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Lord Whitty: To answer the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, the mayor is under a duty to consult in all of his functions, including this one, and with regard to the range of people and representatives to whom the noble Baroness refers.

Read literally, Amendment No. 330ZA would in effect remove the requirement that the board be business-led, and would therefore have almost the opposite effect to that which the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, seeks. We have indicated that we want the RDAs to be business-led, and have implemented that policy in the RDAs generally. At least half the board, including the chairperson, must comprise people who have had experience of running a business.

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Once we stipulate the organisations that will nominate and put up a shortlist of three to the mayor--rather as, I assume, the Church of England puts up nominations for Bishops to the Prime Minister--they become representative of those who put them forward.

I recognise the importance of the three organisations that make up the London Business Board. Nevertheless, neither they nor anybody else should be regarded as having somebody who is representative of them on the board; representative of the kind of experience that their members have, certainly, but not nominated through a formal process as stipulated in Amendment No. 331A. Although I note the objectives of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, I do not believe that the way in which he is seeking to achieve them is appropriate. I hope that the noble Baroness will seek leave to withdraw her amendment.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Clement-Jones: Before my noble friend replies, perhaps I may say that I am somewhat disappointed by what the noble Lord the Minster has said. I had hoped that he could, without accepting a need for the amendment to be on the face of the Bill, give a rather better nod in the direction of the way in which the organisations in question might be involved. I can think of few better people to be involved in rigorously examining the potential members of the London Development Agency than, for example, the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard of Didgemere, before whom a number of candidates have quailed in the past when seeking chief executive jobs. There is expertise there and it should be recognised. Simply relying on the mayor's judgment in those circumstances is not adequate.

Baroness Hamwee: Applicants may have quailed before the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard of Didgemere, but my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones was not here the other night when the noble Lord reassured the Committee, in a debate on chairs and chairmen, that he had always insisted on being called Allen, so they should not have quailed.

I accept that if we removed the requirement for business appointments, that would sink my noble friend's amendment, but we are exploring the whole area in general terms, so, although there may seem to be an inconsistency, there is no inconsistency in our inquiries. The point linking my noble friend's amendment and mine goes back to the Regional Development Agencies Act. The mayor is to be required to consult those who represent employers in the agency's area. I hope that we shall at any rate receive an acknowledgement from the Minister that the organisations to which my noble friend referred will be among those consulted.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty: If the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is to ask whether this is a parallel form of consultation to that which is in the general RDA Act,

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the answer is "Yes", because subsection (10) effectively transposes that provision, with the exception to which the noble Baroness has referred.

Baroness Hamwee: We have exhausted this subject--for the moment, at any rate, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 330A to 332 not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 333:

Page 130, line 7, at end insert--
("( ) Proposed members shall complete a declaration detailing their business interests, whether they have been made bankrupt, been a party to voluntary arrangements, whether there are any judgements against them, whether they have been convicted of any offence involving fraud or dishonesty or an offence under legislation (whether or not of the United Kingdom) relating to companies (including insider dealing), building societies, banking or other financial services, or if they have been disqualified as a director or of any other material information, and this declaration should be publicly available for inspection one month before appointment"").

The noble Lord said: I hope that with this amendment we move on to what might be considered to be slightly more fertile territory.

The amendment proposes that members appointed to the London Development Agency shall complete a declaration similar to that made by company directors of listed plcs. This would provide a considerable safeguard against the possibility of misappointment.

It may be a matter of regret, but things have occasionally gone wrong in local government, so I believe that we are entirely right to insist on the highest possible code of ethical practice in this area, especially as the LDA will be dealing with the disbursement of public money.

The amendment is certainly worthy of consideration. The noble Lord the Minister may feel that it is a sufficient defence to say, "The Regional Development Agencies Bill did not have such a clause". That is, of course, a plausible defence, but if something could have been done to improve that Bill, which we did not see at the time, it would be entirely appropriate on this Bill, when we are dealing with a parallel arrangement, to insert the improvement. That is the purpose of the amendment. I hope that the Government will consider it very seriously. It is unexceptionable and should be welcomed. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The amendment requires proposed members of the LDA board to complete a declaration covering certain issues which might render them unsuitable to serve on the board. But it does not provide for what should happen at the end of the month during which the declaration is made publicly available. Therefore, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is apparently seeking to have publicity without seeking to use the classifications in his amendment as a means of debarring people from appointment.

We believe that the appointment process consists of the mayor seeking the views of interested parties on who might be appointed, then appointing the candidates of his or her choice. The suggestions made will inform but not constrain. The mayor will no doubt wish to vet

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potential appointees, but we believe that it would be inappropriate to specify in the detail proposed in the amendment as to how that should be done.

It is fundamental that the mayor is given the responsibility for making key decisions and we do not wish to be unduly prescriptive. We believe that the amendment would be so. The mayor is answerable to the electorate for the quality of his or her decisions, and any mayor must be very well aware that public confidence in the LDA board is one of the preconditions for its success.

As the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, suggested, there is the constraint that if a member of the LDA becomes bankrupt, that is a valid ground for removal from office. That is one of the conditions that we accepted during the recent passage of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. We believe that that is sufficient, and I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Clement-Jones: Having listened carefully to the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and to the Minister, I do not know whether I am alone in finding the Minister's response disappointing. There is considerable merit in the noble Lord's proposals, because board membership is an important job and half the board will be composed of business people. It is important that they are seen not to have conflicts of interest and that they have the confidence of Londoners in the running of the LDA.

The Minister did not suggest any alternatives and she did not mention any drafting objections to the amendment. She said that the amendment was not appropriate, but she gave no real assurance that there would be a robust system for declarations of interest in any form. Perhaps she could explain the process as she envisages it. The situation can be tricky if people have wide business interests with some geographical overlap. It is important that those who belong to the LDA and become board members understand the considerable public transparency that is required of them. The amendment would go a long way to serve that.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, is referring to two different issues. The amendment deals solely with prescribing on the face of the Bill the mechanism for identifying a particular set of past actions that we may all expect the mayor to take into account; it does not deal with the declaration of current interests. The issue to which the noble Lord spoke is dealt with elsewhere.

Lord Clement-Jones: I hope that the Minister will excuse me for intervening again, but the amendment states:

    "Proposed members shall complete a declaration detailing their business interests". Then it continues by describing the other aspects.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Yes, but the issue to which the noble Lord spoke--and the important issue at this stage of the Bill--is whether publicity is

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given to the declaration of interests. The noble Lord will find that other parts of the Bill deal with declarations of interest.

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