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Mr. Forth: It always amuses me to hear Ministers and Labour Members say that because something has lasted for a long time and is well established, it cannot possibly be challenged. To me, that represents the ultimate acceptance of the credo of conservatism that is now rampant within the Government. Part of me welcomes that and finds it warming. However, we young, thrusting radicals in the Opposition do not necessarily accept that as a sufficient reason or rationale.

Suffice it to say, I have made my point and put down a marker. As the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) said, I do not necessarily accept that what is is necessarily acceptable, and I would like to revisit some of the matters. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to put down a marker and to demonstrate that the claim of the unique London aspect of the Bill cannot be made in light of the measure.

However, in view of what the Minister has so graciously said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 23

Declaration of acceptance of office

Amendment made: No. 99, in page 13, line 28, leave out & 3(1)' and insert & 3(5)'.--[Mr. Raynsford.]

New Clause 1

Nomination of candidate for Mayor

'.--A mayoral candidate of any registered political party cannot be returned as mayor unless, no later than the time of his nomination as candidate, the registered leader of that party has delivered to the Greater London Returning Officer, and has made publicly available--
(a) a sworn declaration describing fully that party's procedures for the selection of its candidate as mayor, and
(b) a certificate declaring that all persons participating in the selection process derived their authority solely from elective processes in which all the members of that party in Greater London, or in any part of it, were entitled to participate at all stages.'.--[Mr. Ottaway.]
Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Ottaway: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

We now move from a young, thrusting, radical amendment to a young, thrusting, radical new clause. It is designed to give respectability and credibility to the method of selecting mayoral candidates and would provide that all those involved in the selection process, of whatever political party, are there to represent their party's members and are not imposed from the centre.

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The Government office for London commissioned a report by Professor Dunleavy and Dr. Helen Margetts, entitled "Electing the London Mayor and the London Assembly". I want to read into the record one paragraph. It says:

The new clause is designed to accept that recommendation and enshrine it in the law.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: Would the hon. Gentleman want that principle to be extended to his constituency, so that it was required in law that the people of Croydon, South should follow similar procedures?

Mr. Ottaway: Frankly, I am pretty relaxed about it, because that is what happens now.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: What about the selection process?

Mr. Ottaway: I could not agree with the recommendation more, because it is essential that the public believe in the system. As for our selection process, we have a first round, a second round and a final round, and everyone involved in the process is a party member, elected by other members as a representative. That is the only way in which one can get on to the committees.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: Yes, but should that be enshrined in the law?

Mr. Ottaway: As I said, I am perfectly relaxed about that, because what I have described is what happens, except in the Labour party. The only way in which the recommendation can be enshrined in the law is for the House to accept the new clause. I know that the hon. Gentleman is a great democrat and I am sure that he would not want a central diktat over the method of candidate selection for his party.

Mr. Simon Hughes: Will the hon. Gentleman give way on that point?

Mr. Ottaway: I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, but time is too short, because of the guillotine.

The Labour party is similar to us, and its document, "Modernising Labour Groups and Local Government: a consultation paper on the Labour Party contribution to implementing Modern Local Government", says:

4 May 1999 : Column 733

    election procedure for the Party's Mayor of London candidate. The party will need to set out procedures for shortlisting and selection criteria."

So far, so good, and I am sure that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) could not disagree with that; but then we come to another document, "Greater London Authority Elections 2000", subtitled "London Assembly Selection Process". Incidentally, I am grateful to whomever in the Labour party is leaking this stuff to me. I do not suspect the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) on this occasion, but it might have been one of his friends or supporters.

5.30 pm

Mr. Livingstone: It is unusual for us to get any Labour party documents.

Mr. Ottaway: In the case of this document, I am not surprised, because it states:

So far, so good. However, it continues:

    "4 members of the NEC"--

and that is not so good, because--

Mr. Campbell-Savours: They are elected.

Mr. Ottaway: They may be elected, but they are not elected by London members. They are elected by United Kingdom members. In our judgment and as recommended by the report to the Government office for London, those involved in the selection process should be exclusively from London. I do not suppose that the hon. Member for Workington would suggest that he should be involved in the selection of candidates in Scotland. The third group on the selection board are to be

There will also be four non-voting members on the panel. The document continues:

    "The independent members and advisers shall be appointed jointly by the Regional Board and the NEC."

That shows that the NEC will have a veto over who is selected, and that is the rub--and the difference between the Labour party and the Conservative party. In my party, everybody who takes part in the selection process does so as the result of a fair and democratic process.

The Labour party's selectors will be imposed by diktat from Millbank and the method of selection is designed to stop the hon. Member for Brent, East becoming the Labour mayoral candidate. The Labour party's proposals abuse the democratic process, damage the reputation of those of us who believe in democracy and damage the Labour party itself. Dr. Margetts and Professor Dunleavy are not out of step or freaks. They have articulated widespread concerns about the method of selection of candidates and it would be in the interests of the Labour party to take heed of what they have said.

Mr. Simon Hughes: New clause 1 is a good proposition. The case for it was made in Committee by us and has not been answered since. For the record, our system entirely accords with the proposal in new clause 1. The power to

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choose shortlist candidates and to put the candidates before the London membership, who will vote with one member, one vote, was delegated to the London region of the party. It alone, with no veto from the central party, has gone through the procedure and set up the rules. It has appointed the selection panel and undertaken the approval and interviewing, and it will produce the short-list on which the membership in London will vote.

The Labour party has been embarrassed, is embarrassed and will be embarrassed--

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