HL Deb 21 October 1999 vol 605 cc1326-50

(" . After section 132 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 there shall be inserted—

Royal Parks or highways in London affected by proposals

relating to the other.

132AA.—(1) The Secretary of State shall not exercise any of his functions in relation to the management of roads or traffic in a Royal Park in such a way as to affect a highway in Greater London unless he has consulted—

  1. (a) the traffic authority for the highway, and
  2. (b) Transport for London,
about the exercise of those functions in that way.

(2) The duty imposed by subsection (1) shall not Apply if it would not be reasonably practicable for the Secretary of State to consult the traffic authority or Transport for London before exercising functions; but, in such a case, as soon as practicable after so exercising functions the Secretary of State shall inform the traffic authority and Transport for London that those functions have been so exercised.

(3) A traffic authority shall not exercise any of its functions in relation to a highway in Greater London in such a way as to affect a Royal Park unless it has consulted the Secretary of State about the exercise of those functions in that way.

(4) The duty imposed by subsection (3) shall not apply if it would not be reasonably practicable for the traffic authority to consult the Secretary of State before exercising functions; but, in such a case, as soon as practicable after so exercising functions the highway authority shall inform the Secretary of State that those functions have been so exercised.

(5) In this section "Royal Park" means any park to which the Parks Regulation Act 1872 applies (see sections 1 and 3 of the Parks Regulation (Amendment) Act 1926)".").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 253 [Repeal of certain enactments]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 493E:

Page 147, line 8, at end insert— ("( ) Any reference in this section to a GLA road includes a reference to a GLA side road.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 254 [Road user charging]:

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 494: Page 147, line 16, at end insert— ("( ) The net proceeds from each scheme established under subsection (1) above shall, during the scheme's initial period as defined by paragraph 16 of Schedule 18, be applied solely for the purpose of implementing the Mayor's transport strategy.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving the amendment I speak also to Amendments Nos. 509,501 to 507, and 516 to 522. The arguments surrounding these amendments were well rehearsed in Committee. Amendment No. 494 would put on the face of the Bill, first, a statement that as regards road user charging: The net proceeds from each scheme established under [the subsection] shall, during the scheme's initial period as defined by paragraph 16 of Schedule 18, be applied solely for the purpose of implementing the Mayor's transport strategy".

Amendments Nos. 501 to 507 amend Schedule 18 in order to lengthen the time during which that hypothecation shall last in the case of each scheme established during the initial period after the creation of the GLA. Amendments Nos. 509 and 516 to 522 amend Clause 255 and Schedule 19.

The objective is, first, to put hypothecation firmly on the face of the Bill, and, secondly, to lengthen the time for each scheme during which that hypothecation will be required. I beg to move.

Earl Attlee

My Lords, these are some of the most significant amendments in this part of the Bill. Amendments in the name of my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara deal with similar issues.

No doubt the Secretary of State is proud of his achievements in getting the Treasury to accept hypothecation. I do not wish to weary your Lordships with a Second Reading speech. However, my fear is that the new taxes will simply force the less well off to use public transport while allowing the more affluent to take up the spare capacity so created.

Londoners will not expect us to allow congestion charges to go the same way as the road fund licence scheme, which is now known as vehicle excise duty and is an important revenue scheme for central government. Sadly, vital road safety and capacity improvements remain to be started. The public transport system in London is woefully short of capacity at the ever extending peak period. For instance, at Victoria Station this morning there were hardly any spare places on the downward escalator. In other words, it physically cannot move any more passengers. As an aside, I was extremely disappointed that nowhere on the station concourse was I able to find a ticket machine which would take notes.

Part of the solution to the problem of transport in London will be buses and investment in the Underground. It is important to understand that the time required to construct new rail facilities is considerable and the payback period may stretch into decades. Unfortunately, the Government's hypothecation runs only to one decade. That is simply not good enough.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood, offered one possible and attractive solution to the problem. My noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith will shortly be proposing another. The House might not be in a mood to decide this issue tonight, but we must reach a conclusion on Third Reading. The two amendments are not necessarily mutually exclusive and our debate tonight will better inform us in our decision making. The Minister may even be able to make a helpful suggestion himself.

Lord Whitty

My Lords, the noble Earl ends his speech with a challenge. I hope that I can make a useful suggestion. Everyone in this Chamber and more widely recognises the important breakthrough that the proposition on congestion charging and hypothecation makes to the future funding of transport infrastructure and the quality of the system within London.

When the noble Earl began, I thought that he was making a Second Reading speech, but clearly he has concerns about the proposition. His noble friend's amendment and the amendment we are considering effectively accept that we shall engage in a system of congestion charging, should the mayor so wish, and deal primarily with the issue of hypothecation.

The provision of hypothecation as such is already covered in Schedules 18 and 19 and my ministerial colleagues and I have made many commitments throughout the passage of the Bill relating to our advocacy of such approaches in London and elsewhere. Schedules 18 and 19 define relevant transport purposes as, any purpose which directly or indirectly facilitates the implementation of any policies or proposals set out in the Mayor's transport strategy". It is clear that a wide range of schemes across the geographical area of the GLA would be paid for by the hypothecation of this money. Therefore, the provisions of the Bill already guarantee that the revenues from the new charges will be ring-fenced for the purposes of implementing the mayor's transport strategy.

That leaves us with the question, for how long? The noble Earl dismissed it, but the agreement reached between government departments on the hypothecation of this form of revenue for transport infrastructure is a major breakthrough. It has been widely welcomed and it gives us a new way of providing decent transport for the capital. It is an important issue and it is not in the nature of the Treasury to concede such matters for all time. Indeed, it has a good reason for taking that stance and I agree with it. It is that if the revenues are sufficiently high and of a sufficiently long duration, there will come a time when there are no value-for-money transport infrastructure projects in London.

Noble Lords may believe that that is a long way off. I agree that it is probably a long way off, but there comes a point when it is appropriate. Therefore, we have built into the measure the provision that any scheme starting within the next 10 years can run for 10 years, but there will then be a review of the process. It seemed sensible to build in that review.

In her amendment the noble Baroness has been a little more modest than she was during earlier stages when she suggested 35 years before there was a review of the proceedings. She is now suggesting 15 years. It is to be hoped that by Third Reading we can reach some accommodation on the 10 years we propose, plus a review at the end of that period. That does not mean that the hypothecation will automatically stop. Indeed, if the scheme is working to the benefit of Londoners and there is palpable improvement in the transport system in London as a result of such funding, there is no doubt in my mind that the political imperative of continuing the scheme in some form will exist.

Nevertheless, it is sensible and prudent to review the situation after a period of 10 years. That is what we are building into the Bill. We do not want a five-year delay by having a review after 15 years. We believe that it is sensible to have it after 10 years; a view we have taken throughout the debate from which I shall not depart at this stage of the Bill.

There is not a great deal between the noble Baroness and ourselves on the desirability of providing this power for the mayor in relation to congestion charging and a workplace parking levy. However, understandably, the noble Baroness wishes to push the matter further in the future. I wish to do so, too, but it is prudent to build into the Bill a review after 10 years. I hope that on reflection the noble Baroness will agree that that is sensible financial management by national government and by the mayor and that she will not pursue the amendment tonight.

5.15 p.m.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood

My Lords, the Minister was right to suggest that we on these Benches have sympathy with the ideas of congestion charging, workplace parking levies and hypothecation. On that we are completely at one. However, the difference between us lies in the area he next referred to; namely, the moment when such funding will no longer be necessary. Two difficulties arise. The first is that there may be problems with a 10-year period because it allows only two and a half of the four-year local authority cycles after the coming into existence of the GLA in which to commence any such schemes. The second is that if a sufficient number of schemes is undertaken to contribute to the financing of the undoubtedly enormous public transport needs—who knows, we may return to cycle lanes, which we are not allowed to talk about in the context of the Bill but which the mayor will be allowed to talk about in determining a transport strategy—there might be a wide range of transport needs to which the money can be put. Throughout, our contention has been that 10 years is not long enough to provide a stable, reliable source of funding for such projects.

I shall read with great care the final part of the Minister's answer and compare it with what he said in Committee. I thought I understood 'what lie said in Committee and my understanding will be enriched by comparing the two. I shall make sure that I really do know what the Government's intention is. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 495: Page 147, line 23, at end insert— ("(4) Any charging scheme established pursuant to this section shall cease to take effect, and may not be revived, if at any time there is not a scheme to improve transport arrangements (including schemes to assist the movement of pedestrians) within Greater London in the operation or establishment of which the net proceeds of the charging scheme (within the meaning given it in Schedule 18) can be applied, and are only applied.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, perhaps I may say a word about Amendment No. 495. It might have been thought that Amendment No. 495 flowed from the previous group of amendments that we have been discussing, but in this particular grouping I shall be discussing Amendments Nos. 495 and 510, which are identical in wording. My noble friend Lord Attlee will discuss the other amendments in the group.

We should be very clear as to what we are talking about. Clauses 254 and 255 of the Bill create options for the mayor or his subsidiary body, Transport for London, or the London boroughs or the Common Council of the City of London to introduce schemes either for congestion parking or workplace parking.

This Bill is for and about London, and in that sense it is a geographically local Bill. It is not a national Bill to establish a national tax or a national scheme of levies. When we talk about hypothecation, which has been trumpeted as a great triumph, it is my view that we are being made to fall for what I regard as something that is intellectually dishonest. There is nothing to hypothecate. The Secretary of State has no revenue at all because any power to raise revenue is wholly and entirely in the hands of somebody else. In effect, what we are saying in this Bill is, "Mr Mayor, you may charge these levies on behalf of London on those who drive or park in London, whether or not they live in London, but after 10 years we reserve the right to take your decision away from you and to take the product of that decision and apply it elsewhere". I am sorry, but I do not regard that as a satisfactory way of going on. Schedules 18 and 19 give effect to that, and that is where the issue of hypothecation is discussed.

Amendments Nos. 495 and 510 deal with the matter in this way: they leave the power of decision to raise these revenues locally, of course, as the Bill requires. Then the Bill says that they should be applied locally for the improvement of transport arrangements, which include schemes to assist the movement of pedestrians within Greater London. Then at the point when there are no further such schemes that anybody can think of which could be of any possible benefit to London, those schemes will cease. It seems to me that that is perfectly reasonable and proper. If the decision is taken locally to implement these schemes, then, when there is no further use for them locally, they should cease. I think that is the way we should go about this business.

Of course in the background there is a separate issue, which is the question of whether there should be a national scheme of road-user charging—one could call it "congestion charging" or give it any other name. There could equally well be a national scheme for workplace parking charging. If both those schemes were to be introduced on a national basis, then the Secretary of State would rightly be able to claim credit, if he could persuade the Treasury to hypothecate the product of those schemes for transport purposes, because in fact there would then be some national money over which he had some control and with which he could do something. That may well be the situation we shall be looking at in a year or two. I have heard rumours floating around that indeed there may well be legislation at some point in the not too distant future, bringing just such schemes into being on a national basis.

I said when I began these remarks that we are dealing here with a geographically limited Bill: in essence, a Bill which is all about London and which is for Londoners. If schemes are produced under this Bill, they will be produced either by the mayor or his subsidiary, Transport for London, or the London boroughs or the Common Council of the City of London.

I regard that as perfectly reasonable. It is also perfectly reasonable that if those bodies choose to introduce those schemes, the schemes should be applied to London. I do not think it is reasonable that in fact, having taken the initiative, the risk and indeed possibly the political odium of introducing such schemes, they should then be subject to the intervention of a third party—that is to say, the Treasury—to take away from them what one might call their rewards for political boldness and initiative. It is for that purpose that Amendments Nos. 495 and 510 are on the Marshalled List. I commend them both to the House and beg to move Amendment No. 495.

Earl Attlee

My Lords, Amendment No. 497 deals with research. The Secretary of State claims that he wants an integrated transport policy. The mayor is under a duty to pursue such a transport policy and this amendment fulfils that purpose by ensuring that road pricing cannot be introduced in an ad hoc manner without proper research into the knock-on effect on other roads. That makes good environmental sense. The research is required to be published widely as a means of democratic accountability.

During the previous debate I explained my fears that congestion charging would simply suck in the more affluent motorist. What research has conclusively shown is that traffic flows can be reduced overall? Can the Minister show where it has worked before?

Amendment No. 508 follows on from Amendment No. 497. It is only common sense to ensure that traffic which would be displaced by private means by any charging scheme can be absorbed by the public transport system and thus prevent double counting in the research. The amendment covers both people and goods. Charging could impact on business adversely.

Amendment No. 510 tackles hypothecation as it applies to workplace parking rather than congestion charging, as in Amendment No. 495. Amendment No. 512 introduces the requirement for research into workplace parking. The transport White Paper states that new measures are needed to tackle excessive workplace parking provision on existing developments, so that local authorities can develop comprehensive parking management policies to support their transport and development plans. To make this effective without penalising the responsible car driver who cannot avoid using his car—we shall come later to amendments which cover that point—there needs to be a mixture of incentives and disincentives.

If everyone stopped using a car and used public transport, London Transport would collapse from overload. We heard about the lack of capacity on the railway system when debating an earlier amendment. Therefore, parking charging should discourage excessive use only and not every use. We understand this because we are the party of the responsible car driver and his employer. There is also the need for parking charges to be linked to a comprehensive parking management policy, as envisaged by the transport White Paper. This amendment provides for no parking charges where research is inconclusive and seeks to ensure that the results of any research are made publicly available, including on the Internet.

The amendment fulfils those purposes by ensuring that parking charges cannot be introduced in an ad hoc manner without proper research into the knock-on effect on roads in the area. The research is required to be published widely and, it is hoped, on the Internet. Amendment No. 523 covers a similar issue. I beg to move.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, has at least a consistent approach to these matters. His view is that local authorities should use their own money and that there should not be too much, if any, interference from the centre in relation to money raised locally.

I respect that position. It is one which has been taken by governments of either complexion for many decades, although it is not one which this Government take. We believe that all methods of raising local government money, including those within the Greater London area, have to be subject to some local government finance regime, charges included. Therefore, the issue of hypothecation or otherwise does arise.

The noble Lord is not consistent in the wording of his amendments, as distinct from what he said—which is the principal position—in that he wants us to lay down the time at which the scheme should automatically end without local decision, without local accountability and without local democracy. Amendments Nos. 495 and 510, to which the noble Lords opposite spoke, would require a charging scheme to be terminated if the net proceeds from the scheme were not being used to fund transport improvements.

We have said that they should be hypothecated. Under the noble Lord's freedom situation, why should the mayor of London not be able to spend that money on whatever he likes? That is inconsistent with the noble Lord's general approach. It is better that we are clear from the beginning that hypothecation is laid down in the schedule and that it will be reviewed in 10 years' time. If it is then, indeed, the case that there are no longer any value for money transport projects in London on which it is worth spending money—which I believe we all agree is a fairly unlikely scenario—we should then look at the system. There will be other aspects of the system besides the appropriate and necessary hypothecated spending, which determine whether the system is fair, socially just, and so forth.

Therefore, a review is built into the provision. However, in the terms of the noble Lord's amendment, there would be an automatic cut-off in certain circumstances. I believe that the review process is far more sensible. There is nothing in our proposition—here I am reverting in part to the earlier amendment—to suggest that after those 10 years the Secretary of State would from there on pocket the money. We should review the situation and allow the mayor to keep the revenue and to continue to spend it on transport. Alternatively, should an unlikely scenario arise, we might even decide that he could use it for London Transport projects. However, that judgment needs to be made at that point. At this stage we are concerned with setting up schemes with clearly hypothecated revenue, and that revenue being recycled into transport infrastructure and improvements.

I turn now to the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. I am never quite clear where the Front Bench transport team stands on these matters, particularly in relation to the position taken by the noble Lord, Lord Archer, who obviously, I am sure we all appreciate, has better things to do with his time than to be present for this debate.

The amendments place substantial constraints on the operation and continuation of these schemes. One is tempted to believe that they are actually intended to make it extremely difficult for the mayor—or the boroughs, for that matter—to set up and run such schemes. Obviously, we all recognise that there is a need for research at various stages to determine how they are working and what the alternative might be. However, to lay down those provisions in such a prescriptive way seems to me to be the thin end of the wedge and to make that far more difficult.

There will be both operational and political problems for the mayor or the boroughs in deciding to go for these options. If, on top of those political and technical difficulties, we include these prescriptive constraints, it begins to add up to a position which, without quite saying so, would prevent the mayor and the boroughs from adopting this route towards the improvement of London's internal transport. The noble Lord may deny that that is his motive, but that would be the effect. As it chimes so much with what the noble Lord, Lord Archer, has said in a wider context and slightly premature stage of a certain contest, I therefore have deep suspicions of the amendments and hope that we should not pursue them here today. I hope also that, if the noble Earl's views are somewhat different, he will consider rather different amendments, or, more properly, support the position which we have already taken in the Bill.

Lord Dixon-Smith

My Lords, I hope that the House will forgive me and understand if I divert to what is an apparently unrelated subject. The Minister will recall that, a year or 18 months ago, I asked him a question about the position of the Dartford River Crossing and at what date the tolls on that crossing were expected to cease.

The Dartford River Crossing—to refresh the memory of the House, which may not be necessary—was provided at the initiative of Essex and Kent County Councils. Because its provision was a local decision, it was decided that the tolls charged and the revenue from them would be applied to cover the cost of construction until all the construction and running costs had been paid and a sufficient pool of capital was established for the future maintenance of the crossing.

It was the joint view of Essex and Kent County Councils that the charges should cease at that point. My position is consistent. Indeed, when the crossing was in effect nationalised and privatised all in one swift motion by the previous government, that principle was accepted and followed in the Bill which went through both Houses of Parliament. It established the private system for that crossing, so that after the firms running the crossing had paid for it and received a reasonable profit for their investment and risk, and built up an adequate maintenance fund and paid all the costs, the tolls were due to cease.

That is a perfectly proper decision to be taken locally. I draw from that experience and apply it to this provision relating to London. The Minister is also indeed consistent, because in his reply he hinted at the possibility that, before the tolls ran out on the Dartford crossing, a national scheme might come into being which might mean that the tolls would continue. I suppose that in the great scheme of things one must accept that governments have that power. I further suppose that, as I now stand here, in a sense, as a representative dealing with government matters as opposed to local matters, one must accept that that is the way in which such matters must be considered. That is, of course, also proper.

However, we are here asking the putative mayor of London or the London borough councils to establish a scheme which may subsequently be abolished without further legislation. Under the provisions of the Bill, if the hypothecation runs out, that will be it. I said in my introduction to these amendments that we must face the possibility that there may be national schemes. If there are, that is a separate issue. But I do not believe it is right that we should place the burden of initiating what could, in effect, become schemes to produce national revenue, on the mayor and the boroughs. I do not believe that that is reasonable.

I believe that there may well be a fundamental difference between myself and the Minister. I listened with interest to what he had to say and I shall certainly consider very carefully the wording of Amendments Nos. 495 and 510. However, I assure the noble Lord that I believe that we shall need to bring back these amendments at Third Reading. My noble friend Lord Attlee will, of course, also consider what the Minister has said in regard to the amendments in this group to which he spoke. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 496 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 497 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 497A not moved.]

Schedule 18 [Road user charging]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 497B: Page 275, line 12, leave out from ("road"") to end of line 13 and insert ("includes a reference to a GLA side road:").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 497C: Page 278, line 11, at beginning insert

("(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for or in connection with—

  1. (a) exemptions from charge,
  2. (b) the application of reduced rates of charge, or
  3. (c) the imposition of limits on the charges payable,
in the case of any prescribed class of motor vehicles or any prescribed description of disabled or other persons.

(2) Subject to any regulations under sub-paragraph (1) above,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 497C, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 498, 512A, and 513A, which stand in my name. The government amendments fulfil the commitment that I gave to my noble friend Lord Morris of Manchester when I met him and other representatives of disabled groups and people interested within this House on 6th October to discuss disability issues arising from the Bill. I also referred briefly to our intention to move these amendments when we debated similar amendments moved last Tuesday by my noble friend Lord Morris.

These amendments will enable the Secretary of State to make regulations to grant concessions and exemptions from road user and workplace parking charges in London. That includes any exemption from charges for disabled persons. Therefore, this regulation-making power will ensure that national exemptions will apply both inside and outside London.

We are in the process of finalising the structure of national concessionary arrangements. We hope shortly to be able to provide a summary of the responses that have been received to our consultation paper Breaking the Logjam. The question of exemptions will be dealt with in that context. We shall ensure that the regulations that the Secretary of State can prescribe will be in place before any charging scheme is introduced in London.

The regulations we shall bring forward will be subject to the negative resolution procedure of both Houses. I should add that the mayor will still be able to specify exemptions or concessions in London where those have not been specified by the Secretary of State as applying nationally.

I believe that those points meet the concern expressed in this House about the ability of the mayor to introduce charging schemes without reference to national exemptions because the Bill will have passed before any subsequent legislation. I believe that that is tidied up by this amendment. Clearly, there will be national exemptions and those will apply within London. I hope that those who have been understandably concerned about this matter will be reassured by the amendments. I beg to move.

Earl Attlee

My Lords, we are grateful to the Minister for the way in which he has moved his amendments, not least because I am not entirely confident about the drafting of my amendments. Therefore, we are happy with progress on this issue. Obviously, I shall not be moving my amendments.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth

My Lords, I thank the Minister for Amendment No. 497C. I shall refer to my noble friend Lord Morris of Manchester, as "my noble friend" because that is how he described me on Tuesday. I am delighted to repay the compliment.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Manchester, explained to the Minister why he would be unable to be here today to thank the Minister. I too thank the Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Morris of Manchester, feels that the amendment meets his point totally. Amendment No. 511 will therefore not be moved.

I echo the noble Lord's thanks for the meeting we had with the Minister two weeks ago. It was an extremely friendly, helpful and productive meeting. I am very grateful to the Minister for having listened so carefully and having given such a good response.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 498 to 508 not moved.]

Clause 255 [ Workplace parking levy]:

[Amendments Nos. 509 to 511 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 512 not moved.]

Schedule 19 [Workplace parking levy]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 512A: Page 291, line 26, at beginning insert ("The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for or in connection with exempting—

  1. (a) a prescribed number of parking places provided at any premises from being workplace parking places, or
  2. (b) any prescribed class of motor vehicles from being controlled vehicles,
whether generally or in the case of any prescribed description of premises or any prescribed description or disabled or other persons. (1A) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for or in connection with—
  1. (a) exemptions from licensing,
  2. (b) the application of reduced rates of charges for licences, or
  3. (c) the imposition of limits on the charges payable for a licence,
in the case of any prescribed description of premises or any prescribed description of disabled or other persons or, in the case of paragraph (b) or (c) above, any prescribed class of motor vehicles.
(1B) Subject to any regulations under sub-paragraph (1) or (1A) above,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 513 not moved.]

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 513A: Page 291, line 31, at beginning insert ("Subject to any regulations under sub-paragraph (1) or (1A) above,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 514 to 523 not moved.]

5.45 p.m.

Clause 257 [Functions during the transitional period]:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 523A: Page 148, line 18, at end insert— ("(bb) facilitating the transfer of functions, property, rights or liabilities to Transport for London from any other body or person from whom they are or may be so transferred under or by virtue of this Act; or").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Chapter XVI of Part IV provides for the transition from London Transport to Transport for London. In particular it is designed to deal with the period prior to the transfer to TEL of London Underground during which both bodies will be in existence with London Transport continuing to be responsible for the operation of the Underground.

London Transport, as the most substantial predecessor body, clearly has a major role to play in the setting up of TfL. Clause 257(2) already imposes a duty on London Transport to do anything it considers appropriate for a transitional purpose; that is, securing that public transport services are not disrupted, securing the PPP agreement, and transferring the property, rights and liabilities of LT to TfL.

This amendment widens the transitional provisions in the Bill to ensure that London Transport has sufficient powers to do anything necessary to facilitate the setting up of TfL. That would include facilitating the transfer of functions, property, rights and liabilities from any other predecessor body to TfL. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 524 not moved.]

Clause 259 [Continuity: repealed or revoked functions]:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 525: Page 150, line 8, after ("by") insert ("or in relation to").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 526 and 527, and 567 to 570. This group of amendments clarifies the continuity provisions in Clauses 259 and 356. Amendments Nos. 525, 526 and 527 aim to ensure that anything made, done by or in relation to London Regional Transport shall have effect as if made, done by or in relation to Transport for London. Amendments Nos. 567, 568, 569 and 570 make similar provision in relation to bodies abolished or dissolved and functions transferred, revoked or repealed by this Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 526 and 527: Page 150, line 11, after ("by") insert ("or in relation to"). Page 150, line 15, at end insert— ("( ) Any reference in this section to anything made or done by or in relation to London Regional Transport includes a reference to anything which by virtue of any enactment is treated as having been made or done by or in relation to London Regional Transport.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 260 [Transfer of former.functions of London Transport Executive]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 528: Page 150, line 19, at end insert— ("(2) In section 144 of the Transport Act 968 (transfer and disposal of historical records and relics) for "London Regional Transport" in each place where it occurs there shall be substituted "Transport for London".").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 263 [Appointment of members by the Mayor]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 528A: Page 150, leave out lines 39 and 40 and insert— ("(8) Removal under Schedule 2 shall be subject to approval by two-thirds vote of the London Assembly.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in this group I have tabled Amendments Nos. 528A, 529A to 529D and 534A. All relate to improvements that we would like to see to Clause 263 which sets up the London Development Agency within the context of the Regional Development Agencies Act.

Amendment No. 528A seeks to give the assembly a somewhat different power from that for which we applied previously. It seeks to give the assembly power to constrain the mayor's somewhat arbitrary powers of dismissal of members of the London assembly under Schedule 2. If there is to be such arbitrary power, we believe that the assembly should have some control over it. I do not expect the Minister to agree. I am not optimistic that he will see the light suddenly. However, we thought that it was worth attempting to do this once again.

Amendment No. 529A (line 3, page 151) deliberately sets out to create a situation in which the membership of the London Development Agency will always include one member of the London assembly, one member of the Common Council of the City of London, and one member who is a member of a London borough council. At present the legislation requires that people be appointed from those categories. However, such people can cease to be members of those bodies but still continue to serve on the London Development Agency. That would mean the possibility that no member of each of those three important sectors of London's commercial and political life would be involved directly with the agency. We do not believe that that is right. Amendment No. 529A takes care of that issue.

Amendment No. 529B involves a small point. It simply requires that at least two-thirds of the members of the London Development Agency—rather than half of them—should be people who have experience in the business and commercial world. Again, we believe that would be appropriate.

Amendment No. 529C removes from the face of the Bill the little phrase, persons who appear to the Mayor to be persons".

We do not believe that the London Development Agency should necessarily consist of people who "appear" to the mayor to be persons of experience in business and commerce; we believe they "should" be people with that experience. Amendment No. 529D covers a similar point.

Amendment No. 534A deals with a provision in Schedule 20. If the amendment were accepted, it would make it a condition that the person whom the mayor appoints holds elected office. At the moment the mayor can appoint someone who holds elected office, but such a person can cease to hold that office as a result of which a situation could arise in which the London Development Agency consisted of former elected officers as opposed to people actually in office. We do not believe that that is right.

We believe that these small amendments will improve and strengthen the London Development Agency. I beg to move.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, rarely have I seen what I was going to call "daft" amendments, but perhaps that would be unparliamentary language. In this respect, I do not refer to Amendment No. 529. I refer to those about which the noble Lord has just spoken.

The amendments are revealing because they indicate that the Conservative Party now recognises that it has absolutely no hope of gaining the mayoralty or a majority in the election. I greatly respect the noble Lord, notwithstanding what I have said. He is an old friend of long duration, or at least has been until now! I cannot imagine that he would have contemplated these amendments in any circumstances other than those which I have described. They are designed to "hobble" and to hamper, but not to improve the situation.

I have no doubt that my noble friend will not entertain these particular amendments. They grasp at straws. With respect, they are not for the real political world at all. I do not believe that my noble friend will need much urging from me to reject the amendments, but they ought to be rejected.

Baroness Hamwee

My Lords, although Amendment No. 529 is in this group of amendments, I am glad to have been excepted from the strictures of the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis. We shall not speak to Amendments Nos. 530 and 531 in the group.

Amendment No. 529 addresses the membership of the London Development Agency and in particular its members who come from the assembly, from the London borough councils and from the Common Council of the City of London. The Bill provides that there will be at least four members—it may be more—of the London Development Agency who are at the time of their appointment elected members of any of those bodies. As we proposed at the previous stage, we now propose that there should be at least two members from the assembly and at least two members from the London boroughs or the Common Council.

We are glad to see the acknowledgement on the part of the Government of the interest of the London boroughs in regeneration and the need to ensure that the boroughs are firmly part of the partnership arrangements which will deal with the matters for which the LDA has responsibility.

At the previous stage of the Bill, the Minister said that the Government want, people who can contribute to the aims of the board, in particular its economic ones, and who can act together with the various private and public institutions within the region.—[Official Report, 7/7/99: col. 884.] We feel that those representatives will be among them. When I suggested that the Minister had not addressed my point, he said that my amendment at that stage, which was the same as this one, fixed the requirement too rigidly in relation to local authority representation". The Minister also accused me of going over old ground. I did not think then and do not think now that that is the case. However, since we went over so much ground so many times I can well understand that we all begin to have a sense of déjà vu about certain matters.

The point was not answered then. I am concerned that the mayor may be tempted either to appoint all of the four members from London borough councils, perhaps because he is going through a rough period with members of the assembly, or only appoint chums who are members of the assembly and who might come from any party because he feels that that is a nice cosy arrangement and it would be uncomfortable to have members of the London borough councils on the LDA board.

The Government have gone a long way to recognise the contribution that may be made by the different spheres of London's government. I hope that they feel that they can go that little bit further to ensure that that contribution will be made and will not be sidelined by the mayor, who might take a different view from the Government.

6 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon

My Lords, I shall say a few words about Amendment No. 529C. I shall not comment on the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, when he described a group of amendments as "daft". I am sure my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith will do that adequately. The noble Lord said that he wished to remain a friend of my noble friend. I am sure he will. And, despite his remarks, he will certainly remain a friend of mine outside this Chamber.

It is important that the chairman of the London Development Agency should be a person who has experience of running a business. The reason we do not like the words, persons who appear to the Mayor to be persons", is simply that the mayor himself does not have to be a person who has experience of business. That is not accepting, as the noble Lord suggested, that we have given up on our candidate; far from it. People who write books may not necessarily be considered business people in this sense.

It is important that Amendment No. 529C should be accepted by the Government. It is essential that the mayor, in designating who is to be the chairman of the London Development Agency, should choose someone who "is" experienced in business, not somebody who "appears to him" to be experienced in business.

Lord Whitty

My Lords, I was slightly astounded by the last remarks of the noble Baroness. Many writers may not be business people, but the noble Lord, Lord Archer, in view of the income he receives from his writing, cannot be regarded as anything but a successful business person.

The model of government that we are proposing means that the mayor takes an executive decision-making role and the assembly provides scrutiny of the mayor's actions. Amendment No. 528A would undermine that. It would allow the assembly to remove members of the London. Development Agency.

There is no equivalent in the RDA. Act as regards regional development agencies elsewhere. I remind your Lordships that under Schedule 2 of that Act, RDA board members can be removed from office only on the grounds of bankruptcy, prolonged absence or other unfitness for office. That is the appropriate position rather than it being a political decision to remove from office a member of the London Development Agency.

In their different ways Amendments Nos. 529, 529A and 534A would specify more closely the composition of the local authority representation on the LDA board. Again, they will reduce the mayor's discretion to appoint LDA board members in a way which is representative of diverse London interest groups. It is fundamental to our whole approach to regional development agencies that their boards bring experience of various different kinds to regional life. That applies equally to London. Members are not tied to specific regional interest groups and regional bodies. If we were to prescribe the balance of the local authority membership, that would undermine that overall approach. They are there for their own qualities, experience and expertise. I hope, therefore, that those amendments will not be pursued.

Amendment No. 529B would change the requirement that half the board members have to have business experience by a requirement that it be two-thirds. It has been clear throughout that it is our intention that the board of the LDA should be business led. However, we also recognise the need to require representation on that board of other interest groups and economic interests as well as local government. Were we to prescribe that the business element should always be two-thirds, it would reduce the discretion of the mayor in making such appointments and, if it were to be prescribed rigidly by statute, it would limit the mayor's ability to ensure representation of groups from other important walks of life, skills and experience on a board of no more than 15 persons. I therefore cannot accept Amendment No. 529B.

I shall not use the same terminology as that used by my noble friend in relation to Amendments Nos. 529C and 529D. They replace the requirement that half the board members must be persons who "appear" to the mayor to have experience of running a business. The words, "appear to the mayor" leave some judgment and discretion with the mayor, which is the point of establishing the mayor in the first instance. Were we to prescribe on the face of the Bill direct experience of running a business, which is an allegedly objective criteria, it could lead to substantial litigation were it ever to be challenged. It is clear "appears to" in this and other contexts—for example, the same phrase is used in the Welsh Development Agency legislation—leaves an element of judgment (in those days to the Secretary of State and now to the Welsh Assembly) to the mayor, whereas if we were to prescribe flatly "experience of business" who would judge whether or not the mayor fulfilled that requirement? In other words, the final judgment is down to the mayor but the mayor has to be able to demonstrate that it is reasonable that the person appears to him to have business experience. If Amendments Nos. 529C and 529D are intended to take discretion out of the mayor's hands, I understand that, though I do not agree with it. The reality is that it would open up arguments as to what amounts to appropriate business experience.

I understood the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, to say that she would not refer to Amendments Nos. 530 and 531 in this group. I shall therefore refrain from commenting on those.

Lord Dixon-Smith

My Lords, we have had an interesting discussion. In relation to my amendments I say this to the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis. I am not sure whether he has been present each time we have discussed this, but not least of the reasons for tabling what might be called "foolish" questions is that it forces the Minister to think. I pay the Minister this compliment. He has strengthened his arguments in favour of his position considerably since we first raised the matter. That is the justification for the procedures of this House.

I shall study with interest the Minister's comments. He definitely strengthened his argument. I doubt that the two of us will ever be in complete agreement on these matters, but in the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 529 to 529D not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 529E:

Page 151, line 16, at end insert— ("(12) Proposed members of the London Development Agency shall complete a declaration detailing their business interests, whether he has been made bankrupt, been a party to a voluntary arrangement, whether there are any judgements against him. whether he has been convicted of any offence involving fraud or dishonesty or an offence under legislation (whether or not of the United Kingdom) relating to companies (including insider dealing), building societies, banking or other financial services, or if he has been disqualified as a director or of any other material information, and this declaration should be publicly available for inspection one month before appointment."").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 529E seeks to put into the Bill a subject which produced quite a bit of interest when we were dealing with this matter at the Committee stage. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, joined me, and the amendments not spoken to in the previous grouping touch on this matter. No one who works for a public limited company would be unfamiliar with the provisions in either of these amendments. They are both directed to achieve the same purpose but would do so in different ways. Amendment No. 529E seeks to insert a provision into Clause 263 and Amendment No. 534 would make an addition to Schedule 20.

As I said, any businessman who is working in a plc will, if he is a director of that company, have to make a declaration of probity. It is an entirely reasonable and accepted procedure which any businessman would not think about for one moment; indeed, he would expect to have to comply with it. Of course, some of the businessmen who will serve on the London Development Agency have already signed this declaration, but they will have signed it for someone else. I do not think that it is unreasonable that they might have to make the declaration for the mayor—in fact, not for the mayor, but for the people of London. The LDA is not there for the amusement of its members, still less is it there for the gratification of the ambitions of the mayor. It is there to serve the people of London.

It would gratify me enormously if the Minister could find it in his heart to accept one or the other of these amendments. I believe both of them to be sensible, but I do not expect both to succeed. The principle is absolutely correct. Although I admit that we have returned to a matter which we debated thoroughly in Committee, I think it is an important matter and that these two amendments deserve sympathetic consideration by the Government. I beg to move.

Lord Clement-Jones

My Lords, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 530 and 531. As the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, has no doubt noted, it is no coincidence that the amendment from these Benches is identical to Amendment No. 529E in many respects. Indeed, we were certainly not alone in Committee in finding the Government's reply unsatisfactory regarding the nature and the way in which interests were to be declared with regard to the LDA.

In her reply in Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, seemed to imply that the provisions in the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 were satisfactory. However, I suggest to her that paragraph 8 of the second schedule to that Act, which I believe is the part of the legislation that she referred to as requiring declarations of interest, is really unsatisfactory and is certainly in no way comparable to the provision suggested by these amendments. The paragraph in that schedule deals only with ad hoc disclosures and not with general disclosures, which are then fully published. We debated the Food Standards Bill in the Moses Room last week. There are proper provisions in that legislation for declarations of interest and their publication. That is the right thing to do for a public agency. In our view, the LDA should be treated no differently.

We have tabled Amendment No. 531 which can be treated as either additional or alternative to Amendment No. 530. Indeed, the matter might be best dealt with by incorporating, as it seeks to do, Clause 55 of the Bill into the Regional Development Agencies Act. That clause currently applies only to the mayor, the assembly members and the staff of the authority. The amendment is designed to incorporate Clause 55 into the Regional Development Agencies Act so that the provision would also apply to members of the LDA. It deals inter alia with disclosure and registration of interests, the exercise of functions when there are conflicts of interest and, the prescription of model codes of conduct". All that could be properly applied to members of the LDA.

As the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, pointed out, and as was quite clearly stated by the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, in Committee—who, after all, must have filled in a great many application forms to the Stock Exchange over a course of time—such declarations are the sort of thing that businessmen do every day as a matter of course. It really is time for the Government to accept that a much more comprehensive declaration of interest is required by members of the LDA under the terms of the Bill. They should be subject to a proper duty to make declarations. I very much hope that the Government will reconsider the matter.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, I have some sympathy with the propositions in these particular amendments. I just wonder whether it is all a little too complicated, but no doubt my noble friend the Minister will enlighten us. There is one advantage that I see in a declaration; namely, that if someone signs a declaration which is false, it would open up the possibility of a prosecution for perjury. To that end, there would be an additional sanction available which, as I understand it, would not be available if the concept of a declaration is rejected. I may be wrong in that respect, so I shall certainly listen to my noble friend's response with care.

It seems to me to be important to inject into this argument the possibility of a criminal sanction which might follow in what is a matter of very important public duty. I simply put that idea forward for my noble friend to consider in her response to this debate.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, Amendments Nos. 529E and 534B, together with Amendments Nos. 530 and 531 which were originally in the previous grouping, would require proposed members of the LDA board to complete a declaration covering certain issues which might render them unsuitable to serve on that board. Those issues would include bankruptcy, fraud, dishonesty, offences under the Companies Acts and similar legislation, and disqualification as a director. The declaration must be publicly available for one month before appointment.

The noble Lord has raised an important issue. I am pleased to have the opportunity to debate the matter with him again. Perhaps I may begin by stressing that we fully accept the need to avoid conflicts of interest and the need for high ethical standards. However, conflicts of interest are prevented by Schedule 2 to the Regional Development Agencies Act—this deals with one of the points raised by the noble Lord—which requires members to declare interests in matters being discussed and prevents such members from taking part in decisions in which they have an interest. Ethical standards are protected in part by the power of the mayor to remove members who become bankrupt and by the imposition of the local government framework of controls, including oversight by the Audit Commission and the appointment of a chief finance officer with statutory duties to ensure financial propriety. Therefore, we are convinced that there is no case for further controls in that area.

I can understand noble Lords seeking to argue that it is best to err on the side of caution, but we have another difficulty with the proposed amendments. We firmly believe that the approach suggested by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Nolan—with its emphasis on avoiding the rigidity introduced by trying to define standards in statute—is the right one. The amendment proposed would cut across that policy. We accept that the amendment essentially covers Stock Exchange practice for directors of plcs, but I am advised that that practice does not have a statutory basis, thus supporting the view that statute is not the best vehicle for such matters.

Finally, I should point out that the mayor with his or her powers of appointment and extensive powers of direction over the LDA is able to apply such extra safeguards as she or he sees fit. Our policy is not to add unnecessary constraints on the mayor's freedom of action. He or she is, in the last analysis, answerable to the voters for stewardship of the authority and functional bodies. It is not clear that a false declaration would inevitably in all circumstances—I am sure noble Lords are aware that I am being cautious—lead to perjury; it would depend on the status of such action. I prefer to write to clarify the point in greater detail if that is necessary.

As regards the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, Amendment No. 530 requires proposed members to complete a declaration covering bankruptcy and certain related matters. However I believe that I have covered that point. I hope that noble Lords will feel that to achieve the aims which we share it is not necessary to proceed with the amendments.

Lord Clement-Jones

My Lords, the noble Baroness mentioned paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 to the Regional Development Agencies Act. Clearly her view is that that is entirely satisfactory even though it is not as widely drawn as the amendments. What are the publicity requirements under paragraph 8 of Schedule 2?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, I am not aware that there are publicity requirements in those circumstances but that does not in, my way detract from the strength of the constraint as regards ethical practice in making such appointments.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, I did not quite follow the argument about false declarations. If someone is required, as here, to make a declaration and, let us say, a declaration is made that that person has not been bankrupt, or rather he or she does not declare that he has been bankrupt, in almost all the circumstances—although I can see one or two areas where that may not apply—why should not the Government say that it is desirable that the declaration should be made and if it is breached the criminal sanction is available certainly as regards some of the concepts that we are discussing? Would that not be a useful sanction?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, it is my understanding that the requirement to act within the ethical framework in the terms laid down in the legislation, and in the circumstances of requiring a declaration, for example on bankruptcy, is covered in exactly the way that my noble friend seeks. I was being cautious and offering to write to the noble Lord if he had further questions on that matter. I am assured that the answer I gave was correct.

Lord Dixon-Smith

My Lords, when one stands at the Dispatch Box on this side of the House one does not have great expectation of an occasional triumph when the Government agree to a measure. However, I draw some encouragement from the fact that debate on the procedures and detail of the Greater London Authority, the mayor and the subsidiary bodies will almost certainly in the initial stages of the working of that authority be material which they will find useful if not absolutely essential. I am glad that I initiated this debate. I shall study the comments of the noble Baroness with care and attention, as always. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 530 and 531 not moved.]

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne)

My Lords, if Amendment No. 531A were to be agreed to, I should not be able to call Amendment No. 532 because of pre-emption. I now call Amendment No. 531A.

Clause 264 [Delegation of functions by Ministers to the Mayor]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 531A: Page 151, line 23, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we think that the way in which the legislation is drafted gives too much power to the mayor with regard to the London Development Agency. In Section 6 of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 the Secretary of State delegates power to the regional development agencies. However, the effect of Clause 264(2) of this Bill is that delegated powers are given to the mayor and not to what is in effect the regional development agency. Therefore the mayor is in effect the London Development Agency. We think that that is too strong a power. I do not suppose that the Minister will agree with us but we thought it was worth putting this down once again as a marker. I beg to move.

Lord Clement-Jones

My Lords, by the same token I do not expect miracles from the Minister's reply. Amendment No. 532 seeks further clarification as to the extent of the delegation to the London Development Agency on the part of the Secretary of State. In Committee the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, made it clear that the Government intended to transfer the property, rights and liabilities of English Partnerships to the LDA. We certainly welcome that and we trust that the Minister will give that assurance today. That is the first of the four limbs of the delegations that we seek to examine.

The second delegation that we seek from the Secretary of State regards selective financial assistance under Section 7 of the Industrial Development Act 1982. As regards those powers in relation to assisted areas, the noble Baroness said that the Government had decided that that should be reserved for Ministers for the present. However, she gave no reasons for that. Surely these are a vital component of any regeneration strategy to be adopted by the authority. It is not clear from the noble Baroness's reply whether, if the present is not the right time, when will be the right time. Why is now not the right time?

As regards the third limb, EU structural funds, the noble Baroness was even less forthcoming. She said that because the LDA will be a recipient it would be inappropriate for it to allocate such funds. I wonder whether the Minister can go into further detail as to why that should be the case. After all, if it receives just a part of the cake it could easily be responsible for allocating the remainder of the cake. That matter could be clarified. Again it is an important part of any regeneration strategy.

Finally, as regards allocation of the single regeneration budget, because of some confusion over groupings in Committee the Minister's reply was not very clear when one examines Hansard, although she seemed to imply that SRB funding responsibility would be delegated to the LDA. If that is the case, obviously we welcome it. However, we seek clarification in all those areas and in any other areas of delegation that the Minister may care to comment upon.

6.30 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, I am a little hurt. The noble Lords, Lord Dixon-Smith, and Lord Clement-Jones, seem to imply that we on these Benches have not listened to anything and have never responded positively to any point raised. That would be a tragic note to leave on record in the light of the reasonable approach we have taken.

Amendment No. 531A would ensure that Ministers could only delegate economic development functions under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 to the LDA, and not to the mayor, and that the mayor's consent would not be required for this. I should explain that Section 6 of the RDA Act provides for the delegation of certain functions by Ministers to RDAs, as noble Lords have said, and it lays down the conditions under which such delegations can be made, varied and revoked.

Clause 264 amends Section 6 so that a Minister may delegate any eligible function to the mayor or, with the mayor's consent, to the LDA. The present intention is to make such delegations on the same terms as delegations to RDAs outside London, which includes making the delegation subject to such conditions as the Minister sees fit. Any such delegated function can be further delegated by the mayor to the LDA under Clause 31 of the Bill. However, if it is delegated to the LDA in this way, the mayor is obliged to attach conditions to the delegation to ensure that the conditions attached by the Minister to the original delegation are fully satisfied. As we made clear in the White Paper, the LDA will be an executive arm of the mayor. If Ministers were able to delegate functions to the LDA against the wishes of the mayor, that would undermine the close working relationship which we intend for the mayor and the LDA.

Amendment No. 532 seeks to delegate to the LDA a miscellany of functions and funding regimes. The first of these is already provided for in Section 36 of the RDA Act. This allows the Secretary of State to direct the Urban Regeneration Agency to transfer to RDAs appropriate properties, rights and liabilities as a consequence of the RDA carrying out the functions of the URA in its regions. For example, the English Partnership assets in London—except for the Dome and possibly some property close to it—will transfer to the LDA. I can assure the noble Lord that we intend to make such a transfer to the LDA—together with the transfer of property, rights and liabilities—when the LDA is established.

As the noble Lord recognises, the second function would go beyond those delegated to other RDAs and, as has been acknowledged, this was fully debated during the passage of the RDA Bill before finally being rejected. Assisted areas define where government can give specified financial support to industries. We have decided that this should be reserved for Ministers as at present.

I have seen too many Ministers at the Dispatch Box get drawn into answering questions such as "How long is 'possibly soon'?"; "How long is 'sooner'?"; "How long is 'very quickly'?"; "How long is 'at some stage in the future'?"; and "If so, when?" to realise that that would not be a wise course to follow. However, I should make it absolutely clear that RDAs will have an important role in advising on applications for assistance.

Perhaps I may respond to a specific question from the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. Assisted areas are a matter of national policy dealing with the relative competitiveness of different parts of the country and within the EU. It is clearly right that this should remain with the national government. If the noble Lord requires any further expansion on the subject, I shall of course write to him.

The third function would allow Ministers to delegate to the LDA the administration of the structural funds currently carried out by the Government Office for London. Like RDAs elsewhere, as the noble Lord recognised, the LDA is likely to be a recipient of structural funds. It could lead to conflict with other recipients were there to be a role for it in overall administration.

The fourth function would specify that the single regeneration budget in London should be delegated to the LDA. We have already committed ourselves to this, but the delegation will be made to the mayor unless he or she consents to a delegation directly to the LDA.

These are funding programmes that naturally evolve over time, and it would not be appropriate to identify functions for the purposes of the Bill by referring in detail to such programmes. I hope that noble Lords will feel able to withdraw their amendments.

Lord Dixon-Smith

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her response. I hasten to reassure her that we do not regard the Government as wholly immovable. Often, it is very difficult see when a concession is a concession. Sometimes one has to study the wording to find whether it is a concession, or sometimes the concession comes along later. I readily acknowledge that during the passage of the Bill there has been quite a lot of movement. Undoubtedly, some of that movement has come partly as a result of the Government's studies of the flaws in, or omissions from, the original drafting, and some has come as a consequence of the pressure applied by ourselves and noble Lords sitting to my right. That is the purpose of our debates.

I heard with great interest what the noble Baroness said. I shall study her remarks. In the meantime I seek leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 532 not moved.]

Clause 265 [The London Development Agency strategy]:

Lord Dixon-Smith had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 532A: Page 152, line 11, leave out from beginning to ("a") in line 12 and insert ("submit to the Mayor, the Assembly, the London boroughs and the Common Council of the City of London").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 532A to 532J constitute a large group of amendments which deal with matters that we have fairly thoroughly debated. Dare I say it, from the responses of the Minister today, I do not think we will get a great deal of movement on them now. Therefore I feel it is perhaps unnecessary to trouble your Lordships by taking the House painfully through them again.

[Amendment No. 532A not moved.]

[Amendment Nos. 532B to 532J not moved.]

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne)

My Lords, I call Amendment No. 5340. The Question is that the amendment be agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will forgive me. I think inadvertently he has taken two pages of the Marshalled List together. The next amendment is Amendment No. 533.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 533: Page 153, line 1, at end insert— ("( ) In this Act and the Greater London Authority Act 1999, references to the London Development Agency strategy include, except where the context otherwise requires, a reference to the London Development Agency strategy as revised.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 533A: After Clause 268, insert the following new clause—