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Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for her explanation, which I shall study with care. We move these amendments with no other purpose than to help London and its future. It is with that thought in mind that the amendment was moved and, for now, I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 238 not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 238A:

Page 60, line 33, at end insert--
("(4A) The Assembly shall debate and vote on the capital spending plan.
(4B) If the Assembly votes by a majority of those voting to reject the Mayor's capital spending plan, not later than 56 days thereafter an election shall be held for the office of Mayor and all Assembly members as if such election were an ordinary election and the Mayor and Assembly members so elected shall hold office until the first Thursday in May in the fourth calendar year following that in which the ordinary election preceding such election was held.").

The noble Baroness said: Under the clause, the assembly is to be consulted. On a previous occasion in this Committee, I moved that the words "have regard to" the results of consultation should be included in conjunction with a requirement to consult. I was told, and was glad to receive the assurance, that the words were not necessary. I wonder whether, in including the provision in Clause 108(3), that the mayor is to consider the comments, that negates that point elsewhere. I hope that the Minister can assure me that simply because consultation is specifically to be followed by consideration and that the consideration is on the face of the Bill, that does not undo the requirement on the part of the mayor to have regard to the results of other consultations and to act reasonably.

However, the major point in the amendment is to give the assembly a greater role and voice in relation to the capital spending plan. One may regard that provision as something of a nuclear option. We have had a number

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of nuclear options already in the course of the Bill. Earlier this evening, I said that it seemed that Members of the Committee regard me as having dreams and the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, as having fantasies. I accept that that may be something of a nightmare.

The incentive for the assembly not to take a frivolous view of the capital spending plan is contained in the second part of the amendment, which provides that, if it votes to reject the plan, then not only the mayor but also the members of the assembly must submit themselves to the London electors for election.

As we have discussed already, the success of the GLA will be quite closely related to a number of major projects and new approaches to London's problems which will require considerable investment. In our view, the capital spending plan is extremely important to the success of the new authority. That is why this amendment proposes that the assembly should be able to vote on the capital spending plan but, as I say, we are providing an incentive to ensure that it does so in a sensible and constructive manner. I beg to move.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: It seems to me that, without the inclusion of this amendment, the assembly is rather emasculated. It will be good that everyone will be able to discuss the state of London annually and to have public question time. However, nothing arouses the interest of people so much as discussions in relation to where the money is to be spent. If the assembly is not able to debate and vote on future spending plans, it will feel undermined from the beginning.

The assembly is to debate strategies; it is able to debate how owls are doing in the biodiversity plan; how ancient monuments are coming along in the culture plan. But, as the Bill is drafted at present, it will not have any say in how the money will be spent. That is regrettable and begs the question: why should it not have a say? What is the point in having an assembly? One of the biggest issues with which it will deal is how to spend the money and where it will be going. If that is controversial, that is a good thing. Hopefully the mayor will have done his consultation well, there will be a lively debate and the spending plan will go through. However, not to allow for that debate and vote will considerably weaken the position of the assembly. I look forward to hearing the Minister's views on why the assembly should not debate this. It seems to me a fundamental part of what their duty should be.

Lord Whitty: There may be some misunderstanding as well as total disagreement with our approach here. In relation to the misunderstanding, I assure the noble Baroness that, where we speak of specific requirements for the mayor to consider comments from the assembly and wider consultation, that applies in this area also. In view of her remarks, we will consider whether this reference is out of step with other provisions on consultation in the Bill. To ensure that it is clear, I will take her point away.

It is obviously important that the assembly has a chance to have its say about the capital spending plan. That is why the mayor will be under a duty to send it in

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draft to the assembly, consider the latter's amendments and have regard to them in making any changes to the draft. But if, at the end of that process, the assembly disagrees with the mayor, the idea of a two-thirds majority being able to precipitate an election on one aspect of the mayor's total stewardship seems to me a little out of kilter. After all, the mayor is responsible for the whole provision of transport for London; the whole of the police authority; the development of the various strategies; the fire agency, and so forth. This is a power for the assembly effectively to sack him and sack itself. That is probably more of a kamikaze tactic than a nuclear deterrent on this one important, but nevertheless single, dimension of the mayor's responsibilities.

I think that this would have an unfortunate effect on the relationship between the assembly and the mayor, even if it was never used. Were it to be used, it would be pretty disastrous for the stability and forward plan for London which the mayor is supposed to deliver. If, for example, the mayor was of a different political complexion or there was within the assembly a fluctuating majority which could reach two-thirds, there would always be the danger of the capital spending plan in any one year being subject to this trigger of an election mid-term or, indeed, in the first year of a mayor's mandate.

That seems to be entirely contrary to what everyone in London wants; that is, a degree of stability, of long-term strategic planning and of clear strategy from the mayor and the executive powers. If it was constantly under threat from such a clause as this, I do not think that would be appropriate. We have had this discussion before on earlier parts of the Bill. I am probably only repeating myself, but I hope that the noble Baroness will not pursue her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful to the Minister for his response to the first part of my comments on the amendment. As to this being out of kilter, we have proposed amendments elsewhere in the Bill with regard to the role of the assembly. The self-destruct option is certainly extreme, but that is because the issue of the capital spending plan is a matter of particular moment.

The Minister says that London wants long-term planning and stability. It will be Londoners who elect members of the assembly, as well as electing the mayor. I believe that above all Londoners will want the right decisions to be taken. The smack of government does not necessarily mean that that government are absolutely right and correct. However, I note the view of the Government, which is not unexpected. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 238B:

Page 60, line 34, leave out subsection (5) and insert--
("( ) A copy of the capital spending plan shall be kept available for the appropriate period by the Mayor for inspection by any person on request free of charge at the principal offices of the Authority at reasonable hours.

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( ) A copy of the capital spending plan, or any part of it, shall be supplied to any person on request during the appropriate period for such reasonable fee as the Mayor may determine.
( ) In this section "the appropriate period" in the case of a capital spending plan is the period of six years beginning with the date of publication of that plan pursuant to this section").

The noble Lord said: This amendment was spoken to earlier. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 239 not moved.]

Clause 108, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 109 to 111 agreed to.

Clause 112 [Proper financial administration and chief finance officer]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 239A:

Leave out Clause 112 and insert the following new Clause--


(" .--(1) The Authority shall--
(a) make arrangements for the proper administration of its financial affairs; and
(b) secure that one of its officers (its "chief finance officer") has responsibility for the administration of those affairs and for the oversight of the financial administration of the functional bodies.
(2) Every functional body shall--
(a) make arrangements for the proper administration of its financial affairs; and
(b) secure that one of its officers (its "chief finance officer") has responsibility for the administration of those affairs.
(3) In subsection (1)(b) and (2)(b) above, the reference to officers includes a reference to employees or members of staff and, in the case of Transport for London and the London Development Agency, includes a reference to members of the relevant Authority.").

The noble Lord said: I rise to move this amendment because it is our opinion that Clause 112 as drafted does not make sufficiently clear the relevant lines of responsibility between the authority and the functional bodies, and the absolute need for the authority's chief finance officer to be a chief finance officer for the whole authority and in control and with oversight of all the finances of the authority, which must include those of the functional bodies.

Our amended Clause 112, in our view, reshuffles parts of existing Clause 112 to make those lines of responsibility and control absolutely clear and not susceptible to any misunderstanding. It is with that in mind that we tabled the new Clause 112 and we hope that the Government feel at the very least that it is worthy of consideration. I beg to move.

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