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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The arrangements set out in Clause 265 are intended to provide clear and open consultation arrangements consistent with the requirements of the planning system and with the objective of avoiding over-lengthy and complex procedures.

Amendments Nos. 375, 376, 377 and 377A would have the effect of requiring the mayor to carry out two full and separate consultation exercises by requiring consultation with the boroughs and other external interests at the same time as an initial draft SDS is put to the assembly and functional bodies. These added consultations would be in advance of those anticipated at subsection (2) of this clause.

We believe that this is not necessary and could be a recipe for delay. We want the mayor to be able to produce the SDS relatively quickly and not get bogged down in over-bureaucratic consultation procedures that would require him first to undertake a full external consultation on an initial set of proposals and then again on a draft SDS.

Subsection (1) of the clause seeks to ensure that the assembly and the GLA functional bodies have an input into the development of the mayor's proposals before the more formal consultation procedures set out in the remainder of the clause come into operation. That provision simply deals with the internal arrangements within the GLA. It ensures that the assembly in particular is involved in, and associated with, the published proposals before they go out to full external consultation and is not treated like any other consultee and expected to appear at the examination in public.

Of course, it seems likely that any sensible mayor will take care to consult the boroughs and other stakeholders from the outset in developing his or her proposals. Securing their co-operation and participation in developing the mayor's ideas is certainly the best way to ensure that they are implemented as rapidly and effectively as possible. But we cannot see any merit in requiring a two-stage formal consultation procedure. It would be over bureaucratic and lead to unnecessary delay.

However, I hope to give the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, some cause for optimism. I note that Amendment No. 377A proposes adding to Clause 265 the consultation of those bodies mentioned in Clause 27 of the Bill whom the mayor is required to consult on other strategies. It might be helpful if I flag up now that, when we debate Amendment No. 381AA which similarly would also require the consultation of those bodies mentioned in Clause 27 at the "external stage" of the process, we will be saying something positive and

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explaining why we wish to take away and consider that amendment. With those words I hope to encourage the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I shall need to study with great care what the Minister has said. It seems passing strange to me that the mayor is obliged to consult the assembly--although, of course, that is the only function the assembly has; the assembly can do nothing if it disagrees with his strategy--he is not obliged to consult the boroughs. They will be intimately affected by the strategy and must play a vital part in its formulation.

The Minister has expressed a difference of view. I am not sure that she has given me a reason for withdrawing the amendment. Nonetheless, I shall look carefully at what she has said. It may be that we shall need to return to this issue at a later stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 376 to 380 not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 381:

Page 142, line 1, after ("inspection") insert ("on the internet and")

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 381 returns to a familiar theme. Clause 265 deals with public participation in the development of the spatial development strategy. Once more we return to the issue of the mayor making his proposals available on the Internet to enable the widest possible participation in the preparation of the document. There is sure to be the widest possible public interest in the subject. Although we have tried to insert into the Bill the little matter of consultation on the Internet, we have not yet succeeded. However, the case is no less valid and we will continue to press the matter. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Amendment No. 381 concerns a debate we have had before in the House. I am sure that we all want the mayor to make full use of modern communication methods and up-to-date technology. But the very pace of change in this area makes it inadvisable to cement such matters in primary legislation.

Of course, Clause 274 also allows the Secretary of State to make regulations to cover the preparation and publication of the strategy in line with usual planning practice. That might be a more appropriate place to flag up the possibilities offered by the Internet. We will certainly look at this matter when we come to draft the regulations. I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Dixon Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for her response. I will study it with care. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 381ZA and 381A not moved.]

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Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 381AA:

Page 142, line 14, after ("strategy;") insert--
("( ) the bodies and persons referred to in section 27(2);")

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 381AA I shall speak also to Amendment No. 381B. The Minister has trailed a positive Government response in respect of Amendment No. 381AA. We have already debated what the Minister described as the "public" or "second" stage and I shall not waste the Committee's time by repeating the arguments.

Amendment No. 381B seeks to provide that the mayor or assembly has the opportunity to consult such persons and bodies as he or it considers appropriate. The amendment seeks to provide an assurance that the mayor can add to the list persons and bodies other than those directed by the Secretary of State in regulations and, secondly, seeks to indicate the role of the assembly in assisting the consultation process.

I believe that the Government have commented that this amendment--or a similar one--is not necessary because the Bill does not have to be specific. However, the Government have chosen to be specific in the Bill about a number of matters. Can the Minister give an assurance--without it being specific in the Bill--that the mayor will be able to undertake consultations with bodies and persons outside the list? I beg to move Amendment No. 381AA.

Lord Whitty: As the noble Baroness said, my noble friend has already trailed the fact that we have sympathy with the thinking behind the amendment. We are not sure that the drafting is necessarily appropriate; nor that its purpose could not be better achieved by amending Clause 33 of the Bill rather than this one. However, with those caveats, I am happy to take the amendment away and consider it further.

Turning to Amendment No. 381B, if we decide to go along with a proposal along the lines of the previous amendment, that may well incorporate the words proposed here in respect of the mayor. Indeed, it might well do so automatically were the amendment to be aligned with Clause 33. However, the other point of Amendment No. 381B is to provide that the assembly should be able to determine the mayor's consultation arrangements. That would not be consistent with the approach that we have adopted in the rest of the Bill on the division of powers between the mayor and the assembly. Therefore, that aspect will not be reflected in any proposal that I may bring forward. However, I hope that the positive response to the first of the amendments will allow the noble Baroness to withdraw it.

Baroness Hamwee: One learns that one's drafting is never adequate, but I welcome what the Minister has said in that regard. One has also learnt that the role of the assembly is not as we should like it to be. However, I continue to make the point at this stage, where appropriate, so that it is on the record. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 381B not moved.]

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Lord Dixon-Smith moved amendment No. 382:

Page 142, line 27, after second ("period") insert ("which shall not be less than six weeks from the date that copies are made available under subsection (2) above")

The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to place on the face of the Bill a minimum consultation period for the public, the London boroughs and others to respond in regard to the draft spatial development strategy. It may seem superfluous to lay down a minimum period in regard to a matter that is to be dealt with by regulations. However, the amendment merely imposes a minimum limit. The regulations can then include any reasonable period above that limit. On a matter of consultation, it is important that the public and all the relevant bodies that are being consulted have a sufficient--although not excessive--time in which to respond. We believe that six weeks is an adequate minimum. If the Minister were to choose to set a longer period, that would be entirely down to him. But we do not think it unreasonable that this minimum period should be on the face of the Bill.

To give an absurd example, under the terms of the Bill, the Minister could make regulations stating that there should be a two-week consultation period. London would very properly explode if that were suggested, so no sensible Secretary of State would be likely to do so. But under the Bill as drafted such a decision is possible. That is not sensible, and that is why we tabled the amendment. I beg to move.

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