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Baroness Hamwee: Before the noble Lord responds, he is entirely right in hoping that we shall see a strategic rail authority before too long. The Government have, after all, tabled amendments, and indeed have included provisions in the Bill, which anticipate legislation that is not yet in effect. So the noble Lord is not entirely out

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of kilter--a term that seems to have come into favour this evening--in proposing a body that does not yet exist.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I did not imply in any way that that body was not important or that it would not come into being. The thought that crossed my mind was how many other bodies might come into being in future which noble Lords would consider appropriate to add to the list.

Lord Berkeley: I am grateful to my noble friend and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for her contribution. This is a probing amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 124 agreed to.

Clause 125 [Directions by the Secretary of State]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 245C:


Page 68, line 5, leave out ("direct") and insert ("request").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 245C, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 245D to 245F. Grouped with these amendments is Amendment No. 246 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, and his noble friends. Clause 125 provides for further significant powers of direction on the part of the Secretary of State. They provide another pie out of which the Secretary of State is clearly not prepared to keep his finger.

The clause provides that if the Secretary of State considers that the transport strategy is inconsistent with national policies, and that the inconsistency is detrimental to an area outside London, he can direct the mayor to revise it. Why are these provisions necessary? With regard to national policies, Clause 33 provides that regard must be had to them. Conversely, why is that reference necessary in Clause 33 if we come upon it in the present context? Is it really appropriate to provide for directions on the part of the Secretary of State? The mayor may well have regard to national policies but have very good reasons for doing something slightly different in London.

As to detriment to an area outside London, I believe that it is up to the mayor to negotiate with such an area. I do not believe that counties are so directly restricted from doing things that are detrimental to their neighbours, including London. Perhaps the Minister can confirm that. I do not suggest that they should set out to do things that are detrimental to their neighbours; I simply inquire whether they are subject to a legislative prohibition in that context.

In our view, the structure that the Government create under this Bill will increase the risk of conflict. The authority will always be in the shadow of nanny who is ready to sort things out. The Secretary of State is apparently not prepared to nurture self-reliance on the part of the mayor and assembly and leave them to grow up a bit and understand how to foster good relations.

We agree with the Conservatives. By indicating their opposition to the Question that the clause shall stand part of the Bill, they indicate that the Bill would be

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improved without the clause. But if it is to remain in the Bill, we propose that the direction should be a request so that there is the implicit requirement that there should be discussion and debate, and that the direction or request should be to the mayor and the assembly. The assembly will have views, embracing no doubt the effects outside London since by definition many members of the assembly will represent areas on the boundaries of London. Assembly members are likely to have the expertise to act as some moderating force on the mayor. Judging by the amendment in the name of the Conservatives, I believe that they may have a similar notion of the role of the assembly.

Finally, Amendment No. 245F proposes to leave out subsection (2). We find the "jump to it" spirit of the provision rather distasteful and inappropriate. I beg to move.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: I agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said in moving the amendment. I speak to Amendment No. 246, and to the Question whether Clause 125 shall stand part of the Bill, because the two issues go together. My opposition to the clause standing part of the Bill is at the extreme end of the equation. I am glad that the noble Baroness indicates support. We believe that if one sets up this body with the mayor and the assembly, they should be allowed to get on with their job in this instance and the Secretary of State should leave them alone for all the reasons that the noble Baroness gave.

Amendment No. 246 is a compromise. It states:


    "No direction by the Secretary of State shall come into force if it is rejected by a resolution of the Assembly". In other words, if the mayor and the assembly agree with one another, as we hope they will, and the assembly votes on it, that will overrule the Secretary of State. Otherwise I agree with the amendment of the noble Baroness.

Lord Whitty: I am slightly astonished at the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, given the history of his government in Parliament, that we should set up the GLA and let them get on with it without the power of intervention by the Secretary of State.

I believe that in some circumstances the Secretary of State has to have the power of intervention. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, indicated, the powers of intervention in Clause 125 are limited. They relate to a situation where a strategy is inconsistent with the national transport policy and at the same time has demonstrably adverse effects outside Greater London. In those circumstances, there is a responsibility on central government to act on behalf of the nation as a whole and the neighbouring or other part of the United Kingdom affected adversely by the policy.

Amendments Nos. 245C and 245D remove the reserve power insurance policy for the rest of the country by downgrading it to a request. Amendment No. 245F would remove the duty on the mayor to respond by changing the strategy in accordance with the direction. The circumstances in which that would arise

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would be rare; and the circumstances in which the power of a direction would be used probably rarer still. A deliberately high hurdle must be crossed before the Secretary of State can act. However, there may be circumstances where it is necessary to act to avoid detriment to the national policy. Amendment No. 245D in effect makes the Secretary of State's direction subject to the assembly. That seems to me an odd constitutional position which I cannot accept.

Amendment No. 246 would mean that if the assembly voted to reject it, any direction by the Secretary of State would not come into force. That raises a constitutional objection. It would not be an appropriate role for the London assembly which is there to scrutinise the actions of the mayor. The responsibility of the Secretary of State is, as always, to Parliament. There would be a serious confusion of roles. I do not believe that it is an overweening power. It would be used to protect the rest of the country as a reserve power and we would wish to see it retained on the face of the Bill. I therefore hope that the noble Baroness will not pursue the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: I accept that on this occasion, in contradistinction to intervention powers in another Bill which the House is considering, the basis for the exercise of the reserve powers is spelt out in the Bill. That much I welcome. Other than that, we disagree. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 245D to 246 not moved.]

Clause 125 agreed to.

Clause 126 agreed to.

Clause 127 [Preparation of the plan]:

[Amendments Nos. 246A and 247 not moved.]

Clause 127 agreed to.

Clause 128 [Approval of plans by the Mayor]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 247A:


Page 69, line 22, at end insert--
("( ) The Mayor shall approve a local implementation plan if he considers that it meets the criteria set out in subsection (3).").

The noble Baroness said: Clause 128 puts constraints on the approval of a local implementation plan. Under subsection (3) the mayor is not to approve an implementation plan unless in his view it meets certain criteria which are set out in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). I do not believe that the clause provides that the plan should be approved if it does meet those criteria. That is not implicit, especially as in subsection (2) the wording is that the mayor "may" approve a local implementation plan. Can the Minister clarify the position? I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The amendment would reduce the mayor's discretion over whether or not to approve the local implementation plan. The amendment would mean that, provided the three conditions were met, the mayor would have no option but to approve the plan. That would mean that he or she would be unable to consider any other factors. While it may be true that the criteria are fairly wide and it is therefore unlikely that the mayor

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would wish to reject the plan on other factors, there are issues of whether, for example, the plan is unsatisfactory compared with the other plans submitted by other councils or would have a detrimental effect on their achievement.

Local implementation plans will be key to the successful implementation of the mayor's overall transport strategy and the mayor must have power to ensure that the plans contain all that is necessary. The boroughs must be consulted about the transport strategy, so they will already have had their chance to express their views about its nature and how it might affect their responsibilities. When they come forward with their own plans, there must be some flexibility with the mayor on whether he or she accepts them and whether he or she engages in a process of discussion with the local authorities to approve the plans and make them more compatible with the overall strategy. That is the intention of the clause.

I hope that, with that explanation, the noble Baroness may see fit to withdraw her amendment.


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