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Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 97 to 102:


Page 18, line 16, at end insert--
(“(2A) In the case of the Common Council or a local authority, an authorisation under this section--
(a) may only be granted or varied with its written consent; and
(b) shall cease to have effect if notice of the withdrawal of that consent is given to the Mayor.")
Page 18, line 16, at end insert--
(“(2B) Where, by virtue of an authorisation under subsection (1) above, a duty is exercisable by any of the bodies or persons specified in subsection (2) above, that body or person shall discharge the duty in accordance with the authorisation and any conditions imposed by the Mayor under subsection (1) above.
(2C) Subsection (2B) above is without prejudice to the exercise by the body or person concerned of any power to arrange for the discharge of functions by--
(a) a committee or sub-committee, or a member, officer or employee, of the body or person, or
(b) a joint committee on which the body or person is represented,
except to the extent that the terms of the authorisation or any conditions imposed by the Mayor under subsection (1) above otherwise provide.")
Page 18, line 24, at end insert--
(“(c) the Common Council,
(d) any local authority,")
Page 18, line 31, leave out from (“authorisation") to (“as") in line 32 and insert (“under subsection (1) above given by the Mayor--
(a) to a local authority,
(b) to Transport for London, or
(c) to the London Development Agency,")
Page 18, line 34, leave out subsection (6)
After Clause 31, insert the following new clause--

EXERCISE OF FUNCTIONS BY JOINT COMMITTEES

(“ .--(1) Where any functions exercisable on behalf of the Authority by the Mayor are, by virtue of an authorisation under section 31(1) above, also exercisable by one or more local authorities, the Mayor and those authorities may enter into arrangements under section 101(5) of the Local Government Act 1972 for the joint discharge of the functions by a joint committee.
(2) Where--
(a) a statutory function of the Authority is exercisable, or has been exercised, by the Mayor acting on behalf of the Authority, and
(b) the exercise, or any particular exercise, of that function will or may affect, or be affected by, the exercise, or any particular exercise, of statutory functions of local authorities (whether or not the functions are the same in the case of each such authority),
the Mayor and those authorities may enter into arrangements under section 101(5) of the Local Government Act 1972 for the joint exercise of any of the statutory functions mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) above by a joint committee, as if those functions were exercisable by the Mayor acting on behalf of the Authority and by each local authority.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) above, the exercise of a function shall be taken to affect, or be affected by, the exercise of another function if the functions are exercisable for the same, or for similar or connected, purposes or in relation to the same, or similar or connected, subject matter.

12 Oct 1999 : Column 339


(4) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (2) above, sections 101(5) and 102 to 106 of the Local Government Act 1972 shall have effect as if the Authority acting by the Mayor were a local authority.
(5) Any arrangements made by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) above for the discharge of any functions by a joint committee (or by a sub-committee of a joint committee) shall not prevent the Mayor or any local authority, or the joint committee by whom the arrangements are made, from exercising the functions.
(6) A person who is disqualified under section 20 above from being elected or being the Mayor or an Assembly member, otherwise than by reason only of being a member of staff of the Authority, shall be disqualified from being a member of a joint committee established by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) above or of any sub-committee of such a committee.
(7) Subject to that, the Mayor or any other individual may be appointed as a representative of the Authority on any joint committee established by virtue of subsection (1) above and any such representative may be appointed as a member of any sub-committee of such a joint committee.
(8) Any reference in this section to a local authority includes a reference to the Common Council.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendments Nos. 97 to 102 en bloc. They are subject to my comments on Amendment No. 96.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 33 [General duties of the Mayor in relation to his strategies]:

Lord Luke moved Amendment No. 103:


Page 19, line 25, at end insert--
(“( ) the River Thames Strategy prepared and published under section (River Thames Strategy) below,")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 544, which is consequential.

The river Thames, for some extraordinary reason, usually gets left out or at best a cursory mention in discussions about London. This is all the more strange in that the Thames is why London is where it is, and what it is, and it is the fount of London's prosperity and fame. Tourism is now of great economic importance to London and yet only a fraction of tourists visiting London do so with the prime object of taking a trip on the Thames. Both the London Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority are rightly most concerned about this and are constantly looking at ways of encouraging tourists to go on the Thames.

As the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, said in his Amendment No. 451 at Committee stage, the advent of the mayor is a golden opportunity to combine and co-ordinate the affairs of the Port of London Authority, the riparian authorities and other interested bodies, to the benefit of all those participating and, I add, the cause of tourism on the Thames.

What is the present state of affairs? I am grateful to the London Tourist Board for up-to-date information. There is, of course, the Greenwich Dome, the catalyst for much new activity on the Thames. There is the new ocean terminal which I hope will come to Deptford Creek. There are other significant new riverside developments at Woolwich and Greenwich. All those should lead to more Thameside attractions for

12 Oct 1999 : Column 340

tourists. River services are being significantly boosted for the millennium. Thames 2000 is the umbrella name for them and the cross-river partnership is the co-ordinating factor.

City Cruises are providing four new boats to run services from central London to the Greenwich peninsula. They will go from one of the new piers just by the London Eye, via Blackfriars to the dome. A new shuttle service is already running from central London as far as Canary Wharf and will continue after the Experience is over. A shuttle service will run from Old Greenwich to the dome. Several new and refurbished piers are coming into operation as part of Thames 2000. There is also the new pedestrian bridge at Bankside and the new pedestrian bridges attached to Hungerford Bridge.

All the projects are most welcome and worth while, but we are worried by the advent of the new authority made responsible for licensing the use of piers and river operators. This is London River Services, a subsidiary of London Transport. They seem to be embarking on a policy of providing services for transport as distinct from being angled towards tourism. They could even insist, I am told, that boat operators adopt uniform fares. This is not good for competition and is causing consternation among operators. I submit that the new mayor will be splendidly placed to help resolve this and other, similar kinds of problems.

Tourism, though at present modest in its scope, is vital to the well-being of the river and therefore of London itself. All possible means should be used to encourage it. The mayor will see the Thames from his new office, if he uses it. If not, he should go up the Eye and count the vessels using the Thames on an average day.

Lord Clinton-Davis : My Lords, I wish to speak to Amendment No. 104 as a paving amendment and also to Amendment Nos. 554 and 555.

We had the opportunity of visiting this issue when we were debating the matter at Committee stage. I therefore do not need to rehearse all the arguments at any length. I do believe, however, that it is very important for the Bill to be able to set out the nature of a strategy for utilising the River Thames much more effectively than has been the case in the past.

The amendment deals with a wide variety of policies to give effect to the strategy; it deals with transport and spatial development, biodiversity, municipal waste, air quality, ambient noise and cultural activities. I certainly do not propose to go into those matters at this time of the night. It is very important, however, that this great jewel in the crown of London, with its historic past, should have a major role in future so that it can be used for this wide spectrum of policies. These need to be mobilised in a coherent way, since all the areas and activities identified are in a sense interdependent. They clearly require a public transport service, and the amendments address transport, freight and also water.

Why should we separate the approach from that referred to elsewhere in the Bill in defining the duties of a mayor? The Government have argued previously

12 Oct 1999 : Column 341

that the new clause, or something like it, is not necessary. It will be for the mayor, they say, to deal with issues relating to waste, transport, biodiversity and public access, all as part and parcel of his strategies to promote the use of the river.

I have felt, and this is a matter of judgment of course, that the Bill does not comprehensively and conclusively deal with all these matters in satisfactory detail. The River Thames Association has indicated that it concurs with that view.

It is perfectly true that there are discretionary powers relating to the “desirability" of promoting the river, especially in its transport role; but what about enhancing the civic and cultural matters which are associated with the river? These are intrinsically involved with using the river as a resource for public amenity, enhancing its civic and cultural attributes.

What it comes to is requiring the mayor, through a statutory duty, to follow a strategy to promote social development. Is such a separate strategy desirable? I would argue very strongly that it is. Co-ordination goes to the heart of all that has been set out in this amendment, and I am not wholly reassured by the arguments produced by my noble friend at the Committee stage.

Bearing in mind the significance of this river and everything that it stands for and does not only to London but the whole country, it is important that there should be a framework within which the mayor will work for the benefit of London and the country as a whole. That is an integral part of our national policies to which the Thames is so vital.

The amendment also provides that there should be the fullest consultation. That is set out in subsections (5) and (6) of Amendment No. 554. That is also an important ingredient of the mayor's duties. Although I do not intend to expand on that matter, I should like to know whether in the past few weeks my noble friend has been able to reflect on the validity of the argument, bearing in mind the significance of the matter, that a particular framework should be provided within which the mayor can work so that he is able, together with the authority, to exercise proper discretion.

11.15 p.m.

Earl Bathurst: My Lords, I ask both noble Lords who have tabled this amendment and the next one--perhaps the Minister is able to confirm it--whether the River Thames strategy also involves safety. One thinks about safety particularly at this moment. One also casts one's mind back to the tragedy of the “Marchioness" disaster some time ago. I cannot see any reference to safety in the Bill, but perhaps it is there. If so, can the Minister confirm that the River Thames strategy is concerned with safety? It may be that both noble Lords who have tabled these amendments can also confirm the position.


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