Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Before the noble Baroness sits down, may I say that I did not understand her last answer about membership of the House of Lords. I cannot see where the conflict of interest would be. I can think of lots of equivalent things that noble Lords do while being Members of the House of Lords; it has nothing to do with whether one is a hereditary Peer or not. I know the noble Baroness put that in as a light remark, but why should someone who knows everything about transport not be on the board just because he is a Member of the House of Lords? Can the noble Baroness explain where is the conflict of interest?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My remark was not a differentiation between hereditary and non-hereditary Peers but a differentiation between those who are Members of the House of Lords and those who in the future may not be Members. It is our view that the process of appointment should exclude people who are politicians, locally or nationally. Quite clearly that covers this point.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Including Cross-Benchers?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My personal view is that it is possible to be political and to fulfil a highly political role without being party political.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: Before the noble Baroness decides what to do with her amendment, I really must come back to the Minister on mine. I know that the noble Baroness in her role as a Whip sometimes has difficulty in attracting some of her captains of industry to come to the House to support the Government in the Lobbies. Surely the point is that there are great and good Members of your Lordships' House who would be perfectly able to serve on the board of TfL. If they are able to be chairmen or main board directors of leading

1 Jul 1999 : Column 478

plcs in this country, which some of them are, they can just as well be members of TfL. I may very well return to this issue.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, has missed the point. If the noble Lord does not remain in the House, he will be able to sit on the board.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: That is not the point.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: That is what I understand the Minister told us. On the other hand, I, who cannot escape from being a Member of your Lordships' House, will not be able to sit on the board. I think that was the point the noble Baroness was making.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: With respect, I was not trying to draw a discrimination between hereditary and life Peers. Obviously if a hereditary Peer is no longer a Member of the House he will be able to be on the board of TfL. My point is, why should not life Peers who have distinguished records outside this House be able to be on the TfL board?

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I wish to pass on to the Committee the comments, which you did not hear, of my noble friend Lord Avebury. He said that he regretted that Amendment No. 251AA will not be passed because that would secure certainly some elderly and disabled Members who would be able to serve on the board. I would not dare say that myself.

I thank the Minister for her definition of the roles. We on these Benches still cannot accept the extremely sharp divisions the Government wish to make between scrutiny, policy making and so on. At this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 251AA not moved.]

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 251B:


Page 206, line 46, after ("Mayor") insert ("and Assembly")

The noble Baroness said: This is a very simple amendment. It seeks to remove the requirement that the mayor be the chair of Transport for London if he or she is a member of Transport for London. Not only do we think that the mayor will have quite enough to do without being chairman of Transport for London but the situation could draw one into unfortunate areas. When one reaches the section on appeals, one could get to the stage where the mayor is referring appeals to himself. We should perhaps look at some of the conflicts of interest which might arise if the mayor was automatically chairman of Transport for London. It does not suit very well the further construction of the parts of the Bill which deal with appeal processes. There may be other parts of the Bill which have the same problems attached to them. I beg to move.

1 Jul 1999 : Column 479

6.30 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I think that we are slightly out of order. The Deputy Chairman of Committees called Amendment No. 251B and not Amendment No. 252B, which has just been spoken to. It must be moved formally or withdrawn, as the case may be.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: It may assist the noble Baroness if we take as read her points regarding Amendment No. 252B.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 251C to 252A not moved.]

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 252B:


Page 207, leave out lines 8 and 9.

The noble Baroness said: I spoke to this amendment a few moments ago. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: I am not sure whether I understood the noble Baroness correctly, but the objections that she raised in relation to a possible conflict would apply--if they apply at all--to the mayor, whether he or she were Chair or an ordinary board member. As I understand it, this amendment would remove the requirement that the mayor--if he or she so chooses--would have to be Chair.

The post of Chair of TfL is key and we think it is appropriate that the mayor, as the chief executive of London, should have the option of taking that position. If the mayor decides to be a member of the board, he or she should be Chair of the board. There would be an anomalous situation if the mayor were appointed as an ordinary member--or even as Deputy Chair. That would place the mayor in an odd situation whereby he or she would be subordinate to somebody who chaired a body that reported to the mayor. That would blur, rather than reinforce, the lines of responsibility.

I could understand it if the noble Baroness were arguing that the mayor should not be a board member at all--I do not agree with that view, but it is logical. However, if the mayor is a member, we believe that he or she should have the option to be the Chair.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I will look carefully at the Minister's remarks and I shall re-examine the Bill's various references to the mayor's interacting with TfL. I think there are moments when the mayor would interact with himself or herself if he or she were both mayor and the Chair of TfL. For the moment, I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 253:


Page 209, line 22, leave out ("not")

The noble Lord said: With the leave of the Committee, I shall speak both to this amendment and to Amendment No. 254.

1 Jul 1999 : Column 480

These amendments deal with members' interests and the discussion of contracts. The Bill, as it is presently drafted, allows a member of Transport for London who has an interest to take part in discussions or even vote on any questions unless the mayor so directs. We, on these Benches, do not believe that a member who has an interest should be able to participate in discussions about these contracts or to vote on them.

We believe also that giving the mayor the discretion to allow that to happen could give rise to a clear conflict of interest as far as the mayor is concerned. We believe that the Bill would make for better legislation if we said simply that members of TfL with a special interest should not be able to take part in discussions on contracts. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: It may assist the Committee if I say that we agree that the current provisions on interests are drawn too widely and must be tightened. We are currently considering our own amendments to the provisions, and will therefore take these amendments away to consider.

It is important to say that these amendments may go a little further than we would wish to go. Therefore, it is not possible to accept them as they stand. There will always be a balance to be struck between ensuring that the board has sufficient experience to be able to make wise decisions and ensuring that it is--and is seen to be--sufficiently impartial to make fair decisions.

There is a variety of different models from which to choose in seeking to achieve that balance. For example, we could follow the Environment Agency model. Members of the EA are prohibited from taking part in deliberation or discussion of any matters in which they have an interest, but the Secretary of State can disapply such a prohibition where the number of members of the agency disabled would be so great a proportion of the whole as to impede the transaction of business. This could be adapted so that the mayor, rather than the Secretary of State, had the power to disapply the prohibition. We believe that the power to disapply may be important and should be kept in reserve in order to ensure that a wide range of experience is represented on the board, making it most effective.

On the basis of my remarks, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page