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Baroness Jay of Paddington : My Lords, in response to the noble Viscount's first point, I suspect that the Tampere proposals will be taken forward in a variety of ways. If we look, for example, at some of the detail of the proposals on the organisation of asylum and immigration, some are already envisaged in the Bill that is before the House. So in that instance, in a sense, we have acted and the European position is coming on line with some of our proposals in this area.

Some of the other matters mentioned in the Statement are matters of good practice. They are about the exchange of good practice and the understanding of practical institutional collaboration and co-operation, for example, on the question of exchange of information through the Europol system, which may lead to the more effective prosecution and resolution of civil cases, and on the question of small claims in the consumer field. As I understand it, that would simply be a matter of making the organisational machinery of exchange of information and understanding of each other's practice more effective. That could be achieved, for example, by utilising some of the new IT arrangements which enable Internet information to be exchanged and given good credence. There will be a variety of methods.

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The noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, mentioned extradition. That would be a matter for legal change. As I said in my response to the noble Lord, that is in its early days of practical detailed planning. When it comes to the point of being put into practice, there would be need for a change in the law in that respect. My general reaction is that there would be a variety of ways of implementing these points. They are mostly about practical arrangements and the organisation of institutions.

On the question of Pakistan, the noble Viscount will be aware that we are reviewing aspects of our relationship with that country. There has been great concern about the military take-over. We can understand that there was an important need in the beginning to recognise that the military action taken was counter to all the democratic understandings of the basis on which, for example, the Commonwealth is founded. I am sure that the position of the Commonwealth will have been noted by your Lordships' House. The position taken by the Government in condemning the military take-over and urging an immediate return to democracy is supported by the Commonwealth. That is the forum in which we expect to take future relationships forward and the future development of our relationships with Pakistan.

Lord Tordoff: My Lords, perhaps I may ask a specific question arising out of the Statement. It relates to the charter of human rights for the European Union. Is the noble Baroness aware that it was briefly touched on at the COSAC meeting in Helsinki last week? There was little support from parliamentarians at that meeting for the concept of a new charter of human rights within the Union. People believed that the European charter of human rights, ranging over many more countries, was sufficient in itself or could possibly be amended to include other items, if necessary, rather than having a separate and parallel charter of human rights for the Union alone.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Yes, my Lords, I am aware that there have been such concerns and that there is anxiety that there could be an overlap, for example, between the rights listed in the charter and the ECHR. However, as I said in response to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, the working party of about 60 people, to which this Parliament will nominate two representatives, will examine the issue in detail.

However, it was felt at Tampere that there was scope for an additional charter of rights and that the working party for it should take it forward in the timeframe of looking to the European Council in December 2000. The fact that there could be perceived to be an overlap with the ECHR has already been recognised and will be taken into account if that practical work goes forward.

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Greater London Authority Bill

4.32 p.m.

Further consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Clause 117 [Duties of Authority or functional body as regards reports]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 338:

Page 67, line 35, at end insert--
(“( ) Where the Assembly makes a recommendation at a meeting under subsection (3) above, the Mayor shall comply with that recommendation when making any decision under subsection (6) above.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Clause 117 deals with the duties of the mayor of London and the assembly in relation to reports from the Audit Commission. Amendment No. 338 is directed to what happens when the assembly makes a recommendation about what the mayor should do.

Clause 117(9), new Section 115A(3) states:

    “The Assembly shall consider the report at a meeting where it shall decide--

    (a) whether it agrees or disagrees with the views contained in the report; and

    (b) what action ... it recommends that the Mayor should take in consequence of it".

Paragraph (7) states:

    “In making any decision under subsection (6) above, the Mayor shall take account of any views or recommendations of the Assembly at the meeting".

We do not believe that that is strong enough. If the assembly feels sufficiently strongly about an issue to make a recommendation, we should bear in mind that this is a report from the Audit Commission dealing with a matter which might be of considerable significance because it will be as a result of some irregularity. We believe that the mayor should be obliged to comply with the recommendation where it is required.

We have argued with the Minister on many occasions. He feels that the mayor should be free of any power of the assembly to shackle him in any way whatever. We have never accepted that principle. Noble Lords on the Liberal Democrat Benches have never accepted that principle. We believe that the issue is worth raising in this context. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as the noble Lord indicated, the amendment would give the role of deciding what action which followed the report by the GLA's chief finance officer to the assembly would fall to the assembly. As we indicated, it would directly undermine the separation in the balance of powers between the mayor and assembly. I can go over the whole argument again, but as noble Lords opposite have taken a different view on balance and different views between themselves, I would not wish to go over it in detail.

The mayor is responsible for the strategic direction of the GLA and of the functional bodies. It is he or she who must decide what action, if any, to take in respect

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of a report completed by the chief finance officer. Under our proposals, provision has already been made specifically to require the mayor to attend the meeting at which the assembly considers the report. Furthermore, the mayor must have regard to views and recommendations of the assembly at that meeting.

We have therefore already provided that the assembly shall have some influence on the matter, but in our structure for the authority the mayor must retain the final responsibility for deciding how to respond to the report. I therefore ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, once again I batter my head against this wall. The only pleasant thing about battering one's head against a wall is that it is even more pleasant when one stops doing it. Nevertheless, we shall have, between us, to continue to reiterate the principle until we have finally done with the Bill. That time will arise, but we are not there yet. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 7 [Amendments of the Audit Commission Act 1998]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 339:

Page 230, line 14, at end insert--

(“Studies of Authority by Commission at request of Mayor

. In section 35 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 (studies at request of bodies subject to audit) after subsection (2) there shall be inserted--
“(2A) Before exercising the power of the Greater London Authority to make a request under subsection (1) above, the Mayor of London shall consult the London Assembly.".").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment would require the mayor to consult the assembly before asking the Audit Commission to promote or undertake studies to promote economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the management or operation of the GLA. Noble Lords opposite may therefore be gratified that we are writing in at least some influence over the proceedings for the assembly which we had previously failed to put into the Bill.

Amendment No. 340 is in the group and it places the same requirement on the mayor in respect of studies of a functional body. The Government believe that it would be sensible for the mayor to consult the assembly before requesting a study. The amendments fulfil the commitments which we gave during the Committee stage to consider the need to amend Schedule 7 in order to require the mayor to consult the assembly before requesting the Audit Commission to carry out value for money studies of the GLA or the functional bodies. I hope this is acceptable. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his gesture. It is a creep in the right direction rather than a bold step where man has feared to go before. Nevertheless, anything is welcome and to that extent, the amendments are welcome.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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