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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I shall attempt seamlessly to move from the start of my reply to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, before he spoke without repeating the answer.

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The noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, asked whether the LDA will have responsibility for the English Partnerships' areas in London. Yes, but not for the Dome and the peninsula in particular. The other examples he gave were different. The LDA has a broad range of functions. The delegated functions are intended to allow a delegation of funding regimes such as SRB or other particular functions that fit within the general framework of RDA powers. It is fundamental to the style of government being created that the mayor is given responsibility for making key decisions. The LDA is an executive body working to and supporting the mayor. In the end the mayor is answerable to the electorate for the quality of his or her decisions. To give the LDA board the power to take on extra functions, possibly against the mayor's wishes, would be a recipe for conflict and would undermine the close working relationship between the two.

I hope that in reading Hansard the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, will feel that in total the points he raised have been replied to. If not, I shall be only too pleased to write to him in detail so that we can ensure that his questions are answered properly; and I shall of course send a copy to the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith.

Lord Clement-Jones: I thank the Minister for that reply in two parts. I recall to some degree the former replies. I hope that at Report stage the Minister can give somewhat more concrete assurances. The noble Baroness gave assurances over SRB. She gave some welcome assurances in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard. I suspect that the replies over EU funding and assisted areas funding were not so satisfactory. We shall read Hansard, mark the reply out of 10 and return to the issue at another time.

Lord Dixon-Smith: Having moved the original amendment, I shall study with interest the subsequent debate. I am grateful to the Minister for her reply. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 334A to 334C not moved.]

Clause 238 agreed to.

Clause 239 [The London Development Agency strategy]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Turner of Camden): If Amendment No. 335 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 335A through pre-emption.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 335:

Page 131, line 3, leave out from beginning to ("a") in line 4 and insert ("submit to the Mayor, the Assembly, the London boroughs and the Common Council of the City of London").

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 337, 338, 340, 341, 344 and 346.

Amendment No. 335 is designed to diminish somewhat the power of the mayor to direct the London Development Agency. That power is at the expense of many other elected and legitimate business interests

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across London. If the LDA is to take forward a development strategy for London, it has to be done in partnership not only with the assembly of the GLA but also with the boroughs, borough councillors and members of the Common Council of the City. All those people have their place and part to play in the total administration of London. If they are not part of that process, the Bill will not work to the best interests of Londoners.

London is sometimes described as a collection of villages or communities. "Villages" has a geographic connotation which is not particularly appropriate. There are communities of interest between industries and aspects of commerce as well as the geographic location. All those people have to be involved. That is the background to Amendment No. 335.

Amendment No. 337 seeks to place a little more responsible activity into the hands of the assembly. I imagine that I am butting my head against a wall; but we shall continue to do so and to find a solution.

Amendment No. 338 is an interesting amendment. It puts the modification of the LDA's plan into the mayor's hand, placing the mayor in a scrutiny role, which is the role of the assembly.

Amendment No. 341 is somewhat novel. It states that if a third of the boroughs are not content with the LDA strategy, it should go back to the mayor and the agency to be reconsidered. That may seem drastic action, but for the reason I have explained, we seek to make London work as a community. If a large section of the important local administration of London is not content with the strategy, then perhaps it should be reconsidered.

Amendment No. 344 removes the mayor's power to direct the LDA in arriving at its strategy. He could give it guidance. If the mayor has power to direct, he might as well be the London Development Agency. I cannot think why we need to bother 15 or 18 good men and true with the problem of running the London Development Agency if they can be told exactly what they have to do and how they have to do it. That may be held to be an unreasonable view, but I do not think that it is. If we can confine the mayor to providing guidance, we shall give him a genuine job. If we leave him with the power to direct, we may not. That is the reason for Amendment No. 344.

Amendment No. 346 returns us to the same old theme of knocking our heads against the wall. My father used to say that the only good thing about knocking one's head against the wall was that it was pleasant when one stopped. I think that we shall be able to stop and do something else when we reach Report stage. In the mean time, this is quite a considerable grouping of amendments. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: We may stop banging our heads against the wall, but the pain will not go away if we have not convinced the Government to tweak their model and leave London with the form of authority that we think would be best. Of course, there are varying views across the Chamber.

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I shall speak briefly to my amendments in this group. The first amendment, Amendment No. 335, takes me back--it may not do so for others--to the debates that we had about consultation on the mayor's strategies, of which the London Development Agency strategy is one. During those debates, I was worried about the distinction between creating a strategy and exercising the functions so far as consultation is concerned. In most business organisations, a strategy is determined before one does something that one has identified as being necessary in the strategy. The noble Lord's speech in support of the amendment provides a good example. It is important that the strategies obtain as wide a consensus and support as possible through a consultation process in order to reduce the areas of dispute when the functions come to be exercised. In that sense, I agree with the noble Lord's approach to the matter.

Our Amendment No. 335A in this group makes a similar point by saying that the LDA should have regard to the views of the assembly when it presents its strategy to the mayor; in other words, there should be some co-operation. Amendment No. 336A requires the submission of the strategy--the previous amendment referred to the draft strategy--to the assembly. Amendment No. 347YA seeks to remove the requirement that the mayor should have regard to the Secretary of State's guidance when it is referred to in this context in relation to the exercise of the LDA's functions.

I wonder whether that is necessary as we have been told on other occasions--possibly in the context of consultation rather than guidance, but it begins to blur slightly--that those who will carry out these offices must act reasonably and follow guidance, consult or whatever. Having done that, they must then have regard to any comments in response or, in this case, have regard to the guidance. I am a little unclear as to whether some inconsistency runs through the Bill. However, the noble Lord's central point is important--and perhaps not just with regard to the LDA's strategy.

Lord Sheppard of Didgemere: If the Minister is not certain about which of the amendments I am commenting on, that probably makes two of us! I refer to the general area of delegation and input into the strategies.

The Government may have to consider one area of strategy against the background of the recent White Paper on the subject of skills. We shall clearly not achieve economic regeneration in London or an inclusive society unless we do dramatically better than we have done in the past 50 years in the area of skills development. The Government's RDA guidelines call for a regional skills strategy. That is not laid down in the strategies, but it is implicit in them.

While they are reviewing other authorities and inputs, will the Government examine the recent White Paper, Learning to Succeed, which attempted to carry forward the debate a long way and to achieve inputs on that subject? Will the Government consider whether that has any implications for the GLA Bill? How will we ensure that the mayor and the LDA are involved fully in that skills improvement?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Amendment No. 335 would require the draft strategy to be sent to

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the assembly, the boroughs and the City of London. That is unnecessary because such consultation is required already by virtue of Clause 34 to which the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, referred. The noble Baroness recalled from our debate in Committee on Clause 34 that persons whom the mayor is obliged to consult about any proposed strategy include the boroughs and the Common Council. We recognise their special role in taking decisions on an economic development strategy for London, and they will be consulted by the mayor.

In moving the amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, recognised the wider theme of partnership. If people have a legitimate interest in the strategy--as the local London authorities will certainly have--it is inconceivable that they will not be involved fully in the development of that strategy. Unless there is a dialogue with the interested parties, the LDA's strategy will not secure support and will not be successful. That does not mean that these bodies should have the right to veto or to vet the strategy. In some cases, the LDA will have to take hard decisions. However, at the same time, it will aim to carry the bodies with it if the strategy is to be meaningful.

The noble Baroness referred also to the removal of the mayor's power of direction over the LDA as proposed in Amendment No. 344, which would possibly increase the likelihood that the draft strategy would fail to meet the mayor's requirements. If this amendment were agreed to, it would be unhelpful to the agency and would put great stress on the power of the mayor to modify the strategy. The mayor's power of direction--covering contents, preparation, submission and review of the strategy; this point is relevant to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith--parallels the power of the Secretary of State to direct RDAs outside London on their strategies. It will provide a framework within which the LDA, which is essentially an executive arm of the mayor, can produce its draft. There would be little point in the LDA producing a draft strategy that did not reflect the mayor's views as the mayor is ultimately responsible for the strategy and has the power to modify the draft.

However, the noble Baroness and the noble Lord have raised an interesting point and we shall consider whether the mayor's power to direct is too heavy-handed. In saying that and in agreeing to consider this point, I must stress that the mayor must be happy with the strategy for which he or she is responsible.

We believe that Amendments Nos. 335A, 336A, 337, 338, 339A, 340 and 346--I read those out most carefully to ensure that we are considering the same grouping--would undermine the separation of powers on which the GLA's structure is based and would require the mayor and assembly jointly to agree what modifications should be made to the LDA's draft strategy. If the assembly took part in the joint exercise of these executive functions, it would be unable to perform its scrutiny role with respect to the LDA strategy.

Amendment No. 341 would require the assembly and the mayor to modify the strategy, if it were rejected by a third of the boroughs and the Common Council of the City of London. However, it does not provide any mechanism by which the assembly and the mayor could jointly agree

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on the revisions to be made. In any case, we believe that the provision would be unworkable. It seems a little undemocratic if the wishes of two-thirds, who would presumably be supporting the strategy, were overridden by the views of a minority.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, raised the issue of directions from the Secretary of State. We have proposed that the Secretary of State should be able to give guidance on matters to be covered or issues to be taken into account in the strategy. That would be possible only if this ran counter to national policy or could cause detriment to areas outside London. That point was raised in earlier debates by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. We believe that these are the minimum central controls necessary to ensure, first, that the mayor has power to act and, secondly, that the mayor is not able to compromise issues of national importance or of importance to other regions.

The noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, mentioned the skills strategy. It is a key function of all the RDAs, including the LDA. Amendment No. 347YA would remove part of that minimum framework which guarantees the structure in which the various powers come together. Therefore, I hope that noble Lords feel able to withdraw the amendment.

I understand the noble Baroness's comment about tweaking. However, I am sure that she recognises a coherence to the proposals before the Committee.

4.30 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee: I am ready to accept the fact that there is a coherence, but I hope that the Minister will accept our need to record that it is a coherence we do not support and that we are doing so increasingly briefly.

In dealing with the mayor's regard to guidance, the Minister referred to complying with national policy and the directions that are given if the Secretary of State believes that there will be a detriment to an area outside Greater London. Will the Minister confirm that those points would limit in Clause 240 the new Section 7B(1)? It states:

    "The Secretary of State may give guidance ... with respect to ... the matters to be covered by that strategy or ... the issues to be taken into account in preparing or revising that strategy". On the face of it, that seems very wide.

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