Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: For the record, I do not believe that I left the Chamber until 10.35 p.m.

4.30 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The noble Baroness in her opening speech--we are grateful for the 51 minutes that she saved--invited me to respond not only to the amendments in the group but to say a word about the cultural strategy in the framework within which this schedule is placed. Before that, for the record I understand, and in some ways admire, the persistence of the Liberal Democrat Party in discovering every occasion on which the relationship between the mayor and assembly may be questioned and pursuing it. They have done so again today. Therefore, it means that I must repeat the words of the Minister for London in Committee in another place:

In other words, the distinction between executive power and scrutiny is fundamental. I am afraid that wherever amendments go against that we must oppose them, as we have opposed them in earlier parts of the Bill.

As far as concerns the cultural strategy, we are certainly apprised of the importance to London, the country and the world of Part X of the Bill. We look to the mayor to inspire and lead London, to ensure that all Londoners--I take the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, about the diversity of London's population--benefit from an enhanced quality of life and--this is not in contradistinction--that the city enters the next century as the place that others most

29 Jul 1999 : Column 1692

admire and wish to visit. The mayor's role in championing the cultural sectors is one that appeals widely to the public. The cultural strategy group for London will be the principal advisory tool to help achieve the mayor's vision for London. Therefore, let there be no doubt about the importance of Part X to the Government in the framing of this legislation.

I turn to the amendments. These amendments would modify Schedule 25, which defines the role and composition of the cultural strategy group for London. We consider that we have achieved the right balance between allowing proper discretion to the mayor and a framework of statutory controls.

The overall purpose of these amendments seems to be to limit the power of the mayor to determine the nature and size of the body and the terms of appointment to it. In this, as I have made clear, they run counter to the intentions of the Bill. In particular, a number of the amendments would couple the assembly with the mayor. That, as I have said, is entirely at variance with the structure of the Greater London Authority.

Others of these amendments are reasonable in themselves. However, it is our policy, embodied in the Bill, to give the mayor reasonable discretion in relation to his advisory body. We have set limits for the size of the cultural strategy group for London within which the mayor can determine its size. To limit the scope further would be to trespass on the mayor's ability to choose his or her own advisory body; that is Amendment No. 452A. It is also for the mayor to appoint somebody to chair the body from among its members. Amendment No. 452D seeks to delete that provision, while Amendments Nos. 452C and 452DA would require the body to elect its own chairman.

I listened, of course, to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, and I take his point about group dynamics. However, we have here a body of people that is representative of a wide range of fields of culture. It could be as large as 25 people. How are they going to get together to appoint their own chairman at their first meeting, when they probably do not know each other very well because they are in different fields? The power that the mayor has in making the appointment of a chairman is to appoint somebody who has authority and experience over as wide a range of cultural fields as possible.

It is also for the mayor to determine the terms on which members are appointed. Amendment No. 452E would cap the total time that a member could serve at eight years. Amendments Nos. 452DB and 452DC would provide a detailed statutory control on the terms of appointment. The mayor may indeed choose to adopt the terms suggested in the amendment; that would be entirely proper. However, there is no reason for us to fix such terms in statute. The Bill is long enough and detailed enough as it stands.

Above all, it is for the mayor to determine which matters are relevant to the culture strategy. That is a matter which the candidates for mayor will put to the people, and the people of London will judge whether the candidate for mayor is making the right proposals.

29 Jul 1999 : Column 1693

He has to determine which matters are relevant. He has to select the members, because it then becomes his responsibility to answer for his selection.

Amendment No. 452AA would have the effect of narrowing the range of bodies. I was asked whether the representatives need to be members of the bodies which they represent. The answer is that in the Bill they do not, but under Amendment No. 452AA they would be obliged to be members of the bodies. Those bodies may wish to have representatives who are not currently members of the bodies concerned.

Amendment No. 452B would make specific reference to the London Tourist Board. Tourism is, of course, a very important topic. We shall be discussing that topic later. The mayor may well wish to include somebody from the London Tourist Board. I repeat the tributes that have been paid in another place to the work of the board. We would welcome such an appointment. However, it is already possible for the mayor to make such an appointment within the terms of the Bill as it stands.

I should not single out tourism and the London Tourist Board alone. Amendment No. 452ZD seeks to define the types of bodies that the mayor will consult in considering appointments to the cultural strategy group. It lists a number of sectors, including arts, museums, and libraries. Of course, this list contains good things. However, it does not appear to include archives. I note this for the benefit of the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, who makes the point about archives later on. I am sure that the mayor will want to work closely with organisations dealing with all these subjects. They are already represented on the informal London heritage forum, from whose good work the mayor will benefit.

My problem is that this list, like that other one to which we will return, runs the risk of being thought exclusive. This again is a theme which has been present throughout the consideration of this Bill. We have lists in parts of the Bill, but they are intended to be illustrative rather than inclusive. If we did not have them at all, we would be accused of failing to be explicit enough in legislation. If we go on adding to them, we run the risk of, by definition, excluding those who have no champions in this House or in another place. I therefore commend the principle that allows the mayor full discretion to determine those matters and those bodies which should be considered in appointments to the cultural strategy group and to select the most appropriate representatives.

Other amendments seek to nail down the constitution of the strategy group. Amendment No. 452G requires the mayor to make payments to the group in respect of its proper expenses. We wish to be less dictatorial. We are confident that the group, as constituted by Schedule 25, will be able to fulfil its role in advising the mayor on the culture strategy, properly and accountably.

Some amendments are simply unnecessary. Amendment No. 453BA requires the mayor to give a reasonable length of time when directing the group to draw up and present a cultural strategy. The mayor must act reasonably in all legislation. I therefore cannot see that such a provision serves any purpose.

29 Jul 1999 : Column 1694

Amendments Nos. 452DD and 452DE are also unnecessary. The mayor can already define the circumstances in which he may terminate the appointment of a member who is unable or unfit to act. The deletion of the word "But" at the beginning of subsection (3) would do little either to add to or diminish from the mayor's powers. I found it a little odd. It is unusual to find the word "But" at the beginning of a sentence in legislation. I admire the grammatical sense of those who question it, but it does not actually make any difference.

Amendment No. 452F relates to the payment of expenses. I am advised that these will be payable only in relation to duties "properly incurred" as members of the group. The proposed additional phrase is therefore unnecessary.

Amendment No. 453G is at least partly unnecessary. It is, in any case, inappropriate. It would give the group the power to publish any objections to any revisions to the mayor's strategy, but only if there is a two-thirds majority. The group can already publish its findings; that is the unnecessary part. Following on from that, to require a two-thirds majority before publication is actually a restriction on the group's freedom; that is the inappropriate part.

However, I am glad of the opportunity to record that the Government propose to table a technical amendment at Report stage to provide an explicit power for the mayor to publish a revised cultural strategy. This will bring the mayor's powers for culture in line with the powers in relation to all the other strategies.

Finally, I come to Amendment No. 455QJA. This seeks to provide an explicit power for the group to act on behalf of the authority in respect of its grant powers. I can confirm that we also intend to lay an amendment on Report that will provide a much wider power for the group to act for the authority in respect of all its functions under Part X of the Bill.

I am sorry to have taken up so much time. This is a very large group of amendments. I therefore felt that I had to respond to each amendment individually. They are all interesting and serious amendments. I hope that, on the basis of what I have said, the respective noble Baronesses and noble Lords will feel able to withdraw them.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page