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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. We have sought to listen and have on many occasions proved that we listen carefully.

We listened to the views expressed in Committee, and therefore government Amendment No. 141 removes the requirement to use the name while leaving it as a defined term in the Bill. We believe that that offers the best of both worlds, because it does not prescribe what the meeting should be called but leaves the term in the legislation as a clear steer as to the spirit of the event. Amendment No. 143 also responds directly to concerns raised in Committee, particularly by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, that the clause did not specify that members of the public should be able to participate in the debate.

The amendment places a duty on the mayor to decide the form of and procedure for the debate following consultation with the assembly, and it clarifies that that must include an opportunity for members of the public to speak, and also that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, a person not connected with the authority may be appointed to chair the meeting. We all know that, occasionally, we who are politicians may not attract such great interest from the public as might certain other figures chairing a meeting. We have listened and responded to concerns expressed in Committee, and brought forward what I hope are suitable amendments. We hope that, in the light of that, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, we thank the Government for listening. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 21.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 14 [Declaration of vacancy in certain cases]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 22:

Page 8, line 15, at end insert (“or
(c) is the subject of a vote of no confidence by not less than nineteen Assembly members,")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

12 Oct 1999 : Column 261

Clause 15 [Date of casual vacancy]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 8, line 21, leave out (“paragraph (a)") and insert (“paragraphs (a) and (aa)")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 16 [Filling a vacancy]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 24:

Page 9, line 24, leave out subsection (10) and insert--
(“(10) If--
(a) a person who is a candidate in an election to fill a vacancy in the office of Mayor is also a candidate in an election to fill a vacancy in an Assembly constituency, and
(b) that person is returned in both elections, but
(c) the circumstances are such that a vacancy does not arise in the Assembly constituency by virtue of section 8 above,
a vacancy shall arise in the Assembly constituency.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Amendments of the Representation of the People Acts]:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 25:

Page 212, line 30, at end insert--

(“Requirement of secrecy

.--(1) Section 66 shall be amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (6) there shall be added--
“(7) In their application in relation to an election of the London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election, the preceding provisions of this section shall have effect with the insertion, after the words “the candidate for whom", in each place where they occur, of “, or the registered political party towards the return of whose candidates,".
(8) In relation to an election of the London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election, any reference in this section to the return of a registered political party's candidates is a reference to the return of candidates included in the list of candidates submitted by the registered political party for the purposes of the election.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, because of its length, this group of amendments looks more daunting than it actually is. I understand that because of the length of the list, noble Lords may wish to speak to separate amendments in their place on the Marshalled List.

The purpose of the majority of the amendments is simple. They amend the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 1983 to take account of the new electoral system which will be used during the GLA elections. Amendment No. 25 extends to the GLA elections the application of the rules of secrecy of voting set out in Clause 66 of the 1983 Act.

Amendment No. 26 puts on to the face of the Bill the limit on the amount of personal money which a mayoral candidate may spend at an election. Paragraph 17 of Schedule 3 already establishes the limits for assembly members. We believe that our proposed figure of £5,000 is reasonable, given the size of the electorate which each candidate will need to address, and the number of individual communities which the population of the capital has formed. The £5,000 personal expenses limit is in addition to the campaign expenditure limits we propose to set, about which we shall be consulting the parties shortly.

The remaining amendments deal with a range of technical issues. I should like to single out Amendment No. 34, which adds to the provisions of Section 85 specific

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provisions in relation to the mayor. It provides that if the required returns and declarations are not delivered by the mayor before the expiry of the appropriate time limit, the mayor shall be disqualified from office. It also provides that the mayor will be entitled to apply for relief against that qualification under Section 86 of the 1983 Act. The amendment does not specify for how long such a disqualification should apply. We shall be bringing forward amendments during Third Reading to rectify that omission.

As I said, the amendments in this group are simply designed to adapt the Representation of the People Act 1983 to fit the new electoral systems which we are proposing. I beg to move.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, these amendments are obviously very necessary, but it is quite difficult for those of us who have only just seen them to know what the noble Baroness is doing. Will she tell us why the amendments have not been introduced into the Bill until now?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, in terms of the rules of procedure, may I clarify with the noble Baroness that she intends to answer that particular question?

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, perhaps the noble Baroness will wait until she sums up to tell me the answer to that.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, as the noble Baroness said, this is indeed a fairly wide-ranging group of amendments and I intend to get to my feet fairly often during the course of this debate to explore some of the individual aspects on individual amendments.

We have received very little explanation from the noble Baroness as to what all these amendments are about. Indeed, some of them have not been mentioned by her at all, even in passing. Therefore, when we come to them individually, where I feel that there is a question that needs an answer and where their application is not entirely obvious, I will raise the question at that time.

It might now be sensible for me to address myself to the first amendment--Amendment No. 26--on which I do have some questions. That amendment sets the amount of personal expenses allowed to a mayor of London. I think we ought to have some justification for this figure. If one draws a line in relation to the size of electorates and the sort of campaigning which is likely to be necessary for a mayor to do, let alone the travelling that is likely to be necessary for a mayoral candidate to do, and sets that in relation to the level of personal expenses allowed for a general election to a candidate in a constituency in merely a small part of this area, the amount seems extremely low.

I would like to understand in some detail how the Government think that the figure of £5,000 can be justified in relation not to some earlier decision taken on the same Bill--I cannot say that I understood quite how those figures were justified--but in relation to a parliamentary election, which I think will be on much more the sort of scale that we are expecting for a mayoral election; something which

12 Oct 1999 : Column 263

is wide ranging and involves a lot of travelling and public debate and activity. In the context of a constituency the size of London, £5,000 seems extremely low.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, in response to the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, we have discussed and considered in detail some of the points to which these amendments refer. That is one of the reasons for the amendments. Should there be further reasons, I shall let her know. During the course of this debate, should there be any point which I fail to clarify to her satisfaction, I shall be only too happy to answer her in writing.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, has slightly misunderstood the position regarding the £5,000. That is a personal expenses limit, not a campaign expenditure limit. I fear that he was comparing the expenditure with that for the campaign. However, London is a far larger constituency than any other and far larger than a parliamentary constituency, as the noble Lord said, with 5 million voters. We shall consult widely about the overall campaign expenditure, and I hope that answer will satisfy the noble Lord. The points made by the noble Lord will be very valid when we come to consider the campaign expenditure as opposed to the personal expenditure.

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