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Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, the Minister will not be surprised to know that I have some concerns as regards this amendment. Clause 48 applies the local government access to information laws to the DLA, with some certain changes. The local government regime provides two exceptions to the right of public access to meetings and also to related documents.

The first is confidential information--Section 100A(2) of the Local Government Act 1972--which the council may not disclose. In local government this is information provided by a government department on terms banning that disclosure, or information banned by an enactment of a court from disclosure. The other group is the exempt information; namely, Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, which the council “may" prohibit disclosure of. In local government this includes personal information, tender details, the identity of tenderers and legal advice.

The Government wish to insert subsections (2A) and (2B) into Clause 48. This would extend the definition of “confidential information" to financial arrangements between TfL or the LDA and third parties. It is then for TfL or the LDA to decide--it is their decision--whether this information can be debated publicly by the assembly. We believe that the information should be treated merely as exempt information and that it should be for the assembly, not TfL or the LDA, to decide whether or not it can be made public.

The assembly can be expected to behave sensibly, as councils always do about exempt information, and not release such information without a very good reason. However, we feel very strongly that it should be the assembly which makes the decision and not the two functional bodies, as this amendment proposes. In my view, the Government's proposed insertion of subsections 2(A) and 2(B) would actually weaken the whole provision; it should not happen.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the objective of this amendment is to ensure that the functional bodies can engage in a degree of commercial activity, with the understanding that they are able to do so without putting those people with whom they do business in

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the position of being in danger of having their personal financial and commercial information divulged by someone else.

TfL and the LDA are public bodies and would need to consider such matters. They are also subject to a degree of openness and public accountability. Like a local authority, they would have to make a judgment as to whether they would be prepared to release that information. Therefore, both TfL and the LDA are in the equivalent role to that of a local authority dealing with people on business and commercial matters; the assembly is at one stage removed from that situation. The provision is that the assembly should only divulge that information if TfL and the LDA agree. The analogy is not the local authority with the assembly. In this context, it is the local authority and the “functional bodies".

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I hear what the Minister says and, in general cases, I would be very happy to accept it. However, does he accept that there might be a query here in a case where there is an instance of corrupt practice? Let us suppose that such a situation arose between a body like TfL and a commercial contractor. In such a case, TfL might have an interest in, shall we say, concealing exactly what had happened. In fact, it might be for the assembly to reveal what was going on; indeed, that could be the only way in which the public could be satisfied that the whole process was proper.

Unfortunately, here we have to consider not only what happens when everyone is honest; we also have to consider those other circumstances when someone behaves in a dishonest fashion. That has to be handled properly and the mechanisms have to be there for the purpose. Therefore, in such a situation, there is reason to suppose that some sort of dispensation might be required.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, exactly the same situation can, regrettably, arrive in a local authority. There is no provision for someone else to take such a decision when the local authority is engaged in a commercial relationship which might not be in the interests of the public. Indeed, there may be some corruption in a local authority or connivance at corruption. There is no provision that someone else, apart from public authorities--in certain circumstances, the ombudsman and in others the police and criminal proceedings--would deal with the matter. In those circumstances, we would be in a different situation. But the local authority is the equivalent of the LDA or TfL in these circumstances, not the assembly.

There is also the role of chief finance officer to consider in these circumstances, as would be the case within a local authority. As I said earlier, the analogy is not between a normal local authority and the assembly; it is between a normal local authority and the LDA. Exactly the same criminal and investigatory provisions would apply to the LDA and TfL in those circumstances, as would apply in a local authority.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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8.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 215 to 217:

Page 26, line 38, at end insert--
(“( ) In section 100C of that Act (inspection of minutes and other documents after meetings) any reference to the minutes of a meeting shall, in the case of a meeting of the Assembly under section 44(2) above, be taken to include a reference to--
(a) the text of any question put pursuant to section 44(2) above at the meeting, and
(b) the text of the answer given to any such question,
whether the question was put, or the answer given, orally or in writing.").
Page 26, line 38, at end insert--
(“( ) Nothing in section 100D (inspection of background papers) requires or authorises the inclusion in any such list as is referred to in subsection (1) of that section of any document which discloses anything which, by virtue of subsection (4) of section 37 above, is not required to be disclosed under subsection (3) or (3A) of that section.").
Page 26, line 38, at end insert--
(“( ) In section 100E of that Act (application to committees and sub-committees) subsection (3)(e) shall have effect as if section (Assembly committees and sub-committees) above were included among the enactments specified in section 101(9) of that Act.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 218 not moved.]

Clause 49 [Review and investigation]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 219:

Page 27, line 15, after (“exercisable") insert (“and any other functions exercised").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is a small amendment and one which has been tabled to enable the Government, I hope, to give me an assurance on a point which slightly troubles me. Clause 49(1) provides for the assembly to,

    “keep under review the exercise by the Mayor of the statutory functions exercisable by him".

The word “statutory" made me pause because the clause could also have referred to,

    “the exercise of the functions exercisable by him".

I wonder whether “statutory" is in any way restrictive. That is why I tabled this amendment, which provides that the assembly should keep under review the exercise of “any other functions" actually exercised by the mayor. If the word is restrictive, I would be concerned for the following reason.

We have had a number of debates, including one this afternoon on the state of London's public health, and we have been assured by the Government that there is nothing in the Bill to stop the mayor undertaking this sort of review, a report on public health and various other matters which have been discussed during the course of our debates on the Bill. It seems to me that the assembly should quite properly review the exercise of those functions by the mayor, as well as those spelled out on the face of the Bill. My amendment

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seeks assurance that everything the mayor does is to be kept under review through this provision. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I believe that I can give the noble Baroness the assurance she seeks. The mayor cannot act except in pursuit of a statutory function. Activities for which there is no express statutory provision will be carried out either under the general power in Clause 25 or the subsidiary powers in Clause 28. That would include activities such as the pursuit of the health report which we debated earlier. I can also assure the noble Baroness that the term “exercisable" includes functions which have been exercised as well as those which have not. Therefore I believe that she will find her concerns covered by this amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am grateful for that reply. I realise that “exercisable" must mean those functions which the mayor has not actually exercised--that is, of course, the point of the exercise.

One concern arose from a point I have made before, which is the distinction between powers and functions. The Minister has confirmed that although the exercise arises from a statutory power, it is nevertheless within those provisions because it is a statutory function. I am looking to the Minister to confirm that in terms, if he will nod--he has nodded. I am grateful for that and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 50 [Proposals to the Mayor]:

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