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Lord Tope: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. I understand why he does not want to speculate on who the mayoral candidate might be. That is not a problem that Members on either of the Opposition Benches have. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, that I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare--and more particularly, Councillor Eddie Lister--was also listening to the point about who appoints the chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

The Minister has not answered the point that both of us on the Opposition Front Benches have made again--namely, why include this specific reference to the Metropolitan Police Authority? We have accepted, very reluctantly, that the mayor will appoint all 12 assembly members of the Metropolitan Police Authority. Surely it is for the mayor to decide whether that is the key role that he or she wishes the deputy mayor to play. It is not for the Government to tell the mayor, whether or not he or she wishes it, that the mayor must have the deputy mayor on the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Why do the Government seek to control the mayor, whoever it turns out to be, to such an extent as to tell him or her what the deputy mayor must be doing? It must surely be a matter to be decided between the mayor and the deputy mayor. As has been said, it may very well be that the deputy mayor will be better qualified by experience, knowledge and interest to play an equally important key role on one of the other functional bodies.

I still have not heard from the Government any argument that goes anywhere near either convincing me or helping me to understand why they wish so much to control what appointments the mayor must make. Regretfully, this is perhaps not the time to pursue the amendment further, and I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 536A to 536C:


Page 304, line 10, at end insert ("or unless the Deputy Mayor is disqualified for being appointed as or being a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority under paragraph 8 below.").
Page 305, line 4, leave out ("London").
Page 305, line 6, leave out from ("appointed") to end of line 18 and insert ("by the person or body responsible for the appointment of members of the Greater London Magistrates' Courts Authority under regulations made under section 30B of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 536D:


Page 305, line 32, leave out paragraph 7.

25 Oct 1999 : Column 24

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No.536D removes from the Bill paragraph 7 of Schedule 21 which disqualifies those aged 70 or over from membership of the Metropolitan Police Authority. On reflection, we see no reason to exclude from police authority membership perfectly able people of advancing years. If this amendment is passed we shall take the earliest opportunity to amend the Police Act 1996 to remove the upper age criterion for police authority membership in the rest of England and Wales. The other amendments in this group are simply consequential on Amendment No. 536D and I commend them to the House.

As the Bill stands, those aged 70 and over are barred from being MPA members. Since magistrates have to retire at 70, magistrate members of police authorities throughout England and Wales have to resign on reaching that age. The reasoning appears to have been that equality of misery should be applied to other police authority members. The GLA Bill currently echoes the position in other police authorities in line with our general approach that the structures and functions of the MPA should, as far as possible, be the same as those of authorities outside London. However, on reconsideration it seems wrong to exclude from police authority membership perfectly able people. Amendment No. 536D removes the upper age limit for MPA members. The Government will bring forward legislation to remove the upper age limit for other police authorities in England and Wales. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, nobody in this House will believe that those over 70 have nothing to contribute to debate and decision. It happens all the time. I believe that everyone in your Lordships' House will support this amendment. I understand that in universities in the United States it is now illegal to retire an academic just because he or she has attained the age of 70. It is good that the Government are also moving towards that view.

I have only one small point. The Minister said that the Bill as it stood meant that a person would be disqualified from membership of the Metropolitan Police Authority. I believe that, strictly, he or she is disqualified from being appointed a member of the authority at age 70. If, as the Bill stands, he is appointed under the age of 70 presumably he can continue at least until his term expires. In any case, as that restriction is being removed it no longer matters. Magistrates will still have to retire at 70 but, as the Government are extending this principle to other bodies, perhaps they will get round to that in due course.

Lord Tope: My Lords, I welcome this change of heart by the Government. It was entirely appropriate that earlier this afternoon we debated the duty on the authority to promote and secure equality of opportunity, among other things, on the grounds of age. Therefore, it seems entirely appropriate that we should remove this particular form of discrimination that currently exists in the Bill. We welcome this provision. It is not for me to answer the point related to magistrates just raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cope.

25 Oct 1999 : Column 25

However, it seems to me that when people cease to be magistrates by virtue of age, they cease to be qualified as magisterial members of the police authority. That may well be the answer that the Minister is able to provide very shortly. I welcome the amendments.

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I have no problem at all with the principle that age discrimination at age 70 should be ended as proposed by this amendment. I am sure that that is a positive provision which is intended to apply generally and not just to the occasional individual. However, I am unclear as to why in their desire to avoid age discrimination the Government have not sought to make a similar change to paragraph 9(1)(a) of the schedule which, as far as I can see, restricts appointment to people who have,


    "not yet attained the age of twenty-one years".

I would have thought that the principle of trying to avoid age discrimination applied at both ends of the spectrum and that there would be considerable benefit to the considerations of the Metropolitan Police Authority if, in certain circumstances, it was possible for people not yet 21 to serve on that authority.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, in this grouping is Amendment No. 538D. I should be very grateful if the noble Lord could explain exactly how that is consequential on the removal of the age limit, since it does not appear to refer to that at all. Having dealt with that, perhaps he can explain exactly what it does and why it is required in this Bill.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful for the warm words of support that this particular amendment has appeared to attract from all round the Chamber. I am also grateful for the very interesting question raised by my noble friend Lord Harris, on which I shall take advice. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Cope, at the moment the Bill uses the term,


    "has attained the age of seventy years".

Effectively, that wording is removed by the amendment. I believe that that answers the point.

Currently, I am taking advice on the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. He asked how Amendment No. 538D was consequential. If I do not have the answer by the time I have sat down I shall endeavour to provide it later in writing. I can now assist. The answer to the noble Lord's question appears to be that this amendment removes the age limit of 70 for membership of the selection panel for independent members of the MPA. If that is not clear to the noble Lord, I am happy to write to him.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, it is not clear and we may raise the matter when we come to that amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

25 Oct 1999 : Column 26

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 536E to 536G:


Page 306, line 28, leave out ("paragraphs 7 and") and insert ("paragraph").
Page 306, line 35, leave out ("paragraphs 7 and") and insert ("paragraph").
Page 306, line 39, leave out ("paragraphs 7 and") and insert ("paragraph").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 536H:


Page 306, line 45, leave out ("London").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 536J:


Page 307, line 13, leave out from ("years") to (", or") in line 14.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 536K:


Page 307, line 28, at end insert--
("( ) The Deputy Mayor appointed to be a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority under paragraph 2 shall cease to be a member of that Authority if he ceases to be Deputy Mayor.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.


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