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Page 329, line 15, at end insert--

("Allowances not to be paid to members who are also Assembly members

.--(1) The allowances specified in sub-paragraph (2) below shall not be paid to members of the Fire etc Authority who are also members of the Assembly.
(2) The allowances are--
(a) allowances under section 175 of the Local Government Act 1972 (allowances for attending conferences and meetings) other than an allowance for travelling and subsistence; and

25 Oct 1999 : Column 60

(b) allowances under section 18 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (schemes for basic, attendance and special responsibility allowances).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 24 [Amendments relating to the Fire etc Authority]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 539XA:

Page 332, line 44, at end insert--
("The Pensions (Increase) Act 1971

Meaning of local authority

(" . In Schedule 3 to the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971 (meaning of local authority) after paragraph 6(1)(a)(ia) there shall be inserted--
"(ib) the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority;".").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 290 [Discharge of functions]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 539YA and 539ZA:

Page 163, line 5, leave out ("for").
Page 163, line 7, leave out from ("authority") to end of line 11 and insert ("shall be treated as if it included a reference to a person who is disqualified under section 20 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 from being elected or being the Mayor of London or a member of the London Assembly."").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, these amendments deal with the power of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to co-opt on to its committees and sub-committees individuals who are not members of the authority. The need for the amendments has emerged as a result of discussions and correspondence with representatives of the current fire authority and the Association of London Government. The effect of Clause 290(2) of the Bill as it stands at present is that a person may not be a co-opted member of a committee of the LFEPA unless he or she is a member of a London borough council, the Common Council or the GLA. This is rather more prescriptive than the present arrangements; and so the intention of the proposed amendments is to bring the Bill much more into line with existing law.

We are proposing to amend Clause 290(2) to the effect that a person may not be co-opted on to an LFEPA committee if disqualified from being an assembly member under Clause 20 of the Bill or a member of a local authority under Part V of the Local Government Act 1972. These amendments have been the subject of considerable consultation. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 292 [The spatial development strategy]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 539A:

Page 163, line 23, at end insert ("which shall include an appraisal of the sustainability of its policies and proposals").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 539A I shall speak also to Amendment No. 539B. Amendment No. 539A is a significant amendment, while Amendment No. 539B is relatively less important.

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Amendment No. 539A seeks to include the issue of sustainability in the mayor's spatial development strategy. There was considerable debate on the matter in Committee. On 27th July the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, quoted from the debate in another place where the Minister argued that the Government could not be specific about a sustainability appraisal because as yet,

    "there is no national guidance on what such an appraisal might comprise or on how it should be conducted".

The noble Baroness then commented:

    "That seems to me to be remarkably unambitious for London".

I entirely agree with the noble Baroness. The Minister in this House then responded to a point I made at the time by saying that this would form,

    "one element within a wider sustainability appraisal which also considered the economic and social impacts of the policies and proposals of the SDS".--[Official Report, 27/7/99; col. 1454.]

That is, the strategic development strategy. I am sorry, the spatial development strategy. My daughter's initials used to be SDS and every time I see those initials I seem to go into a state of mental confusion. I hope that the House will forgive me.

We have returned to the business of the Bill being a London Bill for Londoners, and thus all about London. The response of the Minister in another place and the response of the Minister in this place seem to suggest that the only people who have any brains and who are capable of working out a policy for sustainability exist in the Government. I do not accept that proposition. I have immense confidence and faith in those already involved in local government. Let us hope that the Government have some faith in those who work in the Government Office for London. If the Government are not yet themselves certain of what would be involved in a sustainability strategy as part of a spatial development strategy, or at least a sustainability assessment, perhaps it would be wiser to leave the matter to the mayor and the assembly so that they can reach their own conclusions on it.

If, subsequent to that, a form of national guidance were produced as to what should or should not be included, then of course the mayor's spatial development strategy could be amended accordingly. Not the least of our complaints from these Benches in the past has been that the Minister has too much power to direct the mayor on what should or should not be included or amended. I do not believe that that approach is reasonable and proper. If the Greater London Authority was given the responsibility for providing a sustainability assessment of the mayor's spatial development strategy, it would do so. What is more, I am sure that that assessment would be reasonable and would take all matters into account. Such a responsibility might complicate the issue of devising the spatial development strategy and could make the process marginally longer, though I doubt that it would have much effect. This is a perfectly reasonable provision to include on the face of the Bill. I hope that the Minister will give it serious consideration.

I shall speak briefly to Amendment No. 539B. This is a small matter. The Bill as drafted states:

25 Oct 1999 : Column 62

    "(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, the Mayor may publish the spatial development strategy".

We feel that "may" is an inappropriate term and that "shall" would work better here. I entirely accept that this is entirely an exercise in semantics, and I daresay that the Minister will respond by saying that this is the normal form in legislation and that the word "may" is normally used. That may be so. The Minister may say that it should be so, but I believe that there may be reason here to change what has always happened in the past. I have often argued that everything that is done could be done better. This is one of those occasions. I beg to move.

6 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I note that Amendment No. 539A seeks to add words to a subsection of Clause 292 which states that the spatial development strategy "must"--neither "may" nor "shall". The question of an appraisal of sustainability is certainly one that we on these Benches support. Well, we would, wouldn't we, because we moved a similar amendment at the previous stage. My noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer spoke to it. As the noble Lord said, the Government confirmed at that stage that there should be a full appraisal of the spatial development strategy impact within a wider appraisal, including social and economic impacts, and anticipated that guidance would deal with that.

We became fairly well accustomed to being told that matters which we felt ought to be on the face of the Bill when they were good would find their way into guidance or regulations. During the course of proceedings on the Bill I have become increasingly convinced of the importance of the role of the members of the assembly in their scrutiny function, which needs to be interpreted in a very wide sense. Ensuring the sustainability of the strategy will be one of those functions. If the Minister is not minded to accept the amendment at this stage, will he say that such an appraisal is not proscribed and indeed that the mayor and the assembly through its role may ensure that it happens?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, in replying to Amendment No. 539A, I have not a lot to add to what I said in Committee. We agree that it would be sensible for the mayor to carry out the sustainability appraisal, and guidance will provide for that. The problem is, first, that the sustainability appraisal will be somewhat wider than relating to the element of this clause. This is the environmental dimension. As the noble Lord and the noble Baroness said, I have already indicated that it would be a somewhat wider one.

Secondly, the sustainability appraisal as a concept--as a term of art--is in its infancy and may well change over time. We therefore do not wish to be prescriptive on the face of the Bill but prefer to deal with the matter in guidance. Indeed, we have given a commitment that our guidance on the production of this strategy will advise the mayor that an appraisal should be carried out. But that guidance can change over time as appraisal techniques improve over time. Perhaps

25 Oct 1999 : Column 63

I may also mention that the findings will be embraced in a forthcoming revision of Planning Policy Guidance Note 11 on regional planning guidance. That underlines the fact that it will be included in the guidance to the mayor. I recognise the desire of the noble Lord to put this provision on the face of the Bill. But I think that it is an evolving concept and one that is broader than this point in the Bill.

As far as concerns Amendment No. 539B, my recollection is that in Committee the noble Lord referred to it as a matter of taste and now regards it as a matter of semantics. It is the normal form of words. In this case the term "may" is used because there is a series of conditions following it in the text that the mayor has to satisfy before he or she can publish the spatial development strategy. It is both conventional and, in this case, conditional and therefore "may" is appropriate. I hope that the noble Lord will not press the amendment.

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