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Lord Dixon-Smith: I hope that the Minister will consider most carefully what is being said. The noble Lord, Lord Quirk, has made an absolutely solid case for the inclusion of educational interests, through to further, higher and adult educational interests, in a list. My noble friends Lord Renton and Lord Swinfen and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, have all made very solid cases in respect of the disabled and the elderly.

The Minister will recall the debate in Grand Committee in the Moses Room on the Local Government Bill, when I argued that the longer a list the more exclusive it becomes, rather than becoming more inclusive. I must admit that I find that this particular part of the Bill would have been perfectly satisfactory if subsection (2) had read something along the lines of the following:

Although I accept that Clause 27(1) gives the general authorisation, once that list is there in subsections (2), (3) and (4) it begins to make subsection (1) appear less and less significant. Indeed, one tends to lose sight of it. Therefore, there is a case for looking at the drafting of Clause 27 to see whether it would not be more inclusive if it had rather greater brevity.

Lord Whitty: The noble Lord may be correct in certain hypothetical circumstances. However, those are not the amendments that we have before us; indeed, the amendments before us actually move in entirely the opposite direction. He is right to say that, in responding to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, I am relying not so much on Clause 27(3)(a) for saying that the elderly and the disabled are covered--although I believe that they will be covered for the most part by the inclusion of "voluntary bodies" in terms of their representative organisations--but really on Clause 27(1), which states that the Secretary of State may consider other persons or bodies if they are,

    "appropriate in the particular case", as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith just said.

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Therefore I believe that both in terms of interests being affected and--to respond to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy--in respect of the contribution, expertise and resources that they can bring to the development of London, the assessment concerns whether they are,

    "appropriate in the particular case". Certainly educational institutions, representatives of the disabled, representatives of the elderly and a long list of other bodies will qualify as being,

    "appropriate in the particular case".

Any list may be susceptible to lobbying for additions. The bodies mentioned in Clause 27(3) are included as the result of a degree of lobbying. However, it is clear from Clause 27(1) that it is not intended to be an exhaustive list. At best it is an illustrative list. I believe that the inclusion of several additional items--as this group of amendments would provide--would add to the problem which the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, reminds me we have touched on before in a different context; namely, that a greater apparent inclusiveness actually causes exclusiveness. I believe that we should draw a line here knowing that a vast majority of other organisations ought to be consulted because they are appropriate in particular circumstances.

If we were to include everything that everyone has suggested tonight, at the next stage of the Bill we would have another half dozen organisations or areas of representation which need to be included. I hope that with the reassurances I have given as regards what Clause 27(1) means, the Committee will not pursue the amendment further in attempting to add to Clause 27(3). I hope that I have said enough to convince the Committee that at least at this stage we should not take the matter further tonight.

Baroness Hamwee: In the Minister's first response he said that--I think that I have written this down correctly but I shall check--the authority must consult all relevant interests. That is close to my Amendment No. 92A which we discussed in the previous group when the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, made a similar point. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, asked an interesting question about whether the whole or part of Greater London is a geographic or a social description.

The general point that the longer the list the greater the presumption that other bodies are excluded is a matter with which I find some difficulty. It seems to me that if one starts on a list at all there is a presumption that other bodies are excluded. I suspect that this is a matter to which we may want to return at a later stage, not least because we all want to check precisely what the Government said in the first response on the obligations of secondary consultees, if I may put it that way. The Minister talked about local authorities having an obligation to consult those who are included in this group of amendments. I find it difficult to concede that local authorities would have a duty or even any role in consulting statutory bodies which advise central

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government. I refer to further education and training in this regard. Much as we would like the boroughs to have that kind of link--

Lord Whitty: I do not think that I said that the local authorities--if by that the noble Baroness means the London boroughs--should have that role. We did not want to confuse the educational responsibilities of the London boroughs when we were talking about educational institutions because the GLA is clearly not an education authority.

Baroness Hamwee: I am obliged to the Minister for that explanation. I am sorry if I misunderstood him. Nevertheless, there is a lot of meat in these amendments. At the end of this fairly long debate I doubt that many Lords are satisfied with the outcome. However, for tonight, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 94 not moved.]

9.45 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 94A:

Page 16, line 28, at end insert--
("( ) a London Civic Forum;")

The noble Baroness said: The Committee did not have to wait long for another proposed addition to the list. Amendment No. 94A seeks to add to the list a London civic forum. The authority is required to consider consulting bodies, as we have just discussed, and the amendment proposes that "a" civic forum--I stress "a"--is included in the list; I do not necessarily give the term "civic forum" an upper case "c" and "f". It would not necessarily be the forum proposed by the development team working on this matter, although I applaud its work and acknowledge its assistance in preparing the amendment.

I do not suggest by the amendment that those involved should not be supported in what they are doing. However, I think that they, among others, would happily acknowledge that the objective of a civic forum is important and that their model may not be the only one, although clearly a lot of work has gone into it. I believe that the Government are ready to acknowledge that and, therefore, in part, my amendment seeks to encourage the Government to go rather further than they have so far in statements as to the role of a civic forum for London.

I am aware of the time. However, I believe that it is an important amendment. I shall try not to be too long-winded; on the other hand, it would not be appropriate to attempt to cut down what I have to say to only a very few words.

The genesis of the idea was the Scottish civic forum which has now been born, as it were--it was launched in March this year. I understand that consultation with the Scottish civic forum will be a part of the standing orders of the Scottish Parliament. The Green Paper which preceded the proposals for the GLA raised the prospect, quite rightly, of a new and inclusive culture for the governance of London. It was this that led to the first discussions about a civic forum for London. The

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London Voluntary Services Council published a paper proposing a civic forum which was supported in many responses to the Government's Green Paper. The White Paper took the idea a little further, indicating that the Government were attracted to the notion and hoped that the mayor would work with them.

Those who have been involved with the proposal are concerned that the mechanisms in the Bill will not deliver the new and inclusive politics promised by the Green Paper; the novelty of one directly elected political personality dominating the Government. The Committee will readily recognise that that point resonates with us.

In another place there were discussions about the possibility of a permissive amendment with regard to consultation with a civic forum. We are proposing that amendment in Clause 37. The discussions dealt with, among other matters, the decline in trust in all forms of government and almost all politicians. Although the devolution agenda, in creating new institutions, goes a long way to addressing the issue, it cannot do so alone. A basic infrastructure is needed to allow and encourage political participation. A voice and presence is needed, particularly for marginalised groups. The earlier amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, addressed that issue to a considerable extent. I regard those proposals as belated. We also need to allow for serious debate in a way that organised political parties do not always encourage as well as we might.

The question is asked: would not a civil forum comprise the usual bunch? It would be odd if the LVSC, the London Chamber of Commerce and the London Churches Group were not involved, but the proposed structure would be much more fluid and inclusive--very much cross-sector, cross-community. Although it may be a talking shop, sometimes one needs a talking shop.

The proposal would maximise the contribution of organisations of civil society to the governance of London and build on the lessons of partnership between sectors. Those lessons are not new. The London Pride Partnership has been going some time. I was a member of the LPP for a short while and a member of London First in its original form. There is a huge amount to be learnt by people in different sectors coming together and beginning to understand one another's constraints, difficulties, ambitions and so on.

The particular problem of London's minority ethnic communities has already been discussed today. I hate to generalise. The difficulty with trying to summarise such issues is that it can sound as though one begins to understand them. We have failed to include all members of our society, particularly in black and minority ethnic communities. The Black Londoners Forum works closely with those responsible for the current proposal.

We are proposing the amendment to address the need for consultation. It would not tie the hands of the mayor. I noted what was said about the mayor being obliged to consult. The proposal would also send a significant message about the importance of involving all parts of civil society in the good governance of London not just to mayoral candidates but to the whole community.

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If the Minister is not attracted by the amendment at this point, I hope that we shall hear how the Government believe such a dialogue should take place, if not through legislation. We are not seeking to establish the forum through legislation, but let us hear how the Government can assist in dealing with what is widely regarded as a serious issue. I beg to move.

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