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Lord Whitty: My Lords, the intention of Clause 55 is to provide ethical guidance. As the noble Baroness indicated, a consultation paper has been published on ethical guidance and aspects of that are similar to ministerial ethical guidance, but other aspects would not be entirely transposable into the ethical guidance for the mayor. The number of issues to which the noble Baroness referred--for instance, blind trusts--are out for consultation. If there were to be a legal case, guidance would be a material consideration and we must try to get it right. However, it seems slightly peculiar to write on the face of the Bill,

whereas it is clear, and even the noble Baroness accepts, that there will be significant differences in terms of the role of the mayor as compared with Ministers.

I accept that there should be effective and clear ethical standards and ethical guidance. I hope that the result of the consultation exercise will give clear steer to the Secretary of State as to how that guidance should be followed. But to accept Amendment No. 244 would be an odd way of achieving the ends that the noble Baroness seeks. Clause 55 already provides for the statutory basis of the ethical guidance and I hope therefore that the noble Baroness will not pursue the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I may have misunderstood him. I do not believe he commented on Amendment No. 238.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Baroness is absolutely correct. I did not comment on the aspect of “disposal".

I believe that this can be taken care of in the total context of the guidance. The ethical guidance can cover disposal of interests by both the mayor and the assembly in various ways. If the two can be taken together, the disposal of interests is not necessarily the same as the disposal of interests for Ministers. However, I may need to consider this matter and write to the noble Baroness. It does not alter the main point in Amendment No. 244, which is overtaken by the fact that we have now--no doubt a little late for the noble Baroness--issued the consultation.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, it is not late; I read it over breakfast this morning.

I would be grateful if the Minister would consider further the point about disposal. The provision, or a

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similar one, would fit appropriately in Clause 55(2)(a), which states:

    “The matters which may be dealt with in any such guidance include--

    “(a) disclosure and registration of interests".

Your Lordships may wish to set a higher threshold than disclosure and registration only and include disposal.

I look forward to further consideration of the matter. I should be grateful if the Minister would write to me. If we cannot sort out the point between the two of us in writing, we may have to return to it. It is an important matter which should be before your Lordships. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 239 to 243:

Page 30, line 40, leave out (“or") and insert (“, any member of the Assembly,").
Page 30, line 40, after (“staff") insert (“or any committee or sub-committee").
Page 30, line 41, after second (“Mayor") insert (“, member of the Assembly").
Page 30, line 41, after (“staff") insert (“, or a member of the committee or sub-committee,").
Page 30, line 43, after (“member") insert (“, or any other person who is a member of an advisory committee or sub-committee,").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 244 not moved.]

Clause 56 [Appointment]:

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 245:

Page 31, line 10, at end insert--
(“or such numbers of advisers and staff as shall not exceed in aggregate the full time equivalent employees provided by paragraphs (a) and (b) respectively.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Clause 56(1) of the Bill states:

    “The Mayor may appoint--

    “(a) not more than two persons as his political advisers; and

    “(b) not more than ten other members of staff".

I still find it extraordinary that the Government so distrust the mayor and the assembly for all time that they feel it necessary to go into such prescriptive detail in primary legislation. These matters would be much better resolved between the mayor and the assembly in relation to the budget. The important consideration is not so much the number but the cost. We debated that matter in Committee but the Government did not accept the point. I am not sure that they even understood the point.

I am sure that the Minister will recall that I asked in innocence whether the prescriptive numbers of two and 10 related to individuals or to full-time equivalents. The Minister replied, first of all:

    “I would have thought that the provision related to full-time equivalents".

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All reasonable people would have thought that. He went on to say:

    “but it seems that my previous understanding needs to be revised, and that it applies to 10 members of staff and two political advisers".--[Official Report, 23/6/99; col. 1053.]

When we pursued the matter still further because we did not believe that answer was credible, the Minister went on to say:

    “My initial reaction would be, yes. I think that the noble Baroness's reaction would be yes. My latest understanding, however, indicates that there is a different answer".--[Official Report, 23/6/99; col. 1054.]

In other words, it relates to the number of individuals not at all to the number of full-time equivalents.

I think that the Minister was genuinely surprised by this at the time--as were we all--because it seems to be a nonsense. Even more importantly, it flies in the face of the policy of a Government who talk about family-friendly work practices, flexible working, encouraging part-time workers, many of whom happen to be women, encouraging job-sharing and all such practices. We are now enshrining in primary legislation something that does not allow for any of those provisions but says simply that there are to be two persons as political advisers and 10 other members of staff, whether those individuals work for two or 42 hours a week.

I fully expected to see a government amendment which sorted this matter out and clarified the position. No such amendment has been forthcoming and we are therefore moving this amendment. I hope it will clarify and state what the Government intend. I have to rely on what the Minister said; namely, that what is on the face of the Bill is what is meant, and that the Government's intention is that there should be no allowance for part-time working, job-sharing and so on, but that the political advisers will be two in number, regardless of the hours that they work, and the 10 members of staff will be 10 and no more, regardless, again, of the number of hours that they work or any other job arrangements that may be in place.

I find it incomprehensible that that is prescribed in the Bill in the first place, and especially incomprehensible that a Government who promote family friendly working and flexible working hours should include such a provision in primary legislation. It is beyond belief that two Ministers on the Front Bench, both of whom, as I know from my personal dealings with them, genuinely and strongly espouse family friendly working, flexible working arrangements and so on, should now be about to stand up and defend the provisions in the Bill.

I am confident that the Minister is either about to accept my amendment or to accept that the Government's intention is the same as that in the amendment, that they have merely been overwhelmed by the 500 other amendments that they have had to prepare over the past two weeks, and that they will return at Third Reading with an amendment that actually states what they intend--that these posts should be full-time equivalents, not simply a number of individuals regardless of the number of hours they work. I beg to move, and I do so with confidence.

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9.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am eternally grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tope, for a complete re-run of an earlier cock-up by me in relation to the Bill! I am also grateful, naturally, that at a quarter to ten at night we should suddenly remember family friendly policies--all of which we should love to espouse, particularly those of us on the Front Bench.

Nevertheless, I now understand that the amendment is there for a different reason. It is not to impose a limitation on the budget. The cross-references to the limitation on the budget are dealt with in the subsequent amendments. It is intended as a limitation on the mayor, for fear that the mayor may bring in a large number of political appointments which would unbalance the professional staff whom he or she appoints. The mayor is completely free to appoint anyone, for whatever hours and on whatever terms he can negotiate with the individuals concerned. Therefore, in a sense, the point about family friendly hours does not apply. But the total number of people who are political or personal appointees of the mayor needs to be limited in order to reassure those who deal with the authority that it is not full of political apparatchiks, to coin a phrase.

That is the reassurance that the amendment gives; it is not so much a reassurance in terms of the budget. It is important that in regard to the authority we do not start out with the implication that the mayor, of whatever political persuasion, would immediately introduce a whole raft of political and personal appointments, allegedly on a part-time basis but in practice overwhelming the professional staff of the authority. That is why we have maintained the maximum of two plus 10 in this area, rather than translate it into two plus 10 full-time equivalents. I hope that the noble Lord understands that even though, as is fairly clear from his expression, he does not agree with it.

Amendments Nos. 246 to 248 are intended to ensure that the assembly, in making its appointments, does so only after it has taken full account of the appointments of the mayor. They are to clarify the interface.

Amendment No. 249 clarifies which provisions of Section 9 of the Local Government and Housing Act should apply to the mayor's appointments. Under Clause 56(1) it was not intended that the 1989 restrictions on remuneration should apply in that sense to the mayor's political advisers. The change in Amendment No. 249 makes Clause 56(8)(c) and (d) unnecessary, therefore Amendment No. 250 deletes them.

I do not disagree with the noble Lord's objectives, but the point of the clause is to limit the number of individuals and not the call on the budget, although that is also relevant.

We have had a slightly misleading debate, I misled myself and possibly the noble Lord. The pursuit of family-friendly policies and other aspects of staff

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relations within the future GLA are a different matter. We are reassuring people that it will not be a political gravy train.

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