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Page 276, line 1, leave out paragraph 14.

The noble Lord said: the amendment raises an interesting point: What is the economic region that comprises "London" and should it be for ever as it is described in the Bill? It seems to me that if paragraph 14 stands, the opportunity to change the boundaries of the region will no longer exist. If I am wrong in my interpretation, no doubt the Minister will tell me. I well remember that under a previous Labour government the south-east region was judged to include Hampshire and

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everything eastwards through Kent, northwards towards Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, and coming round to include Hertfordshire and Essex. In many senses there is a reason for saying that that is a more valid economic development region--if one wants to consider economic development in the context of a city and its environs--than having the boundaries of the London Development Agency cast in stone as the boundaries of the Greater London Authority.

The question of economic influence is always important. I accept that what the Government are doing now is in a sense but a first building block in a process that they hope will create some rationality out of a putative regional structure. However, this country's economy does not work like that. Any regional structure that is arrived at is unlikely to have genuine validity in the economic context. It may make sense from other points of view, but it is not likely to make sense from the economic point of view.

We do not think that it is right that the boundaries of the London economic region, which is what the London Development Agency should be dealing with, should be set in stone. There may well be a time when opinion is different; and if that is so, there may well be a valid case for amendment. However, as the Bill is drafted, such amendment is not possible. We do not think that that is sensible, and that is the reason for the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: As the noble Lord says, the amendment raises an interesting issue. Nevertheless, on balance the argument is against the noble Lord. It is true that the RDA Act allows the Secretary of State to alter the boundaries of the RDA areas in the rest of England, but it would not make much sense in relation to London, where the LDA is responsible to the mayor. Indeed, if the amendment were accepted, it is at least notionally possible that the mayor of London would extend his power, at least in the economic area, over the whole of Essex. I am not sure that that would be desired by the noble Lord's former constituents in the county of Essex.

Although it is true that some flexibility is necessary, that can best be achieved by co-operation between the RDAs, as we spelt out in some detail during the passage of the RDA Act. Clearly, the mayor and the LDA will have responsibility for acting, for example, on the Thames gateway with the east and south-eastern RDAs, and it is very important that they do so. If one were to extend the power of a body controlled by the mayor to territories outside his own territory, I believe there would be serious political repercussions. I hope, therefore, that on balance the noble Lord will see the wisdom of not pressing his amendment, and I ask him to seek leave to withdraw it.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for his reply. I accept that I was somewhat extreme in the way in which I expressed the case for the amendment. None the less, I am reassured by what the noble Lord said about the need for co-operation between regional development agencies across their boundaries, particularly in the south-east of England. That is essential.

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I shall study what the noble Lord said. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 351A to 353 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Viscount Allenby of Megiddo) : Before calling Amendment No. 353A, I have to inform the Committee that if the amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 354.

Lord Clement-Jones moved Amendment No. 353A:

Page 277, line 20, leave out sub-paragraph (6) and insert--
("(6) In paragraph 4 (staff) after sub-paragraph (2) there shall be inserted--
"(2A) Appointments to the position of Chief Executive of the London Development Agency shall be made as follows--
(a) the first appointment shall be made by the Mayor of London after consultation with the chair (or chair designate) of the agency and with the approval of the London Assembly decided by simple majority vote,
(b) subsequent appointments shall be made by the Agency with the consent of the Mayor of London and the approval of the London Assembly decided by simple majority vote."").

The noble Lord said: I think we all agree that the role of the chief executive will be extremely important, particularly in the early years of the London Development Agency. If some of the responses that the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, gave about the types of powers to be delegated to the LDA and the mayor are fulfilled, clearly the LDA will have considerable powers and significant resources at its disposal. In that case, the chief executive will have a very responsible job for the regeneration strategy for the whole of the Greater London area.

We believe that it is therefore very important to have the right mechanisms for the appointment of that chief executive. Those mechanisms should include the assembly; it should not simply be the mayor who has an involvement in the appointment of the chief executive. The assembly should be explicitly included to ensure that the chief executive has the full confidence of the authority as a whole.

As does paragraph 19 of the schedule, the amendment would amend Schedule 2 of the Regional Development Agencies Act, which deals with the question of staffing. We believe that by including the assembly in this we are being wholly consistent. We realise that the Government have in a sense adopted their own consistency in the other direction, but in many respects this is even more important than the way in which board members are appointed. The chief executive will be the agency's day-to-day head. He or she will be responsible to the board as well as being responsible for a very large undertaking.

We very much hope that in this case the Government will consider making an exception to one of their tenets which runs through the Bill, which appears to be that it

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is for the mayor to decide, not for the assembly and the mayor to decide. We believe that there would be considerable merit in this proposal. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has indicated that the amendment relates to previous discussions of the division of powers, and, although it is correct that the assembly will have a role in relation to its staff and the authority's staff, the LDA is the executive arm of the mayor in the economic and regeneration field. We believe that it should be the mayor who makes the appointments and takes the decisions in relation to the LDA, as we have discussed more generally. It is the role of the assembly to hold the mayor to account for his exercise of his executive functions.

The principle that functional bodies are the arm of the mayor is one that we have consistently pursued. I know that the Liberal Democrats, by and large, disagree, but for logic's sake I must ask the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Clement-Jones: I thank the Minister for that not unexpected reply. I certainly could not accuse him of inconsistency. We obviously have a difference of view about the role of the assembly in such circumstances and I suspect that it will be irreconcilable during the passage of the Bill. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 354 not moved.]

Schedule 20, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 243 [Establishment, membership and duty to maintain police force]:

6.15 p.m.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 354ZA:

Page 133, line 11, leave out from beginning to end of line 3 on page 134.

The noble Lord said: The amendment moves us on to Clause 243 and Part VI of the Bill, which deals with the Metropolitan Police. I admit that this is a probing amendment, which has been crudely drafted. It is by no means the sort of finely honed legal text that I prefer to put before the Committee, but I hope that it has the value of permitting us to discuss--at least briefly--the fundamental step that is being taken in the replacement of the Home Secretary as the police authority for the Metropolitan Police area by a joint authority on more conventional lines with elected representatives, magistrates and independent members.

The change is one of the most important in the whole history of the Metropolitan Police. That is evidenced in the Bill by the repeal of the statutory basis for the Metropolitan Police--Section I of the Metropolitan Police Act 1829. That is of course the famous Act of Sir Robert Peel, Home Secretary, which set up the world's second modern constabulary, or police force as we know it. The first was the Irish Constabulary, which was also set up by Sir Robert Peel in 1822. As the noble

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Lord, Lord Molyneaux, is in his place, I remind the Committee that that force was the predecessor of the Irish Constabulary, later the Royal Irish Constabulary, and of the Royal Ulster Constabulary--a force that has been and remains vital to democracy.

Before 1829, the duties that we think of as police duties were carried out, in London and elsewhere, by watchmen and constables, who worked directly under city and town councils and the local justices of the peace. In a general conceptual way, the Bill will reverse the 1829 Act by putting elected representatives and magistrates back in charge of the policing of London, as they have been elsewhere throughout. Modernisation is not always what it seems: sometimes it harks back to earlier times.

Since 1829, the Met has been different. In part, that is simply a reflection of the size of London, but it also reflects the force's national responsibilities. The Metropolitan Police have taken a lead in many sensitive and important areas. That consideration is still, as the Bill stands, reflected in the provision that the Home Secretary can appoint a member of the new Metropolitan Police Authority and can also appoint, directly and indirectly, some of the members of the selection panel who will appoint others. The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment on the question of the Home Secretary's representation and we will reach that later.

In general, the Home Secretary will withdraw from his role as the Metropolitan Police Authority. I support that move, but it is a significant change that needs some explanation from the Minister of the reasons for it. The move has had the support of others over the years, including the Commissioner and his predecessor. It will bring the Metropolitan Police Authority nearer to, although it will not make it identical to, other police authorities.

The reasons for the change are not so much argued as asserted. It is said that greater democracy must be a good thing, although the Bill's provisions are a long way from total democracy for the Metropolitan Police Authority. The fact that the Home Secretary, who is answerable to Parliament, has been the police authority all this time is in itself democratic. The frequent debates on the Metropolitan Police, especially in the other place, emphasise the democratic control that has been exercised.

Therefore, the Bill will not mean a step to democracy from no democracy at all. It is a much more subtle move than that--from one partial form of democracy to another partial form of democracy. However, it is difficult to avoid the idea, more usually implied than expressed, that in recent decades it has somehow become less acceptable to have a single politician acting as the Metropolitan Police Authority. I do not mean that as any criticism of the present Home Secretary or his predecessors. Politicians as a group, and I speak as one, have become less trusted to act in a quasi-judicial role one day and a political one the next. The prestige of politicians as a group has diminished. We are nearly as lowly rated as journalists. We are right down the bottom with lawyers and persons of that class.

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Of course, a majority of the new police authority will also be politicians and some of the rest will be chosen by politicians. Any blame going--and there is bound to be some at times--will be more widely spread. It will also prove true to say that the chairman, never mind the members, of the Metropolitan Police Authority will be largely unknown to the public, certainly in comparison with any Home Secretary. That may be another clue as to why the change is being made. It will help to lower the visibility and hence sometimes the political temperature of the authority, and I believe that to be desirable.

I hope that the change will also lower the perception of political interference in policing matters. I emphasise the word "perception", because I am not trying to make the case that either the present Home Secretary or his predecessors improperly interfered politically. In any case, even if they had, successive commissioners would have resisted them.

We are in difficult waters. Ministers and elected councillors are expected to use their powers on behalf of the public, because that is our system of democratic control.

All in all, I think it is desirable to transfer responsibility from the Home Secretary to the police authority somewhat on the lines suggested in the Bill, although we shall have some modifications to suggest shortly. However, I think that the Committee should ask the Minister to explain the Government's reasons for bringing about this historic change. I beg to move.

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