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Mr. Ottaway: The prospects are about the same.

Mr. Hughes: The hon. Gentleman is probably right.

This is a probing amendment. Clause 33 contains a list of the mayor's strategies. It applies to transport,London development, spatial development, biodiversity, municipal waste, air quality, ambient noise and culture. Our amendment and the new clause seek to add a strategy for the River Thames.

The reason why we have tabled the amendment--people who are interested can see how we amplify it in new clause 13, which sets out all the inter-related parts of the proposal--is that the Thames not only is a hugely important principal item in London, and therefore will be governed by London government, but links many other things. One cannot have an environmental strategy, for example, that does not impinge also on the Thames.

The Thames has suffered from the lack of a coherent strategy pulling together the strands, and we thought that it would be better if we were explicit in providing such a strategy in the Bill. Although I have no doubt that London's government will want to address Thames issues, it would be helpful if those issues were addressed--to use ministerial phraseology--within an overarching or intertwining provision. A specific Thames strategy is not provided anywhere else in the Bill.

Mrs. Theresa May (Maidenhead): Speaking as an hon. Member whose constituency includes one of the fine stretches of the River Thames, I find the hon. Gentleman's suggestion a little difficult to accept. Is he really suggesting that the mayor of London should set the strategy for the whole of the River Thames?

Mr. Hughes: The hon. Lady was spared the Committee stage, when we discussed such issues. Of course I am not suggesting that the London mayor should do that. The River Thames Society and other bodies deal with the Thames, not only in her constituency, but beyond it to the sea. However, London Thames issues unite all the riparian boroughs, and the GLA will have a responsibility to address them. We believe that it would be sensible to have in London a coherent approach in dealing with the matter.

Mr. Ottaway: As we said, ad nauseam, in Committee--if the hon. Member for Southwark,

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North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) will forgive me--although the River Thames is important, we rather share the Government's view that there is no reason why Thames issues should be singled out for special treatment, and that transport policies and various other strategies will deal with the points made by the Liberal Democrats. So far as I can see, the amendments would only impose additional bureaucratic burdens. The odd thing about the new clause is the Liberal Democrats' proposal that the assembly should not make the decisions on the matter.

Ms Glenda Jackson: The Government fully support the need to protect and enhance the environment and the economy of the Thames. We continue to promote and implement the policies set out in strategic guidance for the River Thames. We are working with the London Planning Advisory Committee to encourage the London boroughs to incorporate those policies in their unitary development plans. We continue to work to promote and maintain use of the river for transporting freight and waste. We are also bringing to fruition the Thames 2000 initiative, which will shortly ensure that public passenger transport services are back on the river.

Amendment No. 64 and new clause 13 propose that the mayor should produce a separate document, known as the River Thames strategy, containing proposals and policies for the use, enhancement and protection of the Thames policy area, and proposing an holistic and integrated approach to the strategically significant features of the Thames. Those are laudable aims, and I wholeheartedly support them. However, I should tell the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) that the proposed provisions are irrelevant, as their aims are already covered by the Bill.

We have made specific provision--in clause 248, for the spatial development strategy--to be able to cover specific parts of London, such as the Thames, in more detail, in the same way as the Thames guidance currently does. The mayor will, therefore, be able to include in the SDS policies addressing, for example, the wide-ranging topics of the river's built and natural environment, its use for leisure and recreation, and its role in passenger and freight transportation.

The Secretary of State's strategic guidance will remain in place until replaced by the SDS. At that point, it will be for the mayor to reproduce, or even to improve upon, current policies on the Thames. However, it is not a matter that we feel needs to be, or even should be, prescribed in the Bill.

Additionally, clause 33--to which the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey referred--provides that, when preparing or revising any strategy, the mayor has to have regard to the desirability of promoting and encouraging use of the River Thames. The important role of the Thames will, therefore, be integral to consideration of all mayoral strategies. That will ensure that, for example, the waste strategy considers use of the Thames for transportation, and that the biodiversity plan deals with the importance of public access. Therefore, as the Thames runs through the centre of London, so it--and considerations of sustainability--will run throughout all the mayor's strategies.

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I hope that I have reassured the House that the very important strategic role of the River Thames is adequately provided for in the Bill, and that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey will see fit to withdraw amendment No. 64.

Mr. Simon Hughes: I am reassured not only by the Government's very good commitment--which, as a London Member, I welcome--to all the initiatives on the Thames that they have taken in the past year, but by the fact that the spatial development strategy will allow a Thames-specific strategy to be included. On that basis, it would be entirely appropriate to let the current provisions remain in the legislation, which we can always, if necessary, amend later.

I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.15 pm

Mr. Raynsford: I beg to move amendment No. 114A, in page 19, line 29, leave out subsection (4) and insert--

'(4) In preparing or revising any strategy mentioned in subsection (1) above, the Mayor shall have regard to--
(a) the principal purposes of the Authority;
(b) the effect which the proposed strategy or revision would have on--
(i) the health of persons in Greater London; and
(ii) the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom; and
(c) the matters specified in subsection (5) below.'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 68, in page 19, line 37, at end insert--

'(aa) national policies,'.

No. 69, in page 19, line 38, leave out 'national policies and'.

Government amendments Nos. 115 to 118.

Mr. Raynsford: The mayor's strategies will provide the framework within which the authority and its functional bodies operate. They will also provide the framework within which, in certain circumstances, the London boroughs, and other public bodies and organisations, operate within London. It is, therefore, vital that the strategies should have regard to the authority's own principal purposes--which we have already debated--and also to wider national and international considerations which will impact on the quality of life of Londoners. The authority cannot, and will not, be operating in a vacuum.

Amendments Nos. 114A and 118, therefore, require the mayor, in preparing or revising any strategy, to have regard to the authority's principal purposes, as stated in new clause 32, and to consider the effect that such strategies would have on the health of Londoners and on the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom.

The mayor is also required to include policies that he or she considers best calculated to promote improvements in the health of people in London, and that would--for reasons that I outlined in the previous debate--contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in the UK.

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In both of those cases, and in others--for example, the integrated transport plan--the mayor cannot act in isolation: what happens or is done in London will have an effect elsewhere. The mayor's strategies must, therefore, be consistent with national policies, and with international obligations, when they have been adopted.

I therefore cannot accept amendments Nos. 68 and 69--which were tabled by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes)--which would have the effect of making the mayor have regard to national policies, but not of making him or her produce strategies that were consistent with such national policies. That would be clear nonsense. The GLA, like all other authorities in England, will operate within a framework of national policies and legislation. It simply cannot go its own way and disregard the framework willy-nilly.

Amendment No. 115 replaces the current requirement that the mayor must have regard to the need to ensure that any strategy is consistent with international obligations with a less onerous obligation requiring the mayor to ensure that his or her policies are consistent with international obligations notified to the mayor by the Secretary of State.

International obligations are placed on the state, and it must be for the state to decide if or how those are to be met. It is difficult to see how the mayor could possibly meet the obligation as previously drafted, as a huge international secretariat would be required to establish whether any international obligation was being breached. Amendment No. 115 is, therefore, a common-sense amendment, and I hope that the House will agree it.

Amendments Nos. 116 and 117 are both drafting amendments.

I hope that the House will accept the Government amendments in this group, and that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey will not press amendments Nos. 68 and 69.

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