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Mr. Simon Hughes: I was originally going to intervene on the Minister to say that in the Chamber there is no better example of moving on than the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), who started life as a young communist and has ended up as a right-wing Tory. The right hon. Gentleman should know about moving on.

I understand what the Minister is saying. My colleagues and I do not dissent from the view that London is entirely different because it is a metropolitan area and a capital city. I am trying to discover where the Government are putting it in the scheme of English constitutional reform. Does the fact that London is different mean that there will not be regional government for London in addition to the citywide government being created by the Bill? If we are to have a unique form of government, the Government should be honest and say as much, and not introduce all the accoutrements of local government such as the local government boundary commission and local government rules. Let us call it citywide government or unique citywide Londonwide government; let us rejoice in its uniqueness and capital city pre-eminence, but please do not let us call it local government when it is really no such thing.

Mr. Raynsford: The hon. Gentleman is tilting at windmills. We have not called it local government. He heard me say that we are proposing a unique form of governance for a unique city. We are creating a new form of citywide government for our capital city. I hope that we have agreement on that. I shall not be tempted into a discussion of the ramifications of regional government because that would take a long time and take us far from the matters in hand--

Mr. Hughes: It is because the Minister has no ideas.

Mr. Raynsford: I do indeed have all sorts of ideas, but I shall not debate them with the hon. Gentleman this afternoon.

Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay): I have just been to check on this contentious issue with the Library, and I

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think that I might be able to enlighten the Committee. The Library assures me that London is one of the nine regions in England designated under NUTS--a very appropriate expression. NUTS stands for the nomenclature of units of territorial statistics, as designated by--guess who?--our old friend the European Union. In order to organise us to suit its affairs, the EU has designated the United Kingdom as comprising 12 regions--Scotland, Wales, Ireland, London and eight others--so London is a region. Basically, all this is done at the insistence of the EU. London and the rest of us are being slotted in according to the EU's designation, but the fact remains that London is a region.

Mr. Raynsford: Hearing the hon. Lady talking about NUTS tempts me to go way beyond the subject in hand. I assure her that we are setting in place a system of citywide government for London which is, for certain purposes, treated as a region. However, unlike any other region in the United Kingdom, it is a uniquely urban area. It is not the mixture of urban and rural areas covering a much larger geographical area, which is the characteristic of the other regions. The hon. Lady will accept that there are differences.

The hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Horam) seemed to hark back not just to 1986, when the GLC was abolished, but to 1888 when the London county council was established. He seemed to be arguing the case for an inner London authority, but not an authority covering the rest of London. I have to tell him that the world has moved on a great deal since 1888. He also raised the interesting question of whether there should be a new constituency. I am happy to be able to tell the Committee that the Government have accepted the recommendations of the Local Government Commission on the constituencies that will be adopted for the Greater London assembly elections. Those constituencies--14 in total--will be as recommended by the commission. There will, therefore, be new constituencies, and members of the assembly will be elected in part from those constituencies. The other 11 members will be elected from the lists. We shall discuss that subject in later debates.

The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway), speaking as official spokesman for the Opposition, once again had difficulty with the referendum. Whatever conclusions he draws about how people who did not vote might have voted, in this country, we treat election results on the basis of those people who voted, and of those people who voted, 72 per cent. voted in favour of our proposition. By any count, that was a large and decisive majority. I make no apology whatever for repeating the fact that we are acting on the basis of the support of the people of London.

The hon. Member for Croydon, South made no apology for the abolition of the Greater London council. That is curious because, whereas our position is strongly endorsed by the people of London, the former Conservative Government abolished the GLC in the face of the obvious overwhelming hostility of the people of London, who wanted their own democratic citywide authority. That Government left London, alone of all major cities in the world, with no one to speak for it--

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with no one representing its interests in the United Kingdom or overseas. That situation is a problem, which we are now remedying.

Mr. Ottaway: But the Minister will recognise that, in his Green Paper, "New Leadership for London", he says:

Mr. Raynsford: I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. Gentleman. We know that the world moves on, and we are devising new models, appropriate to our period. That does not mean that we believe that the previous Government were right to abolish the GLC; it was a mistake. It was an affront to democracy in London, and we are remedying that, but we are devising a new model of governance appropriate for the 21st century instead of harking back--as the hon. Member for Orpington does--to models of governance created in the 19th century.

The hon. Member for Croydon, South spoke about limitations on the mayor's powers. He dug up some hoary old chestnuts about clause 27. Before we reach that clause, I should tell him that it is part of a slice of the Bill that relates to the mayor's overall powers. It follows clause 25, which gives the mayor wide-ranging powers. Clause 27 contains limitations specifically to protect the interests of London boroughs. Everything that the hon. Gentleman and the Conservative party have said suggests to me that they support the London boroughs, and would not want the mayor to have powers to do things that the London boroughs are expressly charged with doing. That is the purpose of clause 27, and anyone who reads it carefully--as critics who have accused us of unreasonably limiting the mayor's power should--will see that the mayor's powers are extensive, but that they are limited in respect of specific functions which should be discharged either by the boroughs or by other authorities. The aim is to avoid duplication.

I also put it to the hon. Member for Croydon, South--he will find this an uncomfortable fact, which we shall hear more often in these debates--that the argument about our limiting the mayor's power is pretty rich coming from the Conservatives. When, in 1962, the Conservative party--the hon. Gentleman was probably a member of that party at the time, unlike the hon. Member for Orpington--introduced the Bill that became the London Government Act 1963, which created the Greater London council, it contained 94 clauses, so it was about a third of the length of the Bill before us, but it contained140 references to the powers of the Secretary of State and Ministers to control that authority. That is even more references than there are in our Bill. The record of that Government will be exposed if ever the hon. Member for Croydon, South or his colleagues try to accuse us of unreasonably restricting the power of the Greater London authority.

Mr. Peter Brooke (Cities of London and Westminster): I am grateful to the Minister for giving way, because we are on the first clause of a long furrow. I am in an especially strong position to know that,

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in 1962, the Minister was a Minister, not a Secretary of State. Unintentionally, the Minister has misled the Committee.

Mr. Raynsford: I hope that I made it clear that the 140 references were to powers available to Ministers and Secretaries of State. There were 123 references to the powers of the Minister and 17 to the powers of the Secretary of State. We have done our research carefully. The relevant Minister was a Minister, and he made a very interesting point, on which the right hon. Gentleman may want to ponder. In response to Opposition criticism of reserve powers, the Minister said:

That argument played well in 1962. We shall see how it plays in 1999.

Clause 1 gives effect to a manifesto commitment. It creates the Greater London authority. It is short, simple and straightforward. It is hugely important for the people of London, and I commend it to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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