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Mr. Ottaway: The Opposition agree with the broad thrust of the Minister's comments. However, I think that he should pay attention to the points on strategies made by London First in its briefing on Report. The briefing, after listing the strategies, states:

That goes to the heart of our central complaint, in Committee, about the provision.

London First continues:

on performance indicators and strategies. No such amendment has been tabled, but the Minister should be able to tell us how he expects to monitor the effectiveness of the strategies that have been set out in the Bill.

Mr. Simon Hughes: Amendments Nos. 68 and 69 reflect the difference of view between the Liberal Democrats and the Government on how independent and self-governing London should be. We have always argued for regional government, not citywide government. A regional government for London could reasonably be expected to have regard to national policy without being required to follow such policy. What may be appropriate

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across England may not be appropriate in London. We are all bound by the international obligations to which the United Kingdom signs up, but there is no reason why London should not differ from a general strategy for England. We have never been persuaded that there must be conformity and homogeneity. We retain our view, although we accept that the Government like to hang on to everything at the centre, as this short debate has shown.

Mr. Raynsford: The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) quoted from a London First briefing when saying that we were focusing too much on the process and not enough on performance. I have frequent contact with London First and a great deal of respect for it, but I believe that it is wrong in this case. The strategies are the framework for action. We want to ensure that all interested parties have an opportunity to be involved in their preparation. It is vital that business should be fully consulted in the preparation of the strategies that will guide London's economic development policies. We have to get the process right.

Once the strategies are in place, they should guide the process of implementation and ensure that the objectives that we have discussed are met. That covers wealth creation, social development and environmental improvement. The authority is about getting results, improving the quality of life for Londoners and creating a more prosperous and successful city. If we get the strategies right and ensure a framework that allows the mayor and authority to implement them, we shall secure the progress that we want.

I am sorry that we have failed to persuade the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) that his slightly anarchic view of the role of London in relation to the rest of the country is inappropriate. As on many other matters, the Liberal Democrats are out of step with the general thrust of opinion in the country, which wants a good measure of independence and devolved decision making within a framework that secures the national interest. We do not want an anarchic framework in which some parts of the country act on their own with no regard to the impact on other parts of the country. That is not a recipe for good government or the future health and well-being of the United Kingdom. If the hon. Gentleman presses his amendments, I urge the House to vote against them.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 115, in page 19, line 39, leave out 'international obligations' and insert

'with such international obligations as the Secretary of State may notify to the Mayor for the purposes of this paragraph'.

No. 116, in page 19, line 43, leave out from beginning to 'and' in line 44.

No. 117, in page 20, line 3, at end insert--

'(5A) The Mayor--
(a) in considering whether any strategy mentioned in subsection (1) above needs to be revised,
(b) in implementing any such strategy, or
(c) in exercising in relation to the spatial development strategy any of his functions under sections 248 to 256 below,
shall have regard to the matters specified in subsection (5) above.'.

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No. 118, in page 20, line 3, at end insert--

'(5B) Where the Mayor prepares or revises any strategy mentioned in subsection (1) above, he shall include such of the available policies and proposals relating to the subject matter of the strategy as he considers best calculated--
(a) to promote improvements in the health of persons in Greater London, and
(b) to contribute towards the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom,
except to the extent that he considers that any action that would need to be taken by virtue of paragraph (a) or (b) above is not reasonably practicable in all the circumstances of the case.
(5C) In subsection (5B)(a) above, the reference to promoting improvements in health includes a reference to mitigating any detriment to health which would otherwise be occasioned by the strategy or revision.'.--[Mr. Kevin Hughes.]

Mr. Raynsford: I beg to move amendment No. 119, in page 20, leave out lines 5 to 9.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 123 to 125 and 127.

Mr. Raynsford: The amendments are drafting amendments, bringing together, in clause 305, the interpretation clause, the definition of national policies that appears in several different places in the Bill. I hope that the House will agree with these sensible, but entirely technical, amendments.

Mr. Ottaway: The amendments provide a better structure for the definition of national policies. However, our fundamental objection remains. A national policy to which the mayor must have regard is whatever the Government say it is. It is based not on a decision of the House, but on an arbitrary decision of the Government. Any paper that they lay here counts as policy. The Government laid a transport White Paper a few months ago. I am sure that they will implement many of its provisions, but I suspect that an awful lot of it will not be implemented. It is unacceptable for the mayor to be bound by policies that the Government have no intention of implementing. National policy should be that which has been subject to a resolution of the House, not a Government diktat.

Putting a definition in clause 305 is an improvement on the random dotting around the Bill, but I place on record our disquiet about the use of the words "national policies".

Sir Sydney Chapman: I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) has said. I may be speaking to a slightly wider agenda, but this is the right time to make my points. Many Londoners believe that there will be considerable devolution of power from the national Government to the mayor and the Greater London assembly. Very few powers, if any, have been devolved from the Secretary of State, but many have been taken from below from the boroughs. The Government claim to be serious about devolving power to Londoners, as they are with the Scottish Parliament and, to a lesser extent, the Welsh Assembly. Many Londoners will be disappointed that the Bill is merely a fig leaf of devolved power with very little substance.

Mr. Raynsford: The Government are not taking powers predominantly from other tiers of local

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government and refusing to devolve power from central Government. The main new powers for the Greater London Authority involve substantial devolution from central Government, where responsibility for transport services in London and the Metropolitan police lies. The new authority will be given real powers. That is part of the process of devolution.

Only the Liberal Democrats would normally dissent from the view that such an authority should have regard to national policies. London is part of the country. There is no difference between us and the Conservatives on that. The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) expressed concern about the definition of national polices. Some key areas in which the Conservatives have expressed a lot of interest recently, including planning policy on development and new housing in the green belt, would not be covered by a definition limited to items that had been approved by the House. Planning policy guidance note 3 is being seen as an important document in guiding policy. The more limited definition that the hon. Gentleman would apparently prefer would make it possible for such items to be disregarded. It would not be sensible for the mayor of London not to have regard to new planning policy guidance or other documents issued by the Government that are not subject to approval by the House. I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern, but it is misplaced. In practice--

It being half-past seven o'clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker put the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [30 April].

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

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