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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am sure that we were not the first to think of it, but it was from these Benches

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that we first articulated the notion of a Greater London Authority (Amendment) Bill--since when I have discovered that others have been advocating a Greater London Authority (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

I understand the thinking that underlies the amendment. I have one major criticism of it. I do not believe that it should be for a commission of independent lawyers to review the workings of the Act. Reviewing university fees is an entirely different matter. Many of the problems with this Bill have come from the Government's under-resourcing of people to work on it.

I have said before that is no criticism at all of any of the individuals who have found themselves caught up in this morass of words with which we all now find ourselves dealing. We have the utmost sympathy for the Ministers and for the officials involved, but there simply have not been sufficient resources devoted to this in terms of parliamentary counsel for the Government to embark on a Bill which, inevitably given the prescriptive approach, was going to grow in the way this Bill has grown. I hope at the least that it will give pause when the next big Bill--which I suspect will be the transport Bill--is drafted. No doubt it is being drafted now. It is an experience which none of your Lordships and no one in the other place would wish to undergo again. It is an experience with which our citizens should not see their Parliament wrestling in this very undignified fashion.

Having said that, although I fully support many of the points put by the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, my noble friends and I would not support the amendment as tabled.

9.30 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I do not know whether this amendment is the proper way to sort out the problem, but there certainly is a problem and it is not simply the difficulties caused by the Bill in Parliament as it has grown larger and larger "on the hoof" and as it is still growing, it seems. One's mind goes forward to the poor people who are going to have to operate the system when it comes into being. Looking up what you can do and what you cannot do under the Act is going to be a major activity. I do not know how many extra lawyers will be required to operate the provisions of the Bill once it becomes law, but it is going to be a real nightmare for those who try to put the plan into action.

I personally voted for the mayor and for the assembly, as a London resident. It seemed a simple idea. One realised there would be many problems in the interaction with local government and local authorities and with central government, but one imagined that the Government had thought it through and thought that it was possible to do it in a simple way. That has proved not to be the case.

I do not think it is something that the Government are proud of and I hope there will be ample opportunity as time goes on to amend the Act so that it really does work. All of us who reside in London hope very much that the system will work. It is very important that the

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authority should be a great advantage to London, but if all the problems take over once the system comes into operation, there will be no pleasure or advantage to the citizens. I hope that the Government will find a way of amending the Act as time goes on, whether by the way my noble friend is proposing or by some other means.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, when I first read this amendment I was flabbergasted that the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, and his colleagues could even contemplate a trigger that would almost certainly cause us to have yet another Bill on Greater London and no doubt go through the same process as we have been going through for the past few months. I had not realised that they had enjoyed it so much!

We have been through countless amendments, many of them proposed by the Government. Others have been triggered by considerations that were raised at earlier stages here and in another place by interested parties inside and outside this House. We have scrutinised the Bill pretty fully in this House. I am not going to put my hand on my heart and say that everything is absolutely right with the Bill and that we shall not have to legislate within the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, even if the Bill is near perfect, there is no surer way of finding something wrong with it than setting up a commission of independent lawyers. I therefore feel that the noble Lord's amendment, even within his own terms, is seriously flawed. Furthermore, at least potentially, the amendment would bind future parliaments, something normally eschewed in this House. However, that will depend on when the noble Lord or I think the next general election will take place.

The amendment does not sensibly address the understandable anxieties that even now the Bill may not be absolutely right. It would not be right to institutionalise further scrutiny within the current legislation or indeed elsewhere. The Bill has received serious consideration by those Members of this House who have participated and many technical amendments have been produced. Noble Lords opposite have stated that they feel sorry for Ministers, but it is not Ministers who have to do most of the work on Bills of this kind. A great deal of serious, professional time has been spent on getting the provisions right. We are creating an entirely new structure of government in the Bill and it is necessarily large, long and complex. However, the last thing needed as we move towards the election of the mayor and the assembly is a built-in clause saying that everything will be changed again next year. For that reason, despite the good intentions of the noble Lord, the implication of the provision would lead many to assume that that will be the case. That is not a sensible way forward and I ask the noble Lord not to pursue his amendment.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister's response. I am also grateful for the interventions of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour. I moved the amendment purely as a probing provision because I certainly would not wish upon this House or another

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place another examination of these countless clauses. However, the noble Lord has admitted that not everything in the Bill is absolutely right. I am afraid that I had already come to that conclusion when I found that government amendments were tabled as late as last Friday, after the Bill had been in Parliament for 10 months or more.

Nevertheless, as I said in my opening speech, I hope that this will be a success for London. The Minister said that if my amendment was passed, the lawyers would have a field day. I venture to suggest that the lawyers may well have a field day with the Bill as it is presently drafted, with or without my amendment. For that reason, in order that the lawyers do not have too much of a field day, it is with pleasure that I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 97:

After Clause 398, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) Any functions under or by virtue of this Act which will become exercisable by a person or body other than the Secretary of State may, before they become so exercisable, be exercised by the Secretary of State for the purpose of appointing such persons as he considers necessary to secure that any provision made by or under this Act operates satisfactorily when it comes into force.
(2) The Secretary of State may defray any costs which are incurred in the exercise of the functions mentioned in subsection (1) above.
(3) In exercising the functions mentioned in subsection (1) above, the Secretary of State may appoint a person on such terms and conditions (including conditions as to remuneration) as the Secretary of State thinks fit.
(4) Any such terms and conditions may include provision to the effect that the person concerned--
(a) is, or is not, to be or become a member of a particular pension scheme, or
(b) is, or is not, to be treated as employed in the civil service of the State.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is required to make it clear that the Secretary of State has powers to appoint such persons as he considers necessary to ensure that provisions by or under the Bill operate satisfactorily when they come into force. Such persons may be appointed on terms and conditions which differ from standard Civil Service ones, pending the establishment of the GLA and associated bodies.

The amendment is necessary specifically to allow the Secretary of State to become the interim employer of staff in the London Research Centre, the London Planning Advisory Committee and the London Ecology Unit for the period between 1st April and 8th May 2000; to appoint any new staff who will be subsequently transferred to the GLA; and to appoint transitional staff for the Metropolitan Police Authority. In the case of both new and existing staff, their terms and conditions are expected to differ from those of the Civil Service.

Some anxiety has been expressed about this clause and I should make it clear that, as a matter of policy, the Secretary of State will not make permanent appointments to the most senior positions in the GLA. The positions will be occupied by people on short-term,

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temporary contracts to allow the GLA maximum freedom to make its own appointments. However, in order to get the GLA up and running it is necessary to employ staff to set up the finance and IT systems and so forth so that the authority will be able to operate effectively. I assure the House that these are transitional arrangements and will be interpreted only in that sense. I beg to move.

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