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On the substantive point covered by the Fulton report, which I was lucky to have read, my only question is whether my noble friend can assure us that training in behaviour after capture is more widely extended to personnel in the Royal Navy. It is quite scandalous to try to compare the behaviour of brave young men and women a generation or more ago under fire with that of people who are under acute psychological stress. It is grotesque to dare to suggest that our young men and women today are not as brave as those 20 years ago.

Lord Drayson: My Lords, I absolutely agree with my noble friend. He makes a very important point about the need for us to update our conduct-after-capture training to take into account the way in which

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personnel can be used as psychological pawns when there is 24-hour media coverage. We accept that we need to improve specific task training to complement generic training and the level and type of training for conduct after capture. We need to ensure that all personnel on operations have such training. We have already implemented steps in both regards.

On my noble friend’s other point, there is a deficiency in this House in that we do not have the ability to hold secure documents under a process which would enable noble Lords to have access to them in a controlled fashion. That exists in the other place. I learnt of this deficiency when trying to set up such facilities for this group, and suggest that the authorities of the House might like to attend to it.

Lord Kilclooney: My Lords—

Lord Burnett: My Lords—

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I am afraid that time is up.

Greater London Authority Bill

5.52 pm

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Clause 3 [The Mayor's periodic report to the Assembly]:

Baroness Hanham moved Amendment No. 3A:

(d) notification of any foreign travel undertaken, and(e) the reasons for which the Mayor undertook such travel.”

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment draws attention to the fact that the Mayor has undertaken a fair amount of foreign travel in his official capacity. We discussed this in Committee at some length and felt that it would be appropriate to return to it. The position needs clarification. Members of the public also need to understand that, in his official role, the Mayor is entitled to undertake foreign travel, to know what it entails and where he goes.

We believe that the best way of handling this would be as the amendment suggests. It requires the Mayor to report to the Assembly, using the various opportunities he has under the Bill, on the details of foreign travel undertaken and the rationale for such travel. Well over £100,000 has been spent on mayoral travel, which is quite a substantial sum of ratepayers’ money. We believe that this should be part of what the Mayor must report to the Assembly; if the discussions are in public, the public can understand exactly what is being done in their name and where. It is a small amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, I am opposed to this amendment and Amendment No. 24, with which it is grouped. We all agree that the position of the Mayor is very powerful and important. The amendments seem to be an attempt to chip away at

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that power and transfer some of it to the Assembly. The Assembly is not the GLC. I was in favour of the GLC but the party opposite was not. It was instrumental in getting the GLC dispensed with and now has to live with the consequences. We have a different sort of legislation altogether, with a powerful Mayor and an Assembly which does not have anywhere near the same kind of powers as the GLC.

Given his position, it seems quite reasonable that the Mayor should have the opportunity and ability to make visits abroad in an unfettered way, without being directly responsible for getting such visits approved in advance by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly, as Amendment No. 24 proposes. I hope that my noble friend will not feel disposed to accept the amendment.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My Lords, I am not disposed to accept the amendment. Amendments Nos. 3A and 24 offer a new angle on what emerged as a familiar theme in Committee from noble Lords opposite: how to prevent the Mayor travelling abroad and constrain him from travelling internationally to promote London and, by implication, maintain its pre-eminent position in an increasingly competitive global economy, in which it plays a vital role and of which the Mayor is the supreme advocate.

The noble Baroness said that the Mayor had travelled a fair amount. In fact, he has spent 3 per cent of his time—just 68 days—since he was elected in 2000 on foreign travel. That seems quite moderate for someone who occupies an international position.

Amendment No. 3A requires the Mayor to include any foreign travel he has undertaken and his reasons for undertaking it in his regular report to the Assembly. The focus of the Mayor’s report is to inform the Assembly about those of his activities and decisions he considers significant. That would surely include any significant foreign trips he has made, but requiring him to highlight his foreign travel is too heavy-handed; it would put this particular part of his responsibilities and activities in a very different category. I also argue that it is unnecessary; not only in this report but in the 10 meetings the Mayor has over the year with the Assembly, there are many opportunities for Members to interrogate him about his intentions and his foreign travel.

I defend wholeheartedly the principle of the Mayor being able to decide the visits he should undertake and the people he should meet without unnecessary limitation and bureaucracy. For example, he recently attended a summit in New York of the C40 Large Cities Climate Group, which he chairs, to discuss action at city level to combat climate change. I am certain that that was a key meeting from which we will benefit. Over the next five years I expect the Mayor, whoever that may be, to make a large number of foreign trips as the leader of the city hosting the 2012 Olympics.

As my noble friend Lady Turner said, Amendment No. 24 requires the Mayor to obtain the approval of the Assembly by a two-thirds majority to pay the

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expenses incurred. I cannot agree with that. It would be nothing short of absurd for him to go cap in hand to the Assembly for his foreign trips to be funded. That is a humiliation too far. It is also impracticable. I argue that Amendment No. 3A is unnecessary, while Amendment No. 24 is impracticable and not in keeping with the dignity of the Mayor’s office.

I am sorry once again to refuse to accept the amendments, but I hope that noble Lords will understand the case I have made.

6 pm

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply. While it was not unexpected, the matter needed airing, and we have aired it now on two occasions.

The Mayor’s representative role outside this country is a matter of importance not only to London and the country but also to Members of the Assembly. As I understand it, the only way in which Members can ascertain what he has done when he is abroad or where he is going is by putting down questions. This would be much better in the open. There was a tremendous scandal a little while ago about a visit to Havana. It caused a great deal of comment. Had it been possible to say that the visit would be reported to the Assembly in the normal way, it would probably have neutralised the controversy. The Mayor might in any event have wanted to do what is proposed in our amendment in his own interests. Since it was clear that that did not happen, we tabled the amendments. However, I have listened to what the Minister said. I have raised the matter and do not propose to return to it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 [Confirmation hearings etc for certain appointments by the Mayor]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 4:

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall speak also to my Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 8. The noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, has Amendment No. 7 in this group.

We return to the Government’s innovation of confirmation hearings held by the Assembly for certain mayoral appointments. I repeat that I welcome this step. We discussed in Committee whether the provisions should apply to all mayoral appointees—not that the Assembly would necessarily require all appointees to undergo this process, but that it should have discretion over which appointees and officers it wished to deal with in this way. It was pointed out in Committee that it was not necessary for the Bill to be amended to extend the range of appointments in question because the Secretary of State would have the power to make an order to that effect.

I would prefer all mayoral appointees to be subject to the process and leave it to the good sense of the Assembly to determine which to deal with by way of confirmation, but I am happy to seek a way of

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refining the matter. In successive amendments, I therefore propose certain specific additions with which I shall deal in a moment. The Minister said that the Government wanted the provisions to apply to “key appointments”, but all the Mayor’s appointments to major bodies are key appointments. If they were not key appointments, they would be rubber stamps, which I hope is not the case.

The first of my amendments would extend the provision to all members of the board of Transport for London. Again, the proposal is not personally motivated—the current members of the board of Transport for London have many admirable qualities between them—but it would be right for the Assembly to seek to have articulated what those qualities are. I say that in the knowledge that the Mayor has chosen to appoint a number of advisers to Transport for London. Confusion has arisen over what is brought to the party by advisers and by those who have a different function as board members. As the Bill is drafted, if the Mayor chose to chair Transport for London, the only confirmation hearing that could be held would be for the vice-chair.

In the case of the London Development Agency, which is the subject of Amendment No. 5, I am again seeking to extend confirmation hearings to all members. I have observed from experience very close working between the Greater London Authority and the London Development Agency. I do not suggest that that is a bad thing, but the closeness has been such that it has been suggested in the past that the London Development Agency, which has funds at its disposal that are not at the disposal of the GLA, can be used conveniently as the Mayor’s piggy bank or credit card. It is important for there to be a process that enables such suspicions to be dispelled.

Amendment No. 6 relates to members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority appointed by the Mayor. Your Lordships may be aware that some difficulty surrounds the current round of mayoral appointments, of which some are statutorily to be nominated by the boroughs and some are to be Assembly Members, in both cases reflecting political proportionality of the boroughs across London and the membership of the Assembly. I hope that the difficulties can be resolved—indeed, that they are being resolved even as I am speaking. They have led to a serious situation that has caused what was described to me as a QC’s paradise, given the amount of legal advice that has been required during the past couple of days as a result of the Mayor’s indication that he does not wish to propose the current nominees, and to have the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority obtain advice that the position is irregular, unlawful and cannot continue because previous appointments have expired.

I could talk about this situation at great length, but it would not be to the benefit of London to expose all the details. I hope that a solution that is satisfactory to everyone will be found. However, it raises the issue of who are the appointees favoured by the Mayor. To enable that matter to be brought into the public arena, I am seeking not for the Assembly to be able to block the appointments, but for it to hold a hearing

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which allows the appointees to answer questions about their abilities and expertise. That would be important. I relate this proposal to the two new appointments that the Mayor will be entitled to make under the Bill if it is enacted in its current form.

The noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, wrote to noble Lords after the Committee stage. She stated in connection with LFEPA that the Mayor would make his appointments in line with Nolan principles and established good practice in public appointments. While I do not suggest that what the Minister said was inappropriate, the concerns that have arisen during the past few days lead me to believe that it would be in the public interest for the two new mayoral appointments to be subject to confirmation hearings, so that any concerns that what underlay the appointments was inappropriate could be dispelled. My Amendment No. 8 would exclude Assembly Members and councillors while they were in those positions, because those positions would have led to nomination. It is not special pleading, but there is a different constitutional position behind those appointments.

I hope that your Lordships will understand that this is all proposed in a spirit of ensuring that the public have the greatest confidence that they can in how they are being governed. I beg to move.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, we have Amendment No. 7 in this group. We support the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the amendments that she proposes. Clearly from the instances that she provided the whole situation is very unsatisfactory and there need to be better arrangements in this regard. I am sure that we will come back to this matter later on in the evening, as it is related to other amendments.

Amendment No. 7 relates to the health adviser and the deputy health adviser. We tabled these amendments in Committee, but I hope that we will get a more satisfactory response from the Minister this time round. My amendments extend confirmation hearings to the office of health adviser and deputy health adviser. The people who fill those positions, be they civil servants or not, will soon have a much larger role than at present. The health adviser is to be given a formal role in the consultation and preparation of a London-wide health inequality strategy. The extent of these positions means that they are no longer run-of-the-mill Civil Service appointments. The responsibility for the new strategy will have a significant impact on the London health service and the Londoners who use it. It is therefore necessary for the Assembly to have further powers of scrutiny over who will take this responsibility.

6.15 pm

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, I fear that I shall disappoint the noble Baroness and the noble Lord in responding to their amendments, but I hope that under the next group I may be less disappointing.

Confirmation hearings provide the Assembly with an important new power to scrutinise publicly key mayoral appointments. Assembly Members will recommend to the Mayor whether he should appoint his preferred candidate to one of the offices listed in new Section 60A(3), having assessed the candidate’s

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suitability for appointment, established his or her plans for their new roles, and if necessary challenged an appointment before the Mayor makes his final decision. The hearings provide Assembly Members with an exciting challenge in making a success of their new scrutiny role. However, I strongly resist the amendments tabled by the noble Lords opposite and I shall take a few minutes to explain the reasons why.

Amendments Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 extend the list of offices to which confirmation hearings may apply. Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 make all appointments to Transport for London and the London Development Agency subject to the confirmation hearing process. Amendment No. 6 extends the list to the two appointments made by the Mayor to the board of LFEPA under Clause 25. We shall discuss the LFEPA board later this evening, so I shall not get into the dispute about appointments now. Amendment No. 7 refers to the GLA’s health adviser and deputy health adviser. We shall make it clear later that the role of the health adviser is to advise the Mayor, and it is the Mayor who takes decisions.

I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that it is important to be clear about the difference between board members and advisers. It is right that she makes that point, and essential that advisers to boards have their roles clearly set out and that they are described and transparent, as I am sure that they are. As she said, all appointments are key; in singling out some appointments, the aim is not to detract from the importance of others. It is important that the Assembly initially concentrates on scrutinising the most important appointments that the Mayor makes. These are very significant appointments—those that have the greatest influence on delivery, particularly the chairs and deputy chairs of the functional bodies.

The effect of these amendments is to increase the number of posts subject to confirmation hearings to over 40—a fourfold increase, which risks extending too widely the scope of the Assembly’s confirmation hearings role before the Assembly has had a chance to make a real success of it. As I said in Committee, that is not to say that the list of offices subject to confirmation hearings can never be extended, and I know that the noble Baroness appreciates that. Noble Lords will know that the Bill provides for the Secretary of State by order to specify further offices should she wish to do so, following consultation with the Mayor and Assembly. This provides the flexibility to extend the list of offices in future, should the need arise, without the requirement for primary legislation.

I turn to the amendment exempting Assembly Members and councillors appointed to any of the offices listed in Clause 4 from being subject to confirmation hearings. Frankly, I am very surprised by this amendment and I resist it in the strongest terms. The purpose of the Assembly’s new role is to scrutinise candidates whom the Mayor proposes to appoint and recommend their suitability for office. It should not matter if the candidate is an Assembly Member or local councillor; the Assembly should still be able to request their attendance at a confirmation hearing in order to scrutinise their appointment. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that, in tabling the

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amendment, noble Lords are seeking to protect elected officers from such scrutiny—although I am sure that that is not their intention. Their amendment would certainly create an unfair process whereby some candidates would be exempt from confirmation hearings and others would not. That would risk bringing the Assembly’s new role into disrepute before it had even begun.

I take for example the current chairmen of both the MPA and LFEPA, who are both Assembly Members and would be exempt from confirmation hearings under this arrangement. Their appointments would not be subject to scrutiny even though both already attend Assembly scrutiny sessions to answer questions in their capacities as chairs of functional bodies.

I hope that the noble Baroness will consider withdrawing her amendment. I believe very strongly that the confirmation hearings will be a positive and important development for the Assembly. We are very much behind making them a success.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, the Minister said that the 40 confirmation hearings would be too many, but they would be over a period of time. I should have thought that with any reasonable local authority that would not be anything like the number of appointments that members make. I am not on the GLA but, if it did not have much to do, it would give it something to do. I think that 40 over four years is a reasonable number to scrutinise, so I am surprised that the Minister said that.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, I would not wish to be boring and never to surprise people, but I would also not want to suggest that the Assembly does not have enough to do. I am sure that it does. What is important about these confirmation hearings is that they are very public. From my perspective the very public nature of the scrutiny, not just with the Assembly but with the media, will help to make the accountability real. I do not want to mention a figure in relation to confirmation hearings. However, we are proposing a very practical start here, and we do so with good intentions. I hope that the Assembly will embrace this new opportunity and really make a go of it.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I disabuse the noble Lord of any view that the Assembly does not have enough to do. Like the noble Baroness, I believe that this is a positive move. It is because it is a positive procedure, which allows the Assembly to draw out the views of appointees who might otherwise remain shadowy figures, that I am advocating an extension.

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