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Lord Whitty: The amendment seeks to insert an unnecessary level of detail into the Bill. It is not normal for primary legislation to specify the consultation period. Secondary legislation is normally used for that purpose. It does so in relation to unitary development plans, structure plans and so on. That is the situation with most planning legislation at present. We see no reason to depart from that. I hope that the noble Lord will not press the amendment.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I must study the position. If that is custom and practice and is the normal way of dealing with these matters, we shall have to watch with care when the appropriate regulations are brought forward. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 265 agreed to.

Clause 266 [Withdrawal]:

[Amendments Nos. 383 to 386 not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 386A:

Page 142, line 38, leave out from ("to") to end of line and insert ("each of the bodies and persons specified in subsection (4) below")

The noble Baroness said: This group includes my Amendment No. 387A and also Amendments Nos. 386B and 404A in the name of the Minister.

Clause 266 relates to the withdrawal of any draft spatial development strategy. Our amendments relate to notification of the withdrawal. The government amendments are much the same as ours. They were tabled in response to points made by my honourable

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friends in another place, and I have no doubt that they are better drafted than ours. I look forward to agreeing them. I need not say more in support of my own amendments. Once the Minister has spoken to the government amendments, I shall withdraw mine. Also, I shall not seek to oppose the Question that the clause stand part, which I hope will help to move the proceedings forward. I beg to move.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Whitty: I thank the noble Baroness for her remarks. I shall speak to government Amendments Nos. 386B and 404A in this group. As she says, they arise from an agreement by my colleague in another place, the Minister with responsibility for London, to consider an amendment from the Liberal Democrat Opposition there.

The amendments will place a duty on the mayor to notify any withdrawal of the draft SDS to all those who are consulted during the preparation of the strategy and on the draft. The Bill as drafted requires merely that those who have made representations regarding the SDS--rather than all those who have been consulted--should be informed.

The approach suggested in the Commons seems to us constructive and sensible, and we are happy to accept it. I hope that the noble Baroness will therefore withdraw her amendment, as she indicated. I am grateful also for her indication that she will not oppose the Question that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Baroness Hamwee: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 386B:

Page 142, line 38, leave out ("person who has made representations about it") and insert ("body or person falling within subsection (2A) below.
(2A) Those bodies and persons are--
(a) the Assembly;
(b) each of the functional bodies;
(c) each of the bodies and persons specified in section 265(3) above; and
(d) every body which, or person who, made representations in accordance with the regulations.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 387 and 387A not moved.]

Clause 266, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 267 [Publication]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 388:

Page 142, line 42, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall")

The noble Lord said: This amendment deals with a very small matter and relates to a question of drafting taste. Clause 267 deals with the publication of the strategy. Subsection (1) states:

    "Subject to the following provisions of this section, the Mayor may publish the spatial development strategy".

"May" always sounds optional. In our view, the mayor must publish the strategy; therefore, we prefer the word "shall. It is a small point. However, I must admit that I should consider it to be a great triumph if the amendment

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were to be accepted. I suspect that I shall be told that the custom and practice is that "may" is the word that is normally used. If not, I suggest that "shall" is a better word. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Amendment No. 388 seeks to change the wording of Clause 267 from "may publish" to "shall publish". As the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, has explained, the intention behind that is to ensure that the mayor publishes a final SDS. However, that is already covered by other provisions under Part VIII. In particular, Clause 264 states that,

    "The Mayor shall prepare and publish ... the 'spatial development strategy'".

The permissive term "may" is used in this clause because the subsequent subsections set out a series of conditions and requirements which the mayor must meet before he or she can publish the SDS.

I should also add that even if the mayor, following consultation and the report of the examination, felt the need to withdraw the strategy and rethink his or her plans, Clause 266 makes it clear that this does not affect the overall duty to prepare and publish the SDS. I am certain that in the light of this assurance the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: With the greatest respect, I do not think the noble Baroness can get away with that. Either the mayor has to publish it or does not have to publish it. This in fact conflicts with the other clauses that the noble Baroness has mentioned. I have worked with advisers in government myself, as she has, and I can quite understand that you ask your advisers, "What is this all about?" Then they give you an explanation and a reason. However, this is simply not a good reason and I would suggest to the noble Baroness that she looks at this before the next stage and perhaps even makes this clause match the other. I did not feel that her argument held water at all.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I am dreadfully sorry not to have given an explanation, because in this case the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, is raising an issue which I feel is totally covered by the reply that I gave. This part of the Bill deals with the circumstances that must apply before the mayor shall, has to, is required to or has the duty to do this. So this is merely a question of a certain point in the Bill. We are in agreement, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and myself, and he is in agreement with the Government, that the mayor shall be required to do this and we are discussing the wording that is needed to achieve it.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, for her support in this matter. I must admit that I listened to the response of the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, and it seemed to me that in her answer she was giving me a perfect reason why she should accept the amendment. However, it is a matter of opinion. I will study what the noble Baroness had to say and in the meantime beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 389 to 391 not moved.]

27 Jul 1999 : Column 1460

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 391ZA:

Page 143, line 4, leave out paragraph (b)

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move this amendment and to speak also to Amendments Nos. 393D, 395A and 397A. These amendments are grouped with the Government Amendments Nos. 393C and 393E.

The first of my amendments is a "paver" for Amendment No. 395A, and in fact my amendments as a whole seek to leave out subsections (5), (6) and (7) of Clause 267. Clause 267(6) allows the Secretary of State to give a direction to the mayor to leave out of the special development strategy matters that he considers to be "inconsistent with", to quote the wording of the Bill,

    "current national policies or relevant regional planning guidance",

or to be detrimental to areas outside London. It seems to me that the Secretary of State will again have very wide powers and I do not understand how they could properly be exercised in the context where there has been a public inquiry. I appreciate that it is to be advisory and is not the same as other sorts of inquiries, but there will have been a very full investigation into the proposed strategy. I am concerned about the possible reserve powers that the Secretary of State will retain.

Relevant regional planning guidance is guidance for areas outside London which in other words I understand will take precedence over arrangements for London. I am unclear as to what input London will have. I hope it has been clear from my earlier comments today that I would not want to see London's interests riding roughshod over those of areas outside and around London, but equally I would not like to see London sidelined in any way in the balance of various other interests being considered.

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