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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am not entirely sure whether I am allowed to speak again at Report stage.

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However, since the noble Lord has spoken to his amendment after I have spoken, perhaps I may point out that he is clearly right that in practice there will be a continuous process of discussion, consultation and negotiation.

The provision of the two-thirds majority is because that at the end of the day we believe that the mayor must have authority to see his budget through, except in the most exceptional circumstances. Therefore, whatever has happened previously and where a two-thirds majority might emerge, clearly it would not be a relatively minor part of the budget. There would be a major disagreement. In those circumstances we have to have a mechanism for resolving it. In normal circumstances the resolution would be that the mayor prevails, but there would be a safety-net in the quite unusual circumstances where the assembly could overturn a decision by a two-thirds majority. We are looking at that provision.

I agree entirely with the noble Lord that in practice it is a much more interesting process before one reaches that stage. There will be a great deal of consultation not only with the assembly but with many other people. There has to be a final resolution. We consider that we have the right balance for the final solution.

Lord Tope: My Lords, I return to my group of amendments. The Minister said that it is quite usual in this country for there to be a requirement of a two-thirds majority for constitutional amendments, or those that can be termed as such. That is true. However, we are not talking about constitutions, but budgets, and they are very different matters. The Minister is right; there is a substantial difference here.

At the beginning of Report stage we stated that we would not repeat all our arguments for having a stronger assembly and a weaker mayor. We have accepted that that is a different view and the Government's view prevails. However, we come to the nub of the matter in terms of budgets. The Government are not just proposing a strong mayor and a weak assembly. It seems that by requiring a two-thirds majority for amendments to the budget, they are proposing a mayor with absolute power and an assembly with absolutely no power. That is except in the most exceptional circumstances when the mayor has “gone off his head", which I believe was the phrase used at an earlier stage--

Baroness Hamwee: Gone off the rails.

Lord Tope: My Lords, that is an eventuality which might bring us into a greater crisis than just the budget. I shall not press the amendment at present. However, it has brought into stark relief the differences between us and the Government and just what they propose for the Greater London Authority. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 286 not moved.]

14 Oct 1999 : Column 640

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 287:


Before Schedule 5, insert the following new schedule--

(“SCHEDULE
PROMOTION OF BILLS IN PARLIAMENT BY THE AUTHORITY
Preliminary requirements

1. No Bill may be deposited in Parliament by virtue of section (Power of Authority to promote or oppose Bills in Parliament)(1)(a) of this Act until the requirements of paragraphs 2 and 4 below have been complied with.
Consultation on draft Bill

2.--(1) The Mayor shall--
(a) prepare a draft of the proposed Bill (“the draft Bill");
(b) send copies of the draft Bill to the bodies specified in sub-paragraph (2) below; and
(c) consult those bodies about the draft Bill.
(2) Those bodies are--
(a) the Assembly;
(b) every London borough council; and
(c) the Common Council.
(3) Where the Mayor sends copies of the draft Bill to those bodies pursuant to sub-paragraph (1)(b) above, he shall also give those bodies notice of the time within which, and the place at which, they may make representations about the draft Bill.
Publicity for, and exposure of, the draft Bill

3.--(1) Throughout the consultation period, the Mayor shall take such steps as in his opinion will give adequate publicity to the draft Bill.
(2) A copy of the draft Bill shall be kept available by the Mayor for inspection by any person on request free of charge--
(a) at the principal offices of the Authority, and
(b) at such other places as the Mayor considers appropriate,
at reasonable hours throughout the consultation period.
(3) A copy of the draft Bill, or of any part of the draft Bill, shall be supplied to any person on request during the consultation period for such reasonable fee as the Mayor may determine.
(4) In this paragraph “the consultation period" means the period which--
(a) begins with the first day after the requirements of paragraph 2(1)(b) above have been complied with; and
(b) ends with the time notified pursuant to paragraph 2(3) above.
Consultation on revised draft Bill

4.--(1) If, after considering any representations made about the draft Bill pursuant to paragraph 2 above, the Mayor decides to continue with the proposal for a Bill to be promoted, he shall prepare a revised draft of the proposed Bill (“the revised draft Bill").
(2) The revised draft Bill must be in the form of the draft Bill, either as originally prepared or as modified to take account of--
(a) representations made pursuant to paragraph 2 above;
(b) other representations made within the consultation period; or
(c) other material considerations.
(3) After the expiration of at least 30 days from the beginning of the consultation period, the Mayor shall--
(a) send a copy of the revised draft Bill to the Assembly; and
(b) consult the Assembly about it.
(4) Where the Mayor sends a copy of the revised draft Bill to the Assembly pursuant to sub-paragraph (3)(a) above, he shall also give the Assembly notice of the period within which it may make representations to him about the revised draft Bill.

14 Oct 1999 : Column 641


(5) The period specified under sub-paragraph (4) above must be such as will afford the Assembly a reasonable opportunity to consider the revised draft Bill and make representations about it to the Mayor.
(6) In this paragraph “the consultation period" has the same meaning as in paragraph 3 above.
Deposition of the Bill in Parliament

5. If, after the requirements of paragraph 4 above have been complied with, a Bill is deposited in Parliament by virtue of section (Power of Authority to promote or oppose Bills in Parliament)(1)(a) of this Act, that Bill must be in the form of the revised draft Bill, either as originally prepared or as modified to take account of--
(a) representations made by the Assembly pursuant to paragraph 4 above; or
(b) other material considerations.
Bills affecting powers of London local authorities

6. If a Bill proposed to be deposited in Parliament by virtue of section (Power of Authority to promote or oppose Bills in Parliament)(1)(a) of this Act contains provisions affecting the exercise of statutory functions by a London local authority, the Bill shall not be deposited in Parliament unless--
(a) in a case where the statutory functions of one London local authority are affected, that authority has given its written consent to the Bill in the form in which it is to be so deposited; or
(b) in a case where the statutory functions of two or more London local authorities are affected, at least 90 per cent. of all London local authorities have given their written consent to the Bill in that form.
(2) In this paragraph “London local authority" means--
(a) a London borough council; or
(b) the Common Council.
Publicity for the deposited Bill

7.--(1) This paragraph applies where a Bill (“the deposited Bill") is deposited in Parliament by virtue of section (Power of Authority to promote or oppose Bills in Parliament)(1)(a) of this Act.
(2) During the period of 14 days following the day on which the deposited Bill is deposited in Parliament, the Mayor shall take such steps as in his opinion will give adequate publicity to the Bill.
(3) A copy of the deposited Bill shall be kept available by the Mayor for inspection by any person on request free of charge--
(a) at the principal offices of the Authority, and
(b) at such other places as the Mayor considers appropriate,
at reasonable hours throughout the period while the Bill is in Parliament.
(4) A copy of the deposited Bill, or of any part of the deposited Bill, shall be supplied to any person on request during that period for such reasonable fee as the Mayor may determine.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Procedure for determining the Authority's consolidated budget requirement.]

[Amendments Nos. 288 to 291 not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 292:


Page 222, line 8, leave out (“a majority of the Assembly members voting") and insert (“the Assembly").

On Question, amendment agreed to.


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