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Lord Whitty: In one sense, the amendments are an odd coupling, but they allow me to clarify what we mean by a report and a strategy. A report is a report, and a strategy, almost by definition, must be an action plan. I have probably conveyed my meaning a little too explicitly. What I was trying to say is that a report is one thing and a strategy includes action points. The mayor will be required to produce eight strategies, most of which will have a relationship to the environmental report. The strategies will be where the action is and they will relate either to where the mayor will have direct executive responsibility or where he will have responsibilities for guiding, and in some cases intervening, in relation to the London boroughs and other statutory authorities.

If the mayor were also required to have an environmental action plan that cross-cut the eight strategies that he will be statutorily bound to deliver, there would be some confusion about where the action points arose. The environment report has to be seen as a report on the state of the environment, and the action plans will be contained within the individual strategies. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, will see that the operational arms arise from the strategies and it will be confusing to introduce an action plan as an additional part of the report. As far as the waste disposal side is concerned, the action plan is the strategy as described.

I hope that I have made myself clear, although I doubt it.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I shall have to study what the Minister has had to say. I am grateful to him for doing his best to explain the difference and, in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 450F not moved.]

Clause 281, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 450G not moved.]

Clause 282 [The Mayor's biodiversity action plan]:

[Amendments Nos. 450H and 450J not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 450K:

Page 150, line 40, leave out ("Commission") and insert ("Agency")

The noble Lord said: This is a simple amendment. As the Committee will be aware, on 1st April this year, the Countryside Commission merged with the Rural Development Commission into an organisation called the Countryside Agency. The amendment merely ensures that the correct name is on the face of the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 450KA not moved.]

27 Jul 1999 : Column 1499

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 450L:

Page 150, line 41, at end insert (", and
( ) such non-governmental organisations as the Mayor considers appropriate")

The noble Baroness said: This amendment is grouped with Amendment No. 450M, tabled by the Conservatives. They both seek, in one way or another, to ensure that the mayor will consult NGOs when preparing or revising the London biodiversity plan. Bearing in mind the Minister's earlier comments about giving the mayor a little elbow room, he may find our amendment more acceptable.

Amendment No. 450L provides for the mayor to consult NGOs, but he may choose those he considers appropriate. Any of us who have through the years received the excellent briefings from NGOs such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds will recognise the wisdom of the mayor consulting such bodies when preparing the biodiversity plan. The expertise in those organisations is such that he is unlikely to be able to replicate it among his limited staff. The Bill would gain something from having that requirement, while giving the mayor the necessary elbow room. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: Amendment No. 450M, which is grouped with Amendment No. 450L, is now slightly inaccurate because the question of an environmental strategy group is no longer relevant in the light of what has happened earlier. However, the amendment seeks to add to the list of consultees in regard to the biodiversity section of the Bill. These are groups such as the London Ecology Unit, the Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and the Groundwork Foundation that have a special interest in certain aspects of the ecology of London. London's ecology is important. It has diverse flora and fauna and in many ways does not suffer from the disadvantages of the countryside where intensive agriculture restricts some of the plants and animals that otherwise one would expect to find. However, while intensive agriculture may be responsible for that loss, intensive agriculture is necessary to feed us all. So one has to live with that. However, there are aspects of London's ecology that are special and well worth preserving. The bodies mentioned in our list have a special interest and I believe it would be worthwhile to consult them. I look forward with interest to the Minister's reply.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty: We have returned to the position of prescribing exactly whom the mayor should consult. We have been over this ground before. On the biodiversity action plan the mayor is specifically required to consult English Nature, the Countryside Commission and the Environment Agency. Clause 34 also lists in relation to that plan not only the assembly but also the functional bodies; namely, the London boroughs and anyone else the mayor deems it appropriate to consult.

The additional organisations prescribed in the various amendments would in many cases be appropriate for the mayor to consult. However, I think we need to leave the mayor that discretion. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, has referred to the fact that we have

27 Jul 1999 : Column 1500

already discussed the environmental strategy group. However, with reference to the London Ecology Group which has been mentioned here, I thought I had already explained at an earlier stage that the London Ecology Unit would be subsumed into the GLA to provide for the authority its core environmental staff. In that sense, the LEU would cease to exist as soon as the GLA came into existence. So the GLA can hardly consult with itself. I do not think that would be appropriate, even were we to be prescriptive.

Of course I am aware of the sterling work being done by the London Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and the Groundwork Foundation. I would expect the mayor to make his or her own decisions as to which of those groups to consult, but in practice I should expect all of them to be consulted on the biodiversity plan. However, we must leave a few matters for the mayor to decide for himself or herself. We have dealt with this argument previously and I should not flog it to death. I hope that the noble Baroness will not pursue her amendment.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I am beginning to find different ways of accepting graciously the Minister's replies, while realising that we will get nothing challenging. However, in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 450M not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 450N:

Page 151, line 8, at end insert--
("( ) The Mayor shall publish any plan within one year of the first ordinary election and subsequently every two years.")

The noble Lord said: The amendment seeks to build on our ambitions to keep the mayor up to scratch as regards timing. The London biodiversity plan does not appear to have any great urgency about it. In this amendment we have suggested that the mayor should publish a plan within one year of the first ordinary election and subsequently every two years. There is no time limit on this matter on the face of the Bill. We think there ought to be. The point is simple and we think it is worthwhile. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: As the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, said, this amendment requires the mayor to publish the Biodiversity action plan within one year of the first elections and subsequently every two years. We do not presume to set a timetable for the mayor which would force him or her to work to the Government's priorities rather than his own. Those priorities must be those which have been set out in the manifesto for which the people of London have voted. That may mean that he or she will produce some strategies in advance of others. We believe that that is a totally valid way in which to proceed. We do not propose to put constraints in the way of making this the effective method of working. In the light of my comments, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

27 Jul 1999 : Column 1501

Lord Dixon-Smith: I will study with care what the noble Baroness has said. In the meantime, I will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 282, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 451 not moved.]

The Chairman of Committees: I should have pointed out to the Committee that Amendment No. 451 is not moved. It therefore follows that Amendments Nos. 451YA and 451YAA may not in those circumstances be moved because they would have been proposed as amendments to Amendment No. 451.

[Amendments Nos. 451YA and 451YAA, as amendments to Amendment No. 451, not moved.]

Clause 283 [The Mayor's municipal waste management strategy]:

[Amendment No. 451ZAA not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 451ZAB to 451ZAE had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendment No. 451ZAF not moved.]

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 451ZAG:

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