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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.

5.30 pm

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

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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

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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

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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--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

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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.

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