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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.

6.30 pm

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.'

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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:

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

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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.

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The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Colman) is not with us today, but when he was leader of Merton council he said:

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:

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?"

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