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Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I may be misunderstanding this issue, but it seems that, in spite of Clause 34 which involves taking account of the assembly's views and of each London borough council, according to the terms of the amendment the government of the day could use the mayor to frustrate the local borough councils. Local borough councils can use their funds within their total budget to a considerable extent to implement their own priorities. That is what they are there for; that is why people elect them--to make local decisions about local priorities. If the mayor is to be, as it were, glued to the point of view of central government in that respect, it will simply be a way of centralising decision-making in London.
I may be misunderstanding that point, but it seems unwise for the Government to do that. The mayor should be taking account of government priorities and of local government priorities when deciding on a course of action. We all know that local decisions have to taken be within a framework set by central government. That is always the case, and local governments know that. But their great value is that they establish local priorities. How are they going to do that if the Government say, Hoy! The mayor must do what we say"? This amendment seems to say that he will have to override local government in his decisions. If I am not misunderstanding the point, the Government should be very careful about that.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, we are pleased to see that the Government have brought forward Amendment No. 113, which takes note of our comments in Committee on setting targets, and so on. We consider it right also that the mayor, when setting those targets, should have some regard to any related targets or objectives which are set nationally. Indeed, I made that point when, in speaking on Tuesday to
Furthermore, we should have no difficulty with the suggestion of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that it would perhaps be wise if the word monitor" were also included, although there might be a different mechanism for the mayor to check whether his targets were being met.
Having taken all that into consideration, why should the mayor, when setting his targets for the implementation of the strategy as he thinks it right for London, also have to--and I go to the end of the amendment--
There is no suggestion that the mayor would necessarily even consider setting targets for London which are lower than targets set nationally. But there might well be a reason, when he has set his targets, for him to have to take something else into consideration which is not taken into consideration around the rest of the country and which may be pertinent only to London. Therefore that part of the Government's amendment is rather restrictive on the mayor. If the mayor takes note of, or has regard to, national targets, and if he takes note of the indicators, it is then up to him which targets he sets and how he implements his strategy.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am grateful for the admittedly slightly qualified welcome the noble Baroness gave to this amendment because I believe it reflects our debates at earlier stages, both here and elsewhere. I believe that the noble Baroness is reading too much into this as regards the national targets and objectives. Indeed, that point was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy. All we are saying is that the assembly is part of local government and that the mayor, like the rest of local government, must have regard to minimum standards and targets set nationally.
Therefore, in so far as they are minimum standards, the same requirements throughout local government would apply in London to the GLA as they would indeed to the boroughs. The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, fears that the Government would use the national targets as a stick with which to beat the boroughs. The boroughs are already in the position of having to pay attention to the national targets. So the clause is not really using the mayor as an extension of the central state. It seeks to ensure that the whole of local government in London has regard to the national targets.
Now that I have heard the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, move their amendments, I believe that their points are valid but that the intention of the first clause subsumes the aims of their amendments. Amendment No. 114, tabled in the noble Lord's name, would require the mayor to consult the assembly before setting car targets. Amendment No. 113A in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, refers also to that point and relates also to the other bodies specified in Clause 34, including the assembly.
The amendments are already covered by the fact that Clause 34 requires the mayor to consult the bodies listed before preparing or revising any strategy, including targets within that strategy. It would therefore be inconceivable for the mayor not to consult on the targets which related to that strategy at that time. The clause therefore already provides not only for the assembly but for the other bodies mentioned in Clause 34 to be consulted. The mayor would obviously be able to exercise his discretion to decide the number and nature of targets for each strategy, but we do not intend in any sense for that to be done in isolation. In setting the targets, he must have regard to national targets, as I have said, and should not set targets less demanding than those. However, the mayor must also have regard to performance indicators set by the Secretary of State and so forth.
He also operates in a context where there are other strategies operating in London by other public authorities. I cannot agree to the prescription in Amendment No. 114A which requires the mayor to have regard to any indicators or targets set by the boroughs in relation to a strategy. Of course the mayor will need to have regard to what the boroughs are doing and will need to consult the boroughs about the strategies. However, I believe it is over-prescriptive to look at the matter target by target and borough by borough. We are not talking about a power to ignore what the boroughs are saying. But I believe that to look at every single target which appears in boroughs' plans and strategies is going a little far. The general consultation requirement covers the overall relationship with the boroughs.
Amendment No. 113B would require the mayor to monitor as well as to set targets. We have already provided for this by requiring the mayor to report on progress to the assembly in the authority's annual report.
Amendment No. 138A would alter that amendment to specify that the mayor's assessment of progress should include progress made by the GLA itself as well as authorities in general. Again, I believe that that is unnecessary. The mayor would be bound to report on the progress of all targets that he sets, including particularly those for which he himself is responsible. The noble Baroness said that it was a clarifying amendment but I should have thought that it was fairly clear from the requirement to report on progress
Although I understand some of the points that were made, I believe the general amendment covers those points. The consultation procedures elsewhere in the Bill provide for taking into account those other concerns. Therefore, I hope that we can pass my amendments, and Amendment No. 138 when we come to it, rather than pursue those other amendments.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I wonder whether I may invite him to comment on the fact that Clause 34, which he has called in aid as a reason for the rejection of my amendment, deals only with the preparational revision of strategies and does not mention the question of targets or performance indicators. Therefore, I believe that there is an argument here which could go either way.
The performance indicators are a separate issue, unless the noble Lord is prepared to give me an assurance that the targets in the performance indicators will be a part of the strategy. If the noble Lord gives me that assurance, I shall be happy to withdraw my amendment.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I believe that I said earlier that, in most cases, certainly the targets will be part of those strategies, or the follow-through to those strategies, as regards which the mayor is also required to consult.
The question of performance indicators could, of course, go more widely than strategies in that there will be internal performance indicators as well as strategic indicators. Therefore, I am not able to give any assurance that all performance indicators will fall within the strategy. However, the targets referred to in this clause are certainly relevant to the strategies and therefore are covered by Clause 34.
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