§ Mr. Simon Hughes
I beg to move amendment No. 16, in clause 2, page 1, line 15, after 'of, insert 'Greater'.
§ The Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Alan Haselhurst)
With this, it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 17, in clause 2, page 2, line 1, after 'the', insert 'Greater'.
§ Mr. Hughes
Although this will be a relatively short debate, it raises an issue about which people ask a very simple question. If we are setting up under the Greater London Authority Bill the Greater London authority, why do we not call the mayor the Greater London mayor and the assembly the Greater London assembly? That is not just a technical question. The logic behind the debate on clause 1 stand part was that we are creating unique, citywide Greater London government. But, there is an historical legacy of a problem of description and understanding.
I should like to put on the record that I was treated by the Lord Mayor of London to a very nice lunch. He invited members of all parties to the Mansion house following his election. We all happily responded and discussed matters with him.
Over recent years, the City of London has argued very strongly for its continuing existence. Over the past 10 years, I think that it has persuaded virtually all hon. Members that it is effectively a business district, like those in Melbourne, Sydney and the like, and that, although it is an anomalous local authority, it nevertheless ought to continue to exist. I and my hon. Friends accept that.
The City has accepted, however, that it must revamp its structures to create modernised city government. It has this very year presented to Parliament a Bill in order to do so, which we shall debate another time. 729 My hon. Friends and I want the Bill to go further than the City has proposed, although at least it will extend the franchise beyond the 5,000 people who live in the City and are registered to vote.
Just to show how anomalous the situation is—I shall not elaborate—I am entitled to vote in the City because I am still a member of the chambers in the Temple from which I practised as a barrister before I was elected. As a tenant of those chambers, which is outside the City and a separate microcosm of government, I can elect ward councillors who govern the Temple.
§ Mr. Hughes
Indeed. Such an anomaly needs to be considered.
There are greater anomalies, too. Traditionally, although there has been no legal bar to women being promoted to the highest office, it has somehow not happened very often. There are other issues, such as recognising the right to participate of all who work in the City, from the big firms to the small traders—newsagents and so on.
The City needs to reform its structures, which it has started to do. I pay tribute to the present leader of the City council, Judith Mayhew, and her predecessor, who with their colleagues have started that process.
If one went round the world and asked people about London, the pictures that would come to mind are not images of new Britannia and rule Britannia, but the old images. They include, I am happy to say, Tower bridge, half of which is in my constituency, and the Tower of London, St. Paul's cathedral, and the Lord Mayor of London.
London has two cities. One of the representatives of the other city is present in the Chamber with us—the City of Westminster, where we sit. It has been argued that London should have three cities, and that Southwark, the other great early part of London, should be recognised. I am serious about that, and I hope that before long Southwark will be given city status too.
However, those are local government cities. The Cities of London and of Westminster have lord mayors, whereas the rest of the boroughs, including Southwark at present, have mayors. If the office of Lord Mayor of London is to continue—the City has no reason to change that, and there would be no logic to doing so—there will obviously be confusion from next year between the Lord Mayor of London and the mayor of London.
Around the country, people do not usually know whether someone is a lord mayor or a mayor. The mayors of Southwark are often called lord mayors, but they are not. People do not remember which cities and local authorities have mayors, and which have lord mayors. We know that there is to be an election for a mayor in London. Why do we not call the new postholder the mayor of Greater London? That would avoid confusion with the Lord Mayor of London, who will continue to be elected by the City—by more modern democratic procedures, one hopes. The title that I propose for the new mayor would make it clear that that person spoke on behalf of Greater London.
730 As the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Horam) observed, there will be a difference between the mayor of London, under my proposal, and the mayor of Paris, for example. The mayor of Paris is the mayor not of greater Paris, but of the inner part of Paris, whereas the new London mayor will be the mayor of the area covered by the Euro-region, the citywide area, the 33 local authorities of Greater London. It would be no bad thing to change the name, avoid confusion and give the office holder a correct job description.
§ Mr. John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington)
As the hon. Gentleman raised the matter of the City Corporation, I did not want to miss the opportunity of passing a message back. One way of avoiding confusion would be to abolish the City Corporation. The proposals for reform promoted by the City Corporation are so feeble that they require extensive redrafting before they will satisfy the House.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Gentleman properly raises two issues. The first is whether the City of London should be abolished as a local authority area. I have been persuaded that it should stay.
On the second point, I join the hon. Gentleman. I am not satisfied that the proposals represent a reform of the City structures that would make it a democratically elected local authority for a business district. The City has begun that process, but it has been timid, and I want it to be braver. I hope that when the House deals with the matter, we will say that and the City will accept it. We may have a battle to persuade the City to withdraw its proposals and produce others. I share the hon. Gentleman's view, and I hope that we can agree in future.
The logic of the amendments extends to the assembly. The Government rejoice in the fact that some members of the assembly will have constituency interests. The Minister for London and Construction rightly announced today that the Government have accepted the recommendations of the boundary commissioners. Had he announced that the Government had not accepted those recommendations, there would have been trouble. We shall return to the fact that the Bill gives great powers to the Secretary of State, including the power to draw the boundaries. We think that that power should be taken away from Secretaries of State and given to independent boundary commissions. There is a top-up list of members who will represent London as a whole, and the logic is that they represent Greater London, not simply part of London. Therefore, there is a strong case for the name to be changed so that they and the assembly have an accurate job description.
§ Sir Sydney Chapman
The hon. Gentleman referred to the Lord Mayors of the cities of London and Westminster. We are to create a mayor of London who, he says, should be called the mayor of Greater London. Is it not slightly demeaning that the mayor of this new, quasi-regional authority, representing the greatest city in the world, should have as its head, only a mayor, not a lord mayor?
§ Mr. Hughes
We are getting into an interesting constitutional corner here. I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. In 1999, on the eve of a new millennium, to call people in high office lords all the time is a bit out-dated. We have moved on. I am serious 731 about that. We need a less deferential society where the senior citizen, whether elected directly or indirectly, is the mayor. We should get rid of the word lord from the title of Lord Mayor, not just in London but around the country. We have an unusual conjunction. The cities of London and Westminster both have lord mayors, so the obvious way forward is to make this other person the mayor of Greater London.
My last point, which the hon. Gentleman or someone else might have intervened to make, is a technical, "I am cleverer than you", point. It could be argued that, as there is no London assembly, we do not need to call the assembly the Greater London assembly to differentiate it.
The Minister for London and Construction has no doubt been briefed to reply. [Interruption.] I understand that the Minister for Transport in London is to respond. I rejoice at the breadth and variety of the ministerial team, and the Whip, who will never be forgotten.
I should like the Minister to do what I have seen her do once before in the House, which is to stand up, put aside her briefing notes, speak from the heart and use her intellectual powers to respond to the proposition, the case for which is so overwhelming that I hope that she will accept it. I make it quietly, generously and, I hope, persuasively. Let us have a mayor of Greater London and a Greater London assembly, and leave the cities to have their lord mayors for us long as that title remains unreformed.
§ The Minister for Transport in London (Ms Glenda Jackson)
If I do not respond from my heart, it is not because the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) has not played his usual emotive cards.
I join the hon. Gentleman, as do the Government, in welcoming the moves that the City is making in democratising its institutions. I am second to none in my admiration for Judith Mayhew, who is not only a remarkable woman but is doing a remarkably effective job where she is.
There may be confusion between the title of mayor of London and Lord Mayor of London for visitors to these islands. It has been my experience that, when such visitors refer to the Lord Mayor of London, they inevitably presuppose that his name is Dick Whittington and that he is accompanied everywhere that he goes by a black cat.
Inasmuch as the Lord Mayor presents a glorious figurehead, there is an enormous benefit to the City of London. We are none of us in any doubt about the importance of the City of London, as one of the most dynamic financial centres in the world, to the economy of these islands. But there is no relationship whatever between the job of lord mayor and what we are proposing by way of a directly elected mayor and a directly elected assembly for London.
I was somewhat disappointed that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey harked back to previous debates. As my hon. Friend the Minister for London and Construction has already had occasion to say, ours is the only major capital city in the world that does not have an elected authority.
Our proposals—I am delighted to blight the hopes of the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth)—were supported by a majority of those who 732 voted in the referendum, in every London borough, including his own. They will provide the people of London with what we promised in our manifesto and what they voted for—a directly elected mayor of London and a London assembly.
We are in the process of modernising the government of the capital and giving power to the people of London, and they are most certainly not fools. They know what they voted for and what we mean by "mayor of London" and "London assembly"; they know what "London" means. They are not concerned with labels, but with whether the Greater London authority will improve London's transport, enhance the capital's prosperity and make London a safer, healthier place in which to work and live.
The people of London are also concerned about whether the GLA will have the powers to achieve those objectives. I do not believe that any useful purpose—
§ The Chairman
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the Minister, but her arguments are going a little wide of the amendment, which is simply about the title of mayor. Her arguments seem to be more relevant to our previous debate.
§ Ms Jackson
I am grateful for your advice, Sir Alan.
Central to my argument is the belief that no purpose would be served by—indeed, there is no justification for—changing the titles of either the mayor of London or the London assembly. In the circumstances, I ask the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey to withdraw the amendment.
§ Mr. Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington)
I am afraid that I am not entirely happy with the Minister's response and therefore stress again the importance of amendments Nos. 16 and 17. As well as clarifying the difference between mayor and lord mayor, the amendments would ensure that there is no doubt that the mayor and the assembly will represent not only the interests of inner-city areas, but suburban London boroughs and suburban London constituencies such as mine.
The right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) may not want his constituency to be part of a Greater London construct; I want my constituency to be part of that, and so do my constituents. A few weeks ago, I conducted a survey of rail commuters in the constituency. My constituents commute in their thousands up to Victoria or London Bridge stations and they want the mayor and the assembly to take as much account of their transport and other needs as the needs of residents in inner-city areas such as Southwark or Islington.
Making it crystal clear that the mayor is the mayor of Greater London and the London assembly is the Greater London assembly would reassure my constituents that their interests will not be forgotten and that their concerns—about deteriorating train services, for example—will not be sidelined by other, equally pressing, inner-city problems. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will consider the amendments a little more favourably.
§ Ms Jackson
I am somewhat surprised that the hon. Gentleman does not seem to be aware that the Greater London authority will comprise the mayor and the 733 London assembly. I do not believe that the people of London are incapable of understanding what is meant by "mayor of London" or "the assembly". His fear that the concerns of his constituents, or those of the constituents of any hon. Member representing a London constituency, will be sidelined has been answered by our proposals in respect of the constituencies. The constituencies will have directly elected representatives and the parties' percentage of the vote will be reflected in the 11 members who will be elected to the assembly by the list system.
I return the point that I made earlier, and I am sorry that the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) did not afford it the weight that it carries: the people of London are not fools. They have been actively campaigning for the type of government which we made it abundantly clear we would give them. Hopefully, we are in the process of delivering that. They are not confused about what is meant by the "mayor of London" or the "assembly". I trust that, having heard me repeat it, the hon. Gentleman will agree with my previous request to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey that the amendment be withdrawn.
§ 5 pm
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
It was worth raising this issue, and 1 heard what the Minister said in both her brief answers. There is no confusion at the moment because those people do not yet exist. They will exist only from May next year. From that date, a lord mayor may be visiting one country while the mayor of London visits another.
I understand that the Government have drafted the Bill and do not want to concede this point, and I was not expecting an immediate concession. I am generous and understand how these things work, so I shall allow the Government time to reflect on this matter.
§ Mr. Hughes
That was a provocative remark. The Labour party is often slow to reach the right decision. I have learnt that over many years. I have waited a long time for realisation about the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and constitutional reform. We know that with Labour we wait a long time. People in the health service are waiting a long time, too. I shall not stray too far from the subject, Sir Alan, but the Minister tempted me to do so.
I hope that the Government will reflect on this matter in the time that it takes us to complete the Committee stage. We may return to it later, but in the interim I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Ottaway
I beg to move amendment No. 60, in clause 2, page 1, line 15, at end insert—'(aa) the Deputy Mayor'.
§ The Chairman
With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 61, in clause 2, page 2, line 13, after 'Mayor', insert ', the Deputy Mayor'.
No. 62, in clause 2, page 2, line 15, after 'Mayor', insert ', the Deputy Mayor'.
734 No. 63, in clause 2, page 2, line 20, after 'Mayor', insert 'and Deputy Mayor'.
No. 64, in clause 2, page 2, line 23, after 'Mayor', insert `, the Deputy Mayor'.
§ Mr. Ottaway
It is important that the role of deputy mayor be more clearly defined and that it be independent of the assembly. The deputy mayor should not be a member of the assembly and a running mate of the mayor, elected on the same ticket. Clause 41 makes it clear that the deputy mayor has a significant role to play in the life of the authority, and that is repeated throughout the Bill. The Bill provides that he or she will be appointed by the mayor from the ranks of the assembly. That muddies the waters.
One of the more interesting experiments being conducted under the Bill is that, for the first time in the United Kingdom, the powers of the Executive are separated from those of the legislature. That is a huge change in our constitution and a principle that deserves the closest possible scrutiny. The separation of powers must be a true separation and be properly defined.
Elections will take place and party candidates for the assembly will campaign on their own manifesto, which may differ in many respects from that of the mayor. The mayor will have his mandate and policies, and the power to implement them. The assembly's role is to scrutinise the exercise of that power and, to the limited extent permitted under the Bill, to support the mayor or exercise a check on matters with which it disagrees. Those checks and balances are an essential ingredient of the separation of powers.
We, and constitutionists throughout the country, will watch closely to see how the division of power works. We shall want to see whether such a model may be more widely introduced. It is extremely important for that reason alone. However, the provisions of clause 41—that the deputy mayor will be chosen from the ranks of the assembly—muddy the water and put the deputy mayor in a position of fundamental conflict. On the one hand, he will be obliged to scrutinise the mayor's activities and, on the other, he will be expected to be loyal to the mayor in the performance of his executive powers. He cannot be expected to perform an executive function while turning around and assessing or commenting on his own performance.
I anticipate that the Minister will say that the position of deputy mayor will be no different from his position as a Minister in the House of Commons. However, there is all the difference in the world. The Minister's boss is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister appoints him, and he reports to the Prime Minister through his Secretary of State. The Minister was elected on the same manifesto as the Prime Minister. His mandate is no lesser or greater than the Prime Minister's, and the Prime Minister derives his authority not only from his party, but from the House. Under the strict constitutional definition of the post of Prime Minister, he is the man who can command a majority in the House of Commons.
The mayor of London will have his own mandate and his own executive powers, and he will derive no authority from the assembly. The very point of the assembly is to keep the mayor in check and to scrutinise the mayor, so the potential for conflict is clear. It is not possible to straddle the gap between the two. The power to appoint 735 the deputy mayor from the assembly gives the mayor unacceptable patronage. Every member of the ruling coalition will know that the deputy mayor can be sacked at the mayor's whim, and any one of them could take his place. In an assembly in which only 13 votes make up a majority, it would be pretty easy to keep those members in line, because they would live in hope of becoming deputy mayor.
Our second reason for opposing the Government's proposals is that, as the deputy mayor will perform many of the mayor's functions, the public should know at the time of the election who the deputy mayor will be. We believe that he should run on a joint ticket with the candidate for mayor, so that it would be clear to all voters who he is, what his background is and what skills he would bring to the job. That would make the process clear, transparent and accountable.
That leads me to my third point. Our amendments would enable a business man to bring his commercial skills to the authority. Much has been made of the possibility of a business man running for the post of mayor. I have spoken to a number of business men about that in the past six months, but most of them shy away from the suggestion. The reason is clear. Believe it or not, to be a politician requires certain skills. They are not normal skills associated with normal behaviour, and some people find them easier than others. Such people are rarely business men. Many politicians have no business skills. We propose a formula that would allow an experienced politician to run as mayor with a business man as his deputy. There may be other combinations, but that would be a sensible package for any party to put forward. They would complement each other in a way that would benefit the authority and London as a whole.
There are two lesser reasons for the separation of roles, which are none the less relevant. First, members of the assembly will be busy enough without one of them having to take on the extra duties of deputy mayor. Pressures on the mayor and his deputy will be substantial. The deputy mayor will have little time to perform his role as an assembly man as well. Secondly, under our proposals, in the event of the mayor's incapacity, the deputy mayor would become the mayor, having already been endorsed by the public. To us, that is a particularly important point.
When the new authority is established, the pressure on the mayor and the mayor's office will be enormous. The Government are falling into the trap of making Londoners believe that the mayor will be the be-all and end-all of their problems. The pressure on him will be substantial, and the role of deputy mayor will be equally important. He will be a buffer, a voice, a wielder of executive power, and he should be independent of those whose job it is to scrutinise his role.
Those who have thought about how the mayor will operate will realise that there is merit in the amendments. I urge the Government to give them serious consideration.
§ Mr. Ken Livingstone (Brent, East)
The previous speech—although it came from a representative of all the forces of evil and darkness in our society—had a lot of merit. It was consistent and coherent. The Government are importing to Britain an American style of government, with the separation of the legislature and the Executive. 736 In America, the President and Vice-President run as a team, and there are real advantages for my party in listening to that argument.
Given the nature of the way in which this place operates, we will not be told tonight that the amendment can be accepted. However, as the Bill is debated here and in another place over the next few months, there is every possibility that my party could be persuaded to see the strong advantages in the Conservative proposals.
In the first place, it would be wholly wrong for someone to run as mayor without saying whom they intend to appoint as deputy. Suppose I were to run as a new Labour candidate, opposed to tax-and-spend and in favour of bombing Iraq—all the normal package. If, having been elected mayor—if that were possible on such a slate—I appointed as my deputy some horrendous old Labour candidate, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell), people would feel cheated. At the very least, every party should make clear who the deputy will be.
The deputy's position will be one of power and influence. The Bill implies clearly that the deputy mayor will chair the police authority—although that is not 100 per cent. certain—and that is a major and important public role. No one should have to cast a vote without being absolutely clear whom the mayor intends to appoint as deputy. It would be bizarre if an American President were elected and announced afterwards that he was appointing someone about whom the public were completely in the dark.
§ Mr. Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton)
If memory serves me correctly, the hon. Gentleman became leader of the Greater London council without the people of London knowing that he would become the leader.
§ Mr. Livingstone
If the hon. Gentleman had been around in London at the time, he would know that the Evening Standard made clear what was to happen virtually every day throughout the election campaign. On the day before the election, an entire front page editorial said that, if you vote Labour, you will get Ken Livingstone. Everyone then expressed surprise when that wonderful event came to pass. As far as I recall, the only Londoner who was surprised was Andrew McIntosh.
§ Mr. Livingstone
Under the present proposal, we could have a bizarre situation. If the mayor were to die in office, or resign, the deputy mayor would take over and, within six months, an election would be held to fill the post permanently. However, if that death occurred 18 months before the general election, a fairly lengthy selection and election process would be followed almost immediately by the normal four-yearly election. Therefore, asking Londoners to vote for a ticket—a mayor and a deputy—knowing that, if the mayor is incapacitated, they will get the deputy, seems to be eminently more sensible.
When the Conservative party announced the proposal, I heard on the radio my party's initial reaction, which was to say that the proposal could not work because the deputy might get more votes than the mayor. Clearly, if two different votes were cast, that could be possible—but that 737 is not a sensible approach. There should be one vote and, on the ballot paper, there should be the name of the mayor and the mayor's chosen deputy.
During the American presidential election of 1800, the vice-presidential candidate, Aaron Burr, received the same number of electoral college votes as Thomas Jefferson, and the issue had to be resolved in the House of Representatives. However, we can learn from that experience, and run—as the Americans have done ever since 1800—a joint slate of two names.
As the Bill is considered, we must look at the role of the deputy mayor. That matter will come up in later amendments, but there could be a problem if the mayor nominated the deputy mayor to be a member of the police authority with the understanding that he was to become chair. Unless the mayor can make that appointment, the members of the police authority, not elected by Londoners but appointed by the Home Secretary, could conspire to prevent it from happening. We must ensure that a powerful deputy mayor has a powerful role. There should be a clear understanding, even if it is not put into the Bill, that the deputy mayor should be the chairman of the police committee.
There would be a danger of members of the assembly keeping their nose clean with the mayor if there was the slightest possibility of their being chosen as deputy. Those of us with long experience in local government will know of many instances in which people have voted loyally for the party line, year after year, never dissenting, and have been rewarded with a year as mayor, with the allowance, drinks cupboard, nice meals and visits that go with the post. That certainly happened in Lambeth in the late 1960s when I was a discordant voice in the Labour party ranks.
The deputy mayor should be directly elected, not appointed from among assembly members. I am in agreement with almost all that has been said in support of the amendment, and I hope that my party will not reject it out of hand. Nothing undermines respect for politicians more than a knee-jerk rejection against an idea simply because it has come from our opponents.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
We, too, are grateful to the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) for initiating this debate. Like the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), I will not offer a knee-jerk reaction.
Let me remind the Committee of the history of the proposals so far.
§ Mr. Hughes
The history will be brief but instructive.
We started with no proposal for a deputy mayor. We, among others, sought to persuade the Government that it was important to have a deputy mayor, not least because the mayor could disappear, through death or other peradventure. We proposed, and still propose, that, because we cannot get what we most want—to have the mayor, as the leader of London politics, elected from the assembly, just as, in a slight variation because of the involvement of the monarch, Parliament allows the Prime Minister to be appointed—the deputy mayor should be chosen from among the assembly.
738 After some distillation in the Government machine, a counter-proposal was made to have a deputy mayor appointed by the mayor. That is progress, because we get a deputy, but it has the defect illustrated by the hon. Member for Brent, East: it is a patronage job. On the day after the election, the mayor looks round and decides, possibly without any prior notice to anybody, who will be the deputy. There is no suggestion that the mayor and deputy might reflect the balance of political view of the assembly, no guarantee that a female mayor would have a male deputy, to reflect London's gender balance, and no obligation to reflect London's ethnic mix.
The mayor might choose a best buddy as deputy. Some long-past political favour might be paid off. That is bad news, for the reason given by the hon. Members for Brent, East and for Croydon, South: the deputy is one step away from being the mayor. Who knows how long the mayor might survive, either politically or personally? The mayor might drop dead the day after election.
For however long or short a period, the deputy will have to carry out the functions of mayor, as well as having the important job of deputy while the mayor is still in post. He or she will deputise on a regular basis, and, with a small authority of only 25 members, there will be a lot of work for the mayor's office. It will be an important job, and we should think about how to fill it.
The Liberal Democrats cannot, without further development of the idea, support the proposal that a deputy should simply be elected on a single slate without any qualification. However, I accept that that proposal is a perfectly logical alternative, and the case has been put that a political mayor might have a non-political deputy. The reverse could arguably occur: in a press article some months ago, the Prime Minister said that he would like a business person to be mayor, and, if someone is plucked from the ranks of Labour supporters to fill the candidacy—just as Labour has plucked business people for other jobs—we could have a politician as deputy mayor.
There are flaws in the Conservative argument. To have two people elected on the same slate means a bit of a closed list. When the press spin on the Tory suggestion of electing a deputy at the same time as the mayor was first published, there was a hint that the deputy might not come from the same party as the mayor. There could be a mixed slate of—to pull an example from thin air—Lord Archer as the Tory mayoral candidate and the hon. Member for Brent, East as the candidate for deputy mayor. I do not think that any such deal has been struck, but who knows what might happen later in the campaign. We are not against that.
§ Mr. Hughes
I mean the idea, not the package: I should not want to tie the hon. Member for Brent, East to the idea that that was the dream team for any of us.
The idea of having a mayor and a deputy from different parties, or even of having one or other from no party at all, is rather appealing, and it is one of the prospects opened up by the new authority. It would be better, however, to advance as we propose, even if the Government do not go as far as the hon. Member for Croydon, South has proposed. On the day after the elections, it would be far better for the assembly to choose 739 who would provide an appropriate balance to the mayor than to have the choice preordained either by a deal struck before the election or by a secret deal revealed by the mayor after the election with a fanfare of trumpets.
If, for the sake of argument, Labour, which got the largest share of the vote at the last general election, wins the first mayoral election, and if the deputy is chosen from the assembly, which will probably be balanced with no party having an overall majority, it may be in the interests of the government of the whole of London not to have a deputy mayor who is Labour. A Conservative, Liberal Democrat, independent or even Green deputy mayor could help us to make London government look as if it represents all the people. One way in which to do that is not to offer London a government for five years in which the mayor, deputy and everything else will be Labour, but to offer something more pluralist. London is not a one-party state; indeed, no party has a majority since, as I got the Minister to concede some months ago, Labour did not even quite win a majority at the last elections in London. In the words of one of our previous leaders, "We're all minorities now," although some are larger than others.
The Government have been very good about wanting a pluralist, representative assembly for London. It should be representative of gender, age, background and ethnicity. It should feel like and look like a government for London, unlike Westminster, which does not feel like an assembly representative of Britain: although it is getting better, we are not there yet.
In another guise, Sir Alan, you are one of three Deputy Speakers. There is an argument for having more than one deputy mayor, and I ask colleagues to consider that. If we have only one deputy mayor, the job will be subject to the sort of political scurrying that the hon. Member for Brent, East described. The deputy mayor will be one step away from being the mayor. Given that we cannot have what the Liberal Democrats would prefer, which is the mayor being chosen from among the assembly, having two or three deputies would give a better political spread—one from each of the groupings that we would expect to be in the assembly—and the leadership of London would be more pluralistic.
Finally, I hope that the Government will reflect on the benefit of responding to the Conservative proposition, which is supported by the hon. Member for Brent, East, and will consider how we can best get such a mixed ticket. The danger of the current system is that there is no opportunity for a running mate. The mayoral candidate might be driven by the politics of the next 12 to 15 months to declare who will be his or her running mate, as deputy, but would have to presume that the electorate would vote in the proposed running mate, and none of us should presume that. The deputy has to come from the assembly and, although there is a list system and one can make various assumptions about the people at the top of the list, one should not assume that X or Y will be in the assembly. We need to consider all the associated issues.
I join the hon. Member for Brent, East in hoping that the Minister will not reject such a proposition out of hand. Above all, I hope that he will not reiterate the argument, which appears to be based on a misconception about what is proposed, that the deputy mayor might get more votes—I never realised that that happened in America 740 in 1800, but I do not remember studying that period in history. My understanding of the proposition was that it would be a package and that we would vote for the two—the two names would appear on the ballot paper together and would therefore have the same number of votes. It is not a question of the deputy getting more than the mayor; it is one package, two people.
I hope that the Minister will be generous and will at least open up the debate. Above all, the Liberal Democrats hope that, at the end of the further consideration, the Government will move 100 per cent. They have moved 50 per cent. of the way by conceding a deputy mayor, but have stopped at allowing him or her to be appointed by the mayor. If they move 100 per cent., so that the assembly chooses the deputy mayor, those whom the wider electorate of London have elected to represent the city will have a say in its leadership. Therefore, the leadership base will not be as narrow as it would be with only a directly elected mayor and the person whom she or he appoints.
§ Mr. Tony McNulty (Harrow, East)
At the risk of being as pedantic as the Liberal Democrats, let me say that I am confused by the amendments, not least because of the use of the comma. Amendments Nos. 60, 61, 62 and 64 all refer to "`, the Deputy Mayor"', whereas, given the introduction of the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) to amendment No. 63, they should read, "'and Deputy Mayor'".
The words, "mayor and deputy mayor" would lend themselves to the system described thus far, which would be run according to one ticket with two people on it—the mayor and the deputy mayor. However, the amendments would insert a comma and not an "and". To my tiny mind that suggests that there would be an election for the mayor, for the deputy mayor and so forth. I then run into difficulty because amendments Nos. 62 to 64 do not elaborate on what the election of the deputy mayor would entail.
We are considering four or five amendments that would insert "', the Deputy Mayor'", but do not suggest how he or she would be elected. That wording would merely add in the notion of a deputy mayor—as though one could suddenly drop out of the sky. Under the amendments, there would be no election for the deputy mayor; while the election of the mayor and candidates is detailed in schedule 2, references to the deputy mayor stop at clause 2. Perhaps the hon. Member for Croydon, South will pick that up.
As the amendment stands, we would have a sort of an unelected deputy mayor paratrooper—not elected on a ticket, not remotely associated with the assembly, the mayor's office or anything else—who falls from the sky. In the worst analysis, Lord Archer could be elected and say, for example,"I'll have Monica Coghlan as my deputy." Who knows? No election is suggested, so anything could happen. That may reflect my technical ignorance in not understanding the amendments but I suspect that I am right.
More generally, I want to scotch a notion. Here, and upstairs, things are lovely, convivial and consensual, and we all say that points are fair or legitimate. I want to scotch the idea that, given that we started from a point 741 way before the general election, the notion of a deputy mayor, whether or elected or not, is new and that the Conservatives in London, perish the thought, have lit upon this wonderful, novel idea. Hon. Members may say, "Let's not be hasty and throw it away immediately, let's be consensual and think about it because no one has thought of it before", but that is rubbish. Since the inception of the notion of a mayor, the question of whether there should be a deputy mayor and whether the post should be elected, appointed by patronage or whatever, has been discussed in our ranks and in everyone else's. The thought that the Conservatives could be novel enough to think of having a deputy mayor is rubbish. Hon. Members may plead with us not to throw out the amendments but that is abject nonsense.
Not every mayoral—as opposed to presidential—contest, in the United States involves a deputy mayor. Many United States cities have no deputy mayor. In others, one of the council members, in the narrow sense that they have council members, is nominally appointed deputy mayor and carries out mayoral functions as we understand them in London boroughs. It is not strictly an executive position. I strongly urge that we get rid of this proposal here and now without any consensual faffing. If it comes back in any shape or form we should get rid of it then, too.
As I said on Second Reading of the Greater London Authority (Referendum) Bill, the points made by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) about gender and ethnicity cannot be fully legislated for. They are, and remain, the responsibility of political parties. Points such as the balance of the ticket—when the mayor is a female, perhaps the deputy mayor should be male—should not be picked up in legislation. I do not dismiss those points, but they are the responsibility of political parties. The linkage between the deputy mayor and the mayor is designed, as I now understand it, precisely to provide the crucial link between the mayor and assembly. The deputy mayor is not only a deputy but a link.
On having more than one deputy mayor, the Bill deals with the chair and deputy chair of the assembly and how they will fit in with the deputy mayor and mayor. That is also important but it will be discussed later.
Not least because of the way that the assembly will be elected, I do not accept the idea that was discussed on Second Reading that we will effectively have two hermetically sealed little units: a mayor going off in one direction doing whatever he or she wants and the assembly doing all that it can to stop him or her. We are talking about a brand new architecture of governance for London, and the mayor especially and the assembly had better understand that. If they think that it is all about smoke-filled rooms in Charles square, Walworth road, Millbank and wherever the minority parties live these days, they have another thing coming. Sooner rather than later, the mayor and the assembly will sit down and talk about consensual, practical, productive and realistic politics so that London can go forward. It is not about patronage or about reinventing Mayor Daley in Chicago, or any other horror stories of a mayor—I nearly said Morrison, but I did not mean that—but about a brand-new system for the millennium.
I would have difficulty—as would the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey, I believe—if we stayed with the system set out in the Bill, because all the 742 mayoral candidates could say, "I will have so-and-so as my deputy mayor". That would be extremely presumptive, whether it was the top Tory, the top Liberal or the top Labour person on the list, or the Labour person in the safest of the 14 directly elected seats. That should not happen and I agree with the hon. Gentleman about that. However, the deputy mayor should be put in place as soon as possible after the election for mayor. One would hope that the second time around, or in subsequent elections, if the team of mayor and deputy mayor had been successful on behalf of London, or if there were opposition incumbents, there might well be election tickets, as envisaged by the amendments.
The amendment is a pale, washed-out blue herring, rather than a red herring—nevertheless, still a herring—and should be totally resisted. If we fully understand the new architecture of the governance of London as set out in the Bill, we see the amendment for what it is: purely and simply, a wrecking amendment, tabled by the hon. Member for Croydon, South, whether his constituency is in Kent, Surrey or Greater London.
§ Sir Sydney Chapman
At one point in our short debate, I felt descending on me the emotion of an unholy alliance across the Chamber. I can only say to the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) that I am always grateful for his interventions on this issue, because he brings a historical perspective to it. On Second Reading, he reminded us that it was the wicked but great Lord Salisbury who tried to remove the old London county council after it had been in existence for 10 years.
I am also pleased to follow the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) and later I shall refer to one of the points that he made. I can be brief because my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) has articulated many of my feelings about why the amendment should be accepted. I believe that there will be a conflict of interest if the deputy mayor, who is to be appointed solely by the mayor, is a member of the assembly.
My point is a simple one, and it is one that the Government seem to have recognised, because clause 41—I hope that I am not trespassing too far beyond clause 2—states that the mayor cannot appoint a deputy mayor who is the chairman of the assembly. I prefer to say chairman rather than chair, not only because I am old-fashioned and believe that the man embraces the woman, etymologically, but because my surname is Chapman and not Chap. The point is that the mayor cannot appoint the chairman of the assembly as deputy mayor, or rather, that he can, but, if he were to do so, the chairman would have to resign as chairman of the assembly. The remarks of the hon. Member for Harrow, East reminded me that it is not only one person from the assembly who cannot be the deputy mayor, but two people, because the deputy chairman of the assembly cannot remain in that position if he is appointed deputy mayor.
That makes a fairly wide invasion into, even if it does not drive a coach and horses through, the concept that was powerfully argued by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South and the hon. Member for Brent, East. Will the Government consider the matter seriously? On balance, I believe that it is a good idea that the deputy 743 mayor should be elected on the ticket for the mayoral election, rather than be appointed by the mayor from the elected members of the assembly.
§ Mr. Pound
There are moments in my albeit very short—and not likely to be extremely long—life in this place when, against my every instinct, I feel a scintilla of sympathy for the views expressed by the Liberal Democrats. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) occasionally makes a persuasive point. Today, he described a scenario in which the mayor was surrounded by a glittering constellation of deputy mayors, each and every one of whom represented another strand of Londoners. They were gathered almost inevitably in the millennium dome—because that is sure as hell the only place big enough to take them—and somehow they melded together in the interests of Londoners. That is despite the fact that an hour ago we were arguing about just where London is. If I have learned anything, it is that Bromley is clearly not in London-s-which is not a suggestion with which I have a great deal of trouble.
Unfortunately, listening to the argument that a thousand flowers will bloom and we will somehow link together, I was reminded—as I am sure were many other hon. Members—of the words of Ernest Bevin. He was an extremely wise and distinguished statesperson who once said, "If we had a little less democracy and a little more trust, we would get a lot more done." He was talking about what he described as "our great movement" that used to exist a few years ago.
We are talking about not some idealised internet scenario of the perfect, most democratic and most agonisingly painful representative voting system that ever existed in the solar system, but a practical system that will meet the needs of Londoners and our capital city. We are talking essentially about having a body that is smaller than the GLC, not about quadrupling its size and having sub-mayors from all over the place. I was a mayor of the London borough of Ealing—it is a period of Ealing civic history that is, oddly enough, seldom referred to in the history of that borough. However, I remember that period with great nostalgia—and not through a haze, it must be said. My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) seemed to reduce the deputy mayoral issue to scrabbling for the keys of the drinks cupboard.
We have three propositions before us that are plainly wrong. They are advanced by the two Opposition parties and, with the greatest respect, by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East. The reality is that Londoners have waited far too damn long and we cannot endure more of these pettifogging, pusillanimous discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin when there is work to be done. Our streets are choked with traffic and we must come to grips with many problems involving London's housing and environment. We have more important things to do than trying to work out the Southwark, North and Bermondsey model of ultimate democratic representation. It is simply not a valid use of our time.
I return to a point that I made earlier. Everybody accepts that we are talking about a different form of governance for this city. Nobody wants to recreate the London county council or the GLC. No one—with respect 744 to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty)—is talking about replicating Chicago of the 1950s. We are talking about a 21st century model for a 21st century city. That model will, by definition, be different. Let us judge the proposals tonight not by referring back but by looking forward to a slimline, tighter, more accountable and more controlled authority that will achieve for London. It is nonsense to suggest that having two elections for mayor and deputy mayor will further that objective. I suggest that that idea owes more to the Conservative party's need to accommodate internal strands of interest than to any attempt to reach a democratic conclusion.
§ Mr. Forth
For the avoidance of doubt—I am sure that the hon. Gentleman did not intend to imply this—I hope that he is not suggesting that we should abandon the entire Committee proceedings and legislative process because it is absurd to examine the details of the Bill and discuss possible changes to it. If he is, he appears to be falling into step with his leadership which has exactly that wish and which wants to do away with the legislative process in the House of Commons. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will reassure us in this early stage in the Committee's proceedings that he will allow us occasionally to discuss details of the Bill—and maybe even seek to amend it.
§ Mr. Pound
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his comments, and I assure you that that was not my intention, Sir Alan. We have before us a Bill of 277 clauses which deals with some of the most important aspects that will affect our lives as Londoners and those of our descendants. I want to discuss environmental issues such as biodiversity, transportation and housing—
§ Mr. Pound
That is the point that I was making, Sir Alan. I am sorry, I was making it in my clumsy, naive way. There are issues that must be debated. My point is that since about half-past 3 we have spent the time and much energy discussing an issue that is not germane to the heart of the Bill for the reasons that I started to list, but I ran out of steam halfway through and you rightly called me to order, Sir Alan.
I have a great deal of sympathy for people who want to promulgate different views. That is their democratic right and their duty. However, on this issue, we are in grave danger of going down a blind alley in search of a mythical perfection. Such perfection possibly existed only in ancient Athens, and even then in fairly unpropitious social circumstances that we may not want to replicate. We are discussing practicalities, and for us to go into such detail about the deputy mayor seems an inordinate waste of time.
I support the Government's position, not as a toadying Back Bencher, but as someone who has been a councillor in London for 16 years, who has been involved in London politics for the best part of his working life and who seeks a system that works, perhaps not the ideal system, but one that is practical and manageable and which will deliver for this capital city.
§ Mrs. Lait
I am pleased to be able to support the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, 745 South (Mr. Ottaway) for an elected deputy mayor. I hope that I do not blight the hopes of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) by coming from the side of darkness and saying that I thought he spoke a great deal of sense in his support for the amendment. We have also heard a couple of impassioned contributions about the current system.
§ The Chairman
Order. The hon. Gentleman has now been here long enough to know the correct forms of address.
§ Mr. McNulty
I apologise, Sir Alan, not least because you pulled me up on that yesterday.
The hon. Lady began by referring to an elected deputy mayor. Given the points that I made at the beginning of my speech, will she tell me where in the amendment there is a reference to the election of a deputy mayor and the details of that process, because I could not find such a reference?
§ Mrs. Lait
With the greatest respect, I have to say that the hon. Gentleman wasted the Committee's time by arguing about commas when we are discussing the principle of a directly elected deputy mayor. That measure would be a good way to reinforce the principle that Ministers are trying to support—the separation of the executive from the legislature. That is the sense in which I strongly support our amendment.
I am rather sad that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) let his wings of imagination take flight—the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound) endorsed his point—and asked us to envisage hundreds of sub-mayors in the dome. We seek only one directly elected mayor.
I know that we are short of time, so without reiterating any of the points that have been made, I want to make a practical point about the drawback of having a deputy mayor chosen from among the assembly members. The deputy mayor might be chosen from among those members who will be directly elected by the boroughs. One hopes that they will have constituency work of the type that most councillors have to do. They will each be representing more than 300,000 people, so I suspect that they will have a reasonably sized postbag. It will take them time to deal with that correspondence, along with the work that the assembly will be doing.
The other option is to have a deputy mayor chosen from the list. That takes us back to the problem, which I shall not outline at great length—I should be pulled up if I did so—of the two types of elected members and their various powers and responsibilities and to the role of proportional representation in delivering people who are genuinely representative.
One assumes that the London members will not have the same postbags as the others and so will have more time. It is therefore almost a foregone conclusion that the deputy mayor will be chosen from among the London members. Of course, the London members are, against the will of the Opposition, to be chosen by the parties. That means that the deputy mayor will have a great conflict of interest if the assembly is, for some reason, in dispute with the mayor or if the assembly and/or the mayor is in 746 dispute with the Government. Whoever is elected as a Labour London member will certainly be chosen by the party and will hence be approved by the Government. I would not wish to have the job of that deputy mayor.
The suggestion that there should be a directly elected deputy mayor gets around all of the problems inherent in having a deputy mayor who is chosen. I do not wish to stand for the assembly, but I would never take on the job of deputy mayor as set out in the Bill.
§ Mr. Keith Darvill (Upminster)
We shall of course debate the role of the deputy mayor when clause 41 is considered, but I oppose the amendment because it would affect the balance between the mayor and the assembly. The mayor will have a very powerful role, as set out in the Bill, and a ticket involving a mayor and a deputy would strengthen his powers dramatically. The assembly's role in checking those powers would inevitably be diminished by the amendment. It is important that there is a balance in the elections of the deputy mayor and of the assembly. Our job is to beef up the role of assembly members so that there is not too much power in the hands of the mayor. I urge the Committee to reject the amendment.
§ Mr. Edward Davey
While listening to the hon. Members for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) and for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound), I began to wonder whether they realised why they had been returned to this place. Parliament is meant to be about debate and discussing ideas. The hon. Member for Harrow, East suggested that we should not keep an open mind or think again during our proceedings. That seems to be wholly against the idea of parliamentary democracy. We and the Government should have an open mind. The hon. Gentlemen suggested that that meant being overly consensual. However, the Government state in the Green Paper that they want consensual government for London, so he is a little off message.
The hon. Member for Ealing, North seems to want government by diktat. He does not want us to debate how democracy in London should work. The very essence of the Bill is the setting up of government for London, and the structure of that government is clearly important. I am surprised and rather shocked by the hon. Gentleman.
Two arguments have been put forward by the hon. Members for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) and for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) as to why there should be a deputy mayor running on a ticket with the mayor. The hon. Member for Croydon, South suggested that it would enable the position to be given to a business person. However, it does not necessarily follow that a business person would take up the post.
The notion that a business person who stands for elected office is different and not involved in politics has been debated in the London press and in the House, but it is devoid of logic. One reason that business people are not coming forward is that they do not want to get involved in politics. The idea that someone standing for office can be neutral and above politics is arrant nonsense. If a business man wants to become a politician, he should say so openly, not try to hide behind a neutral facade and pretend that he has nothing to do with the dirty business of politics. We should be proud of our profession, not try to sell it down the river by saying that we should have a business person who knows how to run things because we do not. Saying that shows a lack of confidence in our profession.
747 The other argument, deployed by the hon. Member for Brent, East, was the heartbeat argument. The argument, which we hear in relation to the constitution of the United States of America, is that the post of Vice-President is important and that the Vice-President should run on a ticket with the President—if the President dies, there needs to be an immediate exchange of power into the hands of another leader of the Executive.
I know that the Greater London authority is an important authority. We support it and believe that it will bring democracy to London, but I am afraid that a parallel with the role of the Vice-President of the United States does not apply. The President of the United States is rather more important than the future mayor of London, not least because he has his finger on the button. In the United States, the immediate transition of power is more necessary, and it makes more sense to have a double ticket in those circumstances.
As the hon. Member for Harrow, East said in one of his more relevant remarks, in other American cities which have a mayor, it is rare for there to be double-ticket elections.
§ Mr. Randall
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that for the Liberal Democrats, one of the benefits of a joint ticket is that it would enable them—as they like to do all over the country—to have two candidates expressing different views?
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
I am almost tempted to pick up on the intervention of the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall), but I dare not do so. I want to pick up on the American example before my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) leaves the subject. The other obvious difference is that in the United States if the Vice-President takes over, he remains in office for the remainder of the four-year presidential term. Here, if the mayor were to die or resign, there would, rightly, be a by-election, unless it were at the end of a term. It is not a true parallel, in that sense, either.
§ Mr. Davey
I am grateful for my hon. Friend's intervention. He makes the point as succinctly and perceptively as usual.
There are comparisons to be made with mayoral systems outside the United States. The Liberal Democrats look not only to Europe and America, but to Japan. There, the deputy mayor is effectively appointed by the mayor, but has to be approved by the council, which is a half-way house between our position and that of the Government as set out in the Bill. In Germany, a burgermeister does not appoint his deputy. The local council has to elect the deputy, who often comes from the opposition party, in an attempt to achieve the consensual politics that the Government say that they want, but which the hon. Member for Harrow, East clearly does not.
The business man and heartbeat arguments for a deputy mayor do not stand up. Unlike the hon. Member for Harrow, East, I like to keep an open mind. Let us have a 748 more detailed debate on the deputy mayor when we consider clause 41. If the hon. Member for Croydon, South can deploy some more arguments, I shall be happy to listen to them but, for the moment, I am unconvinced.
§ 6 pm
§ Mr. Raynsford
Curiously, I shall start by agreeing with the opening proposition of the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway). He rightly highlighted the fact that we were creating a new structure of government, which for the first time introduces to this country the concept of the separation of powers. He rightly stressed that we should carefully consider its implications.
We agree whole-heartedly. That innovation is important. We believe that it will be usefully extended in the local government sphere, where we are exploring new models which will achieve a separation between the executive and scrutiny functions. We want to ensure that, in our proposals for London, the new arrangement, with the separation of powers, ensures effective scrutiny and effective working.
We have considered models of mayoral government from countries worldwide, and I hope that we have learnt where problems may arise. In particular, we saw potential difficulties where models allowed deadlock, because mayor and assembly often found themselves in conflict, with no good conflict resolution procedures. Often, the government of a city could be brought to a halt—or in some cases there could be no budget—because there was no effective mechanism for overcoming such deadlock.
Equally, we wanted to avoid a position that can exist if one too rigidly applies the American system, based on the separation of powers, where the only role of the assembly—or council, as it is usually called in America—is to criticise and scrutinise: a remorselessly negative role, with no effective positive role. That can often produce a frame of mind in which the mayor and the council or assembly never work together constructively, because they see themselves as implacably opposed to one another. We do not believe that to be a good model, and we have sought to develop proposals that will ensure that there are real links between mayor and assembly. In the Government's proposal, the deputy mayor is a key figure in establishing that link.
The Conservative amendments are logical only if we accept other elements of the Conservative party's proposals—notably its proposal that the assembly should be not directly elected, but appointed by the boroughs. I readily agree that it would be nonsense to select a deputy mayor from an appointed chamber of that kind, but, as the hon. Member for Croydon, South knows, we are not minded to accept his party's proposal for an appointed assembly, and we do not intend to accept the proposal that a deputy mayor be elected on the same slate as the mayor. That, as far as we can understand it, is the Conservatives' intention.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) said, the amendments do not make it clear whether the deputy mayor would be elected on a joint ticket, or whether the electorate could in any way express a view about the merits of the deputy mayor as such. If the deputy mayor stands on a joint ticket and the electorate are presented with the proposition that they may choose, let us say, Archer and Norris, those who want one but not the other do not have a good choice. They may 749 be happy to elect one, but they may be appalled at the idea of the other. Far be it from me to suggest which might arouse enthusiasm or hostility; the point is that the electorate would have no say.
Last year, in a different context, Opposition Members criticised us for not posing more than one question in a referendum, and I shall defend, as I did then, our decision to do so. The context was different, because then we were setting a proposition for a structure of governance. In this case, the Opposition are proposing that two people should be elected, but apparently, if I get it right, the electorate will not be able to say, "We should like one, but not the other." That is a monstrous travesty of democracy.
It is essential that the deputy mayor is a member of the assembly, to provide a bridge between the two parts of the authority, and to ensure that they develop a shared sense of purpose, and work together in the interests of London as a whole. That is the structure that we have devised, because we are seeking to develop a system that will encourage constructive working relations and a more consensual approach, and avoid unnecessary conflict. That is why the mayor and assembly members have clearly defined and different roles, and why it is essential that they are elected to fulfil those roles instead of simply being appointed.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
I hope that the Minister will address the issue that came up in two different ways in the debate. Why should not the deputy, as we have long proposed, be elected by the assembly or—as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) suggested, taking the Japanese model—be proposed by the mayor, but agreed by the assembly, as appointments to high office are agreed by Select Committees worldwide? That would be entirely compatible with the proposition that the Minister has just put to the Committee about the need for a bridge between assembly and mayor.
§ Mr. Raynsford
The hon. Gentleman will fully understand that there are many options. We have considered the options. Mayoral systems in different parts of the world have been studied, and I have described how we tried to come up with a system that we felt would work best in London. I accept that other models can work in different cities and might work here, too.
We happen to have formed a judgment that the right relationship is one in which there is a strong mayor, able to achieve results, and that, to help that process, the mayor should appoint the deputy mayor. Equally, however, we believe that the mayor must be accountable and must be subject to close scrutiny. Therefore we have put great emphasis on the relationships between mayor and assembly, ensuring accountability and close scrutiny.
I do not argue that the model that the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) has proposed is intrinsically wrong; I just happen to believe that the model that we have proposed is right, and is compatible with the general architecture—to employ the term used by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone)—of the system of government that we have put in place.
§ Mr. Hughes
Does the Minister accept, however, that if his proposition is carried, it would be unfair and illogical—for reasons well put from the Labour Back 750 Benches—for any mayoral candidate to announce before election day who would be their deputy? That would presume on the electorate's right to choose the assembly members and, therefore, the identity of the deputy would be unknown until the day after the election or later. The deputy could then be chosen for no reason other than a personal favour and preference by the person who was mayor. That is the most riddled with potential corruption of all the bits of the structure that the Minister is proposing to the Committee.
§ Mr. Raynsford
In a moment, I shall discuss the issues that the hon. Gentleman raised in his earlier speech about the possibility of problems of patronage. It is a serious issue, which we shall address. However, I point out, in relation to that latest intervention, that we do wish to leave a good measure of latitude to the mayor to appoint a person whom he or she feels is the appropriate person to fulfil that function.
One of the defined functions of the deputy mayor will be that of being a member of the Metropolitan police authority. Obviously, the mayor will have to think carefully about the qualifications of the person who will fulfil that very important link, not only in relation to the assembly, but in relation to the Metropolitan police authority. I consider it unlikely, unless the mayoral candidate is very confident indeed about the outcome of the election, that he or she would want to pre-empt the choice of deputy mayor by making an absolute declaration before an election.
Incidentally, I hope that we can, in these debates, acknowledge that a woman may be elected mayor. The assumption by some hon. Members that the mayor is bound to be a man is, to my mind, offensive. I am not referring to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), who is entirely scrupulous and proper on these matters.
A mayoral candidate may wish to say who might possibly be the deputy, and that might provide a spur and give the electorate an incentive to return a candidate in one area; I suspect that such factors may well come into discussion. However, we are leaving that very much to the mayor.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East, who a year ago, criticised our proposals, describing them as an inappropriate American import into this country, tonight took a very different viewpoint. He advocated that we should support the model proposed by the amendment, which resembles the American presidential—but not the American mayoral—model. The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton argued well and effectively that the American President and Vice-President perform functions very different from those of American mayors. It is inappropriate to apply a presidential model to a mayoral system.
The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey raised the issue of patronage. He expressed concern that the mayor would be inclined to appoint people for inappropriate reasons. I do not believe that that will happen. The mayor will know that a good working relationship with the assembly will be crucial to the success of his or her administration. A deputy mayor who is—and is seen as—a figure of substance in the assembly, and who has influence and authority in it, will be essential to the good governance of London and to the success of the mayoralty. Inevitably, that will be a very important consideration in the mind of any mayor.
751 Our proposal allows scope for balance. Again, we would not want to pre-empt the mayor's decision, although, as the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey and others have rightly said, we are looking for a framework of government that will be more inclusive, allowing more opportunities for the representation of groups that have not always been well represented in democratic institutions. Questions of balance will inevitably come into the equation when the mayor is making a decision. The important point is that the mayor must make that choice because he or she will have to work with the assembly, and the deputy mayor will provide a crucial link.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East rightly focused on the lack of clarity in the Opposition's position on how the deputy would be elected, and the contradiction obviously inherent in a joint slate, on which the electorate would not have the choice to express a preference for one of two candidates. The concept that we cannot have one without the other is somewhat curious. My hon. Friend also rightly emphasised how the Government's proposals involve putting into place a new architecture for the governance of London, in which the mayor and the assembly will work together and not be implacably opposed to each other.
Interesting contributions to the debate have also been made by the hon. Members for Chipping Barnet (Sir Sydney Chapman), for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait), and for Kingston and Surbiton, to which I have already referred, and by my hon. Friends the Members for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound), who spoke with his usual humour, and for Upminster (Mr. Darvill).
The Opposition have argued that, if the deputy mayor were an assembly member, the assembly's scrutiny role would be diminished. That is not so. The assembly will have clearly defined powers to call the mayor, the deputy mayor and their senior staff to account. The mayor will have to answer assembly questions and justify his or her actions with reasons. Other than the deputy mayor, no assembly member will have executive functions. The assembly's scrutiny role will not, therefore, be compromised.
It is essential that there is a strong link between the mayor and the assembly in the person of the deputy mayor, who is able both to articulate mayoral intentions to the assembly and transmit assembly opinions to the mayor. The assembly will be heard at the heart of the mayor's administration, and assembly concerns will be high profile.
The Opposition's position is extraordinary. We must not forget that, 20 months ago, they did not want a mayor at all; they were totally opposed to the idea. Now, they want not one but two—although they do not want an elected assembly, which makes a travesty of scrutiny. How can a non-elected body scrutinise an elected mayor and an elected deputy mayor? The elected mayor and deputy would be able to turn to the unelected assembly and say, "We, alone, have a mandate from the people of London. How dare you challenge our mandate?" That would create an imbalance, as a result of which scrutiny would not work successfully. It is essential that both the mayor and the assembly have a mandate because they are elected, and can therefore fulfil their role as elected representatives.
752 Constraints on the mayor are obviously considerable under our proposals. We want arrangements for proper scrutiny which will allow the mayor's actions to be constantly under review. That depends on an assembly that is able to fulfil such a function confidently.
Frankly, the Opposition's case is shaky—not least in the suggestion that it will allow good business people to participate in running the Greater London authority, when otherwise they would be discouraged from doing so. Why should a business person be more likely to stand if he or she had to run for office as deputy mayor rather than mayor—or, indeed, as a member of the assembly? That is a laughable proposition. Of course we would like good business people to come forward, but there is no basis on which they should be constrained to fulfil only the role of deputy mayor.
We have had an interesting debate, although it has not taken forward to any constructive degree the Opposition's view on how the new body in London will operate. We believe very passionately in a structure of government that will allow both accountability and effectiveness. Having an elected deputy mayor, elected on the same ticket as the mayor, will not achieve that purpose. It will, in many ways, compromise it and include serious disadvantages. I urge the hon. Member for Croydon, South to withdraw his amendment. If he does not, I urge my hon. Friends and other hon. Members to vote against it.
§ Mr. Ottaway
At the heart of the amendment is the conflict of interest between the deputy mayor's capacity as an assembly man and his role as the voice of the mayor. The Minister has not addressed the issue properly or given a constructive and sensible response to the proposals. Under the circumstances, we therefore wish to divide the Committee.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 120, Noes 371.756
|Division No. 37]||[6.16 pm|
|Amess, David||Duncan, Alan|
|Ancram, Rt Hon Michael||Duncan Smith, Iain|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)||Evans, Nigel|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Faber, David|
|Bercow, John||Fallon, Michael|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Flight, Howard|
|Boswell, Tim||Forth, Rt Hon Eric|
|Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)||Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman|
|Brazier, Julian||Fox, Dr Liam|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Gale, Roger|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Garnier, Edward|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Gibb, Nick|
|Burns, Simon||Gill, Christopher|
|Cash, William||Goodlad, Rt Hon Sir Alastair|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)||Gray, James|
|Chope, Christopher||Green, Damian|
|Clappison, James||Greenway, John|
|Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)||Grieve, Dominic|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Gummer, Rt Hon John|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie|
|Collins, Tim||Hammond, Philip|
|Cormack, Sir Patrick||Hawkins, Nick|
|Cran, James||Hayes, John|
|Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen||Horam, John|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Randall, John|
|Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Jack, Rt Hon Michael||Robathan, Andrew|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)|
|Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)|
|Key, Robert||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Kirkbride, Miss Julie||Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)|
|Laing, Mrs Eleanor||Soames, Nicholas|
|Lait, Mrs Jacqui||Spelman, Mrs Caroline|
|Lansley, Andrew||Spicer, Sir Michael|
|Leigh, Edward||Spring, Richard|
|Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Lidington, David||Streeter, Gary|
|Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)||Swayne, Desmond|
|Luff, Peter||Syms, Robert|
|Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Maclean, Rt Hon David||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Townend, John|
|Madel, Sir David||Trend, Michael|
|Malins, Humfrey||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Maples, John||Viggers, Peter|
|Mates, Michael||Walter, Robert|
|Maude, Rt Hon Francis||Wardle, Charles|
|Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian||Whitney, Sir Raymond|
|Moss, Malcolm||Whittingdale, John|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann|
|Norman, Archie||Willetts, David|
|Ottaway, Richard||Wilshire, David|
|Page, Richard||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Paice, James||Yeo, Tim|
|Paterson, Owen||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Pickles, Eric||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Mr. Stephen Day and|
|Prior, David||Mr. Oliver Heald.|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Brake, Tom|
|Ainger, Nick||Brand, Dr Peter|
|Alexander, Douglas||Brinton, Mrs Helen|
|Allan, Richard||Brown, Russell (Dumfries)|
|Allen, Graham||Browne, Desmond|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Buck, Ms Karen|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)||Burden, Richard|
|Armstrong, Ms Hilary||Burgon, Colin|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Burnett, John|
|Ashton, Joe||Burstow, Paul|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Butler, Mrs Christine|
|Atkins, Charlotte||Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)|
|Austin, John||Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)|
|Banks, Tony||Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)|
|Barnes, Harry||Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)|
|Barron, Kevin||Campbell-Savours, Dale|
|Battle, John||Canavan, Dennis|
|Bayley, Hugh||Caplin, Ivor|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret||Casale, Roger|
|Begg, Miss Anne||Caton, Martin|
|Beggs, Roy||Cawsey, Ian|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||Chidgey, David|
|Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)||Chisholm, Malcolm|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Clapham, Michael|
|Bennett, Andrew F||Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)|
|Benton, Joe||Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Clark, Paul (Gillingham)|
|Berry, Roger||Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)|
|Best, Harold||Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)|
|Betts, Clive||Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)|
|Blackman, Liz||Clelland, David|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Clwyd, Ann|
|Blizzard, Bob||Coaker, Vernon|
|Boateng, Paul||Coffey, Ms Ann|
|Coleman, Iain||Gunnell, John|
|Colman, Tony||Hain, Peter|
|Connarty, Michael||Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Hall, Patrick (Bedford)|
|Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)||Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)|
|Cooper, Yvette||Hancock, Mike|
|Corbett, Robin||Hanson, David|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Harris, Dr Evan|
|Corston, Ms Jean||Harvey, Nick|
|Cotter, Brian||Heal, Mrs Sylvia|
|Cousins, Jim||Healey, John|
|Cranston, Ross||Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)|
|Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)||Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)|
|Cryer, John (Hornchurch)||Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)|
|Cummings, John||Hepburn, Stephen|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Heppell, John|
|Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland)||Hesford, Stephen|
|Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)||Hewitt, Ms Patricia|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hill, Keith|
|Darling, Rt Hon Alistair||Hinchliffe, David|
|Darvill, Keith||Hodge, Ms Margaret|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||Hoey, Kate|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Home Robertson, John|
|Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)||Hope, Phil|
|Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)||Hopkins, Kelvin|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)||Howarth, Alan (Newport E)|
|Dean, Mrs Janet||Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|Denham, John||Howells, Dr Kim|
|Dewar, Rt Hon Donald||Hoyle, Lindsay|
|Dismore, Andrew||Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)|
|Dobbin, Jim||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Donohoe, Brian H||Humble, Mrs Joan|
|Doran, Frank||Hurst, Alan|
|Dowd, Jim||Hutton, John|
|Drew, David||Iddon, Dr Brian|
|Drown, Ms Julia||Illsley, Eric|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)|
|Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)||Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)|
|Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)||Jenkins, Brian|
|Edwards, Huw||Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)|
|Efford, Clive||Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)|
|Ellman, Mrs Louise||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret||Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)|
|Field, Rt Hon Frank||Jones, Helen (Warrington N)|
|Fitzsimons, Lorna||Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)|
|Flint, Caroline||Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)|
|Flynn, Paul||Jowell, Ms Tessa|
|Follett, Barbara||Keeble, Ms Sally|
|Foster, Rt Hon Derek||Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)|
|Foster, Don (Bath)||Keetch, Paul|
|Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)||Kemp, Fraser|
|Foster, Michael J (Worcester)||Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)|
|Foulkes, George||Khabra, Piara S|
|Fyfe, Maria||Kidney, David|
|Galbraith, Sam||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Galloway, George||King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)|
|Gapes, Mike||King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)|
|Gardiner, Barry||Kingham, Ms Tess|
|George, Andrew (St Ives)||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Gerrard, Neil||Ladyman, Dr Stephen|
|Gilroy, Mrs Linda||Lawrence, Ms Jackie|
|Godman, Dr Norman A||Laxton, Bob|
|Godsiff, Roger||Lepper, David|
|Goggins, Paul||Leslie, Christopher|
|Gordon, Mrs Eileen||Levitt, Tom|
|Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)||Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Lewis, Terry (Worsley)|
|Grocott, Bruce||Linton, Martin|
|Grogan, John||Livingstone, Ken|
|Lock, David||Rooney, Terry|
|McAllion, John||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Rowlands, Ted|
|McCabe, Steve||Roy, Frank|
|McCafferty, Ms Chris||Ruane, Chris|
|McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|McDonagh, Siobhain||Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)|
|Macdonald, Calum||Ryan, Ms Joan|
|McDonnell, John||Salter, Martin|
|McIsaac, Shona||Sanders, Adrian|
|McKenna, Mrs Rosemary||Savidge, Malcolm|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Sawford, Phil|
|McNulty, Tony||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Mactaggart, Fiona||Shaw, Jonathan|
|McWalter, Tony||Sheerman, Barry|
|McWilliam, John||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Mahon, Mrs Alice||Shipley, Ms Debra|
|Mallaber, Judy||Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)|
|Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter||Singh, Marsha|
|Marek, Dr John||Skinner, Dennis|
|Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)||Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)||Smith, Angela (Basildon)|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)|
|Marshall-Andrews, Robert||Smith, John (Glamorgan)|
|Martlew, Eric||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Meacher, Rt Hon Michael||Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)|
|Meale, Alan||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Merron, Gillian||Snape, Peter|
|Michael, Alun||Southworth, Ms Helen|
|Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)||Spellar, John|
|Miller, Andrew||Squire, Ms Rachel|
|Mitchell, Austin||Starkey, Dr Phyllis|
|Moonie, Dr Lewis||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Moran, Ms Margaret||Stevenson, George|
|Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)||Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)||Stinchcombe, Paul|
|Morley, Elliot||Stoate, Dr Howard|
|Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)||Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin|
|Mountford, Kali||Straw, Rt Hon Jack|
|Mudie, George||Stringer, Graham|
|Mullin, Chris||Stuart, Ms Gisela|
|Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)||Stunell, Andrew|
|Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)||Sutcliffe, Gerry|
|Naysmith, Dr Doug||Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Norris, Dan||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Oaten, Mark||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)||Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)|
|Olner, Bill||Timms, Stephen|
|O'Neill, Martin||Tipping, Paddy|
|Osborne, Ms Sandra||Touhig, Don|
|Pendry, Tom||Trickett, Jon|
|Perham, Ms Linda||Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)|
|Pickthall, Colin||Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)|
|Pike, Peter L||Twigg, Derek (Halton)|
|Plaskitt, James||Tyler, Paul|
|Pollard, Kerry||Vaz, Keith|
|Pond, Chris||Vis, Dr Rudi|
|Pound, Stephen||Walley, Ms Joan|
|Powell, Sir Raymond||Wareing, Robert N|
|Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)||Watts, David|
|Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)||Webb, Steve|
|Primarolo, Dawn||Welsh, Andrew|
|Prosser, Gwyn||White, Brian|
|Purchase, Ken||Whitehead, Dr Alan|
|Quin, Ms Joyce||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Quinn, Lawrie||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Radice, Giles||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Rammell, Bill||Willis, Phil|
|Rapson, Syd||Wilson, Brian|
|Raynsford, Nick||Winnick, David|
|Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)|
|Roche, Mrs Barbara|
|Rooker, Jeff||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Wise, Audrey||Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)|
|Woolas, Phil||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Worthington, Tony||Mrs. Anne McGuire and|
|Wray, James||Mr. David Jamieson.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal)
On a point of order, Mr. Lord. I am sorry to interrupt the House. For some days I have been trying to get a copy of "Urban Renaissance", a document produced by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. It is Lord Rogers's interim report and has been paid for by the taxpayer. It contains suggestions for urban renewal, many of which would interest both sides of the House, but neither side can get hold of it because the DETR has failed to provide any copies to the Vote Office. The DETR has held a press conference on the report and announced it to the public, but if one wants a copy, one must send someone to the DETR. Hon. Members cannot get copies.
Is it not time that the Government accepted that their first duty is to tell the House of their projects and programmes, and that the House should know about them before the press and the public? If we need such documents, we should be able to get them readily from the Vote Office.
§ The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Lord)
That is not a point of order for the Chair, but I am sure that the House will have heard and noted the right hon. Gentleman's point.
§ Mr. Ottaway
I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 2, leave out lines 2 to 22 and insert—'(2) The Assembly shall consist of 33 members comprising—
- (a) one nominated representative from each London Borough and
- (b) one nominated representative from the Corporation of London.(3) The Mayor shall be returned in accordance with the provisions made in or by virtue of this Act for the holding of elections and the filling of a vacancy in the office of Mayor.'.
The Second Deputy Chairman
With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 82, in page 2, line 2, leave out 'consist of twenty five' and insert', until the first boundary review under Schedule 1 consist of forty'.No. 3, in page 2, line 2, leave out 'twenty five' and insert 'thirty-three'.
No. 18, in page 2, line 2, leave out 'twenty five' and insert 'forty'.
No. 4, in page 2, line 2, leave out from 'members' to end of line 6.
No. 20, in page 2, line 3, leave out 'fourteen' and insert `twenty three'.
No. 21, in page 2, line 5, leave out 'eleven' and insert 'seventeen'.
No. 24, in page 2, line 10, at end insert'following a review carried out by the Local Government Commission under the terms of Schedule 1 to this Act.'757 No. 2, in page 2, leave out lines 34 to 39.
No. 72, in schedule 1, page 139, line 43, leave out from 'If' to second 'the' and insert'Within 12 months of each ordinary election'.No. 12, in page 141, line 25, leave out 'fourteen' and insert 'thirty-three'.
No. 28, in page 141, line 25, leave out 'fourteen' and insert 'twenty three'.
No. 13, in page 141, leave out lines 26 to 34 and insert—'2. Each London borough shall be an assembly constituency'.No. 57, in page 141, line 34, at end insert—'6. If the population of any London borough either increases or decreases to such an extent that, in the opinion of the Local Government Commission, the strict interpretation of the rules would produce an unacceptably sized constituency, the Commission may vary the rules as it sees fit.'.
§ Mr. Ottaway
The amendment relates to the Opposition's proposal that the assembly of the authority should comprise borough representatives. We believe in a mayor who will speak for Londoners at a national level and for London on the international stage. The Bill shows signs of having tried to achieve that, but we have ended up with a rather lop-sided mayor.
The mayor has important powers vis-a-vis the boroughs. He can direct them on major planning matters, control their local transport and traffic arrangements, specify their waste disposal, recycling and pollution policies, and he, rather than the boroughs, will nominate the police authority members.
Far too much has been taken from the boroughs, particularly matters which are too operational in character—for example, taxicard and door-to-door transport, and highways management rather than just traffic management for the road network.
The Bill makes no provision for liaison or communication between the boroughs and the mayor. That is a glaring omission given that the boroughs will collectively spend approaching £15 billion and deliver all the basic services.
The Committee should bear in mind that the mayor and the assembly will comprise just 26 people. The delivery of all basic services will be through the London boroughs and the scope for negotiation and discussion with them is preciously thin.
As the Bill is structured, the assembly's role in all this is limited. As a result, the potential for a breakdown in the relationship between the authority and the London boroughs is substantial. Concerns are growing. To return to the quotes that I gave on Second Reading, the chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea said:I think the immediate things that make everybody's hair begin to rise are the road network, transportation and planning, where the potential for conflict is substantial.Just to show that Kensington and Chelsea is not alone, the chief executive of Islington said:It's now about to dawn on everyone that the GLA is going to have a massive impact on the way the boroughs operate.
§ Mr. Gummer
In my hon. Friend's earlier examples of those areas which will be taken over, he mentioned the recycling of waste. I declare an interest in this, as the chairman of a company which recycles packaging. Is it 758 not important to have that close connection which Agenda 21 has with each of the boroughs? What will it mean if a borough decides to take some far-sighted view? For example, Islington might well take a far-sighted view on new ideas for recycling. Would it then be constantly hampered and pressed by a mayor who has little connection with the interests of the Agenda 21 committee and the borough?
§ Mr. Ottaway
My right hon. Friend is right. As I said earlier, the boroughs know best what is necessary for them. If they do not have the voice and the representation within the authority, they will feel rejected, and the potential for clash and conflict will grow. It is the essence of the amendment that, if the assembly was made up of borough representatives, their recycling and waste disposal men and the Agenda 21 representatives could have their voice heard by the authority and the mayor. My right hon. Friend makes a valuable point.
§ Mr. Mike Gapes (Ilford, South)
The hon. Gentleman said that the assembly would change the way in which boroughs operate. Councils all over London are giving planning permission to new out-of-town shopping developments which may well have an impact on neighbouring boroughs, and making other decisions which have an impact on their neighbours. Is it not about time that we changed the way in which boroughs operate and had a strategic overview which is not based on squabbling between neighbouring boroughs?
§ Mr. Ottaway
The hon. Gentleman drifts into planning, which is just within the amendment's scope. If the borough of Croydon wanted to encourage a development by East Croydon station, but the mayor's vision was that that should be somewhere in north London, it will happen neither in Croydon nor in north London, where no one is promoting it in the first place. For the mayor to have the last word in planning policy is a barrier to planning development rather than the stimulus which the hon. Gentleman seems to expect.
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
May I press my hon. Friend further on his excellent remarks? There is a lot of merit in what he says. However, as a former member of the GLC and a London borough, may I ask him how he will ensure, when borough representatives are elected to the GLA, that rather than think parochially they bear in mind the interests of London as a whole?
§ Mr. Ottaway
My hon. Friend was a distinguished member of the GLC. I recall, on occasions, hearing him speak in that august body. Let the Committee be in no doubt that my hon. Friend was most robust on behalf of the citizens of Richmond, of whom I happen to be one. He took a very parochial view, and that is what the elected members of the assembly will do. They will speak up for their constituents. The Minister said that he did not want that; that the assembly should think strategically. If he expects that, he misunderstands human nature.
I was making the point that there is growing concern that there will be clash and conflict between the boroughs and the authority. As I understand it, the Minister attended a meeting of the London borough leaders in December where exactly the same point was made to him.
759 The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Colman) is not with us today, but when he was leader of Merton council he said:I have been to cities in the US with a directly elected mayor and seen the distress it causes. The leader of the assembly and the mayor are continually fighting.That is the very point that we are making tonight.
The famous Evening Standard survey of a little over a year ago showed that 10 out of 19 town hall Labour leaders were opposed to the Government's proposals. It said:Only five of the 19 Labour council leaders gave their enthusiastic backing to Mr. Blair's idea. Four refused to comment and said they had not made up their minds, but 10 were against the proposal. Many Labour councillors feared that a directly elected mayor was more likely to come into conflict with an elected Greater London Authority, creating 'gridlock'.I could not have put it better myself.
On Second Reading, the Minister countered that weight of concern by producing a letter from the Association of London Government which said that the Labour leaders were mistaken when they expressed their opposition to our proposals for an assembly of borough leaders. The letter deserves closer scrutiny. It was written by the leader of Haringey council, which has more fraud investigations going on than you, Mr. Lord, have had hot dinners. I would not hold it out as a shining example of the voice of London.
But then we note that the letter was written, not by a Mr. Harris, but by a newly ennobled Lord Harris. The next thing that we observe is that he is one of Tony's cronies. Then we see that the letter is dated 14 December 1998. For those who were not present on Second Reading, that was the day before. What a surprise. One can imagine the Minister, who is an honourable man, picking up the phone and saying, "Toby, old chap, the Tories are banging on about their assembly proposals again. Do you think you could drop me a line generally rubbishing the whole idea?"
§ Mr. Raynsford
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that no such telephone conversation occurred. If he reads the letter—the Committee deserves to have it read—he will see that it says:I note that the Opposition have put down a reasoned amendment to the GLA Bill Second Reading in which they call for an Assembly consisting of representatives nominated by the London boroughs…This is not a view shared by the majority of boroughs in the Association of London Government.That is the clear view: the Opposition proposal does not command the support of the majority of boroughs, on whose behalf they are supposedly arguing.
§ Mr. Ottaway
The Minister has pre-empted my next point. I had a look at the nature of the consultation conducted by Lord Harris among the ALG and its membership and found that that view was not mooted in the ALG. It popped up at the leaders' committee several months ago. No vote was taken and there was no debate. The truth is that that letter is not worth the paper it is printed on.
760 We propose that the assembly be made up of representatives of the London boroughs. That sound and solid proposal would avoid the conflict described by the hon. Member for Putney and the gridlock described by the majority of Labour party leaders in London.
§ Ms Linda Perham (Ilford, North)
I am concerned about the Conservative party proposal for using representatives from the boroughs, which would make 33 members. A deputy mayor would be extra. Labour Members are going for a streamlined authority of 25 members. How does the hon. Gentleman justify the extra cost? The right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) talked about more politicians and bureaucrats. Are not Conservative Members worried about bulking out the bureaucracy?
§ Mr. Ottaway
I find it hard to follow the hon. Lady's argument. As I understand it, assembly men will be paid. Although that is not in the Bill, and we have not had any word from the Minister, it is the general impression. There may be a financial saving, unless the hon. Lady is saying that the leaders of the London boroughs are paid more than the assembly men. We need to think through whether there will be more expense, and I venture to suggest that our proposal will be cheaper. The leader of Hammersmith council is trying to pay himself £40,000 a year, but Conservative Members would not support that.
§ Mr. Ottaway
The Conservatives did not support that; they voted against. As a result, the salary will be reduced to £22,000 from next year.
The advantage of the assembly consisting of borough leaders is that the borough representative knows what is going on in his borough. He would be the bridge between the man in the street and the mayor. The Minister has said that the proposal will not work. His concept is that, once elected, assembly members should think strategically and have no regard for borough interests. He does not want them pushing forward their case at local level, but wants them to think of London as a whole. That is complete twaddle. It ignores human nature, but, even worse, it is an attempt to rewrite the democratic process.
Does the Minister honestly think that constituency members will not argue their case? A feature of the Labour-dominated London fire and civil defence authority is that it is always cutting the number of fire appliances on the streets. Having recently closed a fire station in my constituency, it is seeking to close another.
Does the Minister honestly believe that the assembly member for Croydon and Sutton would not lobby to keep such a fire station? Does he think that the assembly man for Greenwich and Lewisham would not have something to say about a proposal for a major development in Greenwich, or does he really think that the assembly man would stand back and think strategically? Does he think that constituency members on the police committee would not fight against closure of police stations? If he does, he totally misunderstands human nature. His only argument against an assembly of borough leaders is that they will fight their corner. Whoever is in the assembly will fight their corner.
761 6.45 pm
The Bill confirms that the assembly will be enfeebled. Other than supplying the chairmen and members of the four functional bodies, and other than in the unlikely event of a two-thirds majority opposing a mayoral budget, it will be essentially powerless and useless. The assembly is superfluous and likely only to add to the mayor's problems and the degree of bureaucratic entanglement generated by the new system.
That could be easily overcome by recognising the strength, importance and role of the London boroughs in the overall government of London and by having an assembly made up of borough representatives. London is a city of villages. The boroughs are the voice of the villages and the Minister ignores those voices at his peril.
§ Mr. Edward Davey
I shall comment briefly on the Conservative amendments and what the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) has said. The Liberal Democrats certainly do not support his idea of the assembly being made up of borough leaders, for a number of reasons. First, borough leaders have something else to do—run their boroughs.
§ Mr. Ottaway
The hon. Gentleman is making an important point. Our amendment provides for an assembly of borough representatives rather than borough leaders.
§ Mr. Davey
I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's clarification, but in other debates the Conservatives have suggested that borough leaders would make up the assembly. Borough representatives would presumably be elected councillors, if there is to be any element of democracy. Even an ordinary ward councillor has an awful lot to do, or should be doing an awful lot, for his constituents, who he has been elected to represent.
Asking people to represent their constituents in two different places would reduce their ability to hold the mayor to account. We want to ensure that the mayor is held properly to account. That should be done by elected members, whose sole job it would be, which would ensure that the assembly has more power. The Conservative amendment would reduce the power of the assembly and reduce the ability of its members to hold the mayor to account effectively, which is a dangerous path to take.
The idea that borough representatives would take experience of what they do in the borough up to the assembly does not wash. The assembly will do different things primarily. The hon. Member for Croydon, South said that some borough powers are taken away by the Bill. That is true, and we shall return to the matter, but relatively few powers are being taken to the assembly. The assembly and the authority will focus far more on other issues—transport and the police in particular—so it is just as well that other people with a different mandate have the job of considering those issues.
I agree with the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh), who seemed to be worried that borough representatives would form a parochial Greater London authority. I share his concern, and I know that the Government are also concerned. Assembly members must be able to take a strategic overview. That will lead to better government for London, not worse.
The point made by the hon. Member for Croydon, South about the need for liaison between the boroughs and the GLA was well made, but it is debatable whether 762 it needs to be in the Bill. The boroughs, collectively, will want to liaise and consult with the GLA. Perhaps the Committee should be debating whether such an obligation should be in the Bill. Although that is not the main thrust of the Conservative amendment, it is an interesting point and I hope that the Committee will return to it.
Our amendments seek to increase the number of assembly members by increasing the number that would be elected from constituencies and the number on the list. Our vision of London government differs slightly from the Government's, as we believe in a much stronger assembly that would be both more democratic and have more powers. In our response to the Government's consultation, we made it clear that we felt that the Greater London authority should have a voice in the running of the health service and further education in London. Further education and health are functions with a strategic characteristic, and it would make sense for a strategic body to be able to hold health and education authorities to account.
Given that our model would oversee a much larger budget than the Bill proposes, it is important to have more assembly members to fulfil those tasks effectively.
§ Mr. Davey
The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point: the House should always consider the cost of proposals before it. If he reads the amendments he will see that we propose to increase the number of representatives from 25 to 40—an increase of 15. The Conservative party wants an increase of eight. The costs involved are not huge. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Liberal Democrats did not want a mayoral office to be created. Were that option before us today, a huge sum could be saved, allowing us to have even more members of a proper assembly. The mayor is an expensive element because of all the trappings of mayoral office.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)
I note that the hon. Gentleman is a recruit to Herbert Morrison's theory, which was that the health service should be within the control of the then London county council. How does he imagine local government could possibly control a national service, and how would that dovetail with surrounding national health service priorities?
§ Mr. Davey
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for allowing me to continue my point. I did not realise that I was a recruit to Herbert Morrison's theory. He was a distinguished politician and had the good idea that we should hold public services to account through local government. Ministers say that this is not local government, but citywide government. It is a unique form of government. Liberal Democrats believe that NHS planning should be done regionally and on a strategic basis, and that it should be held to account regionally and strategically. The sort of issues involved in a health 763 authority the size of London's would be suitable for this type of body. As the Minister said, it does not replicate local government.
§ Mr. Davey
The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. If he believes that we have national standards and a uniform service provision in the health service now because it is planned nationally, he has clearly not visited hospitals and health authorities around the country. They have totally different purchasing plans and service levels now. We simply argue that the health service should be democratic, which is why we want to expand the number of assembly members and hold the health service to account. I am more than happy to see different services provided across the country, but the idea that that does not happen now is nonsense.
§ Mrs. Lait
The hon. Gentleman's proposal for strategic control of the health service existed on a local basis until the end of the 1980s. I am glad to say that we reformed it. Local government representatives sat on family practitioner committees. I happened to chair one such committee at that time, and it was difficult to get a decision out of that forum. Does the hon. Gentleman want a strategic authority that is unable to make decisions about the NHS?
§ Mr. Davey
Just because a previous form of democracy within the health service did not work does not mean that we cannot make it work. It works effectively in other countries, such as Sweden. The Landsting, which are equivalent to large county councils, hold the health service to account and look after major expenditure raised from taxation. The idea that one cannot make the health service democratic does not bear examination. I agree with the hon. Lady that previous systems were not perfect, but we cannot reform democracy by abolishing it. We seek to improve it.
Democracy in the health service can be introduced at local government level. It is absurd that in the London boroughs, social services are separate from health services and therefore unable to join their budgets to achieve greater efficiency and co-operation. I had an interesting dialogue with the Minister on the subject recently and I know that the Government want to bring those services together. I hope that doing so will not reduce accountability. We welcome the Government's desire to increase that.
The other reason that we want more representatives is to give the assembly more power. We want it to be able to hold the mayor to account more effectively. Our model would give the assembly more power than the model proposed in the Bill. More fundamentally, an increased number of representatives would give the assembly greater representation. Even under our proposals, each member would still represent fewer people than a London Member of Parliament does, but members would clearly be more representative.
764 Our proposals are logical and consistent with our proposals for the electoral system, which we will debate later. We favour the single transferable vote system, which requires multi-member constituencies. Such a system is logical if we have more assembly members. Increasing the number of members to 40 would facilitate that.
My arguments so far have been based on our perfect model for the Greater London authority, which would give the assembly more power. However, the argument for having more members still holds under the Government's proposals—the number of functions that the Government propose to give the Greater London authority and how they want to elect it. In terms of representation, an increased number of members will enable the authority to be more representative, which will increase accountability and links with constituents.
We also want members of the authority to be active on the committees. The Government are setting up a number of bodies: Transport for London; the London Development agency; the Metropolitan Police authority; and the London Fire and Emergency Planning authority. There should be enough assembly representatives to ensure that they are held properly to account. The mayor will be held to account for how he runs those bodies.
§ Mr. Randall
I am a little confused. On the one hand, the hon. Gentleman suggests that there should be no constituency link and, on the other, he says that the increased number of representatives would increase the link with constituencies. Which does he think will benefit the assembly?
§ 7 pm
§ Mr. Davey
I think that the hon. Gentleman is slightly confused. Whatever body people are elected to, they have a constituency. It may not be a parliamentary constituency or a borough constituency, but they have a constituency. If there were 40 members, and 23 were directly elected from constituencies—as our amendment proposes—the currently proposed boundaries would have to be changed.
§ Mr. Randall
I am confused, because earlier, when the hon. Gentleman agreed with some of the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh), he was worried about the link with the constituency as a place. The suggestion now seems to be that the increase in numbers will be beneficial, as the assembly men will have a link with a geographical location.
§ Mr. Davey
I am grateful for that clarification, because I clearly misunderstood the hon. Gentleman's previous intervention. The point that I was making earlier was that we did not want the constituencies to be the same as the boroughs. We did not want members of the assembly to speak for the royal borough of Kingston or the borough of Richmond. Unless we are to have a list system for the whole of London, they will have constituencies with which they will have a link. The point that I was making to the hon. Member for Gainsborough was that the constituencies should not be identical to the current boroughs, because that would add to the parochialism.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that, as they would not have a direct constituency link, 765 all the new Liberal Democrat members would speak for his party? What does he mean? Who else would they speak for, apart from themselves?
§ Mr. Davey
I am slightly confused by the hon. Lady's questions. The Liberal Democrats' preferred electoral system is the single transferable vote, which includes multi-member constituencies, so assembly members would have a constituency link and would be standing for a party. We admit that the Government are unlikely to change their mind and opt for a single transferable vote electoral system for the Greater London authority. We shall have to live with the dual system, which has constituencies and party lists. We believe that people will be free to speak for their constituencies, so I do not understand the hon. Lady's point.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
I simply want a little clarification, because I am not terribly bright. The hon. Gentleman says that it does not matter if assembly members do not have constituencies, because they will nevertheless speak for their constituencies. There is certainly a problem with the English language here—which is not new, heaven help us. If they are not speaking for their political party or for a particular geographical area, how do they define their constituency representations?
§ Mr. Davey
Assembly members will speak for their constituents and for their political party. Members from the party lists will not have a geographical constituency, but the directly elected members will, and we have no problem with that. The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) was worried that I was being inconsistent. He suggested that I was against parochialism, and was therefore against constituencies, but that does not follow. I was concerned that, under the Conservative amendment, the constituencies would be the same as the boroughs, so there would be competing forces within a borough to represent the area. That would increase parochialism. If the constituencies are different, that is unlikely to happen.
I hope that I have made myself clear to the hon. Lady, but I am more than happy to take another intervention.
§ Mr. Davey
In the hon. Lady's opinion.
The idea of having more members on the assembly fits in with the Government's plans, because it would allow greater representation and increased accountability, and would enable members to be more active on committees. I wonder whether the real reason why the Government have gone for such a small number of members is because they are worried about the tabloids. They are concerned about arguments, such as that made by the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), that this proposal would be costly. They want a soundbite: they want to say that this will be a lean machine—a slim, streamlined government.
We argue that it is pretty lean and streamlined at 40 members—which is fewer than most borough councils have—as it is being asked to look after transport for the whole of London and to have a link with the Metropolitan Police authority. We do not think that an assembly of 40 members would be costly and weighed down.
766 The Government should reflect on our proposals to give the assembly more members. I hope that they will leave a door open, because as the Greater London authority develops over time—if it follows the model proposed by the Government—in a few years, if the Labour party is re-elected and its creation is doing well, unlike the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), it may want to give it more functions. If it gives the authority more functions, it may want it to have more members. I hope that the Government will not close the door on the idea that the assembly should have more members and should become more powerful.
I shall deal with two other amendments. Amendment No. 24 concerns the Local Government Commission and boundary changes. It is rather odd that any proposal to consider the boundaries will be triggered by the Secretary of State. The boundary commission has long had a rolling programme for parliamentary constituencies and European parliamentary constituencies. Under the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, the commission is required to report not less than every eight years and not more than every 12 years, so it is automatic and is not at the behest of the Secretary of State. We propose that, rather than the Secretary of State being the trigger, it is left to the Local Government Commission to instigate reviews of the GLA boundaries. That would remove some power from the Secretary of State—the Minister will see, as we go through the Bill, that that is a theme of our amendments—and would ensure that there is no suspicion of gerrymandering when the GLA boundaries are reviewed.
I think it is amendment No. 75 in which the Conservatives are proposing that the rules governing the constituency boundaries in the GLA could be varied. The Liberal Democrats have no problem with that. We think that it makes sense to have flexibility.
I hope that the Minister will cover our substantive point. We believe that there should be more assembly members to ensure that the mayor is properly held to account.
§ Mr. McNulty
The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) referred to amendment No. 75, which is in the next group of amendments. It is a daft idea for the boundary commission, suitably empowered, to review the GLA boundaries within 12 months of every election. He referred to the commission's eight to 12-year rolling programme, but for some peculiar reason he wants the review of GLA boundaries to be carried out 12 months after the election, which is rather silly.
I have to say, with the greatest respect and the best will in the world, that the hon. Gentleman wittered on for more than 20 minutes and said precisely nothing, other than the mantra-like incantation we always get from Liberal Democrats that if they say something often enough it becomes true. He argued that more members equals greater representation. Why? He gave no reason—just that more members equals greater representation. We were told that if we increased the number of assembly members it would give them more power. We were not given the reason why—just that it would, as though Paddy could sprinkle magic dust over them and they would have more power because there would be 40 of them.
Let us talk about realities. Why do the Liberal Democrats want 40 members? It is because some candidates from their party may get elected. In all 767 likelihood, under the current proposals, no Liberal Democrats will be elected—absolutely none. Let us be honest.
The Liberal Democrats might just squeeze one of the pompous little clones coming out of Cowley street into a directly elected position if there were an increase from 14 to 23. If tonight's speeches are anything to go by—and we face more of the same for two months in Committee—the Liberal Democrats would be lucky to get one if there were 100 directly elected members. No justification has been offered for 23 as opposed to 14, as in the Bill, or for 17 as opposed to 11 in terms of the list.
§ Mr. Edward Davey
The hon. Gentleman is to charm what the Deputy Prime Minister is to sophistication. Sometimes, having more elected members enables a Government to be held more to account, and is more representative. Otherwise, it could be argued that this place should have 100 Members: then—following the hon. Gentleman's argument—this place would be no less representative and we would be able to hold the Government effectively to account. There are many cases where having more elected representatives increases democracy and improves accountability.
§ Mr. McNulty
The hon. Gentleman is hoist on his own petard. I did not hear "sometimes" or "on some occasions" when he was waxing lyrical in his peroration. Now, in response to what I have said, those expressions trickle out. Yes, of course, sometimes more members means greater representation—sometimes. That is not what he said earlier. As for his joke, the hon. Gentleman should give Bob Monkhouse his joke book back. With all good will, I do not treat the Liberal Democrats' proposals seriously at all because they are loaded with self-interest and nothing more.
I say to the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway), the Conservative spokesman, that at least his party's proposals are legitimate. We have heard them before; they are not new, they are old hat and they are hackneyed, but at least they are legitimate. I happen to believe that the proposals are not the right way to go, but the hon. Gentleman described his case, extremely well, as complete twaddle, and so are the proposals.
In terms of the strategic governance of London, the Conservative proposals offer no way forward at all. They may be a pro tem measure, following the vandalism of destroying the GLC and putting the London residuary body in place. A plethora of bodies were generated, four of which were on the model proposed by the Conservatives. However, the London planning advisory committee, within a framework, worked, as did the London research centre, the London borough grants committee and—despite the comments of the hon. Member for Croydon, South—the London fire and civil defence authority.
In terms of looking after small portions of the strategic concerns of London, having indirectly appointed members from boroughs has worked—but only as a pro tern measure. We are putting those bodies back together, and adding our proposals on transport and other areas. To suggest that indirectly appointed members from each borough should carry out those functions is a complete nonsense. That does not fit with the thrust of the Bill at all, and should be rejected.
768 The hon. Member for Croydon, South has suggested a number of times—although his contributions belie it—that he is the fount of all knowledge when it comes to human nature. I said on Second Reading that the notion that, somehow, all assembly members—directly elected or otherwise—for the 14 constituencies, or the 11 on the list, will be parochialism-free is nonsense. The notion that the member representing Brent and Harrow might just occasionally look after the interests of Brent and Harrow in a strategic sense, or might speak for the people, is fair. However, the undemocratic measure proposed by the amendment would institute and formalise the notion of parochialism.
Within the strategic context of London, there is a distinct north-west London view that is different from a west London view and from a north London view—and is certainly different from anything south of the river. I would expect my assembly member to represent that view, and Brent and Harrow sit together neatly in all sorts of ways. However, the assembly member should represent those views in the context of the strategic whole that is London.
The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton made one good point—there may have been others; I may be ungenerous. He said that despite all the fears and scaremongering, the Bill does not significantly diminish the power of boroughs as was suggested on Second Reading and during the passage of the Greater London Authority (Referendum) Act 1998. The Bill takes some powers away within a strategic framework, but that is right and proper.
Within that context—because we are, after all, talking about the composition of the assembly in terms of the number of constituencies—I believe that the model proposed in the Bill is the only appropriate one. The notion of multi-member constituencies and single transferable vote—all that nonsense—does not work, either.
The notion of nominating representatives from boroughs has been mentioned. The point was made that leaders would be too busy, but, to be fair to the hon. Member for Croydon, South, there is no reference to leaders, only to nominated representatives. The notion that they could do the job that full-time members of the GLA will be charged with—that of looking after London's strategic interest—is complete nonsense.
The proposition that, somehow, we should have more members to sprinkle around the committees is also nonsense. Full-time members will be charged with looking after London's strategic vision, and they can probably manage two or three committees. Certainly, that is something that the Liberal Democrats in Harrow could never manage. They were never there—even when they were supposed to be running the place. In the interests of the strategic vision for London, as outlined in the Bill, the only way forward is the 14-11 split in terms of the constituencies, as alluded to earlier by my hon. Friend the Minister for London and Construction.
I wish to make one throwaway point. I would not wish people to think that I am a pedant, but I do not understand why amendment No. 13 has been included in this group as it does not fit in with what the hon. Member for Croydon, South said about appointed members. 769 The amendment proposes that one borough should equal one constituency. I do not know how that fits in with the group, but it may be a slip-up. I urge the Committee to resist the amendments—they are nonsense.
§ Mr. Leigh
I have some sympathy with what the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) was saying about the one and only Liberal who might serve on the GLA, because I had the distinction of being the only sitting member of the GLC ever to lose to a Liberal, thereby ensuring that the Liberals achieved, in the shape of Adrian Slade, their one and only representative ever on the old GLC.
This has been an interesting debate, and has shown up some of the difficulties that the new body will face. I have considerable sympathy for what my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) said. I have served on boroughs and on the GLC, and I am genuinely neutral on the matter. I am an interloper from the rural fields of Lincolnshire—I have no stake at all. Hon. Members might wonder why I am speaking in the debate. In any event, I shall be brief and share my experiences with the Committee.
If representatives were elected on to the new body from boroughs, they would see themselves as being the voice of the borough on the new body, rather than the voice of the people. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South may think that that is fair enough. However, I used to serve on organisations such as the London Boroughs Association, and the problem is that it would not be the leader of the council who would be nominated to serve on the body—he would be far too busy; it would not even be the high-fliers—the chairmen of the committees; it would be the semi-retired, older members—Alderman Pompous or Councillor Hack—who would be put on the new body,
Having served on bodies such as the LBA, I can tell my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South that they are irredeemably tedious and are staffed by people who, although they are very worthy, would not set London alight. I am not sure that anyone serving on the new body would be capable of setting London alight, but those people certainly would not. I have some doubts about what my hon. Friend said, but the amendment is perfectly serious and should be debated. My hon. Friend said that there would be tension between the GLA and the boroughs. However, if there were no tension, there would be no point in having the GLA. Tension can be a creative and useful force.
We all know that the old Greater London council did not work very well, although I greatly irritated Lady Thatcher by voting against its abolition at every stage, because I was convinced that nothing would be achieved by that, and I still believe it. Nothing has been achieved politically, because the powers were simply passed down from a body that we sometimes won to bodies in inner London that we never won. A lot of irritation was caused to London people. The party has now, wisely in my view, gone back on the policy of abolishing the GLC. It still does not believe in the GLA, but it accepts the concept of London government in the shape of a mayor.
There will always be tensions; one cannot avoid them. I appreciate what my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South is trying to do: he wants to create something more sensible and creative that will work in 770 the way that the GLC never did. The GLC did not work well because it was always trying to be a strategic body, but that is an amorphous phrase that has little meaning. What is a strategic body? Funnily enough, the GLC worked better in its old days as the London county council, when it was not a strategic body and carried out direct functions involving public housing and other matters. I say that as a Conservative Member, knowing that we never won the LCC.
§ Mr. Leigh
My right hon. Friend is a distinguished historian, and I knew that he would interrupt me, but I think that I am right in saying that we never won the LCC after the second world war, although we had a distinguished record in running it sometimes before then.
There will always be problems. My view is that the GLA is probably doomed as a body. It will come into being and work, but the centre of power in London government is now moving remorselessly towards the mayor's office. That is where all the political interest will be and where all the high fliers will want to end up. I fear that the GLA will become a token body, at best a creature of the mayor.
I have adduced all the problems, but what is the solution? It is easy to criticise, but far more difficult to be in the Minister's seat and try to create systems that work. We have had so many models of government for London. I do not know what the solution is, but I have an idea. Perhaps we should not have members of the GLA appointed directly from the boroughs, for the reasons that I have given; perhaps we should not go down the route proposed by the Liberals, which seems to be unduly cumbersome; and perhaps a solution that used to work quite well in the early days of the GLC, before I joined it, is sensible.
The GLC used to have separate members who effectively represented boroughs, rather than individual constituencies, as was the case when I joined. They were not borough members, but they represented areas that were similar or exactly equal to the boroughs, so they had a borough interest. It has been said repeatedly in this debate—and my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South rightly chided me on the point—that, whether members represent boroughs, constituencies or wards, they will inevitably take some parochial interest; and perhaps that is no bad thing. If people were elected to the GLA to represent areas corresponding to boroughs, they would be able to balance priorities between parochial and wider London interests.
I want to say a word in defence of members of the old GLC, and people who will now no doubt serve on the new GLA. They have often had a bad name. I served happily on the GLC with my current pair—although we are not allowed to pair now—the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), who was a conscientious member of the GLC, although we disagreed politically.
It is true that many members of the GLC were parliamentarian manqués and tried to create a little parliament over the river, which may have been rather pathetic in many ways, but people such as Horace Cutler, Desmond Plummer and Richard Brew on my side, 771 and many on the other side, were absolutely committed to good governance in London, and I am sure that those who serve on the new GLA will be equally committed.
§ Mr. Darvill
Once again, the Opposition are flawed in their thinking. We will frequently return to the overarching theme that the GLA will be a strategic authority. Contrary to what the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) said, I do not consider that an amorphous concept: I think that it is relevant and needed.
The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) made two major points against the Bill's provisions, in support of the amendment. He complained that powers and duties were to be taken away from local authorities and that there was no obligation on the mayor and assembly to liaise with those authorities. I believe that he was wrong—powers will not be taken away from local authorities. Clause 27 sets out expressly the powers that the GLA will have: it prohibits expenditure on housing, education, social services and health services. No doubt when the Committee discusses the GLA's general powers, more consideration will be given to how local authorities will be affected.
The strategic role of Londonwide non-elected bodies will be taken back under the democratic accountability that was removed by the previous Government when they abolished the GLC. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) listed those bodies clearly a few moments ago.
On liaison, the hon. Member for Croydon, South was again wrong. For example, clause 126 provides that each London borough council will provide local implementation plans for transport strategy. Both implicitly and expressly, that creates the liaison that he complained was not in the Bill.
The amendment suggests a larger, non-elected, nominated body, which would inevitably be parochial and undemocratic because of its constitution. That is basically wrong. I have greater sympathy with the Liberal amendments in the group, but the argument for them has not been clearly made and I think that, on balance, a 25-member assembly will be right. I urge the Committee to reject all the amendments.
§ Mr. Brooke
The clause 1 stand part debate concerned the main and essential principle of the Bill, and everything that follows clause 1 is essentially detail. We embarked on that detail on the previous group of amendments. I agree with the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Pound) that the best is the enemy of the good, but the fact remains that it is our duty, both down on the Floor of the House and for weeks and weeks Upstairs, to seek to improve the Bill, as we are setting a framework that will govern London well into the next millennium.
A debate on the detail is important, and I hope that the Committee's enthusiasm can be maintained throughout our proceedings, so that we can remain vigilant. We do not think that everything in the Bill is bad—I have already acknowledged that there are good things about it—but, even if we do not aim to make the good best, there is no reason for not seeking to make the good better, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) on initiating this debate.
772 As I understand it, the Government's main objection to the amendment is that, if the assembly simply consists of representatives of the boroughs, nimbyism will flourish and a strategic view will not be taken. I am not my brother's keeper, so of course I do not know every single thing that my Member of the European Parliament does, but the only time I ever come across him is when he is taking up domestic matters in the constituency that have nothing to do with Europe. No doubt he spends some time on Europe, but he has no hesitation at all in taking up any domestic, local issue if it will gain him some column inches in the local press. Clearly, in that respect he is not doing his European job per se.
What my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) said about the GLC, from his direct experience, reinforces my uneasy feeling that the enthusiasm for concentrating on people who will take only a strategic view will not insulate us from people who will in fact take considerable interest in local matters.
The great Lord Slim, commander of the 14th Army in the second world war, wrote in an essay after he had ceased to be an active soldier, that it was characteristic of the British Army that it was always required to fight uphill, and always required to fight at the juncture of two or more maps. The logic of that was that the strategists did not place the Army in the best possible position in which to fight a war. One of the characteristics of charity law nowadays is that trustees are supposed to exercise strategic roles and to guide their charities towards long-term aims. In my experience, however, on every charity on which I have served the trustees have become enormously preoccupied with local detail, and they do not, except in very large charities, fulfil that strategic role.
The party list system will cause those who choose candidates to mark people on how strategic they are being. It is also true, however, that if one wishes to be elected or re-elected to anything, one must have a public persona. It would surprise me if those who serve on the London assembly do not seek to acquire a public persona through their actions. I am not convinced that nimbyism will be absent under the Government's proposals.
My second point relates to our other debates on constitutional reform, such as the forthcoming debate between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. If the Lords were to seek greater powers, those powers could be taken only from the Commons. In the same way, if the Government are not to surrender powers to the mayor, the mayor can receive powers only from the boroughs. The boroughs are the check on the mayor, and will provide scrutiny of the mayor. That will necessarily involve tension, but that is no disadvantage in comparison with what the Government propose. Tension can be highly productive.
Thirdly, there is an old saying that it is sensible to turn poachers into gamekeepers. The Government's proposition in the previous set of amendments was that a gamekeeper should be turned into a poacher in the form of the deputy mayor. Whether that is sensible, I doubt. We shall later analyse the assembly's powers to hold the mayor to account, and I shall be surprised if those powers turn out to be other than fairly sparse.
Fourthly, it is paradoxical that the Government are seeking in many other ways to devolve powers to local authorities. In the context of the government of London, 773 the Government expressed enthusiasm in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 for the idea of involving local authorities in working with the police on better policing and on prevention of crime. That is good, but the logic is that the consultative responsibility for the police should be taken down to local authority level, and that is a subject that we may consider later in the Bill's passage. It is curious that all sorts of matters are being moved towards local authorities, but that the London local authority is not considered appropriate to fulfil the role for which the amendment presses.
Finally, the Association of London Government has been kind enough to send all hon. Members advice on the clauses before us. It states:In particular, the Association wishes to ensure that there are adequate arrangements for involving borough councillors in the activities of the new authority and its functional bodies where appropriate.I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South for having devised an amendment that responds so admirably to that desire.
§ Mrs. Lait
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak, because Bromley was the borough that took on the Greater London council's "Fares Fair" policy. Residents of Bromley still have concerns about the possible overweening power of an elected authority over the borough. The assembly will be responsible for transport, and that includes the underground. There are, of course, no tube stations in Bromley, and residents will closely examine any expenditure on the tube in case it disadvantages Bromley in any way.
That is one reason why I support the amendment to allow representatives of the local authorities to make up the assembly. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) drew a parallel with the role of Members of the European Parliament and the way in which their interests are parochial when they wish to get into the local paper. There is a further parallel with the Council of Ministers, which is made up of elected Members of Parliament who become Ministers who are nominated to sit on the relevant Council. The amendment is precisely analogous.
I stand to be corrected, but I am not aware of the Labour party having put forward proposals to amend the treaty of Rome to change the system of the Council of Ministers. I should feel more convinced of the Government's desire to have an elected assembly if they would move towards an elected Council of Ministers in Europe, which would be an interesting constitutional upheaval. I shall go no further down that route, but I draw the parallel: the Council of Ministers is the authoritative body in the European Union, and if we are to have a truly authoritative body to run London, a nominated authority could be most effective in truly representing the voters and in knowing what the voters want.
I have lived both north and south of the river, and I can agree and disagree with what has been said about disagreements between the two. It all depends on what the issue is. To say blithely that there is no continuity of interests in the geographic areas around London is to fly in the face of reality. There is no reason why we cannot have a truly effective authority, which the Government want, by having a representative authority rather than an elected one.
§ Mr. Randall
The debate seems essentially to be about whether the emphasis of the strategic authority will be on constituency links, or, to put it in the more denigrating way that many hon. Members have put it, parochial matters. The Government appear to believe that the only way in which to make the authority strategic is to move away from the constituency link, although the directly elected members will, despite the largeness of their areas, retain a vestige of the link.
I fervently believe in the constituency link. It is important to Members of Parliament, and it would be equally so for members of the assembly. That is not so say that I, like other hon. Members, cannot take the strategic view—if that is the correct buzz word. To be more old-fashioned about it, I would say that I put my country first, then my constituency and then, somewhere lower, my party. I do not understand why representatives from the boroughs could not put London first, their boroughs second and their party interests at the bottom of the list.
I take issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh). I do not understand why the has-beens and the never-will-bes would be sent to such an important assembly. Occasionally, one is put on committees—I may have been on some myself—that are not necessarily for the high flyers and I am sure that I have a long and distinguished career ahead in such committees, but surely the boroughs will send their best people to ensure that they are represented in the way that they want.
Unlike some Labour Members, notably the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty), I concede that there should be much debate on the subject. There is a measure of consensus. If the Government are so unhappy about having nominated representatives in the boroughs, perhaps they will consider the possibility of directly elected members to represent boroughs rather than those larger and strangely tied together areas. For that reason, if our amendment is not accepted, I hope that the Government will consider maintaining some stronger form of constituency link than is proposed because that is the very basis of our democracy here.
§ Ms Glenda Jackson
This has been a fascinating debate, with some remarkable contributions. The speech by the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) was surprising. In the beginning, he said that the Opposition believe in a mayor, sliding over the fact that that was a major U-turn on the part of the Conservative party. In fairness however, he barely got into his stride when his right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) leapt to his feet. As a former Secretary of State for the Environment, he was much concerned at what he perceived to be a gross intrusion on the part of the mayor and the assembly in the boroughs' desires to create a strategy to remove their waste. He thought it appalling that individual boroughs should have to consider their neighbouring boroughs. That was from a member of a previous Administration who had permitted Westminster council to stop moving its waste by the River Thames and allowed it to move it by road with never a thought for the additional pollution that it put on the roads of Westminster's neighbouring boroughs. One reason why the boroughs welcome our proposal so warmly is because they and Londoners are crying out for a proper strategy for waste, recycling and improving our environment.
775 The basis of the argument put by the hon. Member for Croydon, South was that the best way to ensure that the assembly meets the needs of Londoners is to appoint one. Initially, he suggested the leaders of the 32 boroughs—I presume that he would have included the City of London, thus making it 33. He then changed to a representative of the boroughs, but proceeded to rubbish the boroughs—be they leaders, representatives or councillors. He was much exercised over a letter that my hon. Friend the Minister for London had occasion to read to the Committee, which he had received from our noble Friend Lord Harris and the Association of London Government.
I trust that it will reassure the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) to hear that it was not this evening's amendments that occasioned the guard within the Bill to ensure that there is no conflict between the mayor, the assembly and the boroughs. The final paragraph of the letter from the ALG states:Finally, we do not see the Assembly leading to conflict between the boroughs and the GLA. Our discussions with the Government leading up to the Bill have reassured us that the GLA is being designed to minimise conflict and to ensure collaboration. For instance, we particularly welcome the provisions of Clause 27, which prohibit the Mayor in becoming involved in key borough functions unless in co-operation".The basic argument of the hon. Member for Croydon, South is that the Opposition want the boroughs to send a representative, not a leader, because it is the best way to ensure that the assembly best serves the interests of the people of London. However, he then rubbished individual boroughs. Haringey and Hammersmith featured in his contribution. He accused the letter of my noble Friend Lord Harris of demonstrating nothing more than cronyism. Indeed, he stated that the letter from the ALG was not worth the paper that it was printed on. I find it bizarre that someone who clearly holds the borough representatives in such low regard is arguing that those are the people who should automatically be appointed to an assembly.
The hon. Gentleman failed to touch on a particularly important point inasmuch as the Bill is about restoring a democratic voice to the people of London. The official Opposition's proposals would ignore the wishes of Londoners twice. In effect, they would ensure that their choice of borough representative would not be there to do the job that they had elected him or her to do. The proposals would also ignore the voice of Londoners in their directly elected mayor because an unelected assembly could scrutinise an elected mayor. That is hardly a democratic benefit; it is a democratic deficit twice.
The contributions from Conservative Back Benchers were infinitely more constructive than those of the hon. Member for Croydon, South. The amendments that he tabled would wreck the provisions of the Bill—provisions agreed by Parliament and endorsed by the people of London in a referendum held only nine months ago. The contributions of the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster and the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) were particularly positive in that both were concerned, in essence, with what is central to our Bill—the good governance of London.
776 The hon. Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) also made a somewhat surprising contribution inasmuch as she supports the amendment. Yet, when we debated the possibility of an elected deputy mayor earlier—also an Opposition proposal—she argued that directly elected assembly men would be much too busy attempting to reply to their correspondence to constituents to be able truly to scrutinise the mayor's proposals and policies. Apparently, by supporting this amendment, she is perfectly prepared to put in assembly men who have no mandate from the people of London, but who would not be able to deal with their constituents in the boroughs to which they were directly elected.
The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) attaches importance to a constituency link. There will be constituencies; we have announced the new constituencies for which residents will vote for their assembly members. We are not attempting to mix and match or pour a quart into a pint pot, but proposing modern government of the sort that the people of London have shown, by their overwhelming support in the referendum, that they wish to have introduced.
The Greater London Authority (Referendum) Bill contained the question on the ballot paper that was put to the people of London in the referendum. It was quite explicit and askedAre you in favour of the government's proposals for a Greater London Authority, made up of an elected mayor and a separately elected assembly?Around 70 per cent. of those who voted in the referendum voted yes, and there was a clear yes vote in every London borough. It is astonishing that the Conservative Opposition, which supported a yes vote during the referendum and approved an elected assembly, should come forward with tired old arguments about having appointees rather than elected members. Is that really the new democracy for the new millennium that they seek to establish?
Several Opposition Members, including the hon. Member for Gainsborough, mentioned parochialism. Some felt that the authority would not play its proper part. The point is that the GLA will be a strategic authority concerned with matters that affect the whole of London. I touched lightly on the environment and a proper strategic waste disposal plan, and explained how one borough's actions can adversely affect the lives of people in neighbouring boroughs. That does not mean that the GLA will be unconcerned by issues that arise in individual boroughs or groups of boroughs but that, under the Bill, the GLA cannot ride roughshod over the interests of the boroughs or the decisions that they take. The boroughs do not therefore need to be represented on the GLA.
As a strategic authority, it is essential that the GLA should focus on broad, Londonwide issues. Borough council members are elected to represent the views, and promote the interests, of their boroughs, but sometimes a broader perspective is necessary. It is that broader perspective that directly elected list members of the assembly will be expected to provide. The borough councils will of course continue to have a major part to play in the governance of London. Their role is carefully safeguarded by the Bill. They, if not the Conservative party, have recognised that the GLA is not a threat to them. I quoted the final paragraph of the letter from 777 the Association of London Government. Indeed, the ALG's briefing on the Bill states:The ALG supports this major initiative to give Londoners an elected Mayor and Assembly".The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) made several points in response to the Conservative amendments that chimed closely with our responses. He noted that the strategic nature of our proposals is essential. He inquired why there was no requirement on the mayor and assembly to have a strategic overview of health. My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) touched on some of the reasons. There is a requirement in the Bill that the mayor must improve the health of Londoners, but that is part and parcel of the other strategic policies that the mayor and assembly will introduce.
The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton discerned a lack of democracy in our national health service. I am sure that he knows of the announcement made in the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health in which he listed in no small detail the true democratic perspective that will be brought to bear in respect of our NHS and our NHS trusts. The hon. Gentleman mentioned that he wants social services and health departments to work more closely together for the benefit of our constituents. The Government have already begun to put that in place. The most recent standard spending assessment settlement has done precisely that.
I found the Liberal Democrat amendments surprising. An assembly of 40 members is not what Londoners voted for. They backed our proposals for a small, streamlined assembly of 25 members. We intend to deliver for Londoners their wishes, as endorsed by the referendum. That is not through any concern about press comment, whether adverse or pro. We have said all along, in the Green Paper, the White Paper and in the Bill, that the assembly needs to be small, streamlined and strategic in focus. We think that 40 members would far too many. An assembly of 25 members will be large enough to allow it to perform its essential scrutiny and investigative roles without becoming unwieldy and unnecessarily bureaucratic. Its size will allow it to take a strategic view rather than a parochial one, which would lead to competition with the boroughs.
The Liberal Democrats may have proposed a larger assembly because they want it, rather than the mayor, to perform executive functions. The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton mentioned that point. To set his mind at rest, let me say that Transport for London is an executive arm of the mayor and assembly, not a body that will discuss what is required for London transport. It does not require membership from the boroughs because it will put in place the policies that the mayor will have campaigned on and that have been validated by the people of London. The Liberal Democrats clearly think that a larger body is needed, but we think that their proposals are a recipe for bigger, more bureaucratic government with more committees and, inevitably, less efficiency. In his typically robust and entertaining contribution, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) shared his interpretation of precisely why the Liberal Democrats propose a larger assembly.
Londoners want action. They backed our proposals for a directly elected mayor coupled with an assembly, thus ensuring that the mayor's activities are open 778 and accountable, because they want action taken in the areas of particular concern to all Londoners. If hon. Members consider the detail of the Liberal Democrat proposals, they will recognise that there is little logical in them. Why have 23 constituency members? I can at least understand—although I do not agree with it—the rationale for an assembly of 33 members, one for each London borough and one the for the City, or for our proposal for 14 constituency members under which we can combine two or three boroughs to form constituencies.
The Liberal Democrat proposals could require boroughs to be divided up into new constituencies. My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich pressed hard to find out who the Liberal Democrats thought representatives for such constituencies would be speaking for. It is an unnecessary and impractical proposal. Londoners could find themselves voting in an entirely new electoral area that was not a borough, an easily recognisable combination of boroughs or a parliamentary constituency but yet another electoral unit. That would produce confusion and severe irritation.
If the amendments were accepted, they would be likely to delay the elections. The Local Government Commission would need to conduct a further review of constituencies, scrapping the thorough work that it has just completed which produced recommendations that have attracted little criticism. A new review would be particularly complex and controversial because the commission would be asked how best to divide up boroughs to create wholly new units. That is a recipe for delay and confusion. The Government believe that a directly elected assembly of 25 members is right for London; it was certainly backed by London. I therefore ask that the amendment be withdrawn.
§ 8 pm
§ Mr. Brake
I shall briefly pick out a number of the points made by the Minister. She said that Londoners did not vote for 40 assembly members. That is true, but they were not given that choice. If the assembly were to have 23 constituency members, there would be no need to split boroughs as it would be entirely possible to have an arrangement based on boroughs or parliamentary constituencies.
The Minister referred to Transport for London, and we shall return to that matter at another time. However, I am surprised that the Government have chosen to exclude every single assembly member from Transport for London, as I would have thought that assembly members would have a view about transport in London and would have some interesting points to make to that body.
The Minister has failed to respond to Liberal Democrat concern that only 25 assembly members might not have sufficient time to respond to Londonwide issues, to their constituencies, and to the demands of their committees. Many hon. Members will be aware that councils have difficulty in ensuring attendance at meetings and, if the assembly has only a small number of members, there might be difficulties in ensuring that there is adequate representation and adequate consideration.
§ Ms Jackson
The hon. Gentleman talks about assembly members not having sufficient time, but his analogy is somewhat inaccurate: assembly members will be full-time members.
§ Mr. Brake
I thank the Minister for that intervention. However, she must also be aware that there will be 779 considerable demands on the assembly members because of the sizes of their constituencies and because the members will be a focus for many organisations. The hon. Lady laughs, but I am sure that she accepts that my point is correct. Will the Government reconsider the issue of the number of assembly members and consider whether an expansion of that number would not best serve the interests of Londoners?
§ Mr. Ottaway
The debate has been a bit of a landmark for me, because the forthright speech of the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) resulted in something on which I could agree with him: his views on the Liberal Democrats.
After 25 minutes, I understood the drift of the speech of the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey): he was trying to argue that a member elected by proportional representation could speak up for his constituency. We look forward to hearing how that argument develops.
I was especially grateful for the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh). When he and I were in the same association, plotting our political careers in the 1970s, it seemed that his ambitions would inevitably lead him to the Greater London council. For a Conservative Member, his speech was a bit off message, but he was right to highlight the problems that the assembly would inevitably face and he made a thoughtful and welcome contribution.
We heard excellent speeches from other hon. Members. The hon. Member for Upminster (Mr. Darvill) reached the wrong conclusion for the wrong reasons, but it was a worthy effort. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) was right to warn of the inevitable temptation for an assembly member to speak up for his or her own patch. My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mrs. Lait) drew an interesting parallel between the amendment and the Council of Ministers. My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) correctly said that the boroughs would make their best proposals in any assembly of borough representatives.
In her speech, the Minister referred, yet again, to the famous letter from Lord Harris, drawing attention to the fact that he did not think that the assembly would lead to conflict with the boroughs. However, Conservative Members made the point that Lord Harris did not fully consult the Association of London Government and that the letter does not reflect the views of the London boroughs, as was shown by the survey that was taken.
§ Mr. Ottaway
The Minister says, yet again, that it was a year ago, but I repeat what I told him on Second Reading that, bless its cotton socks, the Labour party has changed its mind on every fundamental issue of the past decade. It takes the biscuit for him to say that the London borough leaders have changed their minds in the past 12 months.
The amendment would allow the London boroughs to be involved, right up to the hilt, in the Greater London authority. If the Government reject the amendment, 780 they will be telling the boroughs that they do not trust the boroughs to make the right decision. The Conservative party will continue to speak up for the London boroughs for a long time to come. We are not satisfied with the Minister's response and we wish to press the amendment to a division.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 115, Noes 339.783
|Division No. 38]||[8.6 pm|
|Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)||Lait, Mrs Jacqui|
|Amess, David||Lansley, Andrew|
|Ancram, Rt Hon Michael||Leigh, Edward|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)||Lidington, David|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)|
|Bercow, John||Luff, Peter|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Boswell, Tim||Maclean, Rt Hon David|
|Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia||Madel, Sir David|
|Brazier, Julian||Malins, Humfrey|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Mates, Michael|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Maude, Rt Hon Francis|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian|
|Burns, Simon||Moss, Malcolm|
|Cash, William||Norman, Archie|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)||Ottaway, Richard|
|Chope, Christopher||Page, Richard|
|Clappison, James||Paice, James|
|Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)||Paterson, Owen|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Pickles, Eric|
|Colvin, Michael||Prior, David|
|Cormack, Sir Patrick||Randall, John|
|Cran, James||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen||Robathan, Andrew|
|Duncan, Alan||Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)|
|Duncan Smith, Iain||Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)|
|Evans, Nigel||Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)|
|Faber, David||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Flight, Howard||Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian|
|Forth, Rt Hon Eric||Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)|
|Fox, Dr Liam||Soames, Nicholas|
|Gale, Roger||Spelman, Mrs Caroline|
|Garnier, Edward||Spicer, Sir Michael|
|Gibb, Nick||Spring, Richard|
|Goodlad, Rt Hon Sir Alastair||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Gorman, Mrs Teresa||Steen, Anthony|
|Gray, James||Streeter, Gary|
|Green, Damian||Swayne, Desmond|
|Greenway, John||Syms, Robert|
|Grieve, Dominic||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Hammond, Philip||Taylor, Sir Teddy|
|Hawkins, Nick||Townend, John|
|Hayes, John||Trend, Michael|
|Heald, Oliver||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David||Viggers, Peter|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas||Walter, Robert|
|Horam, John||Whitney, Sir Raymond|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Whittingdale, John|
|Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)||Willetts, David|
|Hunter, Andrew||Wishire, David|
|Jack, Rt Hon Michael||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Yeo, Tim|
|Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Key, Robert||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Kirkbride, Miss Julie||Mr. Stephen Day and|
|Laing, Mrs Eleanor||Mr. Tim Collins.|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Cook, Frank (Stockton N)|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Cooper, Yvette|
|Ainger, Nick||Corbett, Robin|
|Alexander, Douglas||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Allan, Richard||Corston, Ms Jean|
|Allen, Graham||Cotter, Brian|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Cousins, Jim|
|Armstrong, Ms Hilary||Cranston, Ross|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)|
|Ashton, Joe||Cryer, John (Hornchurch)|
|Atherton, Ms Candy||Cummings, John|
|Atkins, Charlotte||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Austin, John||Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)|
|Baker, Norman||Dalyell, Tam|
|Banks, Tony||Darling, Rt Hon Alistair|
|Barnes, Harry||Darvill, Keith|
|Barron, Kevin||Davey, Edward (Kingston)|
|Battle, John||Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)|
|Bayley, Hugh||Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret||Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)|
|Begg, Miss Anne||Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)|
|Beith, Rt Hon A J||Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)|
|Bell, Martin (Tatton)||Dean, Mrs Janet|
|Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)||Denham, John|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Dismore, Andrew|
|Bennett, Andrew F||Donohoe, Brian H|
|Benton, Joe||Doran, Frank|
|Berry, Roger||Dowd, Jim|
|Best, Harold||Drown, Ms Julia|
|Betts, Clive||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth|
|Blackman, Liz||Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)|
|Blizzard, Bob||Edwards, Huw|
|Boateng, Paul||Efford, Clive|
|Borrow, David||Ellman, Mrs Louise|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Ewing, Mrs Margaret|
|Brake, Tom||Field, Rt Hon Frank|
|Brand, Dr Peter||Fisher, Mark|
|Breed, Colin||Fitzsimons, Lorna|
|Brinton, Mrs Helen||Flint, Caroline|
|Brown, Russell (Dumfries)||Flynn, Paul|
|Browne, Desmond||Follett, Barbara|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Foster, Rt Hon Derek|
|Burden, Richard||Foster, Don (Bath)|
|Burgon, Colin||Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)|
|Burnett, John||Foster, Michael J (Worcester)|
|Burstow, Paul||Fyfe, Maria|
|Butler, Mrs Christine||Galbraith, Sam|
|Caborn, Richard||Galloway, George|
|Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)||Gardiner, Barry|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||George, Andrew (St Ives)|
|Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)||Gerrard, Neil|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||Godman, Dr Norman A|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Godsiff, Roger|
|Caplin, Ivor||Goggins, Paul|
|Casale, Roger||Gordon, Mrs Eileen|
|Caton, Martin||Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)|
|Cawsey, Ian||Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)|
|Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Grocott, Bruce|
|Clapham, Michael||Grogan, John|
|Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)||Gunnell, John|
|Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)||Hain, Peter|
|Clark, Paul (Gillingham)||Hall, Patrick (Bedford)|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)||Hancock, Mike|
|Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)||Hanson, David|
|Clelland, David||Harris, Dr Evan|
|Clwyd, Ann||Heal, Mrs Sylvia|
|Coaker, Vernon||Healey, John|
|Coffey, Ms Ann||Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)|
|Coleman, Iain||Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)|
|Colman, Tony||Hepburn, Stephen|
|Connarty, Michael||Heppell, John|
|Hewitt, Ms Patricia||Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)|
|Hill, Keith||Miller, Andrew|
|Hodge, Ms Margaret||Mitchell, Austin|
|Home Robertson, John||Moran, Ms Margaret|
|Hopkins, Kelvin||Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)|
|Howells, Dr Kim||Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)|
|Hoyle, Lindsay||Morley, Elliot|
|Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)||Mountford, Kali|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Mudie, George|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)||Mullin, Chris|
|Humble, Mrs Joan||Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)|
|Hurst, Alan||Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)|
|Iddon, Dr Brian||Norris, Dan|
|Illsley, Eric||Oaten, Mark|
|Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)||O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)|
|Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Jamieson, David||Öpik, Lembit|
|Jenkins, Brian||Osborne, Ms Sandra|
|Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)||Pendry, Tom|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Perham, Ms Linda|
|Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)||Pickthall, Colin|
|Jones, Helen (Warrington N)||Pike, Peter L|
|Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)||Plaskitt, James|
|Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)||Pollard, Kerry|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)||Pond, Chris|
|Jowell, Ms Tessa||Pound, Stephen|
|Keeble, Ms Sally||Powell, Sir Raymond|
|Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)|
|Keetch, Paul||Prescott, Rt Hon John|
|Kemp, Fraser||Prosser, Gwyn|
|Khabra, Piara S||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Kidney, David||Quinn, Lawrie|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Radice, Giles|
|King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)||Rapson, Syd|
|Kingham, Ms Tess||Raynsford, Nick|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Rendel, David|
|Ladyman, Dr Stephen||Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)|
|Lawrence, Ms Jackie||Roche, Mrs Barbara|
|Laxton, Bob||Rooker, Jeff|
|Leslie, Christopher||Rooney, Terry|
|Levitt, Tom||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Lewis, Terry (Worsley)||Roy, Frank|
|Linton, Martin||Ruane, Chris|
|Livingstone, Ken||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|Livsey, Richard||Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)|
|Llwyd, Elfyn||Ryan, Ms Joan|
|Lock, David||Salter, Martin|
|McAllion, John||Sanders, Adrian|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Savidge, Malcolm|
|McCabe, Steve||Sawford, Phil|
|McCafferty, Ms Chris||Sedgemore, Brian|
|McDonagh, Siobhain||Shaw, Jonathan|
|Macdonald, Calum||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|McDonnell, John||Shipley, Ms Debra|
|McGuire, Mrs Anne||Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)|
|McIsaac, Shona||Singh, Marsha|
|McKenna, Mrs Rosemary||Skinner, Dennis|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert||Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)|
|McNulty, Tony||Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)|
|Mallaber, Judy||Smith, John (Glamorgan)|
|Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Marek, Dr John||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)||Snape, Peter|
|Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)||Soley, Clive|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Southworth, Ms Helen|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Squire, Ms Rachel|
|Marshall-Andrews, Robert||Starkey, Dr Phyllis|
|Martlew, Eric||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Meacher, Rt Hon Michael||Stevenson, George|
|Meale, Alan||Stewart, David (Inverness E)|
|Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|Merron, Gillian||Stinchcombe, Paul|
|Stoate, Dr Howard||Watts, David|
|Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin||Webb, Steve|
|Straw, Rt Hon Jack||Welsh, Andrew|
|Stringer, Graham||White, Brian|
|Stuart, Ms Gisela||Whitehead, Dr Alan|
|Stunell, Andrew||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Sutcliffe, Gerry||Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd|
|Swinney, John||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)||Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)|
|Taylor, Matthew (Truro)||Willis, Phil|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Wilson, Brian|
|Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)||Winnick, David|
|Timms, Stephen||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Tipping, Paddy||Wise, Audrey|
|Trickett, Jon||Wood, Mike|
|Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)||Woolas, Phil|
|Twigg, Derek (Halton)||Worthington, Tony|
|Tyler, Paul||Wray, James|
|Vaz, Keith||Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)|
|Vis, Dr Rudi||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Walley, Ms Joan||Jane Kennedy and|
|Wareing, Robert N||Mr. Mike Hall.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
I beg to move amendment No. 19, in page 2, line 2, leave out from 'members' to end of line 6 and insert'representing the multi-member constituencies determined by the Local Government Commission under subsection (4) below.'.
The Second Deputy Chairman
With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 22, in page 2, line 7, after 'be', insert 'more than'.
No. 74, in page 2, line 15, after 'Mayor', insert 'and'.
No. 75, in page 2, line 16, leave out 'and the London members'.
No. 76, in page 2, line 18, leave out 'or the London members'.
No. 79, in page 2, leave out line 21.
No. 25, in page 2, line 21, leave out from 'of to second `the' in line 22.
No. 34, in clause 4, page 3, line 35, leave out from 'constituency' to end of line 37.
No. 39, in page 4, leave out line 2 and insert'by single transferable vote as set out in Part IAAA to Schedule 2 of this Act'.No. 38, in page 4, line 2, at end insert'unless there are three or more candidates.(4A) If there are three or more candidates in an Assembly constituency—No. 10, in page 4, leave out lines 3 to 18.
- (a) the constituency member shall be returned under the alternative vote system in accordance with Part IA of Schedule 2 to this Act;
- (b) a voter's constituency vote shall accordingly be an alternative vote, that is to say, a vote capable of being given to indicate the voter's preferences from among the candidates.'.
No. 40, in page 4, line 4, after first 'a', insert'candidate who is a member of a'.No. 41, in page 4, line 5, at end insert—'(b) a candidate on the list which has been submitted by a registered political party; or'.784 No. 42, in page 4, leave out lines 9 to 13 and insert—'(7) The person who is to be returned as Mayor shall be determined before it is determined who are to be returned as the Assembly members.'.No. 43, in page 4, leave out lines 14 to 18.
No. 11, in page 4, leave out lines 24 and 25.
No. 44, in schedule 1, page 141, leave out line 25.
No. 29, in page 141, leave out lines 26 and 27.
No. 30, in page 141, leave out lines 31 and 32.
No. 46, in schedule 2, page 143, line 21, at end insert—'PART IAA—