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Mr. Simon Hughes: I do not want go into history, but the right hon. Gentleman's party set up the Greater London council and its powers remained unaltered throughout its existence. I ask him to be less confrontational. While I agree with him about the timetable, as not even the Labour party won the support of a majority of Londoners who voted, and as we need to proceed with public consent, does he agree that the proper course, if the public agree to the proposals, is for party, like the others, to support the proposition that London should be governed by Londoners? Will he commit his party's support if Londoners clearly voice their support?

Mr. Gummer: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will, when I have completed my investigation of where we should be going, see exactly where I stand. I have great difficulty with two of his points. First, I have difficulty with the concept that London is not governed by Londoners, because there are elected authorities all over London. Secondly, I have difficulty with his assumptions about the area of London with which we are concerned. I want to explore that. I hope that he will listen because I am trying not to be confrontational. Indeed, I was not being confrontational until the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich tempted me. I am afraid that, like Oscar Wilde, I fell for the temptation. I will not fall again unless tempted again.

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Gummer: There is no one I would rather be tempted by.

Mr. Cohen: The right hon. Gentleman said that lots of London councils were governing London. Which of them should put in a bid for the World cup or other major events that would come to London as a whole?

Mr. Gummer: I was going to come to that important point. [Hon. Members: "Answer."] I shall give enough answers to ensure that the Government will also have to give answers when I get to that point, but I must continue my argument.

The first question is by what process we decide the matter. I do not suggest that any particular method is perfect, but it is important for the people of London to know what they are being offered, because there are some very real questions. Who is going to make the decision?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I would like to see the right hon. Gentleman's smiling face from time to time. He has his back to me.

Mr. Gummer: I am happy to do that; the pleasure is mutual.

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I want to be sure that the people of London know who is in charge of what. I notice that there has been a subtle change in presentation since the right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), who spoke on London for Labour in opposition, ceased to do so. In those days we talked of two different things: an elected mayor and a strategic authority. That was because two different bits of the Labour party favoured the two options. The right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras favoured a strategic authority but not a mayor, while the Prime Minister favoured a mayor but was not keen on a strategic authority; so we got both. Now we have a sort of conflation of the two. The people of London must know which is to be the voice for London.

What happens if the directly elected mayor has a voice different from that of the strategic authority? Who will be the voice for London? Will it be the strategic authority with all its powers, or will it be the mayor? If the mayor says that London should host the World cup and the strategic authority, which has to get the money for it, says that it should not, who will win? The people of London need to know.

I know who will win: the Government. They will win because they will decide. If it is not to be the Government, there must be an internal mechanism to decide whether the democratically elected mayor is superior or inferior to the democratically elected strategic authority. We have to know who is in charge. If they are both in charge, the confusion will be significantly worse than any portrayal of the present situation.

We must then ask of what the authority and the mayor are in charge. The Minister made a slip at the beginning of his speech that I forbore to mention. He said that no other capital city in Europe--he may have meant the world but I think that he meant western Europe--lacked a strategic authority. Paris does not have one.

Mr. Raynsford: Citywide.

Mr. Gummer: Paris's authority is not citywide. Its mayor does not control Paris; he controls the central area. It was for the Government to say whether London would consist of the area displayed on the map that the Minister vainly tried to show us. The example of Paris shows that a city can have an effective voice without having the same sort of coverage. The Minister has shown that that voice was loud enough for him to believe that the strategic authority covered the whole of Paris. He has obviously thought that for a long time, but it is not true.

It is difficult to see how to provide for the strategic needs of London in the narrow way suggested by Labour. That is why I ask over what are the strategic authority and mayor supposed to preside. Let us take transport. What sort of strategic policy for transport in London can possibly be contained within the boundaries of the old GLC area? Conservative Members, and many Government Members, know that transport in London means dealing with an area stretching from Margate to St. Albans. It can be done no other way. That is why London's transport strategy must cover an area much wider than that of the GLC.

On the other hand, in dealing with the Thames, one would not want the London borough of Ealing to be centrally involved. One has to be able to reach beyond the

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GLC area upstream and below it downstream. That is why the strategic authority argument does not work. Each policy matter demands a different geography for an effective strategy.

That is why the Minister cannot avoid the question of what area constitutes London. It is no good saying that he will leave that for the future. If this is really a radical policy, and the Minister has a list of fresh, new-minted policies for easy reference, why does not he face up to the question that lies behind all of this? How can we have a strategic authority over an area that manifestly differs as between different services and that is much larger for many things than the old GLC area and much smaller for many others?

For example, the Minister mentioned a strategy for the theatre. That would largely, if not entirely, involve the four central London boroughs of Westminster, Camden, Lambeth and Southwark. The strategic needs are represented by an association of those boroughs; but dealing effectively with the Thames involves a different strategic area. The Minister must face up to some of those issues.

Having shown the Minister that his strategy does not work for transport, let us consider air pollution. He bravely said that air pollution knows no borough boundaries. It does not; but does he think that it does not cross from Bexley into Dartford? What sort of concept is that? Half the air pollution in London comes from the north of the continent: it blows over from the rest of Europe. Is that to be part of London's strategic policy? The hon. Gentleman would have a London authority with a foreign policy on air pollution. We would go to the GLC and its nuclear-free zone notices.

The hon. Gentleman cannot defend his case for air pollution policies in London on the basis that the problem is wider than the boroughs. Of course it is wider than the boroughs, but the area that he proposes would be no better at dealing with air pollution than the areas that now do so. In fact, it would be much worse.

Mr. Merchant rose--

Ms Hodge: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Gummer: In a moment.

Major air pollution strategies must be carried out within the European Union rather than nationally, because pollution is blown over from Europe, and, as a contributory cause, we blow 50 per cent. of our pollution over there. There must be an overall policy on the quality of motor cars and the terms under which they may be sold. That must be done on a wider basis, but there must be a national strategy for air pollution. The previous Government were the first Government in this country to have one.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he has an awful habit of turning his back to the Chair.

Mr. Gummer: I thought that I had remembered, but I have not. I am sorry.

The next level is the national level, but, below that, the local level is important. That is where particular measures can be introduced for particular transport difficulties. The

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hon. Gentleman proposes that that should be not a local decision, but a Londonwide decision. What we will get is what we had with the GLC. We will have a strategic authority deciding generally and implementing locally. There will be the usual rows between the strategic authority and the local council, when it should be the local council that decides on local measures to deal with the local problem of air pollution.

Mr. Merchant: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the strength of his argument and the absurdity of the Labour party's position is borne out by the contradiction in its policy document "A Voice for London"? It says:

In the very next sentence, it says:

    "They and their harmful effects can only be countered by London-wide policies."

Is that not nonsense, and does not my right hon. Friend's argument prove it to be so?

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