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Letter and Note from Lord Marsh to the Chairman

Just over a year ago, the Group arranged a structured programme of meetings with the following terms of reference:

    To inquire into the reasons for the delays in making progress with transport improvements in London, including particularly the institutional arrangements and decision-making processes, and to report.

    In the course of this programme we held a number of very informative meetings in this and other related areas, including the Minister for Transport, the Mayor of London and the Transport Commissioner for London. We have also received a considerable amount of written material.

    It became apparent that, to state the obvious, not only is transport one of a number of key elements in shaping London's future, but the unique scale, complexity and interdependence of the other key elements in the Mayor's draft London Plan raise fundamental questions about the ability of the current institutional arrangements and decision making processes to manage the project to a successful conclusion. These include:

    —the difficulty of achieving delivery of key infrastructure projects

    —the Mayor's lack of resources to ensure implementation of projects for which he is responsible

    —the slowness of the planning system

    —the lack of coherent priorities for resource allocation and institutional blockages likely to obstruct co-ordinated action.

    I am enclosing a note setting out these issues more fully.

    Members of the Group are aware that the draft Plan will be subject to an Examination in Public in the spring and that some of the responses to the Regional Government White Paper are likely to touch on some of these issues.

    We would stress that the Group is not concerned with the wider political issues of regional government. We arc concerned solely with the decision making process and the overall management of the London Plan in its totality to a successful conclusion.

    The Group is unanimous in its belief that there is an urgent need for a more systematic and authoritative inquiry into this issue and to that end I should welcome the opportunity to make a short presentation, with two of my colleagues, to the Liaison Committee in support of a Select Committee inquiry into the credibility of the structure envisaged in terms of financing and implementation of the draft London Plan.

Note by Lord Marsh

Why should London have special treatment?

—London is the capital city—It has a population of 7.4 million—It has a GDP of £118.5 billion a year—larger than Portugal, Greece or Ireland—London is Europe's most successful city at attracting foreign companies—London's economic success is a major driver of the UK economy: failure to maintain its international competitiveness would be damaging for the whole of the UK.

    What special issues does London face?

    —Its population has grown by 600,000 since 1989: it is forecast to grow by a further 700,000 by 2016

    —London has the second highest unemployment rate in England (after the North east): the rate for ethic minorities is 13.5%

    —43% of London's children are living in poverty

    —with the average cost of a home over £250,000, people on moderate incomes—including key workers such as nurses and teachers—cannot afford to live in London

    —investment in public services—health, education, housing and transport—of £110 billion is needed over the next 15 years to make good past neglect and cater for growth.

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    The complexity of the issues

    Responsibilities for London are diffused among a range of institutions, including Government Departments and the Government Office for London, the Mayor, Assembly and GLA functional bodies, boroughs, Corporation of London, agencies such as the Housing Corporation, English Heritage, Environment Agency, Learning and Skills Councils, NHS, Strategic Rail Authority, Royal Parks etc.

    Why is there a need for an inquiry now?

    —it is not at all clear who is responsible for delivering solutions to London's problems—there are obstacles in the way of action on many major issues from transport to building new homes to sports stadia

    —the Mayor has published a draft London Plan to set the future strategy for London's development, but lacks the powers or funding to implement it

    —there is no clear focus for decisions affecting London within central Government

    —there is no basis for determining what share of resources London should receive in relation to either its needs or the tax revenue it generates.

    Why a Select Committee?

    —there is an urgent need for an objective review of the arrangements for London government

    —the GLA Act is an unusual piece of legislation for which there is no precedent: there are issues of the balance between local and regional levels, funding, the uniqueness of London and its evident problems.

    —the All Party London Group has looked at these issues over a number of years, but they need to be considered on a more formal footing

    —legislation will be brought forward on regional assemblies: it is important that it should be informed by the experience in London and that

—the opportunity should be taken to make any necessary changes in the London structure.

Letter from Lord Lester of Herne Hill to the Chairman

My Equality Bill had its First Reading on Tuesday. The Second Reading debate has been arranged for Friday, 28th February.

    The Bill results from several years of study, review and consultation under the auspices of the Centre for the Public Law at Cambridge University, led by Professor Bob Hepple QC and his team. It seeks to create a coherent and enduring framework for tackling unjustifiable discrimination, and promoting equality of opportunity in a way that is user friendly. I enclose a copy of the Bill and of the Explanatory Notes.

    If the Bill is given a Second Reading I hope that it may be possible for it to be the subject of an enquiry by a Select Committee of the House to enable evidence to be taken from the various specialist bodies and interest groups.

    Thirty years ago, a House Select Committee considered a Private Member's Bill on sex discrimination. They heard a considerable amount of evidence on the extent and type of discrimination and produced special reports on proposed amendments and an analysis of the evidence they had taken (H.L. 81 and 104 of 1972–73). The work done by that Committee and by a Commons Committee was valuable in enabling the Government to develop policy on what became the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Subsequently, many Private Members' Bills on various types of discrimination have been introduced in both Houses, but no bill has sought to tackle all the main grounds of discrimination in a single measure, and neither House has considered the issues in the round.

    A Lords Committee would be able to address some of the matters addressed in the Bill that are of general interest and importance. For example, and these are only suggestions, they might take evidence and report upon the following issues: (a) whether British

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    law should reach further than the EU equality directives which are to be implemented by subordinate legislation under the European Communities Act 1972, that is, beyond the field of employment; (b) the contexts in which it is legitimate to impose positive duties to promote equality of opportunity and treatment; (c) whether the grounds of discrimination should be closed or open-ended; (d) what the potential costs and benefits of equality legislation are to business and other; and, (e) what the potential advantages and disadvantages of employment and pay equity plans would be. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether it would be sensible for a Committee to consider whether there should be a single Equality Commission since this is already the subject of public consultation.

    The great advantage of this approach would be that it would enable the subject-matter of the Bill to be investigated in the light of evidence and consultation. That would advance public understanding of the issues and assist future development of legislation in this area.

    I should be grateful if my suggestion were considered by the Liaison Committee at the appropriate stage. If any further information is needed I would of course be delighted to provide it.

Memorandum from the Leader of the House to the Committee

The purpose of this memorandum is to present the Liaison Committee with the Government's proposals for pre-legislative scrutiny of the first three draft bills to be published in this Session.

    Electricity (Trading and Transmission)

    We published on 30 January a draft bill to implement the British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (BETTA). Copies are available in the Printed Paper Office.

    The House of Commons Trade & Industry Committee has decided to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny between now and Easter, and we do not propose anything further. That Committee is well placed to consider BETTA, having reported on Security of Energy Supply only a year ago (2nd Report 2001–02).


    We aim to publish within the next few weeks a draft bill to reform the law of corruption in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The bill would implement the White Paper Raising Standards and Upholding Integrity: the prevention of corruption of June 2000 (Cm 4759), which was based largely on a Law Commission report of March 1998 (No. 248). It would also make certain amendments to the limitation periods for civil actions relating to corruption in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to enable the UK to ratify the Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption.

    We propose to remit this to a Joint Committee of seven members of each House, to report by mid-July. We will table the first of the necessary motions shortly.


    We will publish a draft Housing Bill later in the spring. The draft Bill will seek to improve housing standards by rationalising and modernising the controls on "Houses in Multiple Occupation", by giving local authorities powers for selective licensing of private landlords in areas of low housing demand, and by introducing a new evidence-based system for identifying unacceptable housing conditions. It will also introduce the "seller's pack" to the home buying and selling process.

    The bill will fall squarely within the remit of the House of Commons Select Committee on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. We anticipate that they will wish to conduct pro-legislative scrutiny, and we do not propose anything further.

    The Government will bring forward further draft bills in due course, and I will keep the Committee informed as to our proposals for pre-legislative scrutiny in each case.

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