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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 88:



("(1) Subject to any provision made under section (Discharge of functions by area committees), (Discharge of functions of and by another local authority) or (Joint exercise of functions), any functions which, under executive arrangements, are the responsibility of a mayor and cabinet executive are to be discharged in accordance with this section.
(2) The elected mayor--
(a) may discharge any of those functions, or
(b) may arrange for the discharge of any of those functions--").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to the large number of other amendments which appear within this group. I assure the Committee that in this case most of the amendments are consequential on the main point.

The amendments deal with the ways in which executive functions can be delegated, both within the executive and to officers. They amend Clauses 12 to 14 and introduce a new clause after Clause 14. To inform the debate, we have published a consultative draft of guidance, chapters 7 to 10 of which deal with those issues in detail. The amendments are necessary to tidy up Clauses 12 to 14 dealing with executive functions.

1 Feb 2000 : Column 90

Amendments Nos. 88, 89 and 91 to 99 amend Clause 12, which deals with the way in which a mayor and cabinet form of executive may delegate functions. Amendment No. 88 is consequential on the new clauses on area committees, joint committees and delegation to authorities.

Amendments Nos. 89 and 91 to 99 are minor and consequential drafting amendments.

Amendments Nos. 100, 101, and 103 to 116 amend Clause 13 which deals with ways in which the leader and cabinet form of executive may delegate functions. Subsection (1) in Amendment No. 100 is consequential on the new clauses on area committees, joint committees and delegation to another authority, which we shall debate shortly, and is necessary to enable delegation of executive functions in that way. I am wrong to say that we shall debate those matters shortly. They were dealt with at the end of our proceedings last Tuesday.

The rest of Amendment No. 100 clarifies the provisions which were previously in subsections (2) to (4) of Clause 13. The new subsections (2) and (3) enable the council to specify in the executive arrangements the scheme for delegation of executive functions.

The new subsection (4) enables the executive leader to determine such delegations where they are not specified in the executive arrangements. Those may be described as--although I do not particularly like the description--the so-called "weak" and "strong" leader arrangements, although it is possible for there to be executive arrangements where some of the functions are allocated by the authority and others by the leader.

Amendment No. 112 allows the leader, where he determines the delegations, to prevent any person or body to whom he has delegated a function from further delegating that function. That is similar to the provisions in Clause 12 relating to the mayor and delegation.

The next group contains further consequential amendments which deal with mayoral form. Amendments Nos. 117, 119 and 120 amend Clause 14, which deals with ways in which the mayor and council manager form of executive may delegate functions. These minor and consequential drafting amendments arise from the new clauses on area committees.

Amendment No. 121 introduces a new clause to enable the Secretary of State to make regulations on how functions can be delegated in any new form of executive defined in regulations under Clause 10(5). This new enabling power has been included to reduce the need to rely on the powers in the Bill to make incidental, consequential, transitional and supplemental provisions if further forms of executive are defined using the power in Clause 10.

I hope that the amendments will be uncontroversial and spell out the implications for the various forms of executive functional amendments previously carried. I beg to move.

1 Feb 2000 : Column 91

4 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: Amendments Nos. 90, 102 and 118 tabled in my name are all directed to the same purpose; that is, to make it possible for an authority using executive arrangements none the less still to work through area committees. I am happy to say that that will now be the situation so I need say no more upon it except that this is yet another group of amendments that it would have been nice not to have tabled. With that, there is nothing more to say.

Baroness Hamwee: I should like to ask an entirely straight question concerning Amendment No. 117. Can the Minister confirm that my reading of the amendment, or at any rate the clause as it will be amended, is correct; namely, that where the executive arrangement is elected mayor plus council manager, the council manager but not the mayor will be in a position to discharge functions? I understand that from reading the end of the amendment together with the rest of the clause. To put it another way, I refer to the position of the elected mayor in that form of executive arrangement. I shall be glad to have clarification.

Lord Smith of Leigh: I agree with my noble friend the Minister as regards the unsatisfactory terminology used in Chapter 9 of the draft regulations; that is, "strong" and "weak leader". Perhaps I may suggest "autocratic" and "democratic" as alternatives.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: As the Minister stated, last week we debated very late in the evening the area committee function and joint working relations. However, I must raise concerns to put them on the record regarding this model of working. I refer to the fact that in the guidance, as currently written, there is the still the problem that area committees are not permitted to discharge the overview and scrutiny function unless they are politically balanced. As I pointed out last time, if an area committee has been elected by the population of that area, it is not therefore in the gift of the council as to whether or not it is politically balanced. It is therefore impossible for the area committee to fulfil that requirement.

This is obviously a detailed issue, and one which the Minister was unable to answer last week. However, I hope he will be able to address it in a satisfactory way so that, should the mayor or council manager choose to delegate the scrutiny function to the area committee, an impossible demand is not made in the guidance that area committees cannot fulfil that function because they are not politically balanced.

Lord Whitty: In response to my noble friend Lord Smith perhaps I may say that I hesitate to find a better form of words than those used in the guidance. However, I should put on record that the alternative terminology he proposed perhaps gives the wrong impression of at least one form of structure which we propose.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, raised a question on Amendment No. 117 concerning the respective roles of the council manager and the mayor.

1 Feb 2000 : Column 92

The noble Baroness is correct in her interpretation. If she requires further detail, I shall no doubt be able to provide it in writing.

In response to the question raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, we have partially debated that issue and I am in the process of writing to her. The position is that the overview and scrutiny committees at their council level can have a valuable role in helping councillors to represent their constituents. The area committees can advise such overview and scrutiny committees. I recall attempting to explain this issue previously. It is not that individual area committees would have to be politically balanced different from that which we had been left with by the electorate, but that the overall scrutiny function would have to be politically balanced.

It would probably be better for the noble Baroness to await my letter on this subject. However, there is a distinction. There is no intention to override the political judgment of those covered by the area committees. This concerns the role they can then fulfil. I hope that that clarifies the position.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 89:


    Page 6, line 32, leave out ("single").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 90 not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 91 to 99:


    Page 6, line 35, leave out ("executive").


    Page 6, line 41, leave out ("executive").


    Page 6, line 42, leave out ("single").


    Page 6, line 43, leave out ("the single") and insert ("that").


    Page 7, line 1, leave out ("executive").


    Page 7, line 6, leave out ("single").


    Page 7, line 6, leave out second ("executive").


    Page 7, line 7, leave out ("single").


    Page 7, line 8, leave out ("single").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13 [Responsibility for executive functions in case of s. 10(3) executive]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment Nos. 100 and 101:


    Page 7, leave out lines 10 to 19 and insert--


(".--(1) Subject to any provision made under section (Discharge of functions by area committees), (Discharge of functions of and by another local authority) or (Joint exercise of functions), any functions which, under executive arrangements, are the responsibility of a leader and cabinet executive are to be discharged in accordance with this section.
(2) The executive arrangements may make provision with respect to the allocation of any functions which are the responsibility of the executive among the following persons--
(a) the executive,
(b) any members of the executive,
(c) any committees of the executive, and
(d) any officers of the authority.

1 Feb 2000 : Column 93


(3) If the executive arrangements make such provision as is mentioned in subsection (2), any person to whom a function is allocated in accordance with that provision may discharge the function.
(4) If or to the extent that the functions which are the responsibility of the executive are not allocated in accordance with such provision as is mentioned in subsection (2), the executive leader--
(a) may discharge any of those functions, or
(b) may arrange for the discharge of any of those functions--").


    Page 7, line 21, leave out ("single").


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