moved Amendment No. 1:
After Clause 18, insert the following new Clause—
"General power for Assembly to call in directions
After section 404 of the GLA Act 1999 (discrimination) insert—
"404A Directions issued by the Mayor
(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, the Mayor may only issue a direction under or by virtue of this Act, if—
(a) the Mayor has sent a written copy of any proposed direction to the Assembly;(b) the Assembly has had 14 days from the date of receiving a copy of the proposed direction to make recommendations that the proposed direction should not be issued or should be issued with such modifications as the Assembly shall determine;(c) the Mayor has had regard to any recommendation made by the Assembly under paragraph (b) above; and(d) the Mayor has provided the Assembly with a written statement explaining why he has decided not to accept, to any extent, any recommendation made by the Assembly.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply where the Mayor provides the Authority's Monitoring Officer with a copy of a proposed direction, and the Authority's Monitoring Officer determines that any delay in issuing the proposed direction that is likely to be caused by complying with the requirements of subsection (1) would seriously prejudice the interests of the public, the Authority, or the body to whom it is intended that the proposed direction will be issued.
(3) The Authority's Monitoring Officer must notify the Mayor and the Chair of the Assembly when a determination under subsection (2) above has been made."
My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 2. The Public Bill Office has quite properly drawn your Lordships' attention to the fact that the amendment is similar to one debated at an earlier stage. I have made the point again through this amendment, which picks up substantially the wording of the earlier versions. In particular, proposed new Clause 404A(2) deals with a point that the Government astutely made in their response on Report. I said then that they had a good point and had given me an idea for amending my amendment and bringing it back at this stage.
This amendment deals with the Mayor's powers of direction and the role of the London Assembly in regard to them. The Mayor has powers to issue directions to Transport for London and the development agency, and he will have power to issue directions to the fire authority. The London Assembly has the job of holding the Mayor to account, which, during the seven and a half years when I have been a Member, I have decided means bringing matters into the public domain and ensuring debates at relevant moments. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 provides for the London Assembly's duties and my proposals are squarely in line with those duties and functions.
I propose not a veto, which is how the amendment has been characterised, but the right of the Assembly to debate the matter—with 14 days' notice, in effect—and to make recommendations to the Mayor. Recommendations, of course, are not a veto. The Mayor would then be required to explain to the Assembly why he had decided not to accept a recommendation made by the Assembly. The 14-day period has been brought down during discussion on the Bill. The Minister said previously that 14 days' notice would cramp the Mayor's ability to issue urgent directions, and I thought that not precluding urgent directions was a good point. Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that if the Mayor gets to the point of issuing a direction to the functional bodies, which in one case he chairs and in other cases he appoints members to, that must indicate that a controversial issue is on the table, otherwise there would be no need to issue a direction.
In order to meet the urgency point, I have proposed new subsections (2) and (3), which would allow the Greater London Authority's monitoring officer—a statutory post concerned with standards of conduct and so on—to certify that a matter is more urgent than this procedure is suitable for. At the previous stage of the Bill, a specific example was given of the Mayor's powers under the Mayor of London order 2000 to deal with planning applications. I shall not go into the detail of the order or the detail of what the new order will be, but he has powers in regard to planning.
I thought that it would be inappropriate to seek to put in primary legislation a reference to secondary legislation, so I have not referred in the amendment to the provision mentioned by the noble Baroness. However, I believe that the way in which the amendment is drafted meets that point. I beg to move.
My Lords, as has been mentioned, this amendment follows quite a lot of discussion in Committee and on Report, and we have spent a fair time going over this ground. It is true that the Greater London Assembly is elected to represent the interests of the people of London, so it is rather silly that it can be over-ridden without a mandate. London does not have a presidency any more than the country does.
It is a great shame that the amendment was not able to be included in the Bill or accepted by the Government at an earlier stage. Perhaps this is one of the problems emanating from the Grand Committee procedure, whereby voting can take place only on Report. However, we have read the advice from the Clerks and I know that there is controversy over the admissibility of amendments at Third Reading when they have been debated at other stages. We shall need to reflect on this for the future, but I thought that I would tell the House that at this point, if the amendment is pressed, the Front Bench—or, rather, all of us—will have to abstain.
My Lords, I hope that my noble friend will not feel tempted to accept the amendment. As the noble Baroness who moved it rightly pointed out, we have discussed this matter again and again. I took the trouble to look up what we said in Committee and saw that on that occasion the wording was precisely the same as Amendment No. 2. We had a very thorough discussion about this in Committee and on Report, as has been said.
I was opposed to the amendment from the very beginning because it seemed to be an attempt to redefine the roles of the London Assembly relative to those of the Mayor. If we had wanted a more powerful Assembly, we should have opposed the abolition of the GLC. You cannot now write back into the powers of the Assembly powers that would have once belonged to the GLC or a similar body. We have a very different legislative framework now, which has been accepted by everybody, and I do not think that at this stage of the Bill we can revive this discussion, which has taken up quite a lot of time at each stage.
My Lords, I am concerned that requiring the Mayor to seek the Assembly's advice before issuing a direction would add unwarranted delay to the planning process. New arrangements are being introduced to improve delivery, particularly of housing, and to speed up the planning process without adding undue complexity—an objective that I believe we all share. The new clause would undermine those objectives. The Mayor is the decision-maker, and we should not confuse this with the committee system in local authorities. Assembly Members can take part in the thorough consultation process which applications now undergo. It is absolutely right that they are also able to scrutinise the Mayor's decisions, but it is not appropriate for them to be consulted in the way suggested in this amendment.
My Lords, I am puzzled by the persistence of the noble Baroness. The present procedure, which has run for a few years, and which is well tried and tested, has not inhibited her or her political colleagues at any level in severely criticising the actions arising from a direction given by the Mayor. They have not hesitated to make their criticisms public or to attempt to embarrass the Mayor retrospectively. The noble Baroness is now saying that they want the chance to do that prospectively.
With great respect, this is a time-wasting, additional layer of bureaucracy, which the Liberal Democrats are constantly telling us they wish to see removed. That is a laudable objective, but in the light of the experience of the noble Baroness and her colleagues in the Assembly, I hesitate to believe that what she proposes will move forward one jot the quality of the oversight that they have had over the Mayor. I shall not say that the amendment is a waste of time, but far better things can be done in the Assembly than to call for this pre-direction scrutiny.
My Lords, noble Lords clearly recall our debates on this issue on Report, when I opposed this approach on two grounds. First, as my noble friend Lady Turner has said, it seeks to redefine the relationship between the Mayor and the Assembly. It is extremely important that the Assembly should focus on retrospective scrutiny of the Mayor's decision, and should not confuse its role by becoming embroiled in operational decision-making. Secondly, as the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, said, it would lead to unacceptable delays in issuing time-critical directions.
I want to address the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, especially since we seem to have inspired it from our own Front Bench. In courtesy, therefore, I am happy to address it. The noble Baroness has attempted to address the notion of the time-critical element in the new clause by including a new stage in the process. Under Amendment No. 1, the authority's monitoring officer may now allow the Mayor to issue a direction without first sending it to the Assembly if he deems that any delay would be against the public interest or prejudice the interests of the GLA or the body to which the direction will be issued.
I wish that I could be more gracious but I believe that the additional step adds another layer of complexity and bureaucracy to a proposal that has little benefit in practice. With the best will in the world, I cannot see how this can do anything but add further to the delay in issuing directions and guidance. An equally important point is that it would place the authority's monitoring officer in a rather hapless way into the process. It requires him to adjudicate between hierarchies of different directions, some of which may seem to be more significant than others. It puts him in the position of arbitrating between the Mayor and the Assembly. I do not think that, with the best will in the world, that will help.
There is another problem: the definition of "direction" in Amendment No. 2 includes directions and guidance issued by the Mayor. Here we have the prospect of another avalanche of internal documents and bureaucracy. All that adds up to a clear threat to the business of getting on with operational delivery. I shall expand a little on that.
These amendments would mean the Assembly engaging in executive decision-making proactively rather than retrospectively. As my noble friend Lady Turner said, noble Lords know that the GLA model of government, which is successful, is built around a strong, decisive mayor who is able to take often tough or difficult decisions and an Assembly which holds him publicly to account for those decisions. A fundamental principle is that the Mayor should be able to take operational decisions, including directions, without first having to refer to the Assembly. An Assembly power of call in at that late stage would serve only to slow down the process and make it more bureaucratic and less efficient. The Mayor's powers to issue directions and guidance to three of the functional bodies—TfL, LDA and, through Clause 29, LFEPA—are crucial for ensuring that those bodies deliver the Mayor's priorities for London, the priorities that Londoners elect the Mayor to fulfil.
The Mayor also has specific direction-making powers. For example, on transport, the Mayor issues directions under Section 174 of the GLA Act in relation to setting TfL's public transport fares. On planning, the Town and Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2000 specifies that the Mayor has 14 days from being notified of a borough's decision on a planning application to decide whether to direct the borough to refuse the application. The Government are proposing a similar timetable in relation to the Mayor's new power under the Bill to direct a borough that he will determine a planning application of potential strategic importance. The Mayor has used his powers of direction proportionately since the GLA was established, but I stress that directions do not come out of the ether from nowhere because the policies underpinning many operational directions have already been subject to the authority's internal process of policy development, debate and scrutiny—there is no more active member of the Assembly than the noble Baroness—which is where the Assembly scrutinises them.
Allowing the Assembly to influence the Mayor's operational decisions at this late stage serves only to blur the boundary between the Authority's executive and scrutiny functions. It is a clear risk that the Assembly would end up scrutinising the outcomes of decisions that it had helped to make. There are parallels to be drawn with the issuing of directions and guidance to non-departmental public bodies by the Secretary of State. In such circumstances, Ministers rarely consult Parliament before they exercise such powers and fully expect Parliament to scrutinise their actions retrospectively, should it so wish. I believe that the principle of retrospective scrutiny of operational decisions with a clear separation between executive and scrutiny functions is the right and consistent approach for the GLA. I hope the noble Baroness can be persuaded that there is a good case for withdrawing her amendment.
My Lords, I am grateful for the comments and for the compliments that, I think, came from one or two noble Lords. However, the fact that the Assembly has been doing its job well does not deter me from my argument that this additional tool would be useful. As I hope I made clear, the wording is not the same as in previous stages of the Bill; it has benefited from the debate on the amendment. It does not amount to a veto; it is a pause for reflection. In connection with the planning process, I have dealt with the position on applications, and in the context of a substantial and significant application, 14 days would be a short time. I resist any suggestion that from these Benches we would attempt to block the provision of more affordable housing in London. I led a lot of people through the Lobby, with the Government, on that issue at the previous stage. Consultation, to which the noble Baroness referred, is a different matter. The noble Lord, Lord Graham, says that the Assembly has not been inhibited in its criticism. I will take that as a compliment rather than as an answer to the amendment.
On the point about bureaucracy, this version of the amendment was drafted by the then monitoring officer, the whole Assembly having considered that it wanted to pursue the matter. Perhaps monitoring officers look for bureaucracy. I do not believe this one did. Certainly she was used to arbitrating between the different arms of the Greater London Authority. By definition, because of subsection (2) and (3), it could not add time. Also by definition, and this is where I shall finish, any matters which would be subject to this would be controversial. The fact that the Mayor has to issue a direction to a functional body—a functional body over which he has so much influence, indeed I would say control in a couple of cases—would indicate that the direction was controversial. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 does not require the Assembly only to deal retrospectively with matters. Section 59(1) says:
"The Assembly shall keep under review the exercise by the Mayor of the statutory functions exercisable by him".
That does not read to me as precluding prospective action. Therefore, while understanding precisely the advice about what one should do at Third Reading, I wish to test the opinion of the House.
My Lords, I gave the Minister notice of Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 because they probe some technical matters that have arisen since the previous stage of the Bill. I have tabled the amendments for clarification. On reading the Minister's letter of
In subsection (2) of Clause 33, proposed new Section 2C(1) refers only to the approval of reserved matters where an outline planning permission has been granted. It does not apply to approvals of details under other conditions. "Reserved matters" and "outline planning permission" have particular definitions and major schemes will require numerous approvals of details that are not reserved matters. The proposed new Section 2C(1) does not achieve the Government's purpose. Details might be required to be approved under conditions on conservation area consents, such as the recording of the building prior to demolition or arrangements for the clearance of the site prior to redevelopment. It seems prudent to make provision for those.
I am sure that there is a reasonable and doubtless highly technical justification for the current drafting of the Bill. I look forward to the Minister's response, which I am sure will set at rest the minds of planning experts throughout London, or at least provide some clarity on this matter. I beg to move.
My Lords, I shall certainly try to set the noble Baroness's mind at rest because it is important to be clear on these things. She explained the precise position for reserved matters. On the other matters that the noble Baroness wants to clear up, we have always been clear that the Mayor should take only the decisions that are appropriate for him to take. The noble Baroness's Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 relate to her concern that the Bill does not provide for any decisions over the subsequent approval of details required under conditions and consents, et cetera, attached to planning permissions to be delegated to the relevant borough instead of being decided by the Mayor. Let me reassure her on this point.
We have provided in Clause 33, under new Section 2C, for decisions on the approval of specifically defined reserved matters related to outline planning permissions granted by the Mayor to be delegated back to the borough. But it is not necessary to do the same in relation to any subsequent approvals required by planning conditions attached to outline or full planning permissions. The wording of the individual condition will set out who will be responsible for making the subsequent decision. The wording of any planning condition attached to a planning permission is the responsibility of the decision maker. If the decision maker is the Mayor, he will take account of any conditions that the borough has asked him to impose on any permission as well as any he wishes to impose. Therefore, if the condition requires subsequent approval of a detail which is best decided at the local level, such as approval of external materials or design issues, the Mayor can specify in the wording of the condition that it is to be the borough, rather than him, that is to be responsible for dealing with that approval. This applies equally to any conditions attached to conservation area consents where approvals may be required.
As I have said, we do not consider it appropriate to put in place a blanket provision that all approvals of details will be dealt with by the borough instead of the Mayor because it is right to allow discretion to the decision maker. However, we are absolutely clear that the vast majority of such decisions will be appropriate for the borough rather than the Mayor. In order to make this absolutely clear, we will put it into the circular that will accompany the new powers, which will in turn be subject to consultation.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. There is a danger of confusion here. There is danger of people assuming that others will do things and that perhaps the Mayor may take more responsibility than he may need. If it is made clear in the circular, which the Minister has put on the record, that satisfies me for today. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I have given notice of this amendment to the Minister. I am sure that she will be able to do the same with this as she has with the other one. The noble Baroness's answer on hazardous substances consent was rather difficult to follow. It is my understanding that the Mayor is the hazardous substances authority under new Section 2B(5). Section 2C is proposed to deal with the problem that the Mayor is responsible for the detailed approvals under each consent he has granted. So the suggestion that a circular will say that the borough council is treated as a hazardous substances authority seems to be inconsistent with the Government's interpretation of new Sections 2B and 2C. I have tabled Amendment No. 5 to probe the Government's intentions behind this drafting. I beg to move.
My Lords, very similar issues arise on the noble Baroness's Amendment No. 5, which would provide for the Mayor to delegate any decisions on subsequent approvals required under hazardous substances consent and conservation area consent to the relevant borough. As I said previously, we are concerned that decisions are made at the right level. For the reasons I gave in relation to Amendments Nos. 3 and 4, it is unnecessary to say anything in the Bill in relation to the delegation of subsequent approvals under conditions and conservation area consents. That can be dealt with in the wording of individual conditions. It is also unnecessary to say anything more on hazardous substances consent because new Section 2B(5)(b) in Clause 33 already makes it clear that the Mayor will be the hazardous substances authority only for the purposes of determining the hazardous substances consent connected with the planning application before him. That is where his role as hazardous substances authority formally ends.
If the Mayor attaches any requirements for subsequent approvals to the hazardous substances consent—for example, the specification of containers for storing the substance—they will automatically fall to be considered by the local authority, the borough, acting as the hazardous substances authority. The borough is defined as the authority under the Hazardous Substances Act 1990, but it will of course have to act on the advice of the Health and Safety Executive. That, I hope, puts the position on the record. Again, if there is any possibility of confusion, we will make sure that it is included in the circular.
The noble Baroness did not ask about our specific reference to listed building consents requiring subsequent approval of details in this part of the Bill, but I will set out the position. This procedure is specifically identified under the Listed Buildings Act and may be used, for example, where specific detailed additional information is needed before a listed building can be altered. In this Bill we are seeing the interrelationship between several different pieces of legislation which ascribe responsibilities and actions to different bodies as appropriate. That explains why the position is slightly more complex.
My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 7, which is grouped with Amendment No. 6 . These amendments deal with aspects of the proposed new planning regime. When we debated the same amendments at the previous stage, the Minister said that she would write to me. I understand from the conversation of the past 10 minutes or so that it is either the fault of my filing—it cannot be the dog because I do not have one—the postal situation or whatever method of communication was used. I am not aware of having received a letter. In any event, particularly with regard to the amendment on how commuted payments—on the last occasion Hansard recorded that phrase as "commuter payments"—are to be dealt with when the application involves more than one borough, my concern is to understand what happens to sums paid by way of commuted payments by the applicant. Do they go to the Mayor? Are they divided between the relevant boroughs? For example, in the case of affordable housing, is there a mechanism that would allow the Mayor to use money paid by a developer in respect of a development in one borough which does not have the requisite proportion of affordable housing to build housing in another part of London?
I apologise to the House for bringing these amendments back, but having the explanation on the record will be helpful. I beg to move.
My Lords, I have sympathy with both of these amendments, but I think that they would be better dealt with in guidance rather than in legislation. On Amendment No. 6, it is not appropriate that legislation should seek to effect the transfer of Section 106 funds to a borough, which would create unwarranted bureaucracy. I agree that the Mayor should transfer Section 106 funds to the body responsible for delivery. That might be a borough, but it might also be Transport for London or a training provider. Given that, these arrangements should be addressed in guidance.
On Amendment No. 7, given my experience of the Mayor in his planning role, I am unable to envisage a circumstance where he would not be looking for Section 106 money. However, the important issue raised is that the Mayor should have regard to the borough's priorities for Section 106 money. That is a valid point and again should be addressed in guidance.
My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Baroness did not receive the letter of
We debated both amendments on Report and I shall not repeat the reasons why I cannot accept them but, for the record, obligations are private agreements which are usually negotiated between local planning authorities and developers, or offered unilaterally by developers, for the benefit of the local planning authority. As the noble Baroness knows well, their purpose is to mitigate harm that would arise from a planning proposal and make acceptable in planning terms a proposal that otherwise could be refused planning permission. Therefore it is entirely logical and necessary that where a planning application is determined by a London borough, it should be the responsibility of the borough to lead on the planning obligation; and when it is the Mayor who is determining an application, it should be him that leads.
As regards Amendment No. 6, it is wrong to assume that all the impact arising from a development would necessarily be local or that all the required mitigation would be provided by the boroughs. Each circumstance will determine and depend on the individual development proposal, obviously, and each planning obligation will clearly set out in terms the details of the mitigation to be provided, who will provide it, when it will be provided and the level and timing of funding for the mitigation.
But clearly it is the responsibility of the local planning authority—whether that is the Mayor or the borough—to distribute any sums that are due under the obligation in accordance with the terms of the agreement or according to the undertaking. For example, the Mayor acting as the local planning authority may agree that it is necessary for the developer to contribute financially to the provision and maintenance of open space. Providing that open space could be the responsibility of the borough and, if so, the Mayor would pass the agreed sum received from the developer to the borough in accordance with the obligation. But they could have, for example, a large development which could affect the capacity of the strategic road network and the terms of the obligation could require funds to be made available to carry out improvements under the control of TfL. In that case, clearly, the local planning authority—whether it is the Mayor or the borough—would pass the moneys on to TfL to carry out the works. The noble Baroness's amendment would simply add delay while the money moved from the Mayor to the borough and then might need to pass back to the Mayor or another party. I do not think that is sensible.
Amendment No. 7 would require the Mayor to have due regard to the views of the borough which would have decided the application if the Mayor had not taken it over before he decides not to modify or discharge an obligation under Section 106A. I understand the intention behind the amendment. I fully agree that it is important that the Mayor should take account of the views of the local authority in considering whether to modify or discharge an obligation he has been responsible for agreeing. That is why the Bill sets out in Clause 36(4) a new subsection (12) which requires the Mayor to consult the local planning authority before exercising any function under Section 106A. We are clear that our wording requires the Mayor to consult the borough and take account of its views before he reaches a decision on whether he will or will not agree to modify or discharge an obligation. Essentially, the Mayor is making a planning judgment. This means that he must take account of all material considerations, including the response to consultation. Therefore I believe that the wording achieves the effect the noble Baroness wants to see.
I turn very briefly to the noble Baroness's concern about commuted payments for off-site provision of affordable housing, and pooled payments, where the combined impact of a number of developments creates the need for infrastructure would be dealt with under the new arrangements where the Mayor acts as a local planning authority. She was particularly concerned about whether funding provided through Section 106 agreements for off-site provision of affordable housing would be spent within the borough where the development was sited. I can reassure her on this point. One of the things that has happened in the past few months is that we have issued planning policy statement 3on housing. That makes clear at paragraph 29 that,
"off-site provision [of affordable housing] or a financial contribution in lieu of on-site provision...may be accepted as long as the agreed approach contributes to the creation of mixed communities in the local authority area".
I shall be very happy to send the noble Baroness a copy of that.
On the pooled contributions, Circular 05/05, which sets out government policy on planning obligations and applies to local planning authorities, including both the Mayor and the boroughs, states at paragraph B21 that pooled contributions may be acceptable where the combined impact of a number of developments creates the need for infrastructure. It goes on to say that pooled contributions can take place between developments and between local authorities where there is a cross-authority impact. However, before pooled contributions can be sought, whether by a borough or by the Mayor, the need and justification for the infrastructure should be set out in advance in development plan policies, which undergo rigorous independent testing. That requirement ensures that pooled contributions can be sought only in appropriate circumstances.
Circular 05/05 also puts in place a further series of safeguards. Paragraph B21 makes it clear that there should be a clear audit trail between the contribution made and the infrastructure provided, and paragraph B24 says that, in the event that contributions are made towards specific infrastructure but that infrastructure is not provided within an agreed timetable, arrangements should be made for the contributions to be returned to the developers. I will send the noble Baroness a package of information—the letter that she never received, Planning Policy Statement 3 and Circular 05/05—which I hope will take care of her questions.
My Lords, during the early stages of the Bill we discussed the proposal for the London Waste and Recycling Board. In Committee I was able to advise the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, that the consultations that had been expected between the department and London Councils had not taken place, and he was kind enough to take that in hand. On Report, the Minister introduced a government amendment to the GLA Bill, for which we were grateful, to create a statutory London Waste and Recycling Board to administer the waste and recycling fund. In speaking to the amendment, he said:
"The London Waste and Recycling Board will not be a waste authority, but will be a body to help achieve a step-change in London through the administration of the fund and the continued development of a shared understanding of the issues and their solutions. Subject to the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Government have already committed £19 million in the year 2008-09 and we hope that the Mayor will contribute a further £6 million, as announced last July. The Government propose that the board will act in accordance with the Mayor's municipal waste management strategy and in general conformity with the London spatial development strategy. In that way it recognises that the vision and the strategy for London's waste are the Mayor's and that action will have to take place in accordance with them".—[Hansard, 26/6/07; col. 508.]
That was all very exciting, and we all thought that it was going to be the end of the discussion. However, in September of this year the Mayor of London announced his intention to withdraw all support and co-operation from the London Waste and Recycling Board. Further to that, he also withdrew the £6 million contribution to the £25 million London waste and recycling fund that he had previously committed.
Councils in London are becoming increasingly anxious as they begin to plan their spending for 2008-09 and beyond. I have had many communications not only from London Councils but from my own council, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. They are keen that the Government should clarify the way forward as quickly as possible.
It is not known what the Mayor's response to completion of the Greater London Authority Bill will be. However, it is perceived that the ongoing legislative process allows him an opportunity to keep pressure on the Government. I am not sure which Minister will be answering this, but I imagine it will be the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, and I hope that he will not mind if I put a few questions to him about the waste authority's arrangements.
Is it still the Government's intention to set up the board and the fund, having agreed to its inclusion in the Bill with cross-party support? If the Government's promised £19 million contribution to the fund will be available in time for 2008-09, and given the level of investment required in London waste services, what will the funding be in future years? How do Her Majesty's Government propose to deal with the Mayor's lack of co-operation, or even a perceived lack of co-operation, and the negative impact that that could have on waste and recycling performance in London? How do the Government intend to address the fact that the Mayor is currently withholding £6 million, even though they clearly considered that his contribution was necessary and justified? Has the Minister considered whether it would be expedient for a shadow board to be set up now, ahead of the statutory body, and whether it would be sensible to allow the new body to become effective as soon as it is set up?
I put these questions on behalf of London Councils to give the Minister the opportunity to respond to a crisis that is brewing pretty fast. There may be a perfectly good explanation and this may be a horrible misunderstanding, but there seems to be considerable doubt that that is so.
We all recognise that it is in the interests of London that this fund should be administered by a board. At the time we left it open whether the Mayor should chair the board or whether that should be agreed with the board. My amendment suggests that he chairs the board and does something about this, which is everybody's intention. I look forward to the Minister's response. I beg to move.
My Lords, I support the noble Baroness in this amendment; it is right that she brings it to the attention of the House after our previous debates. As I understand it, the Mayor says that he is taking his bat and ball home because this proposal is not workable. What is sad is that that response is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is not the Government's responsibility to get the Mayor out of a pickle, but this is strong leadership which needs redirection.
My Lords, I have taken an interest in these matters before. It puzzles me that the noble Baroness believes that the amendment will bring about the solution. Surely the solution is to have amity between all the parties concerned. The parties may in due course be faced with a direction from the Government through legislation that the Mayor of London should chair the board, regardless of who they think might be appropriate for the position. Given the personalities involved, I do not think that that course of action is likely to make much progress.
I have already declared my interest as joint president of London Councils. I have not had any representations from it on this matter, unlike the noble Baroness—she has received many representations, so she has an advantage. I should have thought, given my close association with the London Borough of Enfield and London Councils as a body, that the concern and agitation that she describes among the London councils would have been brought to my attention. It is not a happy situation: the Mayor of London and others are playing politics and attempting to use their muscle by contributing and withdrawing their powers. However, I am not certain that the amendment will help us to achieve the objective of finding—sooner rather than later, through discussion, agreement and perhaps compromise—a basis for making progress.
In reminding us of the words of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, the noble Baroness offered a perfectly sensible way forward. I took a close interest in the Bill at its previous stages and read all the documentation. I accepted the argument that we needed to move from where we were to where we hope to be, but the move favoured by the Mayor was not acceptable to the London councils. I hesitate to say that what we have now is a compromise or a halfway house, but it is politically as far as we are likely to get. I am pragmatic about these matters; it is no good wasting time or money here or in any other forum by conducting an exercise in power. I await the Minister's thoughts on the amendment. Although the current situation is not ideal, it will not be improved by the amendment.
My Lords, when the noble Baroness read out my words, I hoped that there would be no hostages to fortune in them. It is clear that what I said on Report is the position that we have reached today. We have before us a Bill and not an Act. The board is about joint working. We want it to deliver change in waste management and it has been created to help to deliver the Mayor's strategy and the boroughs' functions. We therefore want the board to determine its own priorities; they will not be set out by the Government. It must adopt a partnership approach, but the amendment is unquestionably anti-partnership. If there is a partnership approach and good-quality leadership, there will be success; if there is no partnership and poor-quality leadership, there will be failure. It is a simple as that. That applies to all the parties concerned.
We want the Mayor to chair the board to give it strategic direction. It would be an excellent vehicle for delivering real change and taking forward his strategy. As soon as the Bill receives Royal Assent, we will work closely with willing partners to ensure that, by next April, the priorities in and methodology for disbursing the fund, whatever sum of money is involved, are agreed. I know nothing about the announcements being made in the other place today.
We cannot support the amendment because it is anti-partnership. If the Mayor does not wish to participate, that is ultimately a matter for him and not for the Government. We have set out the framework in the legislation. We believe that, with good leadership and willing partners, the board can be a success, but we cannot determine from the centre its priorities and its chairmanship. We would rather the Mayor chaired it, but if he chooses not to do so, that is his decision, for which he, not the Government, is responsible.
I do not criticise the noble Baroness for coming back to the matter at this late stage of the Bill, but it makes no difference to our position. I have nothing to add to what I said on Report about either the money or the structure. I cannot comment on what was done or said during the Recess. When the Bill receives Royal Assent, the Government will seek to work with willing partners to bring about a successful outcome. A successful arrangement next April is in the interests of the Government and the boroughs. Work will commence once we have Royal Assent. Although the legislation predates my taking over responsibility for it in Defra, I understand the background to it. Once the Bill becomes an Act, changes may be made by the parties concerned.
My Lords, I understand that the £19 million was subject to the Comprehensive Spending Review, which is being announced today. It was a pretty firm commitment from the Minister that the Government had already committed £19 million for 2008-09. That is the basis of the fund as I understand it.
The amendment is technical, as I am sure the Minister understands, because the matter needs to be brought back to the House. The fact is that this is something that the House is willing to happen because of the lack of consultation between the departments. That question was raised in this House. The fact is that something has been willed, but now it looks as if the Mayor is withdrawing from the whole scheme. The Minister has not really addressed that.
In September this year, only two months ago, the Mayor announced—he did not slither it out but actually announced it—that he was withdrawing all support and co-operation from the London Waste and Recycling Board. As we know at the moment, because we are going through the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, there is plenty of legislation in which things happen well in advance of that legislation becoming an Act. It was clear to me when we discussed this that it was very much the Government's intention that this board and the fund should be there. This is a large sum of money just to be wafting away on the back of the suggestion that things will come together when the Bill is an Act. The Mayor has said that he will not support this board. That is what I am asking the Minister about. What action will be taken to bring this board about and to secure the money for the waste disposal fund to support the Government's initiatives on waste disposal for London, as we all discussed? This is going awry.
The amendment is the only way in which I can get the matter before the House, but I may have to bring forward other questions in future. For the moment I am asking the Minister why this has gone awry and whether he is aware that it has gone awry. What will be the outcome of the money that has already been committed and I hope will continue to be committed in the Comprehensive Spending Review today? If the money is there, a fund is needed to put it into and a board is needed to run that fund. The board has been set up within legislation but appears to be falling apart. I do not know whether the Minister can answer any of that. The matter needs further discussion, but I thought that it was appropriate to raise it today in view of the legislation that is going through the House.
My Lords, this is not a criticism because this is part of our process, as the House returned from recess only yesterday, but I understand that the amendment was tabled only yesterday. It is fairly narrow—and I have come briefed only on that narrow question. It does not raise the issue of the money or other matters, although with the statements made over the summer I fully accept that those issues are bound to be germane to the argument. When the Bill has Royal Assent we shall use our best endeavours with the willing partners to get the board set up. We want to do that as soon as Royal Assent is achieved.
I do not want to go picking over what was said during the Recess. I have just been handed a note that tells me that the £19 million for 2008-09 is secured and committed subject to the details of the CSR. In fact, that does not make sense; if it is secured, why is it subject to the details of the CSR? Do we have the £19 million or not? I do not hear a voice from my officials. That is why I did not want to go down this road on the money side of things, because it was not part of the briefing. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made his speech in the other place and I have nothing to say other than what I said in the summer, which I said in good faith because I read out what was put in front of me.
We want this board set up; that is in the interests of London. Who chairs it and what its priorities are will be up to the board. In answer to the earlier question, the money is secured for 2008-09. I thought that I should make that clear. That money is there. I cannot comment on the £6 million. It is our wish that the Mayor should chair the board. If he does not, that is up to him. Immediately Royal Assent is obtained, we and all the willing partners involved will use our best endeavours to try to get the board set up so that it is a success for London. In many ways, this is a final opportunity to comment on the matter in the context of the Bill, but if we do not get it right there will be opportunities to ask questions about it, and I have no doubt that I would rightly be hauled back before the House.
moved Amendment No. 9:
Clause 49, page 51, line 4, at end insert—
"(6) Nothing in this section shall be taken as affecting—
My Lords, this amendment is intended to provide a final opportunity to clarify an issue which was debated both in Committee and on Report. Because its purpose is to clarify, it falls absolutely squarely within the rules of the Procedure Committee. The issue concerns the independence of the board of governors of the Museum of London and, perhaps more immediately, the linked question of the oversight to be applied to the museum once the Greater London Authority takes the place of the Government as the co-sponsor of the museum.
The intention that the status of the museum as an independent body should remain unchanged is not now at issue. In response to an amendment moved in Committee by my noble friend Lady Hanham, the Minister made clear at cols. GC 25-26 of the Official Report of
The concern which the City has had with this arrangement is that the oversight and scrutiny functions would be lopsided, with the GLA having powers which would not be enjoyed by the City. This would be inconsistent with the assumed status of the museum as an independent body which should be positioned, to coin a phrase, equidistant between its two co-sponsors—the City and the Greater London Authority.
During the Recess there were further discussions on this issue, and a very helpful letter to the City from the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, further clarified the Government's thinking on the powers available to the City under the Museum of London Act 1965. On behalf of the City, I thank her for that clarification. I shall read the two key paragraphs of that letter, dated
"Under that Act, the City Corporation has power of approval over the Museum's expenditure; any acquisition of land by the Museum; the number, terms and conditions of all its employees and officers; and the appointment of its Director. In the exercise of these powers, the City may require the Museum to report to it and provide it with full information on matters relevant to its decisions".
The next paragraph is really important:
"None of this will change as a result of the GLA Bill. The City will still be wholly entitled to require the Museum to report to them on its expenditure and activities as a condition of sponsorship. We do not agree that the London Assembly's power to summon representatives of bodies to whom the GLA has given a grant places the Assembly at any advantage in terms of scrutiny of the Museum in comparison with the City".
Nothing could be clearer than that. It would be very helpful if the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, could confirm from the Dispatch Box, and thus place it firmly on the record, that that remains the Government's position. The thing will then be clear.
I will also press the Minister on two further points. They arose from the comments that she made in response to my noble friend Lord Brooke on Report and which are referred to in the subsequent correspondence. Again, on
"the corporation is, and always has been, able to agree with the museum, as a condition of its financial support, how it will scrutinise its operations".—[Hansard, 26/6/07; col. 568.]
Can the Minister confirm that this means that the City could subject the museum to the same requirements as the Greater London Authority may apply—that is, to require the governors or staff to attend a meeting, to give evidence or to produce documents?
The Minister also referred on Report to the ability of the City and the Greater London Authority to agree joint scrutiny arrangements, and expressed the hope that they would do so. From this Back Bench, I express the same hope that that might be possible. I would be most grateful if the Minister could confirm that in the Government's view the GLA Act 1999 enables the Assembly to sit together with the City in a scrutiny session if the parties so choose. I mention those two points because some doubts have been expressed to me about the legal position, and I would very much welcome the Minister's observations on them. I beg to move.
My Lords, as on the last occasion when we debated the subject of this amendment, I declare a non-financial interest as a former Member of Parliament for the City of London. My noble friend Lord Jenkin has most effectively drawn attention to a number of important issues during the consideration of this Bill by your Lordships' House. The continued independence of the Museum of London, as he said a moment ago, and in consequence the need for equidistance between the museum's two sponsors in the future oversight arrangements are certainly of importance. Those of your Lordships who know the museum will need no convincing of its value to London and indeed to the community as a whole.
As my noble friend Lord Jenkin said, this Bill repeals Section 5 of the Museum of London Act 1965, which provides oversight by Parliament. Ultimately, that section made the museum susceptible to scrutiny through the Public Accounts Committee. As your Lordships know, that is a House of Commons cross-party forum where officials are questioned on the public expenditure of the bodies for which they are responsible. It is, if I may put it this way, an "on the merits" forum. It is important that future arrangements proceed on the same basis. Like my noble friend, I welcome the progress that has been made in seeking to resolve this matter.
I will raise one point with the Minister by way of follow-up to what my noble friend has said. Under the legislation as it will be when the Bill is enacted, the City and the GLA will, albeit as a result of different legislative provisions applying to each, have similar powers of oversight of the museum. That is clearly the Government's intention and is, I believe, a common goal shared by all. If—I repeat, if—for any reason the arrangements were found to require refinement, could the Minister indicate her preparedness to review them in the light of experience? I posit that not as an expectation but simply as a question. Like my noble friend, I welcome the progress made on this issue, and I ask this question in that spirit.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Jenkin and Lord Brooke, for tabling the amendment and giving me the opportunity to give further assurances to the House on the future governance of the museum and to clarify matters further—which is wholly appropriate at Third Reading. I know that the noble Lords have a number of concerns on this issue. I am glad that they feel that progress has been made during the summer and I hope that I can offer the assurances that they require.
The Government intend to resist the amendment, as it is not necessary. The terms in which the Bill amends the Museum of London Acts 1965 and 1986 are very specific and clearly set out. For the most part, the Bill merely amends the 1965 Act to replace references to the Secretary of State with the GLA, and makes other changes consequential to this transfer of responsibility.
As we have made clear during the passage of the Bill, it does not give the Mayor and the GLA any greater power in respect of the Museum of London than the Government currently have under the 1965 Act. I emphasise that this Bill does not take away any of the rights, powers and responsibilities which the City of London Corporation and the Museum of London board of governors have under the 1965 Act.
I can assure the noble Lords that the City corporation's major powers of control and scrutiny in relation to the Museum of London are unaffected by the Bill. I make specific reference to scrutiny because, as noble Lords have said, there are concerns that the powers available to the City corporation may not be sufficient to enable it to scrutinise the Museum of London, particularly as the London Assembly will have powers to do so under the Greater London Authority Act 1999. Under the Museum of London Act 1965, as noble Lords have said, the City corporation has major powers of approval over the museum's expenditure, any acquisition of land by the museum, the terms and conditions of its employees and officers, how many employees and officers the museum is to have, and over the appointment of the director.
In the exercise of these powers, and as a condition of its financial support, the City corporation is wholly entitled to require the governors and senior staff of the Museum of London to report to it and provide it with full information on matters relevant to its decisions. There is nothing in the Museum of London Acts to prevent the City corporation from doing this—I am happy to put that point on record. These powers, therefore, enable the City corporation to scrutinise the activities of the museum, just as the London Assembly will have powers to scrutinise the museum. None of these powers is affected by this Bill.
The 1965 Act is quite clear in setting out the functions and powers of the board of governors of the Museum of London in relation to its operations. These include all matters relating to the care and display of collections, the employment of staff, the loan, acquisition and disposal of objects, and the provision of archaeological services. Again, none of that will change as a result of the Bill. The Museum of London will continue to be a separate and distinct legal entity from the Greater London Authority and the City of London Corporation and will, for example, continue to produce its own report and accounts and other corporate documents.
I should also point out that Mayor Livingstone has given an undertaking that his appointments to the Museum of London board of governors will be made according to the Nolan principles, with an independent element in the appointments process, and that posts will be openly advertised. There is, therefore, no reason to believe that members of the museum's board appointed by the Mayor will be any less able, independent-minded or committed to the core purposes of the museum than are those currently appointed by the Prime Minister.
Finally, I restate the Government's belief that the City of London Corporation and the GLA will be able to work together effectively as co-sponsors of the Museum of London and that, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said, they can establish a robust scrutiny regime for the museum. In fact, as I have said previously and as the noble Lord mentioned, there is nothing to prevent the City of London Corporation and the Assembly reaching an agreement to scrutinise the museum jointly, should they wish to do so. I believe that that would avoid the impression of a lopsided process—a matter about which I think the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, is concerned.
Certainly, there is precedent for such arrangements. The Assembly and the boroughs worked together as the Commission on London Governance to scrutinise the delivery of public services in the capital. Whatever scrutiny regime is decided for the museum, we shall of course be interested to see how the new sponsorship arrangements work in practice when they have had time to bed down. I think that that picks up on the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke. If a review is called for by either of the co-sponsors, the Government will be happy to consider the need for reviewing the arrangement.
I hope that with that assurance and clarification I have been able to answer noble Lords' important questions and that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, will consider withdrawing his amendment.
My Lords, I can do nothing but express my gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Drefelin, for, once again, having put the matter clearly and emphatically in a way which I am sure will reassure those who have expressed anxiety in the past. I hope that she is right that there will be no need to revisit this matter and that the arrangements that have been made will work. Certainly, that would have my complete support. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, this amendment enables us to pick up language used a little earlier this afternoon to end today's proceedings on a note of amity and in partnership, which has characterised much of our debate on the Bill.
My amendment was tabled immediately after Report, when the Government indicated that they understood, and were sympathetic to, a rather mundane point: simply, to allow the chair of the Assembly to request a candidate who might be the subject of a confirmation hearing to produce documents. The Government have, in their turn, produced Amendments Nos. 11 and 12, which I welcome. I shall not of course press my amendment to a vote but it now enables the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, to introduce the government amendments. For that purpose, I beg to move.
My Lords, government Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 seek to make it easier for the Assembly to fulfil its functions in the confirmation hearing process within the three-week period specified in Schedule 1. They amend paragraph 9 of the schedule to enable the Assembly to delegate to its chair the decision in paragraph 6(4) on whether to request documents from a candidate for a post subject to confirmation hearings.
These amendments respond to concerns raised on Report by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. She may say that it is a mundane point, but it is an important point which we have considered. We believe that delegating this function to the chair of the Assembly will provide more flexibility for the decision to be taken quickly. It should allow more time for the Assembly to focus on the hearing itself and to promptly make a recommendation to the Mayor.
Amendment No. 10, tabled by the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Tope, has a slightly different effect from the government amendments by enabling the Assembly to delegate its functions under paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 to any of its Members. I am resisting this amendment as I believe that it is more appropriate for the Assembly to delegate these functions specifically to its chair. In allowing the Assembly to delegate all its functions under paragraph 6, the Government are meeting the spirit and broad aims of the amendments, which I hope the noble Baroness will withdraw.
Before I sit down, perhaps I may say on behalf of my noble friend Lady Andrews a few words of thanks to noble Lords opposite for their spirit of great co-operation throughout the Bill's passage. I also thank Members around the House for helping to make our debates so constructive. My noble friend and I particularly thank the Bill team for their expert help and advice throughout the Bill's passage in your Lordships' House.
My Lords, we cannot allow "thank yous" to be one-sided. This Bill has been rather fun, and it has been fun basically because of the Ministers. I thank them, too, for being positive. We have had our disagreements, some of which have not been resolved, but it has been a pleasure to take part in the Bill's passage.
My Lords, for the record I should add that the officers at the Greater London Authority—I did not consult them on this—have been particularly grateful to the Bill team for their assistance. It has been a very open process and very much a model of how these things should go forward. In that spirit of amity, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
moved Amendments Nos. 11 and 12:
Schedule 1, page 59, line 31, after "for" insert "any of the following functions to be discharged on its behalf by the Chair of the Assembly—
Schedule 1, page 59, line 33, leave out from "hearing" to end and insert—
"(b) its function under paragraph 6(4) above of deciding whether to request the candidate to produce any documents."
On Question, amendments agreed to.
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.
Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.