Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons Written Evidence

Chair, London Assembly (M31)

  I write on behalf of the London Assembly to submit our views on accountability arrangements in London. These are set out in the attached letter from the Mayor and the London Assembly to Harriet Harman in her capacity as Leader of the House of Commons. The Assembly would also broadly agree with the submission to the Committee from the Mayor of London, however the Assembly does not comment one way or other on the question of whether there should be a select committee or grand committee model. In either case, as is set out in the attached letter, our key concern is that there should be no duplication of accountability roles between the London Assembly and Parliament.

Sally Hamwee

Attached letter

Mayor's Office and London Assembly

  We understand that the Government plans to set up the proposed new parliamentary committees for the English regions in the autumn. While we welcome any measures that will increase the profile and attention given to London issues in Parliament, it is also essential that any London Committee properly reflects London's unique governance arrangements—specifically, the fact that neither the Mayor nor the London Assembly is directly answerable to Parliament and the Government, but instead to the London electorate.

  We recommend that if a London Committee is to be established it should, like the Welsh and Scottish Affairs Select Committees, examine non-devolved issues only and relations with the Greater London Authority. What must be avoided however is the creation of dual scrutiny arrangements for London. The Mayor should not have to submit his policies and strategies for scrutiny to a parliamentary committee, when the London Assembly exists precisely to perform this role. Nor would it be appropriate for a London Committee to examine the work of regional bodies such as the London Development Agency and Transport for London, which are answerable to the Mayor and subject to scrutiny from the Assembly.

  The "Governance of Britain" Green Paper indicates that there should be specific provisions governing how the new committees should operate. These provisions must make clear a different status and terms of reference for a London Committee in line with the precedent set by Standing Order 152 which sets out the remit of the Scottish Affairs and Welsh Affairs Select Committees. We would be grateful to have an early opportunity to see a draft of any proposed amendments to the Standing Orders to ensure both consistency with the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and workability.

Ken Livingstone

Mayor of London

Sally Hamwee AM

Chair of the London Assembly

November 2007

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