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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 570XA:

After Clause 356, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) The following bodies, namely--
(a) Transport for London,
(b) the Metropolitan Police Authority, and
(c) the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority,
shall each be treated as a local authority for the purposes of the enactments mentioned in subsection (2) below.
(2) The enactments are--
(a) section 519 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 (exemption of local authorities from income and corporation taxes); and
(b) section 271 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 (exemption of local authorities from capital gains tax).
(3) In sections 170 to 181 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 (groups of companies) references to a company do not apply to Transport for London.
(4) Schedule (Taxation provisions) to this Act (which makes further provision about taxation) shall have effect.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 357 [Regulations and orders]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 570YA to 570A:

Page 198, line 43, at end insert--
("(c) section (Organisation of probation service in Greater London)(1) above, or").
Page 199, line 5, after ("section") insert ("(Organisation of probation service in Greater London)(1) or").
Page 199, line 34, at end insert--
("Paragraph 8A of Schedule 13;").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 571 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 572 and 573:

Page 199, line 38, at end insert--
(" section (Limit on salaries of members of other public bodies);").
Page 199, line 39, at end insert--
("section (Restriction on exercise of certain powers other than through a limited company);").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

25 Oct 1999 : Column 145

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 573A:

Page 199, leave out line 42.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 573B and 577A. In my internal note, these are grouped together under the heading "Stray consequentials". I beg the pardon of the House in having strayed myself from the normal clear structure of these amendments which noble Lords will undoubtedly have noted throughout the course of this Bill.

Amendment No. 573A leaves out one line from the clause and is consequential to other government amendments made at Report stage, which provide for TfL to be able to make transfer schemes from a distribution of property, rights and liabilities among TfL and among TfL's subsidiaries and the potential PPP companies.

Without these amendments, Clause 148 enabled the mayor to make such transfer schemes. The mayor's powers were, however, subject to restrictions. The mayor would not have been able, without the Secretary of State's consent, to make such transfer schemes if they would have had the effect of disposing of operational railway or tramway land or of contracting out Underground train and station operating services.

The Secretary of State's consent under Clause 148 was to have been given by order. The text which is the subject of this amendment had the effect of making such orders subject to the negative procedure of this House by including it in the list which, in Clause 357, provided at a different point of the Bill, would be subject to negative procedure.

As a result of amendments agreed earlier, Clause 148 has been deleted from the Bill. There is therefore no need for a reference to it in Clause 357. Hence, the first amendment deletes that reference.

Amendment No. 573B is consequential to the amendment moved earlier, Amendment No. 465. Subsection (4) of Amendment No. 465 provides that the Secretary of State may modify by order subsections (2) and (3) of the new clause. This amendment is required to ensure that there can be parliamentary scrutiny of any such changes.

Amendment No. 577A adds a definition of "certify" to the interpretation of the clause. It indicates that "certify" shall mean,

    "certify in writing; and related expressions shall be construed accordingly".

I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 573B to 574:

Page 199, line 43, at end insert--
("section (Restrictions on disclosure of information)(4);").
Page 199, line 43, at end insert--
("section (Organisation of probation service in Greater London)(1);").
Page 200, line 5, at end insert--
("paragraph 7(3) of Schedule (Transport for London transfer schemes);").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

25 Oct 1999 : Column 146

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 575:

After Clause 358, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) Any power conferred on a Minister of the Crown by this Act to make regulations or an order or to give a direction shall cease to have effect on 1st April 2006 unless previously exercised.
(2) If a power has ceased to have effect pursuant to subsection (1) it may at any time be revived by order made by statutory instrument laid in draft before each House of Parliament.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I appreciate that we are near the end of the Bill, but it may be worth spending three or four minutes on this amendment. As we have indicated throughout, we believe that the Bill is far too much characterised by the controlling hand of central government. I have heard it described in the following way. We have the London boroughs and by and large they will continue to do what they do; we have central government and by and large they will continue to do what they have been doing; and then we will have the Greater London Authority, which needs a Bill several inches thick to explain what it cannot do.

That may be putting it a little harshly, but only a little. The Bill is riddled with the opportunity for the Secretary of State to make directions. We welcome the prospect of London having its strategic government, but we would welcome it more if the hand of central government were less evident.

The new clause provides that where the Bill confers on the Minister the power to make regulations or an order, or to give a direction, it shall cease to have effect on 1st April 2006 unless it has previously been exercised. It is not as draconian an amendment as it might appear because we have added a second limb. This provides that any such power can be revived by order made by statutory instrument laid before both Houses of Parliament.

We proposed a similar amendment to the recent Local Government Bill in connection with the capping of local authority expenditure. One of the arguments made against us was that capping, as the regime now applies, needs the affirmative resolution of the House of Commons. The powers to which this amendment refers have no such safeguard. We appreciate that such a clause as this would be to a large extent symbolic because of the power of revival which we have included. Nevertheless, it would be a welcome symbolic move for the Government to recognise that the reserve powers which they have provided throughout the Bill to deal with--and we have used this terminology a good deal--what is "just conceivable" might be put onto a slow flame on the backburner and, we might hope, be killed off entirely--to mix my references. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, the principle of this amendment is one with which we agreed on the Local Government Bill, when it was a Bill. It is now an Act and does not contain this clause, which is rather sad. The Bill is rather less for having a lacuna in it in that regard. I believe that this provision would be worth while in this Bill and in all probability in almost every other Bill that goes through the House. The Minister

25 Oct 1999 : Column 147

might think that a little extreme. That said, I believe that the amendment is worth supporting. It has my support in principle, and my heart is with the noble Baroness, even if, I suspect, the Minister is going to answer in his usual, thoroughly positive way, that he cannot put up with it.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, at this hour of the night I have absolutely no idea why noble Lords opposite feel that they have to go on about this for so long.

We have been here before. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, came preciously close to advocating that at some time in the not-too-distant future we should have another GLA Bill. I believe that there will not be many takers for that among those who have been involved with this process over the past few months.

To be serious, the powers within this Bill are necessary, but they are in the background. The fact that they are not used does not mean that they do not have an influence on the situation. They are there in order to protect in extreme circumstances the interests of other public bodies, the London boroughs, and ultimately the London taxpayer and maybe other taxpayers from the actions of the authority and the mayor. They are not intended for the Secretary of State to interfere and to get his fingers into every aspect of the mayor's policy and the assembly's proceedings. It is a responsible and complicated balance, and one to which we have given a good deal of thought and which is different in different parts of the Bill.

I do not feel that if we were to adopt this procedure, certainly on this Bill--I shall not address the other Bills to which the noble Lord was thinking of applying it--we should rapidly be in a situation where that balance was lost. We believe that the Secretary of State still has a residual role to ensure that the interests of London more widely are protected. We hope that none of those powers will ever have to be used in the way that the noble Baroness fears, but we need them there to ensure that the whole balance operates. I hope that the noble Baroness will not pursue this last amendment on Third Reading.

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