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Mr. Simon Hughes: The Minister was right to describe it as an extremely wide new clause. Does it have recent and good precedent? That will not justify it, but at least it will give some consolation that someone else has let such a clause go through in some other legislation.

Mr. Raynsford: As I have already said, it is recognised that, in relation to local government finance, it is better for the detailed provisions to be made by order, rather than the Bill. We are following that particular precedent.

It is the intention to use that power to set out the transitional financial arrangements to apply to the GLA and functional bodies in 2000-2001. Because theGLA will not exist until part way through the year, the Secretary of State will set the GLA's first-year budget and issue its precepts. He will provide that the existing precepting authorities do not issue a precept for that year.

The transitional financial arrangements will enable the Secretary of State temporarily to assume the powers and duties which, under the Bill, are ultimately to be exercised by the GLA, the mayor or the functional bodies. I emphasise that, in doing so, there will be full consultation with such interested parties as the predecessor bodies and the relevant local authority associations.

I turn to new clauses 25 and 26. We intend that more than a dozen predecessor bodies will be transferring some or all of their responsibilities to the GLA and its associated bodies. To accompany that transfer of functions, it will be necessary to transfer a wide range of property, rights and liabilities. Among other things, that will encompass land, contracts with other parties, buildings and staff contracts.

New clauses 25 and 26 set out the process by which the relevant property, rights and liabilities of predecessor bodies can be transferred to successor bodies. Such transfers would be able to be carried out either by order made by a Minister, or by a transfer scheme. Both routes are well precedented for such transfers.

New clause 29 and new schedule 1 provide powers to assist with that transfer process. They are based closely on other recent Acts that have provided for Government reorganisations, although some more specific tailoring has been required to reflect the particular circumstances of the GLA, its associated bodies and relevant predecessor bodies.

New clause 27 makes it clear that the powers to transfer property, rights and liabilities will also cover the transfer of staff from predecessor bodies to the GLA and its

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associated bodies. As we have already made it clear, when that happens, staff will transfer on their existing terms and conditions and with continuity of employment. As with any employment, terms and conditions cannot be guaranteed for ever, but any changes that the new employer wishes to introduce in the future will have to be negotiated with staff representatives, in line with employment law.

I should now make it clear that establishment of the GLA will not lead to a large increase in the number of public sector employees. Apart from an estimated 250 new employees to serve the mayor and the assembly, the remaining staff within the core GLA will be drawn from the absorbed bodies, such as the London Planning Advisory Committee. For the other new bodies, such as Transport for London, the vast majority of staff will come from existing public sector organisations. In total, approximately 55,000 employees from predecessor bodies are expected to staff the GLA and its associated bodies.

New clause 28 deals with the making of provisions by order in relation to pensions. We expect that the implications for the pension arrangements of the vast majority of groups of staff transferring to the GLA and its associated bodies will be minimal. Our broad policy is that staff transferring to those bodies will retain membership of their existing pension scheme on transfer.

The various groups of staff who will transfer to the GLA and its associated bodies are, between them, currently members of 10 different public sector pension schemes. In some cases--such as the local government pension scheme--a scheme's membership extends well beyond the relevant predecessor bodies; in others, the whole of the scheme's membership will move to the GLA or associated bodies. Given the differing circumstances, we are considering how best to implement our broad policy that staff should retain membership of their current pension schemes on transfer. We are also examining what pension arrangements should be put in place for staffwho join the GLA and associated bodies after their establishment--although, clearly, the successor bodies themselves will want, in due course, to consider the most appropriate arrangements for such staff.

New clause 28 provides the broad powers that we believe are likely to be necessary to deliver the approach that I have just outlined, and to ensure that the new bodies are staffed effectively from day one--thus, for example, enabling provision to be made for the establishment or administration of pension schemes, and enabling staff to join or remain within a particular scheme.

More specifically, new clause 23 provides for schedule 1 of the Superannuation Act 1972 to be amended, to add the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, the London development agency, the Metropolitan police authority and the London Transport Users Committee to the list of bodies whose staff are entitled to be members of the principal civil service pension scheme. Consequently, staff transferring to those bodies who are currently members of Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme will be able to retain their membership on transfer.

Naturally, pensions arrangements will be of great interest to staff who are moving to the GLA and associated bodies. As new schedule 1, paragraph 4(3)(c) makes it clear, in making provision in relation to pensions, we shall first consult the trustees, managers or administrators of relevant pension schemes.

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New clause 30 will provide the necessary continuity between predecessor bodies and successor bodies. Therefore, for example, it would permit anything in the process of being dealt with by a predecessor body at the point of transfer of its functions--such as legal proceedings--to be continued by the relevant successor body after its establishment, thereby allowing a smooth transfer of functions.

Amendments Nos. 108 and 109 to 113 are consequential amendments.

Amendments Nos. 108 and 109 will have the effect of deleting clause 300--which previously made broad reference to transfer matters, and which, as I have just spelt out, we propose should be replaced by the more detailed provisions in new clauses 23 to 29.

Amendments Nos. 110 to 113 are consequential on that, and would add any statutory instruments made under new clauses 24, 25, 28 and 29 to the list of those which would be subject to rules for laying statutory instruments provided in clause 301.

I hope that all the amendments in this group will be agreed by the House.

Mr. Simon Hughes: In passing this group of amendments, we shall be adding eight more new clauses, one more new schedule, and 11 more pages to a Bill that is the largest Bill--it is already 306 clauses and 26 schedules long--in living memory.

I have one question. Will the orders that can be made under the wide-ranging new clause 24 always come before the House for debate? What sort of orders will they be? What will the procedure be and what power will the House have to deal with the supplementary legislation that will follow?

Mr. Raynsford: I assure the hon. Gentleman that the normal procedures for the scrutiny of statutory instruments will apply. I shall write to him about the detailed provisions of new clause 24 after I have had a chance to study them further. As I am sure he recognises, this is a large and complex range of amendments and new clauses, which we have moved to ensure that the appropriate transitional provisions are fully in place. The Bill is long and has been much amended. The ratio of amendments moved by Opposition parties to those moved by the Government works out at approximately 9:1.

Mr. Hughes: And what is the ratio of those that have been accepted by the Government?

Mr. Raynsford: It has certainly improved considerably to the advantage of the Opposition after the three that I accepted earlier this evening.

Mr. Brooke: I have a quick question for the Minister. He said that the devil was in the detail. Have the eight new clauses and the new schedule exorcised the devil? They represent a considerable addition to the Bill, regardless of who takes the credit or discredit for them. Does he imagine that they will be porous and will require further amendment in another place, or does he think that the job has been done?

Mr. Raynsford: The right hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. He will recognise that in this long Bill--it was

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270 clauses before Committee, it now stands at 306 and,as the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey has pointed out, it will become even bigger as a result of what we have agreed this evening--it was inevitable that some areas would be less fully covered initially. We discussed that in Committee in relation to the section on culture. I said that we would bring forward further amendments on transitional provisions because the issues were not fully covered initially.

The right hon. Gentleman has long experience in government and I know that he will recognise the practical issues involved in getting such complex legislation presented in time to go through all its parliamentary stages. Some amendments are inevitable. We are making the changes in a proper spirit of openness. I hope that he recognises that the Government are trying to do the best that they can. I cannot give a guarantee that no more amendments will be needed, but I believe that the measures that we are presenting to the House provide the necessary cover to deal with the transitional requirements, so there should be no need for further substantial amendments in the other place on these issues.

Amendment agreed to.

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