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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 340:

Page 230, line 24, at end insert--
(“( ) the London Assembly; and").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 120 [Summary statement of accounts of Authority and functional bodies]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 341:

Page 68, line 18, at end insert (“except to the extent that the Authority would be required to prepare a statement of accounts under any other enactment or under regulations made under any other enactment").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 341 is on the Marshalled List because we do not believe it is necessary to say in the Bill that for each financial year the authority shall prepare a summary statement of accounts. The authority is required to keep its accounts under so many Bills that if I were to list them we might be here for a long time. I do not believe that that would be helpful.

I do not suppose the Minister will accept the proposal but, as I have said elsewhere, we have a tendency in the Bill to duplicate work done only recently in this House. There are endless local government finance Bills which cover the point. I agree that the Bill seems to be a “catch-everything" Bill and probably other parts of it duplicate the requirements elsewhere. I had thought that the requirement to keep proper accounts--even a summary statement of accounts--was covered perfectly adequately under all forms of existing legislation dealing with local government finance. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, this Bill has to do with the unique situation of the authority. The summary statement provided for in this clause will not duplicate any arrangements in the Bill or elsewhere under which the authority and functional authorities must prepare their accounts. Our intention is that the summary referred to in the clause should provide a short, ready-to-read statement of the overall financial position of the authority and the functional bodies, thereby improving accountability. Therefore, I believe that the amendment is unnecessary and I hope that it will not be pursued.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am quite sure that the amendment is unnecessary. Equally, I am unsure whether the clause is necessary. However, that is merely a difference of degree between the Minister and myself. It is a common form of disagreement between the two sides of this House in considering the Bill. None the less, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 342:

Before Clause 122, insert the following new clause--


(“ .--(1) In section 31(10)(a) of the Local Government Act 1999 (which refers to a provision of this Act which has since been renumbered) for “70(8)" there shall be substituted “ 71(8)".

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(2) Schedule (Amendments to Local Government Finance Act 1992) to this Act (which contains amendments to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 correcting references to provisions of this Act which have since been renumbered) shall have effect.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 342 I shall speak to Amendment No. 360 which is grouped with it. Earlier this year the Local Government Act 1999 received Royal Assent. Part II of that Act refers to the budget requirement and tax-setting provisions of the GLA Bill: first, in Section 31 and, secondly, at several points in Schedule 1. Due to the insertion of a new clause in this Bill during Committee the numbers of the GLA budget requirement and tax-setting clauses have changed. These changes need to be reflected in the Local Government Act 1999, which is the purpose of these amendments. I beg to move Amendment No. 342.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, Amendment No. 360 deals with all the amendments to the Local Government Finance Act 1992. It is almost impossible to check them in intimate detail. I confess to the House that I have been unable to do that--I reiterate a point that has been made so often--because of the detail and complexity of the Bill and the limited time available. I do not apologise for reiterating that point. It would have been nice to have had these amendments much sooner than we did, a fact of which we are all aware. I hope that I do not repeat that point, and I shall try to avoid doing so.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

4.45 p.m.

Clause 126 [General transport duty]:

Lord Morris of Manchester moved Amendment No. 342A:

Page 70, line 6, at beginning insert (“Subject to subsections 254(4) and 255(3),").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move this amendment and in doing so will speak also to my Amendments Nos. 496 and 511. Yesterday, The Times carried a letter from my good friend Nick Raynsford, MP, in which, listing what he sees as the “big three issues London faces" in electing a mayor, he puts transport first, the priority, as it were, of priorities. Nowhere is that judgment more strongly endorsed than among disabled and older people in London.

My noble friend Lord Whitty is aware of my interest in this Bill, as a patron for many years of Greater London Action on Disability (GLAD) and as the author of the Orange Badge Scheme for parking concessions for disabled people, which I legislated for in my Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. My noble friend knows, too, from my comments in Committee that it was the nightmare for disabled people of the exclusion of four inner London boroughs from that scheme which prompted my Amendments Nos. 496 and 511, exempting as they do both from road user charging and workplace parking levies disabled people who rely crucially on cars for their independence.

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In addition to the support of disability organisations and Age Concern, my amendments have the backing of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The amendments recognise, in the words of the Joint Committee on Mobility for Disabled People (JCMD), over which Sir Peter Large has long presided with such distinction, that to impose charges and levies on disabled motorists with severe walking difficulties, for whom the private car is the only viable way of getting around, would be a cruel and unavoidable tax on disability.

The JCMD believes, as I do, that all such people should be exempted from road user charging and workplace parking levies throughout London. In a letter to me before the Bill's Committee stage, it applauded the Government for consulting on how this might be arranged, but added:

    “If disabled people are to avoid being penalised in one area and not another, or penalised to a different extent in one area compared with another, it will be essential to agree a single national exemption scheme which must apply in and throughout London".

Happily, in my noble friend Lord Whitty we have a transport Minister who is at one with the organisations for disabled and older people in recognising that exemption from charges and levies for people who rely on cars for their independence ought to be decided, not by personal whim, but by the political will of Parliament. This is basically what my amendments are about.

Since my amendments were first debated in Committee, when my noble friend promised carefully to consider the case that I had argued for them, he has been as good as his word in writing to inform me that,

    “The Government will endeavour to agree the structure of concessionary arrangements for disabled persons in local authority schemes in time for them to be included in the GLA Bill at Lords Report".

That was a most welcome reassurance in relation to these amendments, and I am sure that noble Lords in all parts of the House who have taken part in our debates on the problems and needs of London's disabled and older people will honour him for it. More especially, I know that my noble friend Lady Darcy de Knayth will be as appreciative as I am of his warmth and helpfulness at the meeting we had with him last week at the DETR, at which we were accompanied by leading representatives of GLAD, the JCMD, Dial-a-Ride, Taxi-Card Users and Age Concern. I look forward very much to my noble friend's further response to the amendments this afternoon. Meanwhile I understand that a helpful further letter from my noble friend about them is on its way to me even as I speak. I beg to move.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I am quite sure that the House already knows that the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Morris, are shared by those on this side of the House. I do not intend to

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spend a lot of time on the matter. The Minister is aware of my views on the amendment, which I strongly support.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I also support the amendment. It is right to disclose that, like the noble Lord Morris of Manchester, I am a patron of Greater London Action on Disability, formerly the Greater London Association for the Disabled. That body is concerned that in our largest city there are several hundred thousand people who suffer from disabilities of one kind or another. It must be the responsibility of the new Greater London Authority to do what it can to help them. We are aware that under the general law of the country there are various provisions and administrative efforts made in order to provide disabled people with transport. I am so old that I remember that it was almost impossible for a person with disabled legs to get in and out of an ordinary railway carriage. Matters have improved somewhat since then. But a great deal of vigilance is needed and much more needs to be done. In considering this part of the Bill dealing with transport, I hope that the Government will bear in mind that perhaps the greatest current problem they have to deal with is the provision of transport for disabled people. I support what the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Manchester, has said.

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