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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I am sure that the mayor will want to contribute to the improvement and development of education in London and she or he will be able to do this by bringing the key players together, by co-ordinating action and by encouraging debate.

But we have been quite clear that the responsibilities for education in London would not pass to the authority, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, acknowledged. Giving responsibility for education services to the authority would undermine the streamlined strategic model of government we are seeking to create. Of course, responsibility for the preparation of a strategy need not necessarily depend on having control of the provision of key services. That is reflected in the model we have adopted in respect of culture, where we intend that the mayor's strategy should be a focal point for co-operation by a wide range of cultural organisations across London.

In the case of education, the mayor's formal locus of activity will, as acknowledged by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, be in the field of economic development strategy, which could include proposals to enhance the skills of people in all parts of London. But rather than trying to carve out a formal and distinct role for the mayor in respect of education, we consider it more appropriate to allow partnerships to develop between the mayor and those providing services, establishing relationships which will enable the mayor to make a positive contribution.

If the GLA has no responsibility for education, at whom would the strategy be directed and who would implement it? The GLA would obviously have no powers of direction and therefore a strategic approach, in particular to meet the training needs and skill shortages to which the noble Lord referred, would have to be in the context of the development partnerships. The noble Lord recognised and asked if it were true that a White Paper on post-16 funding is expected. It is expected shortly. It is clear that in the context of the noble Lord's amendments there are many ways in which we can come together. However, we do not feel that the

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route suggested by the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Tope, is appropriate and hope that he will feel able to withdraw it.

Baroness Hamwee: It may be that the short answer to whether or not the mayor can create such a group to advise and to discuss educational matters, whether or not there is a provision in the Bill, is "yes". As I listened to the noble Baroness, it seemed to me that she was suggesting that that was the case.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: That is so.

Baroness Hamwee: I am glad to hear that because, given that the mayor has responsibility, as she said, for economic development--the purpose laid down in the earlier clause--answering the question as to who is responsible for further education strategy (further education for this purpose includes training, but is far more than training), it is important to the economic and social health of London that there should be a focus for the subject.

The noble Baroness suggested that there may be other ways of addressing this issue. Perhaps it is something to which we can return at a later stage, if that seems appropriate. It is also something that could be properly developed in discussions outside this Chamber.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: If it would be helpful, we would be only too prepared to do that.

Lord Tope: That was a helpful response and I am sure that we will wish to take up what I believe was an offer and discuss it further.

Perhaps I can make it clear--because in responding the Minister referred many times to education and education services--that the purpose of the amendments does not relate at all to pre-school education, primary, secondary or even higher education. It relates specifically to further education. I want to be clear about that. I am not in any way suggesting that the role of LEAs should in some way be related to the role of the GLA. I am talking specifically about FE, which is not now a role of local education authorities.

This is an important area that the mayor will have to consider. Indeed, I find it hard to understand how the mayor will carry out his or her responsibilities in relation to economic development, social development and so forth without having some role in FE strategy. But I will be happy to discuss this matter further and to consider it further in the light of the White Paper we are promised, the TEC review and so on. At this stage, therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 34 [Consultation]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 125:

Page 20, line 44, at end insert ("and have regard to the views of").

The noble Baroness said: Clause 34 requires the mayor to undertake certain consultations in the preparation for revision of strategies. Again, I hope that there will be a short answer to this; that is, that the

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Government agree that consultation cannot be proper consultation unless they consult or have regard to the views of the consultees. My wording seeks to provide that explicitly.

I tabled the amendment at this point, well aware that there are other references to consultation, because it is perhaps most important at the point at which the strategies are created. I simply seek an assurance that consultation will not be an exercise isolated from the response to the consultation. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: I can give the noble Baroness that assurance. This amendment does not add to the normal understanding, long established and commonplace in both statute and the courts, that to consult means to ask someone his views and to have regard to them. That is well established in what is intended here. If the noble Baroness is happy with that, I too am happy. Were we to pursue this, we would have long hours amending large chunks of other legislation to make it clear. This is established practice and it is the intention in this case.

Baroness Hamwee: I am not seeking a long debate, at any rate not at this point. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 126:

Page 21, line 3, after ("Council,") insert--
("( ) such organisations representative of business of all sizes as the Mayor considers appropriate having regard to the impact of his strategies on the interests of business and commerce,").

The noble Baroness said: Although this amendment is grouped with Amendment No. 127 I shall not be moving that amendment because "business of all sizes", referred to in Amendment No. 126, must encompass Amendment No. 127 which simply refers to "business".

Although the Government have introduced swathes of new amendments to the Bill in its passage through Parliament to date, it is still possible to put a finger on another error or omission. Amendment No. 126 does exactly that. Clause 34 requires the mayor to consult with various bodies in preparing or revising his strategies. They include the assembly, the functional bodies such as Transport for London, the London Development Agency, the Metropolitan Police Authority, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, the London boroughs, the Common Council and any other body or person whom the mayor deems appropriate.

London is the commercial centre of the United Kingdom. In many respects it is the world centre for various commercial activities such as insurance, foreign exchange, the Eurodollar and other bonds. It houses the markets that fix the world price for many commodities such as gold and silver and all sorts of consumables such as coffee. Yet the Government do not seem to believe that it is necessary that it shall be obligatory--yes, obligatory--for the mayor to consult with the representatives of business and commerce before launching one of his strategies.

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I can think of schemes a mayor might launch which look quite nice on paper, mollify one pressure group or another or are politically correct according to the mayor's personal politics but which could be a disaster from the point of view of a great city trying to earn its living and help the nation to earn its living.

Clause 34 (1)(e) provides that the mayor shall consult with any other person or body he deems it appropriate to consult. But supposing he acts arbitrarily or capriciously, or happens to share--I accept that it is most unlikely--a political credo with the anarchists who ran amok in the City last Friday, and as a result decides to consult nobody. As the Bill stands he can ignore business or commerce altogether.

It is interesting to note that in Clause 27 the assembly is required to consult business along with a collection of other special interests, albeit business comes bottom of the list. Yet in this most important function of deciding on his strategies the mayor is not required by the Government to consult with what many would consider to be the centre of the economic life of London and of the country.

The Government should not allow the views of this important constituency to be ignored by the mayor if he so chooses. He may not have to act on the views and the advice he receives when he consults business, but he must not be allowed to choose not to consult. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: I believe that my colleagues in another place set out clearly our intentions under the clause and indicated that the amendment is unnecessary. Clause 27(3)(d) requires the mayor, before using the authority's general power, to consult bodies which represent the interests of people carrying on business where their interests will be affected. Clause 34(2) requires the mayor to do this when preparing or revising any strategy.

I make it absolutely clear that the interests of business or commerce are, in the Government's view, already clearly safeguarded by the provisions of the Bill. I repeat the statement of my honourable friend the Minister for London. He made it clear that the guidance that the Secretary of State will issue under the provisions of Clause 25(7) of the Bill about the exercise of the general power will include guidance about the circumstances in which consultation with business and other people whose interests are affected must take place.

My colleague's commitment is there. The Bill already provides what the noble Baroness seeks for those in business circles who have anxieties. I can assure the noble Baroness and the business interests that their interests are safeguarded by the Bill as it stands. I hope that the noble Baroness can withdraw the amendment.

4.45 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: I thank the Minister for his welcome response even though we would have preferred it to be more definite. It is interesting how often he says that certain things are not necessary because they are already in place. If something is not

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necessary, it is not unnecessary to say no to it. It is the reverse and it would not hurt. It is not quite the same when something is said to be in the guidance. While I am not implying that that may not happen, it is always more comforting for us when we see the provision actually made. I take note of what the Minister said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 127 not moved.]

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