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Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I thank the Minister for tabling Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 which address some of our serious concerns.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

5.30 p.m.

Clause 58 [Openness]:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 22:

Page 37, line 15, leave out ("(3)(e)") and insert ("(3)(a)").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 22 corrects a typographical error in Clause 58(7). As drafted the subsection refers to subsection (3)(e) of Section 100E of the Local Government Act 1972. The reference should be to subsection (3)(a) of Section 100E. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 61 [Power to require attendance at Assembly meetings]:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 38, line 17, at end insert ("; and
(c) any person who has within the three years prior to the date of the requirement to be imposed under subsection (1) above been the chairman of, or a member of, any functional body").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 23 clarifies that the assembly has the power to summons persons who in the previous three years from the date on which the summons is issued have been chairmen or members of functional bodies. It responds directly to the concerns expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, who moved a similar amendment on Report. I said then that we did not believe the amendment to be necessary and that former members were already covered. However, on reflection we have decided that the noble Lord has raised an issue that it is worth putting beyond doubt. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her acceptance of the fact that there is an element of concern which she has now properly answered. I am delighted to see this on the face of the Bill.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 24 and 25:

Page 39, line 29, leave out ("relate to") and insert ("disclose").
Page 39, line 29, at end insert--
("(10A) Nothing in this section shall require a person who is--
(a) a member of a functional body, or
(b) a member of staff of a functional body,
to give any evidence, or produce any document, which discloses advice given to the Mayor by that person or, except as provided by subsection (10B) below, by that functional body.

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(10B) Subsection (10A) above does not relieve a person from a requirement to give any evidence, or produce any document, which discloses advice given to the Mayor by--
(a) the Metropolitan Police Authority, or
(b) the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority,
if or to the extent that the advice falls within subsection (10C) below.
(10C) 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.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 67 [Appointment]:

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 26:

Page 42, line 41, at end insert ("or such numbers of staff as shall not exceed in aggregate ten full time equivalent employees").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 26 I return to a familiar subject, certainly to all three Front Benches. At each stage of this Bill in your Lordships' House we have made a little progress in trying to unravel this matter. At Committee stage we stumbled, admittedly accidentally, across the fact that the provision in the Bill for two political advisers and 10 other staff meant two and 10 individuals in number, not two and 10 full-time equivalents, as all three Front Benches believed at that stage should be the case. That was what we achieved at Committee stage more by accident than design.

At Report stage the Minister explained that the provision of a specific number was to prevent the mayor bringing in,

    "a large number of political appointments which would unbalance the professional staff whom he or she appoints".--[Official Report, 14/10/99; col. 621.]

I find it a little hard to understand how 10 such appointments would cause an unbalancing effect. Nevertheless, that is the view of the Government. I can perhaps understand the argument in relation to the two political advisers. Therefore, we leave that to one side. If the Government want to restrict the mayor to two political advisers regardless of the hours worked, so be it. However, this amendment is related simply to the 10 other staff whom the mayor is permitted to appoint as her or his personal staff.

At Report stage the Minister confirmed in answer to my questions that the normal equal opportunities recruitment procedure would apply to those 10 posts; in other words, a proper person specification and job description would be drawn up, the posts would be publicly advertised, they would be open to competition and appointments would be made on merit in a proper procedural way based on equal opportunities. Accepting that that is the case--certainly it should be--I am even more baffled as to how the appointment of more than 10 individuals, some working part-time but still only equivalent to

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10 full-time people, can possibly unbalance the professional staff of the authority, small in number though they may be.

I made much, and shall do so again, of family-friendly working practices. We are still making progress. At Committee stage we discussed this matter at 11.30 at night; at Report stage we debated it at 10 o'clock; and today we are considering it before tea time. We are talking about a government who promote, sincerely I believe, family-friendly working practices, flexible working hours and so on. Yet by this fairly simple, and in my view entirely unnecessary, provision the Government will ensure that in practice the mayor will not be able to espouse such flexible working arrangements; or, if he or she does, will be penalised for so doing because only 10 individuals can be appointed. For example, if one has 10 individuals who work half time, the work capacity will be half that of 10 individuals who work full time. I do not understand why in this fairly simple matter the Government are unable to accept that it is important to have 10 full-time equivalents. That was what the Minister thought it meant in the first place, and it is what any sensible and reasonable person expects it to mean. However, that is not what the Bill as drafted does mean.

If the Government are concerned that the mayor should not be able to swamp the professional staff with all these political apparatchiks, about which the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, admitted he knew more than I did, surely 10 full-time equivalents is a sufficient limit. It is arguable that part-timers will be less likely to unbalance professional staff than those who are there all the time. I do not know that that necessarily follows, but it is an argument.

I believe it is entirely reasonable and rational that we should here talk about 10 full-time equivalent staff. As I am sure that this is the last occasion in this Bill on which we shall return to the matter I hope that the Minister will either stand up and accept such a reasonable amendment or explain to us clearly what is wrong with 10 full-time equivalent staff rather than 10 individuals, and how the latter would be less likely to swamp the professional staff than 10 full-time equivalents. I look forward to that clear explanation. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I cannot resist speaking. I so rarely have the opportunity to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Tope. He makes an enormously important point. I hope that over time the Government will seek to move towards more family-friendly working practices, not only for women but for men. It is difficult for men who want to spend some time at home with their children to find employment. It is not the norm in industry. It is not yet the norm in government. It is difficult to see how industry's working practices can be changed until employees demand that they should be.

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It is incumbent on Government to take the lead and to make it possible for people to work in a family-friendly way by being flexible in their working practices and in those provided for in legislation.

I concede that 10 is a small number of such people for the mayor to appoint. But it should be a matter of principle that the Government promote at every opportunity the sort of world they wish to see. I support the noble Lord and hope that the Government will think again.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, we have been round this circle once again. We are convinced that it is necessary to assure the electors of London and the professional staff of the GlA that there will not be significant numbers of political or personal appointees brought in to run the GLA on behalf of the mayor. In order to reassure them, one needs a limit on the number of such appointments. Every one of those appointments could be filled with a part-timer or on a job-share basis; but the total number requires some limit and some reassurance.

The staff concerned will be the staff of the authority, but unlike the other staff of the authority they will be appointed by the mayor. They will go through the processes of appointment by the mayor. There will be the option of appointing on a more flexible basis, but the total number of people on the payroll appointed under this system should not be more than 10 plus two.

We require that reassurance. It does not cut across any approach by the mayor to make appointments on a more flexible basis. But it means that the total number of such people on the payroll should not be more than 10. At the extreme, if one did not have a limit, a rich person who became mayor could appoint people at virtually no salary who allegedly were working part time; and even if one had people working for a quarter of a week one could have 40 people who made up 10 full time equivalents. Forty people would be a quite significant imbalancing of the total staff of the GLA. We want to guard against that. We have chosen the figure 10. The noble Lord clearly does not agree with it. However, he does not agree with any other figure.

We shall stick with the limit. The mayor is completely free within that limit to appoint whom he or she wishes. If we do not have a limit, many anxieties will be raised about the nature of the authority and the way in which appointments at a relatively important level will be made.

I am sorry that I cannot go further to meet the noble Lord's view. I am sure that he and I would want to have a greater accommodation. However, I fear that it is not possible given the constraint that we believe necessary in this context.

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