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Lord Mishcon: My Lords, in the light of those charming remarks by the Minister, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Brightman had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 22:

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"PROMOTION OF PARTICULAR SEXUAL LIFESTYLES (1) Subject to the general principle that the institution of marriage is to be supported, a local authority shall not encourage, or publish material intended to encourage, the adoption of any particular sexual lifestyle.

(2) This section does not prohibit the provision for young persons of sex education or counselling services on sexual behaviour and associated health risks."

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, at this hour, and in the circumstances, I do not think that it would be sensible of me to move my amendment. I shall therefore not move it and re-table it for Third Reading.

[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 23:

    After Clause 121, insert the following new clause—

"MAYOR OF LONDON: OPENNESS (1) After section 38 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (c. 29) (delegation) there is inserted—

"Openness in relation to the Mayor

38A(1) Section 22 of the Local Government Act 2000 (c. 22) (access to information etc) shall have effect as if—
(a) the Mayor was a local authority executive,
(b) a reference to an individual member of such an executive referred to either the Mayor or to a person or body mentioned in section 38(2) to whom an authorisation has been given by the Mayor under section 38(1), and
(c) any occasion on which either the Mayor or such a person or body exercises any function of the Authority (whether such a function is exercisable by him solely or by him jointly with the Assembly on the Authority's behalf) was a meeting of a local authority executive,
but with the modifications contained in subsections (2) to (4) below.
(2) Any reference in section 22 of that Act to a committee of a local authority executive, or to a sub-committee of such a committee, shall be disregarded.
(3) A reference in section 22 of that Act to an overview and scrutiny committee, or to a sub-committee of such a committee, is a reference—
(a) to the Assembly;
(b) if the Assembly has appointed a committee or committees under section 54, to such a committee or committees (being ordinary committees within the meaning of section 55(1)) as the Assembly shall designate under subsection (4).
(4) The Assembly shall designate a committee or committees for the purpose of discharging an overview and scrutiny committee's functions under section 22 of that Act, provided that section 54 shall not apply to its functions under this subsection."
(2) In section 420(8) of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (regulations and orders) after "section 25;" there is inserted "section 38A;"."

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The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 23 brings us to quite a different topic—access to information in relation to the Mayor of London. I should again declare an interest as a Member of the London Assembly and currently the chair.

The amendment is not attempting to impose detailed provisions at this point. It simply proposes a regulation-making power to enable the Mayor of London, currently the only local authority executive—a technically correct term, although I use it in the wider sense here—not subject to the access to information provisions in the Local Government Act 2000, to be made subject to them.

I wrote to the mayor when I tabled this amendment in Committee assuring him that it was not an attack on his style of government and I repeat that now. It is attempting to use a rare legislative opportunity to rectify what I believe is perhaps an oversight in the drafting of the Greater London Authority Act. There are so few opportunities for amending primary legislation that I could not let this opportunity pass.

The amendment is intended to be a regulation-making power. The application of legislation in the area of access to information is changing fairly fast. Freedom of information provisions will come into effect quite soon. At that point I believe that the Mayor of London, whoever he may be, will have to have in place arrangements to ensure compliance, which will include a flow of information, a particular context for reporting, and making the decision-making process open and transparent.

Although I appreciate that there are difficulties inherent in the access to information provisions which apply to executives now concerning when important key decisions are to be made, nevertheless, it does not seem appropriate that a single executive is exempt from the regime. There are provisions in the Act which enable the Assembly to require the mayor, the staff, the chairs of the functional bodies and their staff, to produce information and to appear before it and be questioned.

As a matter of practice, they are matters which the Assembly regard as being like a sledgehammer. It would be far more appropriate to have a routine arrangement in place which would enable the Assembly, elected to fulfil a scrutiny role, to have sight of those decisions and warning of them, and allow the public to have access to them.

I do not believe that I could ever be accused of crawling to the mayor so I have no fear of repeating it. This is not an attack on the way in which he conducts matters. He has committed himself to the GLA being the most open and transparent government that the UK has ever seen. I do not believe that this is the time to debate whether he has yet achieved that. It is not an attack on what he is doing at the moment. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I have to put it on record that I have never considered the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, to be a crawler. She knows

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in her heart that the Government are not going to give on this, but we shall be more generous as regards a later amendment.

I am slightly puzzled by the amendment because the GLA and the mayoral system, as designed by legislation, is one of the most open and transparent bodies that legislators have provided compared with other forms of public authority. What the noble Baroness seeks to achieve is effectively already there.

Perhaps I may list the key openness provisions which are in place. There has to be a statement of executive decisions as soon as is practical after they are made. All the meetings are held in public, unless they are commercially sensitive. A forward plan has to be published for all the executive functions, whether it is from leading figures within the Assembly, the mayor or a council manager; they have to produce a plan each month.

There has to be a report on key GLA decisions—that is established in statute in Section 45 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999. A mayoral question time is established under the same section. All Assembly meetings are in public by virtue of Section 58. The committees have to be held in public as well. They have to give proper notice and documentation has to be publicly available.

I turn to attendance at Assembly meetings. The Assembly can summon people, including the mayor, Assembly members, functional body board members, Authority staff, and functional body staff to give evidence at its meetings and to give evidence at its meetings and to produce documentation.

Section 47 of the GLA Act establishes an annual state of London debate, which has to be held shortly after the mayor's annual report. It has to be in public and there has to be an opportunity for the public to speak. There is also that great innovation, the people's question time, which takes place twice a year. I should say that my local authority launched that innovation. It took place at every council meeting. Twice a year the people's question time takes place—it is written in statute; it has to happen and the public can put any matter of interest, public concern or embarrassment to the mayor directly.

I do not think that the Authority or the mayor can easily hide away matters that should be in public. I join the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, in giving credit to the mayor. He is one of those people in public life who believes in openness and transparency. He has promoted them in his personal style and the Assembly has joined with him. He has been vigorous and clear-sighted in making good use and ensuring good use is made of the openness arrangements.

Much as I understand the spirit behind the amendment, I do not think it is necessary. What it seeks to achieve is already there. I pay tribute to both the mayor and the Assembly for the way in which they have operated and hope that the open and transparent

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process of which they have made great use continues into the future. I do not think that the amendment would add anything to the processes already in place.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am not so sure that I know in my heart that the amendment will not go anywhere, but I know it in my head because the Minister told me so before we came into the Chamber. Of course there are mechanisms. We have people's question time, which is good fun. It is particularly good fun with the current mayor because he is such a good performer. Those are occasions where large numbers of people—and they have been large numbers—are able to raise issues of concern, and it is right that they should, but that is not the same as finding out precisely what the mayor is doing and intends to do.

The state of London debate now takes the form of a television programme. It is good entertainment for those of us interested in these matters at 10.30 on a Tuesday night watching people whom we tend to know—they are often the usual suspects—using "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"-type voting methods by which they let the audience advise them. I shall leave that aside.

The access to information regulations to which I referred are about executive mayors having to publish in advance a proposed decision, having an agenda and reports and a record of the decision made in public. Ironically, the London Assembly, which has minimal powers, is exposed to 100 per cent scrutiny because all those regulations apply to the Assembly. The mayor, who has almost all the GLA's executive powers, is not subject to them.

I hear what the noble Lord says. I rather doubt that I shall be able to retrieve enough people to come back to the Chamber to vote on this amendment in order to obtain the outcome that I should like. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 24:

    After Clause 121, insert the following new clause—

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