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Lord Ampthill: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I shall gloss over the peculiar lack of grace which I consider the noble Lord has shown in responding to the Motion moved by the noble Baroness. Does he also have it in mind that he is complaining about the sums of money which he is receiving in relation to the party for which he speaks, and in relation to the five or six times greater number of Cross-Benchers who are being treated extremely generously at last? I use the word "generously" as there has been nil before this. Is it not rather odd that the noble Lord has made the speech he has just made?

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lords, if that was an intervention, I am glad to reply. I do not know whether the noble Lord heard what I said initially when I made it absolutely clear that I supported the support for the Cross-Bench Peers. Indeed, I said that I would welcome giving them more if they had asked for more. That stands--and nothing I subsequently said prejudiced that in any other way. I repeat that my argument is with the noble Baroness the Leader of the House who fully understands that. I do not believe that I said anything in bad grace. We have to face these issues head on. If no one else speaks for these Benches, we have to do it ourselves.

Lord Weatherill: My Lords, before the noble Baroness the Leader of the House responds, I hope I may say that we on these Benches are not concerned with proportionality. We number 351 at the moment, which is rather larger than the Liberal Democrat Party. Nevertheless, the sum of money which we have been given, £20,000, will enable my successor as the Convenor of the Cross-Bench Peers to have a secretary to assist him or her, for which we are deeply grateful.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I hope that I may delay your Lordships for half a minute and possibly give the noble Baroness a little time to compose herself after that somewhat acrimonious speech from the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers. I sometimes find these somewhat intellectual, economic arguments a little difficult to follow. Can the noble Baroness explain what is meant by paragraph (3)(b)? It states,

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    (if the resulting amount is not a whole number of pounds) rounded to the nearest pound; and".

I am not quite certain as regards the idea of comparing the relative retail prices indices and what the effect will be.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I say to the noble Earl that I am quite composed. The paragraph he has quoted simply refers to the requirement to index the primary sum agreed--which will be £20,000 from next April--on the basis of inflation. I agree that it is put in somewhat arcane language, but that is how I understand the position. I believe that that is the straightforward explanation. In our positive discussions, the noble Lord, Lord Weatherill, said that he was prepared to accept £10,000 for this year, starting on 1st October, and that the full sum should be taken on the basis of next April's figures.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, as I understand the noble Baroness, that is straightforward indexation and the index relating to 2000 has nothing to do with the index relating to the previous year.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, that is an important point. Put in those terms, I am not immediately sure that I can give the noble Earl a precise answer. However, I understand the basic principle; namely, that the £10,000 is agreed, and that the £20,000 from next April onwards has the inflation-related point included in it. However, I shall check carefully the point that the noble Earl has made.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, for supporting the Motion on behalf of his party. I believe that it represents a relatively good "deal". I shall not, of course, comment on the relative performance of the Opposition in this House or in another place. I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Weatherill, for what he said. It is important that we recognise the significant work of the Cross-Bench Peers and the way in which, up until now, they have organised themselves not on an amateur basis, but on a rather unprofessional basis--in terms of lack of professional support. It is important that that is changed.

Your Lordships will not be surprised to hear that I am somewhat disappointed with the response of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank. I echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, in describing the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, as less than gracious. The noble Lord expressed a general dissatisfaction with the Cranborne money scheme and the way in which the Liberal Democrat Party has been treated.

There was an opportunity for the noble Lord and his party to make such representations before the discussion was held about the arrangements for this present settlement, when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Neill, held his hearings and took evidence. I am not aware that any evidence was given by the noble Lord on the matter of the Cranborne money. I understand that oral evidence was given by the noble Lord, Lord Razzall, and that he gave a personal, written submission. However, as I understand the position, there was no evidence from the

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noble Lord or his party which suggested to the Neill committee that the basis for the Cranborne money should be reviewed. That seems to me to have been the appropriate opportunity to make such representations.

The noble Lord expressed concern about the proportion of moneys as between the two opposition parties under the scheme. All I can say to that is that we are where we are. When the Cranborne money was introduced in 1996, a proportion of money was made available to each of the two opposition parties and that proportion has been maintained in the Motion before your Lordships today.

I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, personally feels hard done by. He expressed concern that he was not properly consulted about the details of the scheme. I am sure that the noble Lord will recollect that, following the meeting that I had with him, I put forward a number of options to try to cover some of his concerns. Although they had not been addressed in the conventional forum of the Neill committee, I approached the Treasury but there was no more money on the table. I believe that it is entirely inappropriate for him to suggest that I gave him any kind of understanding that there may be. I point out to the House that the Cranborne money has been doubled in less than four years.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, how would making representations to the Neill committee have made any difference if there was no more money on the table?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, if the more general principled points concerning proportionality and the particular virtues and work of the Liberal Democratic Party, which the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, expressed at some length this afternoon, were such that he thought they should have been represented in the report of the Neill committee, presumably that forum was the appropriate place to make them.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Greater London Authority Bill

4 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Lyell) in the Chair.]

Clause 300 [The Cultural Strategy Group for London]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 452ZAB:

Page 158, line 18, leave out subsection (3)

The noble Baroness said: This is a paving amendment for a later debate on Schedule 25 stand part of the Bill.

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It may be convenient for the Committee if I do not move the amendment at this stage.

[Amendment No. 452ZAB not moved.]

Clause 300 agreed to.

Schedule 25 [The Cultural Strategy Group for London]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 452A:

Page 316, line 16, leave out from ("of") to end of line 18 and insert ("an even number of members numbering between 12 and 18.
( ) Half plus one of the members shall be appointed by bodies concerned with such relevant matters as the Mayor and Assembly, acting together, consider appropriate.
( ) The remaining members shall be appointed by the Mayor.")

The noble Baroness said: I cannot promise to be quite so brief in speaking to this amendment. I apologise for not moving the previous amendment, but I took advice on the matter from the Clerk beforehand and I warned the Front Benches that I would be following that procedure.

In moving Amendment No. 452A, and with the leave of the Committee, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 452B, 452C, 452D, 452E, 452F and 452G, which stand in my name, and to Amendments Nos. 452DB, 452DC, 452DD, 452DE and 453BA, 453G and 455QJA, all in the name of my noble friend Lady Miller of Hendon. She has expressly asked me to speak to them for her.

In the light of that list, it is no wonder that a rumour went round Hansard that I was to speak for 60 minutes. I promise I shall not. If I had done so, before I had finished I am sure noble Lords would have thrown me in the Thames, a fate that I would have deserved.

I have tabled these amendments, relating to the composition and function of the cultural strategy group, in order to probe the Government's intentions behind the creation of that body. I want to find out their expectations of its role and of its relationship with the mayor and the authority. As the Bill stands, it is so vague about such matters that one feels as though one is looking at the Cheshire Cat and that the Government are smiling with satisfaction at leaving us in the dark, with nothing of substance to see.

Amendment No. 452A provides that, while the strategy group should still be under the mayor's guidance--as the Bill provides--the mayor should give at least half of the places plus one to bodies that he or she considers it relevant to consult, and for them to make the appointments. I say "he or she" as there is at least one female candidate and there may be more. In that way the person whom the relevant body--rather than the mayor--considers appropriate will be a member of the group.

The mayor will still be left with the freedom to appoint almost half the members by personal choice alone. That surely should be sufficient for anybody. It is important that the expert bodies should have the opportunity to make appointments of those whom they know to be the right people to advise the mayor and that such experts should be in the majority.

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Turning to the other amendments standing in my name, Amendment No. 452B makes it a requirement that the membership of the cultural strategy group shall include those who represent relevant tourism bodies, including the London Tourist Board. Can the Minister reassure me that tourism bodies must be represented on the group, and that, at the very least, the London Tourist Board should have a representative on it?

I make no allegations about any of the candidates currently willing to stand for election, but we do not know what they will be like when in office. They could be completely "off-the-wall". There may be an undeclared candidate whom we have not yet seen who is a most extraordinary person. There may be a peculiar clash of personalities. I make no comment about anybody who has so far declared his or her candidacy. I am sure that they are all extremely worthy people, but there may be someone who has not yet declared his or her intention to stand who may have some extraordinary ideas.

What would happen if such a person with extraordinary ideas had a clash of personalities with those running the London Tourist Board, and he or she decided not to include a representative from this admirable organisation on the group? That would be damaging for London. I am sure that all those candidates who have declared their intention to stand would support the London Tourist Board.

Amendment No. 452C is tabled because I believe that it would be appropriate for the group to choose the chairman, rather than the mayor making the appointment as a personal choice. Amendment No. 452D is consequential to Amendment No. 452C.

Amendment No. 452E restricts the length of time that anybody can serve on the group to a maximum of eight years. I have no special attachment to the period of eight years. I simply plucked the figure out of the air. The objective of the amendment is simply to raise the problems which can arise when one person with unfettered powers to appoint can choose to keep his or her preferred person on the group for too long.

Such a situation may not be a case of cronyism at all, but another scenario altogether. A person who joined the group, fresh from the area in which he or she had expertise, may be left in place because of a genuine belief that he or she is an expert. Sometimes, when a person has been a member of a body for some time, he can become out of touch with the world for which he speaks, however good he is. In those circumstances, that person should be replaced, but the mayor has not done so.

Amendment No. 452F is a drafting amendment. Schedule 25 states that the mayor may pay the members of the cultural strategy group allowances in respect of travel or other expenses properly incurred by them. But they could quite properly incur expenses which have absolutely nothing to do with their work as a member of the group. There is no definition in the Bill, as far as I can see, which links the word "properly" to the

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function of the group. Therefore, my amendment makes it clear that the moneys that could be claimed would be,

    "in respect of travel or other expenses properly incurred by them in connection with their duties as members of the Cultural Strategy Group".

Amendment No. 452G requires that the mayor shall provide the cultural strategy group with the money towards defraying its expenses. Can the Minister say why the Bill gives the mayor only the option, and not the duty, to pay expenses? Does the Government expect the group's work to be funded by volunteers, individual donations or corporate funding? We need to probe that matter.

I now turn to the amendments that stand in the name of my noble friend Lady Miller. The first group comprises Amendments Nos. 452DB, 452DC, 452DD and 452DE. That group probes the existence or lack of constitutional checks on the cultural strategy group. Amendment No. 452DC proposes that the terms of office of members of the group should be limited to a term specified on the face of the Bill. My noble friend approaches the matter from a different angle from myself. I was concerned about people having membership for ever and ever and not performing their duties properly. My noble friend is concerned that people who are appointed should be aware of the terms of their appointment in a clear manner.

Amendment No. 452DD proposes that the mayor should have a discretionary power to intervene if any member of the strategy group is unable or unfit for any reason to discharge his or her functions.

Without these amendments, it might appear that the mayor may appoint the members for a capriciously chosen period. It is also important that any terms of appointment should be such that a member who is unable to continue with his or her work should be discharged from membership. Amendments Nos. 452DB and 452DE are consequential. This beginning to sound like a list of licence plates on cars--and it will become rather worse as we discuss later amendments.

Amendment No. 452BA relates to subsection (6) by which the mayor may give the cultural strategy group directions to formulate a strategy and a date by which the group should complete its work. This amendment inserts the word "reasonable" into the time-scale, so that when the mayor gives his or her directions to the group, the group must be given a reasonable time in which to complete its work.

Amendment No. 453G refers to the provision which sets out the manner in which the mayor may revise the cultural strategy at a time when he or she has not been asked to do so by the cultural strategy group. The amendment gives the group the power to publish any objections to the revision of the strategy if two-thirds of the group are agreed in their objections to the revision taking place. That would provide a check on the ability of the mayor to take unilateral action in altering a strategy. At least the case against his or her actions would be made public.

Finally, Amendment No. 453QJA gives the authority the power to transfer to the cultural strategy group its own functions with regard to making grants to museums, libraries, and so on, as listed in Clause 302. Again, this is

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a probing amendment to seek clarification about the role which the Government expect the mayor and authority to play with regard to the cultural strategy group.

Having managed to spend nine rather than 60 minutes explaining the amendments, I beg to move Amendment No. 452A.

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