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Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply, which I shall study. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 31 agreed to.

Clause 32 agreed to.

Clause 33 [Interpretation of Part II]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 256 and 257:



    Page 16, leave out line 18.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 257A not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 258 to 262:


    Page 16, line 34, leave out ("of") and insert ("made by or under").


    Page 16, line 35, leave out ("and 16") and insert ("to 17").


    Page 16, line 35, after ("of") insert (", and Schedule 1 to,").


    Page 17, line 7, leave out ("A local authority's function with respect to") and insert ("Section 101 of the Local Government Act 1972 does not apply to the function of").


    Page 17, line 8, leave out ("may be discharged only by the local authority").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendments Nos. 258 to 262 en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 263:


    Page 17, line 9, at end insert--


("( ) Nothing in this Part shall prevent, in the case of a London borough, the person who is referred to in Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Local Government Act 1972 as the Mayor of the borough from using the title and style of Mayor.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 263 is tabled in order to make absolutely certain that nothing in this Bill disturbs the traditional arrangements in London under which a borough has a mayor, albeit not an elected one, who can continue to use that title and style. This is a matter of history and tradition. One can well imagine that in years to come there will be a deal of confusion in local government, not exclusively in London. There will be a Lord Mayor of London, although he represents only the City, and an elected mayor of London. There will also be a mayor of a borough who will fulfil all the traditional roles of a mayor. Further, there will be an elected mayor of a borough. Therefore, it is not an unlikely prospect that for the ordinary elector of London there will be four mayors all of whom will have legitimate authority over him, and that may cause a degree of confusion. I do not regard that as a straightforward situation.

The scope of this amendment is limited. It may be that in response the noble Lord will tell me that it is unnecessary. However, so far as concerns the people of

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London, within a particular borough the mayor is their first citizen and an important figurehead within the community. I do not believe that any of us in this Committee, including the Minister, want to erode that situation in anything that we do in this Bill. Of course, out in the country one could have the equally amazing situation of an elected mayor of a county council, an elected mayor of a district council, and an elected town mayor. I suspect that the possibility for confusion there would be equally great. We have not addressed that issue. However, should the Minister choose to cover it in his reply that would be helpful.

The amendment ensures clarity and that nothing in the Bill disturbs the current arrangements. I am not aware that any of us wish to do so. I believe that it was worth tabling the amendment. I look forward to the Minister's reply. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: As the noble Lord acknowledged, we discussed last week the issues surrounding the title of "mayor" in relation to Amendment No. 75, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. The amendment would preserve the title of "mayor" for chairmen, or chairs, of London boroughs.

The Government are strongly of the view that there should be clarity about who is the directly elected mayor where councils adopt such arrangements. Local people need to know who is the elected mayor and therefore who is to be held to account for the services provided by the authority. It is for that reason that the Government believe that where there is an elected mayor the title of "mayor" should be used by that person and not, for example, the chairman, or chair, of the council.

If the amendment were to be accepted, it would be possible for a London borough to have two mayors. We do not think that that would lead to a position of clarity. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord does not believe it to be necessary to press the amendment.

Baroness Hanham: I believe that this is one area in the Bill--there are many--which will cause enormous consternation. To state that the civic mayor cannot be called "mayor" will challenge the community's feelings on the purpose of the Bill. The name "mayor" is well loved and well recognised. It is well supported in particular in the London boroughs. Mayors are well received. To call a civic mayor "chairman" or "chair" seems to be moving in the wrong direction. I realise that the issue has been discussed previously. I simply wish to put my oar in and say that, if any area will be misunderstood, it will be this one.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I somewhat cautiously put the alternative use of the title "chair" or "chairman", having looked carefully around the Chamber to see which noble Lords and noble Baronesses were in their places.

Where a London borough, or a district council with borough status does not opt for that model and does not have an elected mayor, it will be able to continue as before. We recognise that, in some cases there is a

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derivation other than from the borough status alone, for example through ancient local custom, charters, and so on. We believe it is important that people should be able to distinguish the option of the local community for a directly elected mayor with executive powers. I ask the noble Baroness to consider this. In those circumstances, the issue would have been widely discussed and therefore is less likely to cause confusion for the local population.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for her reply. I appreciate the need for clarity. If it had not been for that need, we would not have tabled the amendment. We shall study carefully the noble Baroness's response. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 33, as amended, agreed to.

10 p.m.

Clause 66 [Allowances and pensions for local authority members]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 263A:


    Page 41, line 4, at end insert ("including regulations to limit the number of councillors in any authority to whom special responsibility allowances may be paid").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak to Amendment No. 265A and also Amendment No. 264A, which is an amendment to the Minister's amendment, Amendment No. 264. My noble friend Lord Tope will speak to our two other amendments in the group. Perhaps others would like to speak to their amendments first, so that my noble friend can co-ordinate his remarks.

As to Amendment No. 263A, I failed to find language that is appropriate to the point. I appreciate that providing regulations to limit the number of councillors to whom special responsibility allowances may be paid might indicate that it is not for a local authority to determine how to deal with such allowances. That is not the case because that, together with other ways of conducting business, is a matter for the local authority.

I want to see whether the Government have any response to the situation in at least three authorities where special responsibility allowances are paid to all the members of the controlling group. I understand that in a couple of instances, the number of committees was changed to make that possible. The councils brought to my attention were Swansea, Milton Keynes and Aberdeen. Those authorities may take the view that all councillors of the same political persuasion as those running the administration have particular responsibilities different from opposition members. There is something odd and the system is being distorted if it distinguishes between members of political parties. I do not believe that the system was designed for that purpose.

I was, like others, cheered when the possibility of particular allowances was introduced because it went a little way to recognising the special responsibilities of

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councillors who undertake arduous and time-consuming jobs. To extend those allowances in the way that at least a small handful of authorities have done is stretching the provision. I hope that there is a way of addressing the problem. I beg to move.

Lord Graham of Edmonton: In speaking to Amendments Nos. 265 and 377, I fully understand that when amendments are submitted, their wording may not entirely achieve the objective.

I first served on a council 40 years ago when the expenses regime was vastly different from today. There have been great advances, which I have always supported, to make it possible for men and women to serve their community as councillors. I have no objection to that but I refer to a parliamentary Question answered recently by my noble friend's ministerial colleague, Beverley Hughes, in the other place:


    "Our policy, as set out in 'Modern Local Government: In Touch With the People' ... is that financial support for councillors must reinforce the culture of the modern council and address, as far as possible, any disincentives to serving in local politics".--[Official Report, Commons, 24/1/00; WA123W.]

I live in Loughton in Essex which is around 20 miles from here. It has a town council of 22 members serving a population of 30,000 people. It was set up in 1996 after a period of 63 years during which Loughton had no council of its own. It does good work. It is small in the hierarchy of councils and no great claims are made for its status.

However, I should like the Minister and his colleagues to pay attention to what I believe to be an anomaly. I have been told that one councillor said that in the three and a half years since the election, he had given 200 hours of his time at council meetings. Others had done the same. We know that nowadays councillors can receive thousands of pounds in allowances to compensate for all kinds of things. However, councillors in a place like Loughton, who live in the town, need to travel around three miles to attend council meetings at the far end of the town. It costs £1 each time they use the bus. But they are not reimbursed because the meetings they attend are inside the area; they do not leave the prescribed area.

Perhaps noble Lords may say, "What is a pound?". For an elderly person--an old age pensioner--who is giving up his time, who might attend 30 meetings a year, that amounts to £60 in travelling expenses. Again, noble Lords may say, "What is £60? That is not much". Again, for an old age pensioner who is giving up his time, that is a considerable amount. This matter should be examined.

The amendment I have tabled is attached to changes made in the Local Government Act 1972. In my researches I noted that the then Conservative Minister, Lord Sandbrook, speaking of claims for expenses by councillors generally, stated that:


    "We are all agreed that the allowances should be such that good potential council members are not dissuaded from serving on local councils by financial restraints or worries".--[Official Report, 18/9/72; col. 846.]

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I wonder whether my noble friend sees this as an opportunity to put right an anomaly that has been allowed to fester? I do not believe that town councils will disappear, but I do believe that a sense of injustice and unfairness may creep in, especially as in comparison, others who call themselves councillors in different kinds of councils with different responsibilities still receive recompense for their time and--more importantly--for their travel.

I know that my noble friend Lord Murray of Epping Forest, who knows Loughton a great deal better than I, may well rise to say a few words in support of this amendment. I simply say to the Minister that there are many councils--I estimate that there could now be 10,000 small parish and town councils--and the expenses would add up. However, that would be nothing against the good will of this non-partisan Government. When this matter was raised in Loughton Town Council there was no party animus. Something would be moved by one party and seconded by others, and I raise this issue in a non-partisan way. In this House one often wonders how one can take advantage of a peg on which to hang something. I do not want to hang the Minister, either out to dry or otherwise. However, I wonder whether he will agree that this is an issue which his colleagues can look at before the next stage of the Bill. I beg to move.


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