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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 60:

Page 13, line 30, at end insert--
(“(6A) No salary, and no payment towards the provision of superannuation benefits, shall be paid under this Act to or in respect of the Mayor or an Assembly member until he has complied with the requirements of subsection (1) above.
(6B) Subsection (6A) above does not affect any entitlement of the Mayor or an Assembly member to payments in respect of the period before he complies with the requirements of subsection (1) above once he has complied with those requirements.")

On Question amendment agreed to.

9 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 60A:

After Clause 23, insert the following new clause--

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(“ .--(1) At the end of the eleventh year after the first Assembly is elected the Mayor shall arrange for a referendum to be held to take place at any time within the ensuing six months.
(2) The persons entitled to vote in such referendum shall be the persons entitled to vote in any local election in Greater London at that date.
(3) The questions to be asked at such referendum shall be--
(a) Are you satisfied with the present structure of the Greater London Authority consisting of a mayor and an elected assembly of 25 members, none of whom represent an actual single borough? YES/NO
(b) Would you prefer the Assembly to consist of 33 members, each one representing a single one of the 32 London Boroughs together with the Common Council of the City of London? YES/NO
(4) The Mayor shall transmit the result of the referendum to the Secretary of State and to both Houses of Parliament.
(5) Each Parliament being sovereign and one Parliament being unable to bind a later one, the Secretary of State shall not be bound by the result of the referendum.
(6) The Secretary of State may by Order authorise (but not require) the Mayor to include further questions in the referendum if so requested by the Mayor.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, when I introduced an identically worded amendment in Committee I described it as a probing amendment, and said that my noble friends and I would be extremely interested to hear what the Government had to say. I must confess that I was not in the least surprised that, as with so many of the constructive amendments which we have introduced in this and in other Bills, the Government arbitrarily rejected it out of hand.

What surprised me was the entirely specious arguments advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, because normally we can rely on him to have carefully studied our points first. He began his speech by saying that he rarely makes cheap political points. However, this was clearly one of those rare occasions. He said,

    “13 or 14 years ago the previous Government, in the face of massive opposition in London and without any talk of a referendum, completely demolished the structure of local government".--[Official Report, 14/6/99; col. 122.]

As I tried to explain then, a referendum was not required, because the intention to reconstruct London's government was clearly set out in our manifesto for the 1983 election, which we won with a substantial overall majority of 144. As to the massive opposition, that came from the Labour Party, which controlled the GLC as it then was in the person of Ken Livingstone. The expenditure for his campaign, “Say no to no say", was some £20 million of public funds. As we are in the area of not making cheap political points, I shall refrain from saying that the Labour Party does not seem to be falling over itself to be nominating Mr Livingstone as its candidate for mayor.

The noble Lord went on to ask,

    “What will happen under the noble Baroness's referendum if the electors of London answer “no" and “no" to the two questions? Where would that leave us? The assembly would be abolished and nothing would be left in its place".--[Official Report, 14/6/99; col. 122.]

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That extraordinary argument is what prompted me to suggest, as I did a few moments ago, that the noble Lord has not prepared himself for that particular debate with his usual care. The answer “no" to either or to both questions would not have the slightest effect without some further primary legislation.

My proposed subsection (5) spelled out the situation with absolute clarity, as it does again here. Perhaps I may read it for the benefit of noble Lords who do not have the text before them.

    “Each Parliament being sovereign and one Parliament being unable to bind a later one, the Secretary of State shall not be bound by the result of the referendum".

In other words, the Government of the day need not take a blind bit of notice of the wishes of Londoners expressed in such a referendum. I reminded the House that, as recently as 3rd June this year, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said,

    “I think the idea of regulations within the expiry date is an attractive one. There may very well be the case for sunset clauses in new regulation".

Is there not an identical case for new legislation? Or are the Government saying that legislation by the Department of the Environment is different from legislation from the DTI? The Government claim that their policy is to listen to the people. But by refusing to accept this amendment, which allows them simply to have second thoughts after the lengthy period of 11 years--in other words, well into a fourth mayoral term--the Government are saying that they will listen to the people, but they will not allow them to say anything. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Hendon, said, the amendment before us today seeks to require the mayor to hold a referendum on the GLA 11 years after its creation and, if one studies the wording of the questions proposed, it may be possible for some people to interpret those questions as having rather a slant towards seeking a particular answer.

The Government do not feel able to accept the amendments. The people of London voted in May last year in favour of the Government's proposals for a Greater London Authority on the basis of clearly laid out proposals contained in the White Paper A Mayor and Assembly for London. It does not seem sensible to place on the face of the Bill a requirement to hold a referendum at an arbitrary date in the future on questions which relate to the current policy position of the party opposite--proposals which were considered and rejected in the context of the Greater London Authority (Referendum) Bill and during the earlier stages of consideration of this legislation. It is entirely possible that that policy may have changed by the time the 11 years come around.

We are not sympathetic to the amendment and ask the party opposite not to pursue it.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, as the noble Baroness is aware, we were not happy with the

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question having two parts, on both the mayor and the assembly. Nor, I believe, was the other Opposition party happy, but with regard to different aspects. I understand and listened carefully to what the Minister said, but I wonder what would happen if the people of London decided that they did not like the assembly and mayor. There would be no provision for them to do anything about them, whereas they could take part in the referendum which I am suggesting and nothing much would happen. But in view of what the noble Baroness has said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 25 [The general power of the Authority]:

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 61:

Page 14, line 18, leave out from (“have") to end of line 19 and insert (“the powers conferred by this Act")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving the amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 62. I shall not speak to Amendment No. 63 because in due course I shall not be moving it.

When I spoke on this amendment in Committee, my noble friends and I had tabled a further three amendments. Having studied carefully what the Minister said in reply, we have decided to drop four of them, but we still wish to pursue the remaining two. I hope that the Minister has given equal weight to what we had to say and will now accept the amendments we propose, particularly as we accepted all the arguments which he gave in regard to the amendments which we have now dropped.

Amendment No. 61 deletes the sweeping, unlimited, unfettered power given to the authority

    “to do anything which it considers will further any one or more of its principal purposes".

That is power to do absolutely anything without any restraint whatsoever. The provision grants the authority the power to do that without even being required to show that what it is doing will actually further its objects. I can imagine what a field day the lawyers will have over the interpretation of that provision. I have no objection in principle to lawyers having a field day; my husband is a lawyer. But because the Government refuse to define more closely the sweeping powers they are giving to the authority, sooner or later--and probably sooner--the mayor, with the connivance of the assembly, is going to want to do something not specifically referred to in the Act. Someone or some group or other is going to haul them up before the High Court for an order that it is ultra vires. I beg the pardon of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice. Legal Latin is now verboten.

Someone will claim that they are doing something beyond their powers, and he will probably be right. Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. It is surely not necessary to remind your Lordships of the excursions into matters that were absolutely none of its concern which were indulged in by the former GLC under the leadership of one of the present aspirants for the Labour Party's nomination as mayor. Frolics and diversions were one of the causes

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for its abolition and are now the reason why the Labour Party is desperately searching for the “ABK" candidate--“Anyone but Ken".

I shall not give a list of the things which were published in a set of booklets called The London Industrial Strategy. I could do so, of course, and I do have the list. However, I have no intention of doing that because there is no point in dwelling on the past. When the Government promoted the creation of the GLA, they promised to ensure that the excesses of its predecessor could not be repeated. Nevertheless, it is giving the blank cheque contained in Clause 25(1).

Theoretically, what could happen under this legislation? Clause 25(5)(a) of the Bill requires the authority in exercising its powers to promote the health of persons in Greater London. What does that mean? Does it mean that it could try to build its own hospitals or make health and safety regulations different from the rest of the country? Or does improving economic development and wealth creation in Greater London mean that it could start to finance workers' co-operatives, like the late-lamented Meridian, or could direct industry hither or thither in London? Does promoting the improvement of the environment of Greater London include making the entire area motor vehicle free and forcing everyone to travel by bicycle? I do not even know what promoting social development in Greater London means. But surely that is a wide enough remit to give the authority power to promote, if it wished to, tea dances in Hyde Park.

It is no use for the Minister to say, “But, of course, none of those things could possibly happen". Once the Bill becomes law, it could, and would, be far too late to stop it. All we ask in this amendment is that the authority's powers should be those specified by the Act and not those which it believes it could try to assume because of the blank cheque that the Government are asking Parliament to write.

The reply of the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, to this particular amendment was to accuse the Opposition of “a degree of schizophrenia". Then he went on to claim in a rather curious metaphor that a general power is not an open-ended Trojan horse. An open-ended Trojan horse is a contradiction in terms. If the wooden horse had been open-ended, the Trojans would have been able to see right through it and the whole object would have been defeated. The Opposition and anyone with an elementary knowledge of the English language can see right through the meaning of this clause. It says in totally unambiguous, unequivocal terms that the authority can do anything that it considers will further any one or more of its principal purposes. I emphasise “anything" that it “considers"; not even anything that actually or reasonably might be assumed to further its principal purposes; not even anything that the man on the Clapham omnibus would consider would do so.

The noble Lord pointed out that Clause 1(3) says:

    “The Authority shall have the functions which are transferred to, or conferred or imposed on, the Authority by or under this Act or any other Act".

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Exactly, my Lords. That is precisely what our amendment says. The amendment prevents the authority from assuming additional powers not specifically granted to it by Parliament under, in the words of Clause 1(3),

    “this Act or any other Act".

We do not want the authority to attempt to take advantage of the contradiction between the plain words of Clause 1(3) and the ambiguous and vague words of Clause 25(1).

I draw your Lordships' attention to Section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972, when a similar provision appeared on the statute book for the first time. That section stated that,

    “a local authority shall have power to do anything ... which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the discharge of any of their functions".

That is a vastly different set of criteria and a vastly different test to the airy-fairy test of merely what the GLA considers will further its principal purposes. If the words of the clause, as presently drafted, are not a blank cheque, then why will the Government not say so and tighten up the wording in accordance with the 28 year-old precedent that I have just cited, so that the authority cannot attempt, or even be tempted, to assume powers that it was never intended to have?

I turn now to Amendment No. 62. This simple amendment requires the authority to act in co-operation with the boroughs and with the City of London. What could possibly be wrong with that? The mayor and the authority will have strategies and objectives which will need the co-operation of the boroughs in order to make them work. That is sensible, practical politics. Co-operation between the mayor, the authority and the boroughs is a necessary relationship for the future government of London. On the last occasion when this amendment came before noble Lords, I pointed out--I apologise for repeating myself--that in their wisdom the Government have decided that there should be 14 super-constituencies instead of having one assembly member for each borough. That means that each constituency member of the assembly will be covering pieces of between two and three boroughs.

How will the differing and perhaps conflicting interests of each borough be represented? The Government have answered that by saying that Clause 27 requires the authority to “consult" with others on how to promote their purposes. However, we all know that “consult" is a weasel word. Consultation does not require the authority to take a blind bit of notice of the representations it receives. If the authority decides upon a course of action, in reality it will work only with the co-operation of and in conjunction with the boroughs that are involved.

In a Bill which gives the authority the purposes described by such platitudes as “promoting social development", “promoting improvement of the environment" and “contributing towards the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom", surely there is room for a slight, almost imperceptible nod of the head in the direction of

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furthering good relations with the London boroughs whose residents will have entrusted the mayor and the assembly with such wide ranging powers?

In his reply on the previous occasion, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said that such an amendment would place too great a restriction on the mayor's freedom to act. That is an admission that the mayor is to have supervening powers to override the wishes and views of boroughs or their residents. However, many of the mayor's strategies will work properly only if carried out in connection with--and that means with the co-operation of--the boroughs. The efforts of the mayor alone on biodiversity, municipal waste, air quality and ambient noise, as well as road traffic, will amount to little unless he acts alongside the boroughs.

The Minister said that he accepted the intention behind the amendment. For that reason, I am disappointed that the Government have not offered any concessions or brought back any proposals of their own to meet our genuine worries. I beg to move.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, by a curious grouping decision, I shall speak to Amendment No. 64. I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 105 and 112, which are similar in their purpose and intent.

Crime and crime prevention are issues of the greatest importance to Londoners. I believe that, along with transport, crime will be a key issue in the mayoral elections next year. As a result of the recent Crime and Disorder Act, which I greatly welcomed, I shall repeat what I said at Committee stage; namely, that individual boroughs have a duty to co-operate with the police and probation services in the formulation of local strategies for the reduction of crime and disorder in their areas.

The amendments seek to ensure that the mayor and the GLA play their part in ensuring that the mayor's strategies and the exercise of the GLA's powers--whether in planning urban regeneration, the environment or transport--contribute to the prevention of crime and community safety. Strategies of this kind are judged in respect of health and sustainable development. It seems an extraordinary omission that crime prevention is not included in the list. If anything, the issue is of equal or greater importance to Londoners. Opportunities for crime reduction and prevention exist if support is given at the strategic stage, and there is a clear recognition of the interlinking of crime with many other areas of policy. Clearly, if we are to crack crime, we need also to tackle other social and environmental factors.

There is now a strong recognition that tackling the problems of disadvantaged neighbourhoods by embracing all policy areas is the key to significant success in preventing crime. We need to understand the problems and to bring residents into the centre of regeneration. We need to target economic development, to strengthen those communities and to ensure that long-term commitment to sustainable neighbourhood regeneration exists at all levels of government, including regional government.

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The GLA powers and the mayor's strategies that are proposed in the amendment would comprise a strong strand of crime prevention provisions, which would assist in solving some of London's seemingly intractable problems.

On these Benches we make no apologies for bringing back the amendment on Report--I do not believe that we received a fully satisfactory answer in Committee--and we shall bring it back at Third Reading, if necessary. I hope that the Minister will be able to provide more enlightenment and agree with the amendment. The logic is quite clear: the new MPA will not provide the necessary cross-departmental scrutiny of either the powers or the strategies in the process. The amendment is vital in order to ensure that all those strategies and powers are properly directed towards reducing crime in London.

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