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Lord Whitty: My Lords, subsection (6) is in the Bill primarily to ensure a degree of flexibility. The noble Baroness's amendment would in fact restrict that flexibility. The reason for Clause 10(6) as a whole is to make it clear that there may well be options on which the Government do not have any fixed view as to the form they take. It is there to ensure that there is the widest scope to provide for forms of executive which may be requested by local authorities--or, indeed, by others--and which the Secretary of State may be convinced meet the aims of the Bill; namely, efficiency, transparency and accountability. By providing such scope it gives a range of possibilities which may potentially fall under it.

The Government have put forward subsections (2) to (4) which provide for three forms of executive. We believe that each of those forms already contains a fairly wide range of diversity of arrangements in practice which may apply to different kinds of authorities. We believe also--this is the point to which I was in a sense alluding in our earlier debate--that we must have the ability to provide for further forms of executive should they seem to be appropriate at some point in the future. The power exists in Clause 10(5), but the provision for its scope is in Clause 10(6). The noble Baroness's amendment would limit it.

The purpose of Clause 10(6) is to avoid any doubt about our ability to use the power to provide a form of executive which had more than one person directly elected to it and about the way in which the members of the executive would be elected and whether they could be elected to specific posts. The noble Baroness

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has indicated that she does not consider that direct elections to specified posts would be desirable. There are of course arguments in that direction. It could limit future flexibility. The Government have no plans to introduce such a structure or to impose such an arrangement.

It may well be that certain local authorities would find such an executive desirable at some future stage. Internationally, there is a strong tradition, particularly in North America, for direct elections to many public posts. Noble Lords may have different views as to whether that is a system we would wish to import here. Nevertheless, it is a system which has to a large extent stood the test of time in America and one which could be adopted here in some form. The Government are looking at all potential alternatives which may be produced in the future which have the executive there and meet the broad objectives but which are different from the ones currently prescribed on the face of the Bill.

It is also true that some local authorities might wish to have a directly elected cabinet without specifying what posts the cabinet members would occupy. Clause 10(6)(b) ensures that the power in Clause 10(5) is wide enough to cover that contingency as well. Therefore, it provides for quite a range of flexibility. The noble Baroness asked how one would move people from one place to another. That model allows for that.

To delete part of what is proposed restricts that flexibility. The Government would like to see as much flexibility as possible in the scope for adopting genuine executive structures and believe that the categories that will be made available on the face of the Bill of themselves provide a wide range. The Government would be prepared to go further. That is why there is the power by regulation to make further categories of executive arrangements available. The Government are trying to ensure in this context that the potential range is as wide as possible because they recognise that as councils gain experience of the various models, on the basis of that experience they may want to identify other structures which they may feel are more appropriate to them. When that happens the Government want to be certain that they can make available new categories which prove to be worthwhile and valuable, and not to exclude international analogues which may have worked in other countries.

I should point out that the regulations under Clause 10(5) would be subject to the draft affirmative procedure. The House would then have an opportunity to debate further any order the Secretary of State was minded to make on this issue in the future. Therefore, there would be another point at which parliamentary scrutiny could intervene. It would not entirely be a matter for the Secretary of State alone.

I understand the concern of the noble Baroness that all this should be decided by local authorities and that the Secretary of State should simply rubberstamp any option they come up with. However, we think that certain criteria have to be made. Therefore the regulations and the judgment of the Secretary of State

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have to be able to ensure that those structures meet the broad objectives of efficiency, transparency and accountability. That is provided for, as is the right of Parliament to have a say on it. I hope that that demonstrates our flexibility on executive structures, which, although not as wide as was contended in the previous debate, are fairly broad.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I wish to be quite clear. The Minister talks about being flexible and open-minded and so on. Would not the most flexible arrangement be to include Clause 10(5) and not to include Clause 10(6)? On the one hand he appears to say that the possibilities within what can be termed executive arrangements are limitless; on the other hand he says it is important to have Clause 10(6) because it sets out the other models. It appears to me that the most flexible approach would be not to include subsection (6) at all. Can the Minister assist me?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, my contention on flexibility did not quite reach the point of being limitless. There are limits and there are criteria to the scope. Those are set out in Clause 10(6). I would not want noble Lords to think we are completely open-ended in our views here. We do need to limit the scope to meeting the criteria and to allowing the kind of structures which the noble Baroness did seem to take objection to. My contention is that although she may find Clause 10(6) as a whole more restrictive than limitless, her amendment will actually make it more limited, not less.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I take the point on my amendment. I am assuming that Clause 10(6) restricts Clause 10(5). I should perhaps have framed my question to the Minister: is Clause 10(6) exclusive? In other words, can there be models which do not fall within Clause 10(6)? The Minister talked about Clause 10(6) as being the criteria. They are the models rather than criteria in the sense of principles.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, Clause 10(6) states,


    "may, in particular, provide".

Those models suggest potential scope but not exclusive scope.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, it is helpful that the Minister has said that they are not exclusive. I thank the noble Lord for that explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 24 not moved.]

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 25:


    Page 6, line 6, at end insert--


("( ) The authority may determine the title to be used for the position of mayor elected under this Act.").

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The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment would introduce a new subsection between subsections (6) and (7) of Clause 10. Its purpose is to enable local authorities to determine the title of the directly elected person always described in the Bill as the "mayor". The amendment was discussed at the Committee stage on 25th January. It was introduced by my noble friend Lady Hamwee in a short debate which ended at 11 p.m. On that occasion everyone was extremely brief. I shall try not to make that an excuse for speaking at length today.

The main point of the amendment is to deal with the situation where there already is a mayor of a local authority who is a local councillor elected by the council to chair the council and to be the non-party representative of the council at a wide range of more or less formal occasions within and outside the local authority. Some observers have suggested that the Government do not seem to understand or have any sympathy with the extremely useful social and community role, as a non-party representative of the council, that such mayors and, for that matter, the chairman or chairs of other local authorities perform. We have had a good deal of anecdotal self-explanation today. I shall merely say that I am one of many chairs of local authorities who have found the role extremely interesting and have also been aware of the interest which other people have in the presence of the representative of the county council at their celebration or opening ceremonies. The people whom the chair or, in the case of this amendment, the mayor contacts in the course of the mayoral year--be they from local authority organisations or from the voluntary sector--are genuinely pleased to have that presence. That role brings together people in the community.

When responding to the amendment in Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, said that in a case where the local authority--probably a borough--which already had a traditional mayor moved to the system of a directly elected mayor, the,


    "Government would either need to find a different title for the elected mayor or let local authorities choose a variety of titles for that figure".--[Official Report, 25/1/2000; col.1536.]

She added that the Government preferred the clear rule that if there is an elected mayor, it is that figure who is known as the mayor, leaving the chairman or chair of the local authority to be known by that title rather than the traditional title.

At this point I remind the House that the traditional title of mayor may be a recent one, dating back only to the reform of local government in the 1970s, but it may be a very ancient one as well, one which few local authorities will want to abandon. In any case, the approach that was expressed by the Minister was quite different from ours. We want not the Government but local authorities to be able to determine the title of their elected executive person or their directly elected mayor. I do not want to use the word "mayor" because I want to put the whole character of the name into question. I prefer to use the term "the elected executive". For some local authorities, "executive leader" might be a more suitable style. That is what

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used to exist in local authorities where there was a clear majority government. The mayor or chairman was the non-party representative of the council and the leader of the council was the political leader of the council. For some people the name "executive leader" might be more suitable. That would enable local authorities to retain their mayoral title if that was precious to them. I beg to move.


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