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Lord Sheppard of Didgemere: My Lords, it would be a great tragedy if we took a step backwards in the Bill. Over the past five or six years, a close voluntary working relationship with business, local government and central government, normally through the Minister for London, has been built up. It would be very sad if we were to go backwards rather than forwards in that respect. I know that noble Lords opposite are conscious of that situation.
We happen to have a great success on our hands: London is a fabulous business success. We must not do anything to damage that. We need to grow more wealth so that we can reduce inequality. We spoke about equality of opportunity earlier.
I see no reason for not supporting the amendments proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, because although the Government have done an amazingly good job--it may not be amazing to them--of convincing business that the GLA is a good and sensible thing for London, it did not necessarily start that way. The amendments would cement that relationship and demonstrate that there will be consultation. We know that there must be. Business will certainly consult with the mayor of London, whether or not he wants to be consulted. It is probably a good idea, therefore, if he or she consulted with business.
I should probably declare an interest to the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, in that I am not only a large businessman" but I also happen to be a very small businessman" in many start-up businesses, and so on. I am aware, therefore, of some of the problems she describes.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, in Committee we proposed an amendment which was not dissimilar to the first of those tabled by the noble Baroness. We, too, regard the relationship between the new authority and London's business sector as very important. The noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, quite rightly referred to the way in which the relationship between local government and business in London has developed
We received considerable assurances from the Government in Committee. However, I should like to put on record our concern that there should be no doubt about the importance of involving business in the same way as other sectors, and being particularly sensitive to the needs of business.
In response to the noble Baroness, I reject the notion that strategic government in London, implementing policies which reflect environmental concerns, will necessarily, therefore, be against business. I do not believe that the two are mutually exclusive. She referred to the London lorry ban. For the record, perhaps I should briefly make the point that that was not an anti-business strategy but was to reduce the traffic going through London and not to places within London. There are exempted routes and a licensing scheme. These matters are often difficult to balance. However, we should not allow ourselves to believe that business and environmental interests are somehow in two pigeon-holes and cannot be put together.
Earl Bathurst: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for acknowledging my interjection regarding safety. However, my noble friend has withdrawn her Amendment No. 108. As far as I can see, that is the only mention of safety in any of the amendments and, indeed, in the Bill. Amendment No. 108 contains the little word safe" which might appear to be there accidentally. If the noble Baroness withdraws her amendment or if the Minister will not accept it, could he give assurances that safety is written in fiery letters in the strategy for which the mayor will be responsible. I would be grateful if the Minister could confirm that or perhaps he might consider, with his colleagues, introducing an amendment at a later stage which brings in safety as a policy within the strategy.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, as regards the latter point, I am sorry if that was not clear to the noble Lord. I believe I specifically told him that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, withdrew his amendment on the basis that I would consider--partly in relation to the Marchioness" inquiry but also in the light of this amendment--whether to bring forward at Third Reading an amendment relating to safety in this context. It would be without commitment: at this point I needed to consult somewhat more widely. I did agree to take it away, and it was on that basis that it was withdrawn.
Turning to the main point of these amendments, I find it slightly difficult because, although I agree with quite a lot of what the noble Baroness said, together with virtually all of what the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, said, I do not know why it is necessary to put the amendment in here. The noble Baroness dismissed my earlier assurances, but the Bill does say that the mayor must consult bodies which represent the interests of persons carrying on business in Greater London.
The noble Baroness seemed to suggest that her formulation, which also refers to organisations representing business, was somehow closer to the grass roots of business. I do not myself see that, and since that formulation relates to the general duties of the mayor I do not know why we need to repeat it in a different form at later stages. I do not want to have a dispute with noble Lords opposite on this, because clearly it has been central to the formulation of the whole strategy for London that we take on board discussions with representatives of business and put into the Act and its procedures a requirement to involve business in all the key decisions which the mayor will produce under this Bill.
I find it unnecessary to specify this in a slightly different way from what was specified earlier, because that in itself could lead to confusion at various stages of this Bill. I would hope that noble Lords opposite, and the business community of London, would accept that general position as being indicative of the Government's intention to ensure that the mayor works closely with business of all kinds in London. That is certainly our intention, and it would be a very foolish mayor indeed who attempted to ignore that. Indeed the Bill would not permit that. I simply do not think that we need to write it into every clause and I would ask noble Lords opposite to consider that what is already in the Bill would meet their points.
Regarding Amendment No. 115, which refers to compliance cost assessment, that is a term of art which is related to legislation and the authority is not a legislative authority. Nevertheless, the noble Baroness is clearly concerned not with compliance cost assessment in a technical sense, but with the costs which would fall on business or distort the economics of London. It is clear that the cost implications of the mayor's strategy and other related matters such as unemployment will be part of the consultation that has been described, and so I think the noble Baroness's point would be met. I do not think we ought to fall out over this. I hope that, on consideration, noble Lords will see that we have made our intentions clear. If not, no doubt they will return to these matters at a later stage.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I can certainly assure the noble Lord that in none of our amendments do we intend to fall out with the Minister: it is the very last thing that we would dream of doing.
The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brougham and Vaux): Before I put the Question that the Title be postponed, it may be helpful to remind your Lordships of the procedure for today's Committee stage. Except in one important respect, our proceedings will be exactly as in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We shall go through the Bill clause by clause; noble Lords will speak standing; all noble Lords are free to attend and participate; and the proceedings will be recorded in Hansard. The one difference is that the House has agreed that there shall be no Divisions in the Grand Committee. Any issue on which agreement cannot be reached should be considered again at the Report stage when, if necessary, a Division may be called. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn.
I should explain what will happen if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting. The noble Lord who is speaking will, I hope, come to the end of the paragraph quickly. This Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division bells are rung and will then resume after 10 minutes.