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Additionally, Government new clause 14 requires the GLA to have regard to the effect of any proposed
exercise of its powers on climate change and the consequences of climate change, so far as that relates to Greater London. Moreover, it requires the GLA, where reasonably practicable, to exercise its powers in a way that is best calculated to contribute to the mitigation of, or adaptation to, climate change so far as it relates to Greater London.
Government new clause 14 ensures that addressing climate change is at the heart of the GLAs work. It recognises that tackling the scourge of climate change is not an environmental issue only and that it needs a fully co-ordinated approach across all aspects of the authoritys workeconomic, social and environmental. It complements the duties placed on the Mayor and the assembly by clause 38 to address climate change.
Government new clause 15 is a minor, consequential amendment resulting from that change. It deals with any consultation carried out by the Mayor, under the four new strategies included in this Bill, after the legislations enactment but before the relevant sections come into force. It ensures that such a consultation counts, for the purposes of fulfilling the Mayors statutory duties to consult, as though he had consulted after the provisions had come into force. The provision ensures that the Mayor can start to consult on his strategies immediately after the Act is passed, rather than having to await the commencement of the relevant sections. In turn, that makes it more likely that the Mayor will be able to publish his new strategies before the next GLA election in May 2008.
Government amendment No. 8 requires the Secretary of State to consult the Mayor and the assembly before making an order under proposed new section 60A(5) specifying further offices to which confirmation hearings should apply. We believe that it is sensible that the Secretary of State should seek the views of the Mayor and assembly before deciding the appropriate course of action. This amendment fulfils a commitment that I gave in Committee to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) to consider further a similar amendment that he had tabled. He may wish to refer to that as the Brake amendment
Government amendments Nos. 9, 10, 16 and 17 deal with transport. Clause 18 removes the current prohibition on political representatives being members of the board of Transport for London. That will allow the Mayor greater discretion in appointing those members to the board who best represent the interests of people living and travelling in London.
Clause 18 has a consequential impact on the Railways Act 2005. The Department for Transport has consulted separately on whether to give the Mayor greater influence over rail services in an area beyond the GLA boundary. If that happens, there is a provision in the Railways Act 2005 to ensure that the Mayor appoints at least two additional members from those areas outside London to the TFL board to represent the interest of rail users from their areas.
There is further provision in the Railways Act 2005if taken forward, it would become paragraph 2(5A) of schedule 10 to the GLA Act 1999to restrict the Mayor to appointing no more than two additional members to the TFL board who are, at the same time, members of a principal council. This provision
maintains the balance of the TFL board where political representatives, other than the Mayor, are currently not permitted.
It is clearly inconsistent to restrict the Mayor to appointing no more than two members from principal councils when the effect of clause 18 is that the Mayor will no longer be prevented from appointing political representatives. These amendments repeal paragraph 2(5A) of schedule 10 of the GLA Act 1999, so as to remove the restriction on political representatives from principal councils.
Government amendment No. 11 clarifies that the Mayor need not consult the assembly and functional bodies twice when he prepares or revises his health inequalities strategy. As drafted, the Bill requires the Mayor to consult the assembly and functional bodies when he consults his health adviser and Londons NHS bodies about matters to include in his strategy. However, he must also consult the assembly and functional bodies when preparing or revising his strategy under section 42 of the 1999 Act.
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich) (Lab): I apologise for interrupting my hon. Friend who is rattling on at a good old rate, but I missed the bit about transport. We are told that the Mayor will be consulted about changes to railways and that people in various council areas have been consulted about the Mayors plans about such changes, but can we have an assurance that the House of Commons will also be consulted, because there are considerable consequences for the overground railway? Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the Bills protections for the use of pedicabs are acceptable?
Jim Fitzpatrick: My hon. Friend asks whether the House will be consulted. The Department for Transport is about to issue the conclusions to its consultation about the amendment that allows people from outside London to sit on the board, and I am sure that Members have taken up the opportunity offered by that consultation. The issue about pedicabs was raised in Committee but the Bill does not contain the references that my hon. Friend mentioned. My apologies to her if I was rattling through my speech too quickly; I am only trying to make progress given that the majority of the amendments, as I indicated at the beginning, are relatively straightforward
Robert Neill: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way; I, too, am at fault for being slow in respect of the transport points, but I wonder if he can help us. Is it proposed that there should be guidance to the Mayor, either in the form of regulation or more generally, first, as to how representatives from local authorities outside Greater London are to be appointedwhat system is to be used and who is to be consultedand, secondly, is there to be any guidance about political appointees to TFL? Will the Mayor be obliged to consult London councils, for example, to make sure that there is balance in the appointments?
Jim Fitzpatrick: I am sure that the Mayor will have heard what the hon. Gentleman says about political balance. We covered the issue extensively in Committee, and fair points were made. As he is aware, there are criteria about the expertise, skills and experience of individuals appointed to the TFL board and the Mayor obviously has to take cognisance of those criteria in making his nominations.
Mrs. Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con): Is the Minister really confident that the changes in the Bill will make TFL more responsive? My constituents find the organisation very bureaucratic; it is impossible to get TFL to change its mind about anything, whether the route of the 384 bus or a bus stop outside Ellern Mede school. My constituents in Chipping Barnet are frustrated by the way TFL works at present.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The hon. Ladys point about TFLs sensitivity to public representations was raised by a number of colleagues in Committee. From the common sense point of view, I would have thought that the nature of our profession and our experience of listening to the concerns of constituents would bring an additional dimension to the appointment of political representatives to TFLs board; it would certainly put a greater emphasis on the need for TFL to be more sensitive. I am not being critical about what went on previously, but Members made that point most effectively. We would certainly not make changes if we did not think that they would improve and enhance the boards performance. I am sure that will be the case.
Mr. Greg Hands (Hammersmith and Fulham) (Con): May I repeat a question that I put in Committee about something that concerns many London residents? The Mayor has general obligations to consult about transport and other schemes, but there is absolutely no obligation for him to listen to what is said by the people of London. Can the Minister tell me what in the Bill, in his opinion, strengthens the consultation process and makes it more likely that the Mayorwhether the current or future Mayorwill take heed of the results?
Jim Fitzpatrick: In Committee, we had extensive discussion of the relative merits of the various consultations that the Mayor and the assembly have undertaken over many years. The conclusion among those on the Government Benches was that any consultation undertaken by any individual or body is almost guaranteed to leave some of the respondents unhappy. No consultation can provide 100 per cent. satisfaction across the board.
We believe that the consultation as it stands is adequate. I know that a number of people are unhappy about the conclusions that the Mayor has drawn following certain consultations, but the additional measures in the Bill will enhance the consultative process and ensure that the assembly has the opportunity to put forward Londons views. The responsibility of the Mayor to consult London councils was also raised under a number of clauses in Committee.
Amendments Nos. 13 and 14 clarify when a London waste authority is required to act in general conformity
with the Mayors waste strategy when tendering a waste contract. Under the GLA Act the Mayor is required to publish a municipal waste management strategy for London. The Act also requires waste collection and waste disposal authorities in London to have regard to the strategy in carrying out their waste functions. Clause 36 amends the Act to require Londons waste authorities to act in general conformity with the Mayors waste strategy, but we want to specify more clearly how that provision affects an authority that is in the process of tendering a waste contract. We would not wish authorities at an advanced stage in the procurement process to have to amend tender specifications due to the changes in the Bill. Amendment No. 13 would clarify that, if the Mayor revised his waste strategy, waste authorities at an advanced stage of procurement need act in general conformity only with the Mayors former strategy.
Amendment No. 14 makes it clear that waste authorities do not need to act in general conformity with the Mayors waste strategy when tendering a waste contract if they have submitted a second information notice for that contract to the Official Journal of the European Union before the clause has commenced. The provisions in force before the Bill is enacted will apply in that situation. I commend the new clauses and amendments to the House.
Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham) (Con): I begin by sending my good wishes and, I am sure, those of everyone in the Chamber to my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), who is confined to bed with bronchitis and pneumonia. One rather suspects that he has no voice, which given what I understand to have been the genial nature of the Standing Committee is a great sadness to us all. I am slightly relieved that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Stephen Pound) is not here, given his propensity to trade football reminiscences. I am open about the fact that football reminiscences and I do not go together terribly well. [Interruption.] I will not be tempted on to the subject of what happens to peoples health when they are born and brought up in Aberdeenwhich is not the part of the Scotland from which I came.
Like the Minister, I shall be brief because there are many serious issues that we want to discuss at greater length. We broadly support the amendments and new clauses. I comment briefly on the thought that the consultations referred to in new clause 14 will be available just in time for the mayoral elections. I cannot imagine why that new clause has been tabled, but we will all have great fun examining the consultations in great detail when they emerge.
I sympathise with the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) on the issue of TFL. I said that we do not have any difficulty with most of the amendments, but the membership of the board of TFL causes us enormous concern, as the Minister indicated when the Bill was in Committee. I can tell my hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs. Villiers) that I entirely share her view of the TFL board. It is unresponsive to a degree that I have yet to come across in any other public body. I see others nodding in agreement.
I will not go through the particular instances in my constituency that have caused me concern, but it is rather indicative of the problems that we all have with
TFL that one days edition of the Evening Standardyesterdayshas one headline that says, TfL pays £5m in refunds for Tube delays, another that says, Cars will be seized from innocent under new law, which refers to a private Bill sponsored by TFL, and another that says, Bus fare dodgers cost TfL £1 million a week. If I were TFL, I would be seriously worried that something, somewhere, was going wrong, and I would think that it might be time to listen to the people who reflect the views of their constituents.
Rightly, the proposal in the Bill was that representatives of the areas outside London should be on the TFL board, if the railway amendments are made, and if the Mayor extends his power over transport and commuting even further, and goes beyond his current ambitions. The questions that the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich asked about how the representatives will be chosen, and how the House of Commons will be consulted, are valid, because London Members find it increasingly frustrating to try to hold the Mayor to account and to raise any London issues with him. Although legislation is not devolved, the House of Commons seems to believe that it is, and it is extraordinarily difficult to raise such issues. For that reason, I have every sympathy with the hon. Ladys comments.
My hon. Friends and I have enormous sympathy with the proposal to give the Mayor a permissive power to appoint two new members from principal councils to the TFL board. The power is permissive, rather than instructive, but we would like to think that the Mayor will use it with gusto, that he will use it with a view to ensuring political balance, and that representatives of the boroughs will be included on the TFL board. As I have indicated, there is a crying need for more politicians on the board of TFL. I hope that the Mayor responds to the Ministers hint that it would be appreciated if the Mayor appointed more politicians to the board of TFL, to make it more responsive to the people of London, and we look forward to that happening. On those grounds, I have no intention of suggesting to my hon. Friends that we oppose the drafting amendments. I hope that the Mayor of London listens carefully, and we will have to return to the issue if TFL continues to be unresponsive.
Mrs. Dunwoody: I had no intention of taking part in the debate, but I have considerable reservations. There has been an astonishing sideways move on the subject of the extension of the Mayors powers to overground railways outside the London area, and that has resulted in a strange, unstructured debate. As far as I know, the House of Commons has not yet formulated a view on the matter, although individual Members have considerable worries about it. It would be unwise to slip gently into an arrangement that could have damaging effects without proper consultation. The Mayor may have territorial claims on areas outside those that elect him, although that establishes an interesting precedent, and the House of Commons ought to think about that seriously before it accepts the idea. In addition, if the railways are to be considered an extension of the London Mayors empire, other areas of the country will have something to say about the matter.
It is perfectly true that because of the attractions of the capital city all our railways either begin or end in
London. It is all very well saying that it would be convenient for a large conurbation to have control over the bits of a service that happen to run through it, but the matter is rather more complicated than that. I am concerned about us slipping, almost by default, into a situation in which it looks as though we accept the case for the Mayor having control over overground railways, although I am sure that we do not.
I am not a lawyer, and I do not know whether that is the implication of the new clause, but if it does provide that power, it should be fully debated. It should be put in context and understood, and we should have the right to ask whether it should happen. All our transport systems must be integrated. I do not object at all to political appointments for such arrangements. Indeed, if I were in charge of the national health service, I would introduce a simple measure excluding anyone who did not believe in an integrated health service. It would not admit competition between hospitals and other units, and it would make it impossible for private hospitals to compete with national health units. It would make it impossible for anyone carrying private health insurance to play any role whatsoever in the NHS. If one or two supplementary clauses automatically excluded members of new Labour, that would be an excellent idea. Sadly, however, the House of Commons does not accept such restrictions.
I therefore have only one or two things to ask the Minister. First, does the extension of power mean that the Mayor automatically has a say in the planning and execution of services, as well as the way in which they are integrated with the overground railway? If so, do the railway industry and passenger services have the right to be consulted about that extension of power? Secondly, is it in the interests of an elected mayor, whoever they are, to be able to control services outwith the area in which they were elected? Does that not raise an interesting point, which should concern us very deeply? Thirdly, if the Department for Transport was consulted, and is in the process of consulting, may we know the terms of reference?
Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): May I start my brief contribution by saying that I, too, miss the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), and wish him well? It is rare for Committee stages to be jovial, but he spoke entertainingly on behalf of the official Opposition. I am sure that the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) will entertain us in exactly the same way.
As the Minister suggested, the amendments are largely uncontroversial, apart from the implications for rail. We welcome the fact that new clause 14 requires the Mayor to have regard to the impact on climate change of any measures that he seeks to introduce. I suspect that he is a little aggrieved that we are discussing that on the day on which he launched his plan to cut emissions by 60 per cent., as doubtless he believes that he is already taking climate change into consideration. I am not going to call it the Brake clause, but I can do nothing but welcome Government amendment No. 8, which requires the Secretary of State to consult the Mayor and the Assembly when he extends the list of people who are subject to confirmation hearings. The Minister was true to his
wordhe said that he would come up with something, and I welcome the fact that he has done so.
I welcome, too, new clause 15, which requires consultation to be carried out earlier than expected, which leaves the issue of Transport for London and the implications for rail both inside and outside London. In 1998, when the matter was first discussed, my hon. Friends and I called for the Mayor to be given greater powers on rail in London, so in principle I do not oppose the Governments proposal, as there is a sound basis for suggesting that the Mayor should have greater control over rail services in London. I stress that he should do so only for services in London. Many commuters begin their journeys in a London borough and travel out of London, or go into London and back out again. It is difficult to see how that service can be run effectively if the Mayor is not actively engaged in the process. I will listen carefully to the Ministers response.
Justine Greening (Putney) (Con): Does the hon. Gentleman accept that users of underground lines, such as the District line in my area, feel that the Mayor has enough on his plate sorting out service levels in his existing remit, without taking on service levels and responsibilities as part of an even greater remit?
Tom Brake: I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. Yes, clearly the Mayor has many issues to address, whether in relation to the tube or if he takes on responsibility for rail. However, it is difficult to see how an integrated transport system in London can be achieved without the Mayor having a greater say over rail services in London.
Can the Minister explain to Members in a little more detail how, with reference to Crossrail, for example, which is a London-centric project, he will ensure that the Mayor meets the needs of Londons commuters without squeezing out those who are commuting from a much greater distance into London, or through London to another destination? I hope that he can provide a satisfactory explanation of how that is to be managed.
Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): Like other Members, I shall speak briefly. I accept that most of the amendments in the group are uncontroversial, although I was wryly amused that the Minister had obviously liaised with the Mayor to ensure that the strategy papers would come on stream in tune with the electoral cycle, with the London mayoral election due to be held in May 2008. No one can dispute that we want to get on with the strategy papers at the earliest opportunity.
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