HC Deb 08 November 1999 vol 337 cc785-6

Lords amendment: No. 453, in page 150, line 3, at end insert— ("( ) biodiversity,")

Mr. Hill

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 454, 456, 480 and 481.

Mr. Hill

Amendments Nos. 453 and 454 concern the state of the environment report. Amendment No. 453 would add biodiversity to the list of issues that the report should cover. We are grateful to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) for spotting that omission in Committee.

Amendment No. 454 would delete the detailed definition of information that the mayor would be required to provide in the report under the heading, "road traffic levels". That definition should be up to the mayor.

Amendment No. 456 is also simple. On 1 April this year, the Countryside Commission merged with the Rural Development Commission. The new organisation is now known as the Countryside Agency, and the amendment would merely ensure that the correct name was on the face of the Bill.

Amendments Nos. 480 and 481 would correct an anomaly in the Bill. Hon. Members will note that the Bill abolishes three existing organisations—the London Planning Advisory Committee, the London Ecology Committee and the London Research Centre—which are all due to be subsumed into the main body of the Greater London Authority.

We have already made clear our intention to abolish the three organisations on 1 April 2000 to allow a smooth transition to the new Authority. However, the Bill, as currently drafted, allows us to abolish the London Ecology Committee only

on the establishment of the Authority"— that is, after the GLA elections have taken place. That will not allow us to plan properly in advance—as is clearly desirable—for the establishment of the GLA. The amendments would correct the position and allow us to abolish the London Ecology Committee at the same time as LPAC and LRC, on 1 April 2000.

Mr. John Randall (Uxbridge)

I thank the Minister for his gracious words. It would be mealy-mouthed to point out that I had to wait a long time for the amendment to be tabled. The Minister was gracious enough in Committee to say that such an amendment could be made to the Bill. It is a lesson to new Members of Parliament like me that patience is sometimes rewarded. I have not worked out the great difference between the amendment and the original amendment that required expert draftsmanship, but I am nevertheless grateful.

Mr. Brake

I hope that the Minister will concede that Liberal Democrat Members also raised the matter on several occasions. We were keen for the mayor's state of the environment report to reflect biodiversity. I should not nit-pick, but it is surprising that biodiversity was originally omitted from the Bill.

Londoners are worried about biodiversity. In a debate last week, I referred to the threat to London's biodiversity that developments associated with the millennium dome present. Biodiversity should be reflected in the mayor's report. When he or she produces a strategy and environmental statement, I hope that it will help to drive local biodiversity plans, many of which are in abeyance and are waiting for a kick-start from the London mayor. Therefore, I support the amendment.

Mr. Hill

Although I acknowledge the contribution that Liberal Democrats Members have made, we should be in no doubt that the amendment is a monument to the hon. Member for Uxbridge. We are enormously grateful, and congratulate him on what posterity will record as the Uxbridge amendment.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment Nos. 454 to 456 agreed to.

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