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The Earl of Carnarvon: The independent councils greatly support Amendment No. 67 in the name of the

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noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, because they feel that it gives them the opportunity to have a slightly different mix of executive and scrutiny functions.

Baroness Hanham: Amendment No. 68 stands in my name. It brings in from further on in the Bill, in Clause 21, the words of the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, as a part of the formal structure. In Clause 21 it appears as a possibility only after a referendum and after regulation. I believe that it should be brought forward in the Bill to provide the fourth option, the fourth way that a local authority might decide to try to structure its arrangements not totally in the executive mode.

We had a long debate on the executive structure earlier. I know that we are--it would be fair to say--not at one over the proposals as to how a council should be structured. However, I should like to leave this amendment as a fourth option--a way forward for those authorities which do not want to embrace totally the three models already produced by the Government--which could be adapted and, indeed, might be adapted, if necessary, within an executive structure. However, I believe that it is right and proper that local authorities should have that other possibility. Therefore, I leave the amendment for further consideration.

Lord Whitty: All the amendments in this group propose or give the facility for providing additional forms of structure beyond those which we have provided. I have already indicated that there is scope for substantial diversity within power structures and scope for other alternatives to come through. I do not believe that those alternative forms of structure would deliver the objectives that the Government have set out.

Amendment No. 65 requires effectively that any form of executive could be acceptable were it to meet the requirements for transparency, accountability and efficiency. However, that may well involve structures that are outside our prescription of executive scrutiny split. For the reasons that I spelt out earlier, that would not be acceptable to the Government.

My noble friend Lord Hardy of Wath wishes to introduce an amendment to what, as my noble friend Lord Harris said, has been the least remarked on of those options; namely, the elected mayor and council manager. Not only has that been the least remarked on, I suspect that it has been one of the most misunderstood. It is based on a separation between policy determination and policy implementation--the first for the council and the latter for the council manager.

However, particularly where councils are not very small, it is becoming increasingly common in many parts of the world for that form of government to include a directly elected mayor to give leadership to the council. That form of government has been adopted quite widely in the United States and also throughout New Zealand. In that sense, the elected mayor does not have an executive role. That is for the council manager. However, he or she is in a position to

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reflect the mandate given to the council as a whole and to the directly elected mayor through the election process.

I rather agree with my noble friend Lord Harris that if one was to add further councillors separately elected into that executive, that would muddy the water yet more. Three classes of person from different perspectives would form a single executive. Members of the Committee may have noticed that the mayor in that form of executive will be under a duty to appoint a deputy mayor, who will take the place of a mayor when the mayor cannot fulfil his duties or when the post becomes vacant. That deputy will not be part of the executive. That is deliberate because, once again, it would muddy the waters were that deputy to become a party to the executive. The same must apply a fortiori to councillors who have a different basis of election than the mayor.

Therefore, I fear that we are not attracted by the proposals of my noble friend Lord Hardy. I understand the motivation behind them; that is, to spread the elected basis of people who are within the executive. It may well be that councils feel that they cannot adopt that structure for that very reason. However, if they do adopt that structure, that is what is intended and that is the clarity of structure that it provides. It may not yet have proved hugely attractive to a large number of councils, but that is what is intended. I believe that the proposition changes the nature of that option.

In relation to Amendment No. 67 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and, to some extent, Amendment No. 69, if the objectives of those amendments is to promote greater diversity, I fear that they do not achieve that. I wish to add only that many authorities already operate shadow executive arrangements under current legislation. However, effectively the amendment would allow remnants of the previous, or existing, system to be retained and the executive structure would not have the clarity of distinction from the scrutiny structure that we seek.

The same applies to Amendment No. 68 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham. In a sense, that is effectively grafting the possibility of an executive role on to something very like the existing committee structure. Again, I do not believe that that has the clarity of accountability and responsibility which we seek under the new arrangements.

The Government's reason for proposing a move away from the traditional committee structure is precisely to provide such identifiable and accountable executive responsibilities. I covered that on the previous group of amendments. I do not believe that any of the proposed alternatives fall in with our objectives as set out under the three options which we have proposed which make the clear distinction between the executive and scrutiny functions which we wish to see in all councils. There may be other options

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which achieve that, but these options do not do so. Therefore, I hope that the amendments will not be pursued this evening.

Baroness Hanham: Before the Minister sits down, perhaps I may draw his attention to Clause 21 where the arrangements which I propose are word for word what is included in government amendments to Clause 21.

Lord Whitty: To which amendment is the noble Baroness referring?

Baroness Hanham: Amendment No. 197.

Lord Whitty: We shall deal with Amendment No. 197 later in our proceedings. The arrangement which we provide there is possible only in the circumstances in which there has been a referendum on the proposition from the authority that there should be an elected mayor and where the executive arrangements have been rejected by the electorate. In that situation, we are allowing some flexibility as regards the models which would apply in those circumstances.

The prime requirement is that all authorities should go through the process of finding a structure which they believe is suitable for them and which makes a clear distinction between the executive and scrutiny functions. If they do so and the electorate rejects it, they are in a somewhat different situation. But we require all authorities to undertake that process.

Baroness Hanham: The point is that if that provision was moved to the position in the Bill to which my Amendment No. 68 applies and the referendum were abandoned, we could have the fourth option.

Lord Hardy of Wath: From the debate that has taken place, it seems clear that the option which I found most offensive is hardly likely to be enthusiastically supported. I certainly hope that it will not be.

I am grateful for the consideration which has been given to this matter. I am happy to have the information from my noble friend that this particular option seems less likely to be popular in London than some people in the north of England may fear. In view of the comments which have been made and the fact that this matter has received serious consideration, I shall withdraw the amendment. But I trust that the Government will in no way push this particular structure down the throats of British local government. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 65 not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 66:

    Page5, line 25, at end insert--

("Such an executive is referred to in this Part as a mayor and council manager executive.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 67 to 70 not moved.]

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[Amendment No. 71 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

10.45 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 71A:

    Page 5, line 29, leave out ("each member of which is") and insert ("not more than 60 per cent. of the members of which are").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 71A I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 72 and 73. On these amendments we look in more detail at the form of cabinet which may be proposed in regulations that the Secretary of State may make under Clause 10(6). The subsection provides for a form of executive, each member of which is elected by the local government electors to a specified post associated with the discharge of particular functions.

I attempt to skin this particular cat in a couple of different ways. The first is to propose that not more than 60 per cent of the executive--I accept that that is a figure plucked out of the air for the purposes of the debate--be elected to specified posts. The second, and the point I want to explore, is to suggest that the executive may be directly elected but not elected to specific posts.

I am concerned about the lack of flexibility if there were direct elections not just of the mayor, but also of members of the cabinet who would not be in a position, if I read the clause correctly, to move between different posts. I do not believe that that would be healthy for local government. Depending on the frequency of elections, cabinet members would be stuck in positions for, say, four years with no career structure. One could go into a cabinet with responsibility for, say, leisure services, but not be able to develop one's interest in transport or environmental matters, thus allowing someone else who has or is developing expertise in leisure services to come into that area.

I do not understand why the Government have seen fit to be so careful not to allow movement. I assume that regulations would provide for a by-election if a member resigned or died. Nevertheless, it seems an odd cabinet where the leader or senior members cannot be part of a discussion about how to reorganise the split of functions and the responsibilities for functions.

Can the Minister give the Committee further explanation of the reasoning behind this model and why the Government spell out on the face of the Bill what is not now permitted but may be proposed under regulation made by the Secretary of State? In other words, a possibility is being dangled in front of us, but it will not happen yet. I would be grateful for such an explanation as I do not fully follow the Government's thinking. I beg to move.

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