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Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 15 and 16:

Page 24, line 47, after (" 38") insert ("or (Delegation of Authority's functions)").
Page 25, line 6, after (" 38") insert ("or (Delegation of Authority's functions)").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

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4.45 p.m.

Clause 41 [General duties of the Mayor in relation to his strategies]:

Lord Greenway moved Amendment No. 17:

Page 25, line 29, at end insert (", and
(i) the River Thames strategy prepared and published under section (The River Thames strategy) below").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 17, which stands in my name and in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Clinton-Davis and Lord Luke, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 19, 85, 86 and 87.

The amendments are designed to include a River Thames strategy along with the other strategies that are already written on the face of the Bill. This subject has been debated a number of times during the passage of the Bill. However, I make no excuse for returning to the subject; I regard it as very important. There is no need for me to rehearse the arguments that were used before so competently by the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis.

As we all know, the Thames has played a most important part in London's and the nation's history over the years, and it is in a position to play an important part in our future, particularly in regard to transport. When we discussed this matter previously, the debate was poorly attended--it was late at night--and we did not have the chance to give it a proper airing. We have now a last chance to give the mayor an opportunity to play an over-arching role in matters pertaining to the river.

This would avoid the problems that have surfaced when dealing with matters in coastal waters, where it seems too many disparate parties are involved. Such a position would be exacerbated on the River Thames, where many of the people involved lack experience of maritime matters. This does not apply to the Port of London Authority, which has been involved with the Thames for many years, but its influence is waning, especially in the upper reaches of the river. The Environment Agency, the Countryside Agency, the riparian boroughs--of which there are many--and the Common Council in the City of London are all involved with the river. On top of that there are the interests of the users of the river--the freight industry, the tourist industry, the watermen and lightermen.

In these amendments the strategy has been revised to take account of points raised on Report--in particular, safety, bridges and tunnels. They also include a direction that this strategy should not conflict with any other strategy in Clause 41.

Perhaps I may say a brief word about safety. I am cognisant of the fact that the inquiry into the "Marchioness" disaster is ongoing. I would not wish to prejudice that. However, the mayor must have an important role as regards safety on the river. The Port of London Authority and the river police deny responsibility for safety. A few moments ago, the noble Lord from the Opposition Front Bench spoke about squeezing police budgets. The river police has been squeezed considerably over the past years and it

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is continuing to contract; it has closed down most of its pier stations. If there should be another emergency--God forbid--it is questionable who would be able to take control of matters on the river.

A holistic, coherent and, above all, simple strategy is vital for the good future management of the River Thames. As far as concerns this Bill, we have now a last chance to get matters right. It would be short-sighted of us not to seize that chance. I beg to move.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I rise to support the observations made by the noble Lord, Lord Greenway. He has moved the amendment in the hope that he may have more success than I--and who knows! The amendment seeks to underline the important issues affecting the mayor when a strategy is developed.

It cannot be said that the Bill is deficient in terms of detail. I hope that my noble friend will not invoke that particular argument in relation to this multi-faceted amendment. It is extremely important that specific guidelines should be covered in the strategy developed by the mayor during his or her term of office. Every one of these proposals has great relevance in terms of that strategy.

For example, the issue of tourism was raised in a previous debate. It is important that there should be a tourism policy so far as concerns the river. The noble Lord is absolutely right to underline its enormous strategic importance for the life of London as a whole. If there should be any vagueness about what the mayor has to do, that would be a deficiency in the Bill. The matter is covered in considerable detail in the amendments and I do not need to go into it further.

The noble Lord made an important point about consultation. I would give especial emphasis on the need to consult each riparian London borough council. These are issues which will touch the lives of the constituents in each of those London boroughs and it is important that it should be seen that they are being properly consulted; that they can ensure that their voices will be heard in relation to the strategy which will affect their lives.

It is also important that one pays attention to Amendment No. 86, particularly in relation to the conditions set out in subsection (2)--

    "that the River Thames strategy or its implementation is likely to be detrimental to any area outside Greater London".

That is obviously a matter of great importance. The phrase,

    "the River Thames strategy or its implementation is likely to be detrimental to the operations of the Port of London Authority, or to flood defences",

equally is of the greatest significance. I do not want to over-egg the pudding. I believe that setting out the strategy for the benefit of the mayor is of importance to the citizens of London as a whole, and no less so to the mayor himself or herself.

Lord Luke: My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, is luckier in regard to the responses he

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receives than we were earlier. I should like to speak in support of Amendment No. 17 and also of Amendments Nos. 19, 85, 86 and 87, to which I have added my name. I should like to say just a few words, most of which, I must confess, I have said before.

The River Thames is the reason for London being where it is. It brought wealth by commerce in the past and it now brings tourists. There has been a great deal of development in the riparian boroughs, but virtually nothing concerned with the Thames itself. I am most concerned that this great thoroughfare is not used as it could or should be. The mayor could provide a co-ordinated approach to the use of the Thames as it should be used, and I hope that this great opportunity will not be lost.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I should like to speak briefly to this amendment, to indicate support from these Benches. We have given our support to similar amendments at various times, but I think that Amendment No. 85 in particular gives an extremely good picture of what the strategy might contain. It makes it very distinct from the mayor's other strategies, contrary to the arguments that have been used by the noble Lord the Minister in responding to these and similar amendments which were put earlier.

Our honourable friend the Member for Southwark and Bermondsey in another place has been concerned for many years with the items contained in this amendment. During the earlier part of the Bill amendments were put forward to this effect, which I think were generally regarded as rather complicated. This is a very straightforward way of achieving what he and many of us would like to see achieved. I do not know what the proposers of these amendments will decide to do, but if they should divide the House, we shall join them.

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, I hesitate to intervene, particularly as I am supporting an amendment which would, if accepted, make this intolerable Bill even larger than it now is. Nevertheless it raises an important area of the responsibilities of anyone who has command of London and its resources. I am persuaded that there is a very strong case for adding to the strategies laid down in the Bill a strategy for the River Thames.

I shall be very interested to hear what the Minister has to say in response to some of the areas which would appear to be not covered by other strategies imposed by the Bill upon the mayor. Obviously he is responsible for transport and the environment: fine, but there are many other purposes. We are talking about many-faceted uses, and I should like to be clear that they are satisfactorily covered.

Let me just mention very quickly two or three of them. One is of course what function the mayor and the GLA have concerning riparian planning. I do not mean in the great strategic sense, but actual planning decisions at present made by local authorities in London about the areas close to and adjacent to the river. I should like to feel that such planning consents

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would take account of broad interests of the management of the river, and I am not sure that can be done unless the mayor has a specific duty.

Again, what about regulation of the recreational use of the River Thames? It is not just a matter of using it for transport. As we all know, people row on the Thames and do all kinds of things that have a recreational use. There is sailing, there are water sports and multifarious activities. I should like to know how that aspect will be safeguarded. Again, that raises the word "safety". Who is responsible for safety on the river? Nobody can say that that is not a matter of some concern, especially in the light of some very unhappy events a few years ago.

My final point concerns the management of tunnels and bridges. That is tremendously important. Is there a clear GLA/mayoral responsibility for the planning of extensions, repairs and uses of bridges over the River Thames and the tunnels beneath it? I myself represented a constituency which had a riparian interest for over 30 years and I am very conscious myself, as a resident of Putney, of the implications for Putney residents of the closure of Hammersmith Bridge for so long. However, very different priorities are being pursued by the different London authorities in respect of bridges and other cross-river transport. I very much hope that in his reply my noble friend will satisfy me and, I hope, the House as a whole that the present strategies which are to be pursued by the mayor cover satisfactorily--though I fear that they will not--all the anxieties and problems which face those who use the River Thames.

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