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Lord Dixon-Smith: Our amendments, Amendments Nos. 450UA and 450WA, are grouped with Amendment No. 450SA. We feel that the drafting of the Bill, or at least the time-scale suggested by it, is almost lackadaisical. The Bill provides that the first state of the environment report should be produced at the end of a period of three years from the start of a mayor's term of office and that, every four years subsequently, there should be another environment report. Of course, that fits in very neatly with the electoral cycle.

However, whether the state of the environment be good or bad is neither here nor there. We think that the publication of the report requires rather more urgency than is implied by the drafting in the Bill, or indeed by the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. In fact, our amendments suggest that the first state of the environment report should be published after one year. If the mayor is backed by the sort of staff that he is supposed to be taking over from the Government Office for London, I do not think it unreasonable to suppose that he ought to be able to achieve that.

We are also suggesting that subsequent reports should be produced every two years. Therefore, if the mayor were to report after one year and then submit an up-date two years later, that would still be the year before the election. He would not actually have to submit a report over an election period. The mayor himself, or his successor, will report a year after the election. In fact, the time-scale that we suggest would not remove the electoral imperative, but it does at least have the merit of being reasonably separated from it.

We believe this to be an important matter. An appropriate time-scale for producing these reports and then both looking at them and revising them is, of course, a question of judgment. We think that our time-scale is superior to the one on the face of the Bill. I look forward to hearing the Minister's response.

9.30 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: These amendments deal with the timing and frequency of publication of the mayor's state of the environment report, as both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord have indicated. The Bill as drafted requires the mayor

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to publish the first state of the environment report within three years of the first election and subsequent reports at a minimum of every four years. This is designed to ensure that every mayor publishes a state of the environment report at some time within his or her term of office.

These amendments would change both the timing of the mayor's first environmental report and the frequency of future reports. Amendment No. 450WA would have the effect of requiring the mayor to publish a report every two years, while Amendment No. 450XA would require the mayor to publish the report annually in time for it to be debated alongside the annual report.

Amendment No. 450UA would require the first report to be published within one year of the first elections. Amendment No. 450SA would prevent the mayor from publishing the report until after two years six months but require that the mayor did publish the report before three years six months after the election.

The Government oppose these amendments. As we have made clear all along in this Committee stage, the Bill is designed to allow the mayor as much flexibility as possible in the setting of his or her priorities. For this reason it sets out a sensible timescale for the production of state of the environment reports which will ensure that no mayor can avoid producing a report at some point in his or her term of office. But it avoids placing a requirement upon the GLA to produce more frequent reports, specifically because this could prove burdensome to the small, streamlined organisation it is designed to be.

The production of a state of the environment report, covering all the subjects set out in Clause 281 of the Bill, will be a time-consuming task. Much of the data will not change significantly over the course of a year. It would place a substantial burden upon the GLA to produce an annual or even biennial report, particularly when the information it contained might not differ significantly from the previous report.

Similarly, we consider that the obligation to publish the first report within three years is a reasonable one. The first few years after the GLA is established will be a particularly hectic time. The first mayor will have to balance his or her priorities in tackling London's problems. The obligation we have placed upon the mayor will ensure that he or she publishes a report in the first term of office. But it will allow the mayor a good breathing space to set priorities and gather the necessary information.

Finally, I should add that the Bill does not prevent the mayor from producing a report more frequently than every four years. The mayor might choose to publish his or her first report more quickly than the limit of three years. I understand the concerns that have been raised about the choice that the mayor would have to publish the report early in the cycle to gain electoral advantage, or possibly to obscure the figures. However, environmental indicators move slowly and take time to analyse. In practice advantage is unlikely to be gained by early publication, and if it were, the mayor would be unlikely to get away with it.

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The point of the report is to ensure a periodic and definitive statement on environmental indicators to inform the public and to inform policy. In between times I am sure that the scrutinising assembly will watch environmental developments carefully and hold the mayor to account for all of them. The Bill allows the mayor the freedom to set priorities within the framework the legislation provides. We believe that this is the right approach to creating a flexible and effective GLA. I hope therefore that the amendments will be withdrawn.

Baroness Hamwee: I am prepared to forgo my point about the frequency of publication and the minimum period before publication. My first amendment does not propose a very different time-scale from that of the Government; it merely seeks to place difficulties in the way of a mayor who might try to avoid facing up to issues at an electorally inconvenient time. I have heard what the Minister said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 450TA had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendment No. 450UA not moved.]

[Amendment No. 450VA had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendments Nos. 450WA and 450XA not moved.]

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 450XAA:

Page 149, line 36, at end insert ("and from industrial sites")

The noble Baroness said: I rise to move Amendment No. 450XAA standing in my name and the names of my noble friends. I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 450IB, 450NP and 450PB, which are very similar to government Amendment No. 450YA.

Amendment No. 450XAA seeks to ensure that the state of the environment report includes information about air emissions from industrial sites as well as from road traffic. The Committee will recall the success of naming and shaming some of the larger industrial complexes over the past few years. Work has been carried out subsequently to reduce their air emissions. Industrial sites can have a great impact in terms of reducing air pollution. The Bill would gain considerably if, in addition to information on road traffic emissions, information on industrial site emissions were to be included in the state of the environment report.

Amendment No. 450IB seeks to include in the state of the environment report information about the biodiversity action plan. Several of our amendments seek to ensure that cross-information is supplied to each strategy and that strategies are not simply "drainpipes" that are ticked off as informing something else. This amendment is in that spirit.

Amendment No. 450NP provides that the state of the environment report should include information on the percentage of new developments on greenfield and brownfield sites. The Government's targets are obviously quite high. Over time, as brownfield sites fill

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up, the target will need to be reduced if more development is to take place. A close eye will need to be kept on that situation. The statistics will be very important in the state of the environment report, as it informs the SDS report.

Amendment No. 450PB seeks to achieve much the same target as government Amendment No. 450YA; that is, that the state of the environment report should include information about biodiversity. I am glad that since this matter was debated in the other place the Government have accepted the Liberal Democrat and Conservative point of view that this is extremely important. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: I shall speak first to government Amendment No. 450YA, to which the noble Baroness referred. The amendment is the result of an omission which was spotted in Committee in another place by various Opposition Members of Parliament. The amendment remedies that omission and puts biodiversity--which is a strategy for the mayor--back into the clause. I am grateful that the noble Baroness also spotted the omission. I hope that she will accept that my amendment meets her point in relation to Amendments Nos. 450IB and 450PB.

Turning to the other amendments, I remind the Committee that the Bill also states that the mayor may include information about any other matters not prescribed on the face of the Bill in relation to Greater London which he or she considers appropriate. That gives the mayor plenty of discretion to include all kinds of matters which the Bill does not specifically state and therefore allows the mayor a pretty free hand to include any matter that may be considered relevant to Londoners in the plan.

The question of listing everything on the face of the Bill, including those matters to which the amendments refer, could lead to a demand to lay down in primary legislation a list that is potentially endless. I am therefore wary of adding anything to the list in Clause 281. Each additional topic places a burden on the mayor. It may well be that he or she will consider it a burden that should be undertaken. However, we need to leave some discretion to the mayor.

Neither of the areas listed in Amendments Nos. 450XAA and 450NP--namely, emissions to air from industrial sites and new developments on brownfield and greenfield sites--is in any sense directly within the mayor's control. Nor do I see them as strictly essential to ensure the proper coverage of a broad range of environmental issues across London.

If the mayor considers it appropriate, he or she can include such a section and will need to co-operate with the London boroughs in order to produce the required information. But I see no reason to add any of those matters to the existing list in the Bill, and to exclude other matters which might be equally important and which might equally require agreement between the mayor and the London boroughs, which we hope will develop organically. I do not see that it is sensible to specify that the state of the environment report should include a section on each of these or on other topics. That must be left to the discretion of the mayor and the

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relationship that he or she builds up with those authorities that have direct control over these matters. I hope that the noble Baroness will not press these amendments.

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