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Lord Whitty: My Lords, nothing lasts for ever and we have to legislate for different balances of power in Westminster and in the GLA's headquarters. Whatever government are in power, and whatever party is in power in London, there will have to be a balance. That balance is between the autonomy of the mayor to deliver the improvements for which Londoners have voted and the responsibilities of central government to ensure that policies pursued in London do not undermine important national policies. It is the noble Baroness rather than myself who has used the imperative here. She refers to "conform" and "comply". All we are asking here is that the mayor should not pursue policies which are inconsistent with national policies.

The noble Baroness asked for a definition of "national policies". There is a definition of "national policies" a little later in the Bill. It relates to policies which are pronounced to Parliament or are formally published. It does not relate to pronouncements on the "Today" programme, in which, of course, none of my colleagues ever engages in any case. Nevertheless, it is clear that we are talking about policy pronouncements

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in a formal sense. It is important not just for the international dimension--at an earlier stage the noble Baroness accepted my arguments on that point--but also for other national policies. In relation to environmental policies, for example, policies pursued in London which affect the rest of the environment in surrounding regions and counties of England would not be appropriate. That does not mean that every dot and comma of the powers would be precisely the same for London as elsewhere. Of course not; but they should not undermine and directly contradict the policies pursued by government nationally.

Surely this is the right approach to take. The mayor will be able to implement his or her policies for London, but they must not be allowed to cut a swathe through national policies. The mayor cannot be expected to prepare strategies in a policy vacuum. National policies are there, and it would not be sensible if we provided for the mayor to be able to undermine them.

At an earlier stage the noble Baroness took a more moderate line. I apologise if I did not respond to her fully at that stage. She was saying that, instead of using the term "consistent", which she regarded as "imperative" or imperious, we should accept the term "have regard to". That was at least a halfway house. However, her proposal in this amendment deletes all reference to the mayor "having regard to". She now appears to want the mayor to be free of any obligation towards national policies.

Even had I accepted the noble Baroness's previous arguments, I should think that she was going somewhat far, even from her own perspective, as regards the effect of this amendment. Whichever party the mayor was from, even if the same party were in government and even if he or she had agreed every dot and comma with central government, the amendment would remove any obligation at all to national policies. Therefore, I do not believe that the amendment even achieves what the noble Baroness wants, which is a slightly different balance from what the Government want. We are concerned that London policies should not inconsistently undermine national policies. We do not say that they should conform in every dot and comma, but that there should not be built-in conflict. That is a sensible and balanced approach. With this amendment the noble Baroness is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Therefore, I hope that she will not pursue it.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I have no intention of throwing out any baby with any bathwater. I am very disappointed with the Minister's reply. I am delighted that "national policy" has to be policies as defined later in the Bill, which I did not discover, and that matters are decided in the Houses of Parliament where they should be decided. But I can tell the noble Lord that when we hear Ministers stating a particular policy, whether on Radio 4 or elsewhere, it sounds as though that has become national policy.

To return to the amendment, which is much more important, its intention was to knock out the provision for the mayor to ensure that his strategy is "consistent

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with" national policies. I certainly had no intention whatever of knocking out the provision that he should "have regard to" national policies. We believe that he certainly should have regard to national policies. We simply do not want him to have to ensure that his strategy is "consistent with" national policies. I believe that that is the import of my amendment. If the Minister is telling me that I have made a mistake in the drafting, I am sorry; I thought that I had been extraordinarily careful over it. My understanding is that what I seek to remove from the Bill are the words in line 45,

    "is consistent with national policies".

My understanding is that "have regard" occurs earlier in the clause and that the amendment does not knock that out.

The Minister said that I was making heavy weather of this in using adjectives such as "imperative" to describe the provision. Ensuring that an approach "is consistent with" is exactly the same. The Minister can use different language, but the effect is the same. The provision ensures that the mayor does that. It is not the same as "having regard to" national policies.

Although I understand what the Minister is saying, this provision is sending out a message to every local council throughout the country. Of course, the mayor in London should not do anything that would destroy the environment of those areas around him; nor for that matter should any council leader, or council anywhere in the country. They, too, should have regard to national policies. But I am certain that this will permeate down to councillors right across the country. It will start here in London and, before you can look round, it will apply to local councils everywhere.

The Minister has asked whether I shall withdraw the amendment. I shall withdraw it. I shall do so simply because the noble Lord has suggested--and I do not think that the advice from the Box would be misleading--that there is some flaw in the drafting, and that it would lead to the removal of the idea, "have regard". Apparently this provision is to remain in the Bill. If that is the case, local councils up and down the land will know that it is all very well the Labour Government telling them that they have great regard for local democracy, and indeed for devolved government, but the Government are starting to take power unto themselves in a way that we have not seen before. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 19 not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 20:

Page 26, line 5, after ("Thames") insert ("safely").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, the amendment has been welcomed by the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, and I am sure that the whole House welcomes it. I merely want to suggest that the wording is not very felicitous--indeed, it is ungrammatical. As amended, subsection (5) of Clause 41 would read: "the

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desirability of promoting and encouraging the use of the River Thames safely". Should it not read: "the safe use of the River Thames"? "Safely" is an adverb, but as "use" is a noun, an adjective is required. I am sorry to be pedantic, but that wording could be misunderstood. The phrase, "the desirability of promoting and encouraging the use of the River Thames safely", could be argued over in court. "Safely" could be referred back to "promoting and encouraging". I suggest that the noble Lord considers that point. It is a very bad sentence.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I experienced the same kind of "hiccup" when I read the clause. I thought that the choice of wording must be deliberate. It seems to suggest greater encouragement to use the Thames than would have been the case had the wording been as the noble Baroness suggests. There is something more urgent in the idea of "using the Thames safely" than there is in the phrase, "safe use"; it is a rather more exhortatory provision.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, "use the Thames safely" would of course be correct: in that phrase "use" is a verb. But the reference is to "the use"; namely, a noun.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am always surprised by the noble Baroness's admonition in regard to grammatical structure. I should have thought that "safe use" might be more limited than "safely". If the House will accept the amendment, it might be possible to tweak its grammar in another place. I am not totally convinced, but I shall re-examine it in that light. I hope that the House can accept the amendment now.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 45 [The Mayor's periodic report to the Assembly]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 29, line 3, at end insert--
("(b) a functional body,
(c) a member of a functional body, or
(d) a member of staff of a functional body,
except as provided by subsection (6A) below.
(6A) Where--
(a) the Mayor receives advice from a person falling within paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of subsection (6) above, and
(b) the functional body mentioned in that paragraph is the Metropolitan Police Authority or the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority,
the Mayor is not relieved by subsection (6) above from any requirement to disclose the advice, if or to the extent that the advice falls within subsection (6B) below.
(6B) Advice given to the Mayor by a functional body falls within this subsection if it has been disclosed--
(a) at a meeting of, or of a committee or sub-committee of, the functional body at a time when the meeting was open to members of the public by virtue of Part VA of the Local Government Act 1972 (access to meetings and documents); or
(b) in a document which has been open to inspection by members of the public by virtue of that Part of that Act.

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(6C) Any reference in this section to a member of staff of a functional body includes a reference to an officer or employee of that body.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment was debated at an earlier stage. The group of amendments led to some queries from noble Lords opposite. I withdrew, I thought, part of the group. In practice, owing to an intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, in the event I withdrew all of them for clarity's sake.

We debated the amendments at some length. They covered advice to the mayor from functional bodies, their members and their staff. During that debate, I made it clear that the principle of the privacy of advice to the mayor was not being reopened. We have always made it clear that the mayor's position is not the same as that of a local authority. In that sense, we may consider his position to be equivalent to that of a Minister. Any advice that he or she receives should be treated in the same way as the advice given by civil servants to Ministers.

However, I undertook to take the amendments away and to consider two aspects that had caused concern. The first and most important was an express definition of the term "advice". That term has been in the Bill since its introduction and has been accepted both in this House and in another place. I confirm that this new group of amendments does not include the defining definition about which the noble Baroness was so concerned. In particular, in the view of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, that extended the concept of advice beyond what had hitherto been assumed within the Bill. That was not the intention, and therefore it does not appear.

The second issue was the provision which made clear that functional bodies, their members and staff could not be required to provide to the assembly evidence or documents which "relate to" advice to the mayor. I recall that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, was particularly concerned that that formulation could prevent the disclosure of an extremely wide range of information which was not, in normally accepted terminology, advice to the mayor. That was never the intention. The amendments in this group make it clear that the only evidence and documents which the assembly cannot require from functional bodies and their staff are those which disclose advice to the mayor. The Bill as drafted already includes a provision which prevents disclosure of evidence or documents relating to advice to the mayor by GLA staff. Amendment No. 24 replaces the words "relate to" with "disclose" in that provision as well and therefore rationalises that position.

The group of amendments addresses the matters raised during Report. We have always made clear that advice in the strict sense will be confidential. It is important that the mayor is able to receive such advice from functional bodies as well as GLA staff. This has no effect on the accountability of the mayor to the assembly. He or she will be obliged to report every significant decision to the assembly with reasons and will be obliged to answer assembly members' questions at monthly meetings. The principle of privacy of advice to Ministers, which does not

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extend to other matters about which noble Lords were concerned, is therefore reproduced here in terms of privacy of advice to the mayor. That is a long-established principle in relation to Ministers. I hope that these amendments take account of the concerns expressed and will complete the arrangements to give effect to that intention. I beg to move.

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