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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. Davey: I am usually a fond admirer of the hon. Gentleman's contributions, but that was not worthy of him.

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

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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

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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 myhon. 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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