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Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, the noble Baroness mentioned paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 to the Regional Development Agencies Act. Clearly her view is that that is entirely satisfactory even though it is not as widely drawn as the amendments. What are the publicity requirements under paragraph 8 of Schedule 2?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I am not aware that there are publicity requirements in those circumstances but that does not in any way detract from the strength of the constraint as regards ethical practice in making such appointments.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, I did not quite follow the argument about false declarations. If someone is required, as here, to make a declaration and, let us say, a declaration is made that that person has not been bankrupt, or rather he or she does not declare that he has been bankrupt, in almost all the circumstances--although I can see one or two areas where that may not apply--why should not the Government say that it is desirable that the declaration should be made and if it is breached the criminal sanction is available certainly as regards some of the concepts that we are discussing? Would that not be a useful sanction?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, it is my understanding that the requirement to act within the ethical framework in the terms laid down in the legislation, and in the circumstances of requiring a declaration, for example on bankruptcy, is covered in exactly the way that my noble friend seeks. I was being cautious and offering to write to the noble Lord if he had further questions on that matter. I am assured that the answer I gave was correct.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, when one stands at the Dispatch Box on this side of the House one does not have great expectation of an occasional triumph

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when the Government agree to a measure. However, I draw some encouragement from the fact that debate on the procedures and detail of the Greater London Authority, the mayor and the subsidiary bodies will almost certainly in the initial stages of the working of that authority be material which they will find useful if not absolutely essential. I am glad that I initiated this debate. I shall study the comments of the noble Baroness with care and attention, as always. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 530 and 531 not moved.]

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne): My Lords, if Amendment No. 531A were to be agreed to, I should not be able to call Amendment No. 532 because of pre-emption. I now call Amendment No. 531A.

Clause 264 [Delegation of functions by Ministers to the Mayor]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 531A:


Page 151, line 23, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we think that the way in which the legislation is drafted gives too much power to the mayor with regard to the London Development Agency. In Section 6 of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 the Secretary of State delegates power to the regional development agencies. However, the effect of Clause 264(2) of this Bill is that delegated powers are given to the mayor and not to what is in effect the regional development agency. Therefore the mayor is in effect the London Development Agency. We think that that is too strong a power. I do not suppose that the Minister will agree with us but we thought it was worth putting this down once again as a marker. I beg to move.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, by the same token I do not expect miracles from the Minister's reply. Amendment No. 532 seeks further clarification as to the extent of the delegation to the London Development Agency on the part of the Secretary of State. In Committee the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, made it clear that the Government intended to transfer the property, rights and liabilities of English Partnerships to the LDA. We certainly welcome that and we trust that the Minister will give that assurance today. That is the first of the four limbs of the delegations that we seek to examine.

The second delegation that we seek from the Secretary of State regards selective financial assistance under Section 7 of the Industrial Development Act 1982. As regards those powers in relation to assisted areas, the noble Baroness said that the Government had decided that that should be reserved for Ministers for the present. However, she gave no reasons for that. Surely these are a vital component of any regeneration strategy to be adopted by the authority. It is not clear from the noble Baroness's reply whether, if the present is not the right time, when will be the right time. Why is now not the right time?

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As regards the third limb, EU structural funds, the noble Baroness was even less forthcoming. She said that because the LDA will be a recipient it would be inappropriate for it to allocate such funds. I wonder whether the Minister can go into further detail as to why that should be the case. After all, if it receives just a part of the cake it could easily be responsible for allocating the remainder of the cake. That matter could be clarified. Again it is an important part of any regeneration strategy.

Finally, as regards allocation of the single regeneration budget, because of some confusion over groupings in Committee the Minister's reply was not very clear when one examines Hansard, although she seemed to imply that SRB funding responsibility would be delegated to the LDA. If that is the case, obviously we welcome it. However, we seek clarification in all those areas and in any other areas of delegation that the Minister may care to comment upon.

6.30 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I am a little hurt. The noble Lords, Lord Dixon-Smith, and Lord Clement-Jones, seem to imply that we on these Benches have not listened to anything and have never responded positively to any point raised. That would be a tragic note to leave on record in the light of the reasonable approach we have taken.

Amendment No. 531A would ensure that Ministers could only delegate economic development functions under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 to the LDA, and not to the mayor, and that the mayor's consent would not be required for this. I should explain that Section 6 of the RDA Act provides for the delegation of certain functions by Ministers to RDAs, as noble Lords have said, and it lays down the conditions under which such delegations can be made, varied and revoked.

Clause 264 amends Section 6 so that a Minister may delegate any eligible function to the mayor or, with the mayor's consent, to the LDA. The present intention is to make such delegations on the same terms as delegations to RDAs outside London, which includes making the delegation subject to such conditions as the Minister sees fit. Any such delegated function can be further delegated by the mayor to the LDA under Clause 31 of the Bill. However, if it is delegated to the LDA in this way, the mayor is obliged to attach conditions to the delegation to ensure that the conditions attached by the Minister to the original delegation are fully satisfied. As we made clear in the White Paper, the LDA will be an executive arm of the mayor. If Ministers were able to delegate functions to the LDA against the wishes of the mayor, that would undermine the close working relationship which we intend for the mayor and the LDA.

Amendment No. 532 seeks to delegate to the LDA a miscellany of functions and funding regimes. The first of these is already provided for in Section 36 of the RDA Act. This allows the Secretary of State to direct the Urban Regeneration Agency to transfer to RDAs

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appropriate properties, rights and liabilities as a consequence of the RDA carrying out the functions of the URA in its regions. For example, the English Partnership assets in London--except for the Dome and possibly some property close to it--will transfer to the LDA. I can assure the noble Lord that we intend to make such a transfer to the LDA--together with the transfer of property, rights and liabilities--when the LDA is established.

As the noble Lord recognises, the second function would go beyond those delegated to other RDAs and, as has been acknowledged, this was fully debated during the passage of the RDA Bill before finally being rejected. Assisted areas define where government can give specified financial support to industries. We have decided that this should be reserved for Ministers as at present.

I have seen too many Ministers at the Dispatch Box get drawn into answering questions such as “How long is 'possibly soon'?"; “How long is 'sooner'?"; “How long is 'very quickly'?"; “How long is 'at some stage in the future'?"; and “If so, when?" to realise that that would not be a wise course to follow. However, I should make it absolutely clear that RDAs will have an important role in advising on applications for assistance.

Perhaps I may respond to a specific question from the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. Assisted areas are a matter of national policy dealing with the relative competitiveness of different parts of the country and within the EU. It is clearly right that this should remain with the national government. If the noble Lord requires any further expansion on the subject, I shall of course write to him.

The third function would allow Ministers to delegate to the LDA the administration of the structural funds currently carried out by the Government Office for London. Like RDAs elsewhere, as the noble Lord recognised, the LDA is likely to be a recipient of structural funds. It could lead to conflict with other recipients were there to be a role for it in overall administration.

The fourth function would specify that the single regeneration budget in London should be delegated to the LDA. We have already committed ourselves to this, but the delegation will be made to the mayor unless he or she consents to a delegation directly to the LDA.

These are funding programmes that naturally evolve over time, and it would not be appropriate to identify functions for the purposes of the Bill by referring in detail to such programmes. I hope that noble Lords will feel able to withdraw their amendments.


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