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Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I think that the Government ought to pay particular attention to the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. I was concerned by the reply given to me by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, when I spoke to the previous amendment. He seems to think that because local government has to work within central Government's targets, all parts of local government

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will be doing the same thing and the mayor can simply say, “Look, you can't do that because I, the mayor, have to stick to what the Government say in this matter".

There are a number of ways to skin a cat. One of the ways in which local government approaches central Government's targets is to try to have original ideas. A borough, for example, will try to find a method of achieving those targets which will work particularly for its area although the same method may not work for another area. I imagine that the London boroughs will approach the achievement of targets in a variety of ways.

In order that members of the public can discuss with their borough council what the mayor is up to before he actually issues his strategy, it seems important that the mayor should be obliged to ensure that the draft strategy is publicised and is in the hands of local government and that the public should know what those draft strategies are. That would facilitate public discussion in each borough of the local approach. The process will not work if the mayor's strategy does not become known to the public until it has been settled.

Unless I am misunderstanding this--having heard the Minister's response on the previous amendment, I do not think that I misunderstood last time--it is important that the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, or something like those provisions, should be inserted into the Bill so that the draft strategy is received by the public early on in the process and they can discuss it with the borough council which can then listen to what the public are saying about its approach. Without that, the effect of what the Government are doing will be to squash innovative ways of achieving national targets. That is my concern.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, Amendment No. 118 would apply all the arrangements for publicity and availability of strategies, as set out in Clause 35, also to draft strategies. Amendment No. 126 would require the mayor to send each strategy to the boroughs and the Common Council. Amendment No. 127 would require the GLA to post each strategy on a website which the authority would be obliged to maintain.

After further thought, we remain of the view that applying the requirements of Clause 35 to draft strategies and requiring that strategies be posted on a website is too overly prescriptive. I suspect that there is a difference of view on this. The requirements for consultation on strategies under Clause 34 are extremely thorough and comprehensive. I hope that that answers the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour.

The mayor is required to consult, and such consultation has to give those consulted a proper opportunity to make their views known. It seems extremely likely that the mayor will choose to publish draft strategies as part of complying with his or her consultation duties. If the mayor decides to do so, the requirement is to disseminate the drafts in accordance with the requirements of Clause 35.

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We believe that ultimately the form of consultation should be for the mayor to decide. We do not think that the Bill should prescribe how that should be done. We remain of the view that a requirement to post strategies on a website is both unnecessary and overly prescriptive. I am sure that the mayor's strategies will be available on a website, but we do not require local authorities generally to make their minutes and other public documents available on a website. There is no case for placing, and there is no need to place, such an additional duty on the GLA.

Perhaps I may speak briefly to the amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller. These amendments would require the mayor to send his or her annual report to the boroughs and the Common Council and to post it on a website. I am afraid that that, too, is an example of what we view to be unnecessarily prescriptive. The mayor's annual report does not fall into the same category as the strategies, partly for the reasons outlined by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour. Those documents are guides to future action. Boroughs will play an important part in implementing them.

The annual report, however, reports on performance, and although it will certainly be of interest to the boroughs, it will not guide their own activities in the same way as will the strategies and the consultation on, and compilation of, the strategies. Again, I am sure that the mayor will choose to send the boroughs his or her annual report. In the extremely unlikely event that he or she does not do so, the boroughs will any way be entitled to obtain copies of the annual report and all other publicly available GLA documents at a reasonable cost. We do not believe that the mayor should be required to place the annual report or any other publicly available documents, such as minutes of meetings, on a website. We do not agree that that prescription should be laid down in the law. I am quite sure that there will be--

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I feel that I should point out that we have not yet reached Amendment No. 130, which specifically covers this point.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Yes, my Lords, but the point was touched on in debate. I am not intending to offend the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith; perhaps we on these Benches have been guilty of trying to move a little too quickly for him.

Amendment No. 123 requires the mayor to make strategies available at such other places as he or she considers appropriate in addition to the GLA's offices. I think that that covers the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller. We want to preserve flexibility so that appropriate decisions can be taken in each particular case.

I hope that I can reassure noble Lords by informing the House that the GLA transition team is currently preparing to start phase two of preparations for the GLA. This is likely to include the implementation of an electronic document management system which will facilitate availability of all published documents on the Internet. Like my children, although not my

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grandchildren, I am not up to date on such matters, but the Government are certain that the mayor, whoever that may be, will ensure that there is the maximum necessary public access.

In the interests of time I shall not rise to the bait of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Hendon, and anticipate the debate on transport matters. I urge the noble Baronesses to withdraw their amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 118 not moved.]

4.30 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendments Nos. 119 to 122.

Page 21, line 24, at end insert--
(“( ) The Mayor shall send to the Common Council and to each London borough council a copy of the current version of each strategy mentioned in section 33(1) above.").
Page 21, line 25, after (“of") insert (“the current version of").
Page 21, line 25, leave out (“strategy mentioned in section 33(1) above") and insert (“such strategy").
Page 21, line 26, leave out (“for the appropriate period").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 123:

Page 21, line 27, after (“Authority") insert (“, and
(b) at such other places as the Mayor considers appropriate,").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I believe I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, if this amendment is agreed to, the relevant section of the Bill will read,

    “A copy of each strategy...shall be kept available ... by the Mayor for inspection by any person on request free of charge ... at such other places as the Mayor considers appropriate."

There are two possibilities here. One is that this matter deals with places over which the mayor has control and the right to place documents and tell people what to do. If that is the case, this amendment is entirely unnecessary. It is giving the mayor power to do something for which he already has power.

The alternative is that this amendment applies to places where the mayor does not have control, such as libraries. Since I presume that this amendment has some function, either we are looking at something which allows the mayor to compel people to keep documents at his behest and therefore to issue instructions to local authorities, tobacconists or anyone else he designates should hold the documents, or he is being asked to do something for which he has no power. If he decides that local libraries should hold the documents and the boroughs say no, he will be in breach of the legislation without the ability to remedy it. However this matter is seen, I am puzzled as to why this amendment is in the Bill.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the point of the amended clause is that the material is available free at appropriate places. It may appear to

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the noble Lord that it was unnecessary to be so detailed and explicit. However, in the light of the debate on the amendments so far, it became apparent to the Government that people wanted matters to be set out more explicitly in the Bill.

Of course these provisions do not give the mayor power to compel. In my experience in local government--I am sure that the same applies to other noble Lords with such experience--to my knowledge such a matter has never become a difficulty. Even where there is no degree of compulsion people are often only too happy to ensure that material is made available for public consideration.

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