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Lord Dixon-Smith: I regret to say that I found the Minister's response disappointing, although I would accept that perhaps the amendment we have proposed is deficient because it does not propose a specific line of action as a consequence of an aspect of the declaration revealing, shall we say, a flaw in a person's curriculum vitae that should disbar him or her from sitting on the board of the LDA. I wondered for a few optimistic moments whether, if we could come to an agreement on the additional words that would be necessary to bring that about, the Government might be willing to accept the amendment. Subsequently, the Minister left me with the view that I was being wildly optimistic.

Whether we put the point on the face of the Bill or not, the mayor would be wise to require such a declaration of anybody he was proposing to put on the board of the LDA. It could be argued that that is a different matter that should be left to the mayor's discretion, but our job is to secure a situation in which only the highest ethical and business standards apply in the management and direction of the LDA. Without a mandatory provision, such as contained in the amendment, the process will not pass muster when we consider whether we have done our best to safeguard the future of London.

Lord Clement-Jones: I suspect that Schedule 2, paragraph 8, of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 was the subject of the Minister's comments when she said that declarations of interest were dealt with later in the Bill. That paragraph simply requires declarations of members' interests case by case, after the event, but that is not as full a requirement as that envisaged by the amendment.

Lord Sheppard of Didgemere: No businessman who should be considered for such a nomination would find it strange to agree to such a declaration, because we sign such things all the time for the Stock Exchange and for other purposes. We would not put off anyone who should not be put off by the process.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful for the support of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and my noble friend Lord Sheppard on this important issue. I invite the Minister to consider what has been said. I shall also consider what has been said, but we will need to return to the matter at the next stage of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 333A not moved.]

Clause 237 agreed to.

Clause 238 [Delegation of functions by Ministers to the Mayor]:

The Chairman of Committees: I have to point out to the Committee that, if Amendment No. 334 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 334A to 334C inclusive.

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Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 334:

Page 130, line 14, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: The amendment is in essence a probing amendment, and I expect that the Government will be relieved to hear that. It is our view that in general the Bill will give too much power, in respect of the mayor and the new London institutions, to the Secretary of State.

Clause 238(2) would undermine to a certain extent the possible activities of the LDA and should therefore be deleted. The LDA should have absolute certainty about its likely role and responsibilities, and should be accountable to, but independent of, the mayor in the conduct of its operations. The business community, too, should have a clear idea of the role of the London Development Agency. We believe that the subsection which we propose to delete confuses that clarity and could result in functions that ought properly to be exercised by the regional development agencies, and which would indeed be exercised by the regional development agencies anywhere else in England, being exercised by the mayor, who, as was said in response to earlier amendments, might for very good reasons have no business experience at all. We do not think that that would be appropriate. We believe that deleting the subsection would help to clarify matters. I beg to move.

4 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee: Amendments Nos. 334A and 334B seek to exercise some constraint on the considerable powers given to the mayor. Our amendments provide for the assembly to have a role in that its approval would be required.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: In replying to the amendment, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, will allow me to put on the record that we always read and consider very carefully the points that are raised during debate on any of the amendments.

Section 6 of the Regional Development Agencies Act provides for the delegation of certain functions, described as "eligible" functions, by Ministers to RDAs and lays down the conditions under which such delegations can be made, varied and revoked. Clause 238 amends Section 6 so that a Minister may delegate any eligible function to the mayor or, with the mayor's consent, to the LDA. Such delegations are to be under the same terms as delegations to RDAs outside London, which includes making the delegation subject to such conditions as the Minister sees fit.

Any such delegated function can be further delegated by the mayor to the LDA under Clause 31 of the Bill. However, if it is delegated to the LDA in this way, the mayor is obliged to attach conditions to this delegation to ensure that the conditions attached by the Minister to the original delegation are satisfied. Amendment No. 334 would ensure that Ministers could only delegate economic development functions, under the Regional Development Agencies Act, to the LDA and not to the mayor and that the mayor's consent would not be

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required for that. Therefore, the amendment would undermine our proposals.

Amendments Nos. 334A and 334B would require the assembly's consent for ministerial functions to be delegated to the LDA or to the mayor. It is fundamental to the model of government that we are proposing that the mayor should play an executive decision-taking role and the assembly provide scrutiny of the mayor's actions. The role of the assembly is to hold the mayor to account for the way in which his functions are exercised. That is a model for good, accountable administration and is the principle that runs through the Bill.

Amendment No. 334C seeks to delegate to the LDA a miscellany of functions and funding regimes. The first of these is, in fact, already provided for in Section 36 of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. This allows the Secretary of State to direct the Urban Regeneration Agency to transfer to RDAs appropriate properties, rights and liabilities as a consequence of the RDAs carrying out the functions of the URA in their regions. I can assure the noble Lord that we intend to make such a transfer, when the LDA is established, on 3rd July next year.

The second would go beyond the functions delegated to other RDAs and, indeed, was debated during the passage of the RDA Bill. Assisted areas define where government can give specified financial support to industries, and we have decided that this should be reserved for Ministers as at present. The RDAs will, however, have an important role in advising on applications for assistance.

The third would allow for Ministers to delegate to the LDA the administrative functions of the structural funds, currently carried out by the Government Office for London. Like the RDAs elsewhere, the LDA is likely to be a recipient of structural funds and it would therefore be inappropriate for the LDA to allocate as well.

The fourth would specify that administration of the SRB in London should be delegated to the LDA.

Baroness Hamwee: We have not reached Amendment No. 334C. I certainly do not want my noble friend to feel that he cannot make his point, although he is listening intently to the answer.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I apologise to the Committee. Two things have happened. First, my noble friend the Minister is at present appearing before a Select Committee and, secondly, the amendments have been ungrouped. Therefore, I was not as fully prepared as noble Lords could reasonably expect for this group of amendments. I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones.

Baroness Hamwee: I was responsible for the degrouping. I did so so that my noble friend could make his point with great eloquence and with his customary brevity.

Lord Sheppard of Didgemere: As I understand what the Minister said and what has been said elsewhere, the

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property role of English Partnerships will be picked up within the LDA. If I am right about that, it is really a question of the detail of how that is to happen. Some key sites in London are sensibly handled nationally with English Partnerships. The Dome, the whole of the Greenwich peninsula and the Royal docks are examples. When those property functions are delegated, those will presumably come back within the orbit of the mayor and LDA.

Lord Clement-Jones: Perhaps it would help the Minister if I made my speech on Amendment No. 334C at this juncture as it is a probing amendment. That will give the Minister an opportunity to consider the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard.

It is extremely important that certain powers are delegated to the mayor and to the authority. It is important that we get regional government right. This will be the first of what we on these Benches hope will be a model to be followed elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Therefore, the delegated powers that are passed down to the mayor will be of great importance.

There is no doubt that the current powers of the DETR are of considerable importance. The Government Office for London exercises considerable powers. I was a director of Brixton Challenge for a number of years and I know that the financial power that was exercised by GOL was considerable and was often extremely beneficial. But it is important that we ensure fairly and squarely that the mayor and the assembly have the resources that they need to tackle the problems of London.

I said that this is a probing amendment. We have tried to pick the four most important elements that would be needed by the mayor in order to have a proper regeneration strategy for London. For instance, the strategic sites owned by English Partnerships--the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, mentioned this point--are extremely important. Unless the mayor has the right to control those, he will have one hand tied behind his back when he is trying to devise a regeneration strategy for London.

Secondly, if one does not have the right to consider the assistance given in assisted areas which are relevant to London, one will not have the ability to regenerate in some of those key deprived areas of London. Thirdly, the allocation of European Union structural funds have been for many years an important resource. Fourthly, the fact that boroughs fight greatly over the resources represented by the single regeneration budget--until recently called the challenge budget; it is now a much broader animal--indicates the importance of those resources to London. Assurances by the Government that those are the kinds of powers that they plan to delegate to the mayor would be useful and important. Indeed, it would be interesting to hear about other powers the Government plan to delegate.

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