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Division No. 1


Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Bradshaw, L.
Calverley, L.
Carlisle, E.
Clancarty, E.
Clement-Jones, L. [Teller]
Dahrendorf, L.
Dholakia, L.
Ezra, L.
Geraint, L.
Goodhart, L.
Grey, E.
Hamwee, B.
Hankey, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Holderness, L.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
McNair, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Newby, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Razzall, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rennard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thurso, V.
Tope, L. [Teller]
Tordoff, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Ampthill, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bowness, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Glanusk, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hanworth, V.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Haskel, L.
Hawke, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kennet, L.
Kilbracken, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Laming, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Longford, E.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Marsh, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Nicol, B.
Noel-Buxton, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shannon, E.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thornton, B.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warner, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

14 Oct 1999 : Column 545

5.22 p.m.

Clause 37 [The Mayor's monthly report to the Assembly]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 132:

Page 22, line 2, after (“three") insert (“clear working").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 133, 137, 189 and 191 in this group. I hope that there will be a reasonable consensus on the amendments. They respond directly to points raised in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Carnegy of Lour and Lady Hamwee. They relate to the interval between the mayor submitting his annual report and the assembly considering it at its monthly meeting.

The Bill as drafted provides for an interval of three days. We had already committed ourselves to clarifying that that should be three clear days. The amendments provide for the interval to be three “clear working days". That means that the report will generally be available to the assembly for longer than papers are available before a local authority meeting.

Amendment No. 189 simply tidies up the reference to the mayor's monthly report in the provisions of Clause 44. In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, was concerned that the mayor should, if necessary, be able to submit a supplementary report to the assembly covering urgent business. We made clear that we were exploring whether the Bill as drafted would prevent the assembly from considering a supplementary report at a monthly meeting. Amendment No. 191 clarifies that the assembly may consider any issues that are on the agenda. It puts the matter beyond doubt. This is a useful group of amendments. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I welcome this series of amendments, some of which respond to points that I raised in Committee. They clarify matters considerably. My Amendment No. 134A allows us to debate again the matter of written questions to the mayor outwith the normal meeting of the assembly.

This concept was rejected by the Government in Committee--wrongly, I believe. If anyone writes to the mayor, it seems to me that the mayor will reply. It is far more likely that the mayor will be buried under what may be termed informal correspondence from the people of London at large rather than under

14 Oct 1999 : Column 546

formal written questions from members of the assembly. Those assembly members will be limited in number--after all, there are only 25 of them; and there are 5.25 million electors, who might all want to express a view on an issue, or indeed 5.25 million separate issues, and decide to write to the mayor.

The reason given previously by the noble Baroness for not accepting such an amendment was that the poor mayor might be so overburdened with written questions from members of the assembly that he would not have time to undertake his official duties. I found that proposition unsatisfactory and therefore return to the matter in Amendment No. 134A. It requires the mayor to respond,

    “within a reasonable time"--

the time is not specified--

    “in writing to any written question from an Assembly Member about matters relating to statutory functions which are exercisable by him".

That is a reasonable requirement. It places on the face of the Bill formal recognition of what is a common procedure in Parliament. I cannot for one moment believe that it will cause the mayor and his staff a problem as regards administration or workload. I return to the fray and invite the Government to take the question up and answer in an affirmative way. Such a provision would be immensely helpful.

Alternatively, I may be told that I am again being over-prescriptive, or some such euphemism will be used. None the less, I have no doubt that members of the assembly will write to the mayor--but they will do so without the legislative authority of requiring the mayor to answer. That would not be reasonable. In courtesy, he would do so in any event. I do not think that there can be any objection to this proposal. I hope that the Minister may be slightly more generous in his reply than he was on the previous occasion. I have already thanked him for the concessions in the other amendments in this group; I am grateful to the Government. Were he to concede this point, my joy would be doubled.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I should very much like to give extra comfort to the noble Lord. However, I fear that I cannot agree with him completely on this point. In most circumstances, in whatever form an assembly member approaches the mayor, he or she will receive a response. But we are concerned here with the proceedings of a formal meeting and a question in a formal sense. The prescription is not intended to go beyond that. To some extent this strays into the next group of amendments that I shall move. All relate to formal questions. The equivalent would be Written Questions in this House and in another place, rather than general correspondence. Although it is not appropriate to express it in quite the same way, I imagine--although, so far as I am aware, there is no prescription in statute--that Ministers will always respond to a Member of this House or another place. The mayor would do the same if he wished to retain the political support or minimise the political opposition of assembly members.

14 Oct 1999 : Column 547

The clause deals with a formal procedure in the same way as with the formal procedure for Written Questions in this House. I therefore urge the noble Lord not to move his amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 133:

Page 22, line 4, after (“three") insert (“clear working").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 134:

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