after ("within") insert ("and across").

The noble Baroness said: The Committee now moves into the exciting world of transport, where it may remain for some time in logjams of various kinds. This is a very simple amendment. In addition to the mayor having to consider travel to, from and within London, he or she should also consider travel across London. I am aware that in another place the Minister argued that journeys in and out of and within London subsumed journeys across London so that the amendment was unnecessary. However, there are some very important routes involved in northern, southern, eastern and western journeys, which is what is meant by "across London" as opposed to the in and out radial routes with which we are all very familiar. That is the pattern of travel in and out of London. Those routes are particularly important, for example for access to and from the airports. They are also controversial because they will require additional space on existing lines or those that are about to be built or improved. We believe that the transport duty should cover a range of new transport possibilities as well as existing ones. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: I support my noble friend in moving this amendment. I should like to ask another question relating to Clause 123(1), which requires the mayor to,


    "develop and implement policies for the promotion and encouragement of safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities and services".

28 Jun 1999 : Column 138

    Members of the Committee will be familiar with the terminology "efficient and economic" in the context of requirements on local authorities as to the provision of services. They are repeated in the Local Government Bill which is currently going through the House. Those terms are normally coupled--although I am not sure that it is correct to use that word when there are three of them--with "effective". It seems to me it is a requirement that the transport facilities and services to, from, within and across London should be effective--for example, trains should not stop in tube tunnels for half an hour at a time and so on. I use that as one example. I hope that the Minister can explain the adjectives in answering my noble friend's amendment.

As this is the first amendment on this part of the Bill, perhaps I may say how sorry I am--it is understandable that the Government want to get on with this long and complicated Bill--that they choose to start the debate on such a major part so late at night. Major issues are raised in the first chapter on transport. I am sure that the Government will realise that there are some gaps on the Benches, and that voices they had expected to contribute to this part of the Bill will not be heard. Points which might appropriately have been made at this point in the Bill will be made later. That may not be very convenient. Alternatively, they will be made on Report. It is the Government's decision. But I think that these issues deserve rather more prime time.


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