Political and Constitutional Reform CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Sir Edward Lister, Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Planning

1. Thank you for inviting the Mayor of London to provide written evidence to the inquiry the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee is conducting into the possibility of a constitutional convention for the UK. I am responding on the Mayor’s behalf.

2. It is clear to the current Mayoralty that a world class city such as London needs to be as self-reliant as possible. This involves national government providing the city’s government with the widest possible set of freedoms and flexibilities. We should not have to go cap in hand to national government every time a major need arises in London.

3. I am not entirely sure what a constitutional convention for the UK would look like—no doubt that is at the heart of what your Committee is looking into—but it might well have value in cementing the role played by pan-London government and removing some of the uncertainties that can detract from it functioning as effectively as it should do.

4. As you are aware, the Greater London Authority (GLA) Act dates back to 1999 and has been revised twice in the period since then. In each case the GLA has been given more powers. It would be beneficial to all concerned if we could move away from a piecemeal approach to GLA legislative arrangements and could move towards—with the support of the London boroughs—a settled view of those functions which should operate on a citywide basis.

5. I am confident we could build a consensus around educational excellence and public health campaigns being added to the current Mayoral functions of transport, economic development, housing, Olympic legacy, police and fire.

6. To assist your Committee’s deliberations, and by way of background, I am appending a summary of the principal powers and responsibilities which have been awarded to the Mayoralty in three tranches—the GLA Act 1999, the GLA Act 2007 and related reforms, and the Localism Act 2011 and related reforms—over the last thirteen years.

7. The other issue I wanted to bring to your attention is one of finance. There is little point in London being handed a suite of powers if there are no sustainable arrangements for financing Mayoral plans and policies for a growing city.

8. With this in mind, the Mayor has established the London Finance Commission to examine which devolved funding mechanisms would work best in London. For example, one option we are looking at is the possibility of tax revenues arising from stamp duty collected in the capital being devolved to the Mayor.

9. By happy coincidence, those revenues more or less equate to the housing programme budget the Mayor receives annually from DCLG and there would appear to be some logic in some of the proceeds from a buoyant London housing market going to affordable housing initiatives in the capital.

10. The key point is that we establish funding mechanisms and legislative arrangements which will not only stand the test of the time but which also allow the Mayoralty to be bold in creating jobs, building houses and regenerating localities across London.

11. A constitutional convention for the UK could well play a part in achieving these aims.

12. I would be happy to appear in person at your Committee and expand on these initial thoughts, and I am aware officers have been in touch with your Committee to try and find a date when this might be possible.

November 2012



Arising from the 1999 GLA Act

GLA Council Tax precept.

Public transport fare setting in London.

Transport for London (TtL) established as an executive arm of the GLA, with responsibility for the Tube, the bus network and the capital’s main road routes.

London Development Agency (LDA) established as an executive arm of the GLA, with responsibility for economic development and regeneration issues.

Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) established as an arms length agency of the GLA with oversight of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) established as an arms length agency of the GLA with oversight of the London Fire Brigade (LFB).

Veto over significant planning decisions handled by London boroughs.

Production of the London Plan, a strategy setting out a blueprint for the city’s development.

Management of Trafalgar and Parliament Squares.

Arising From the 2007 GLA Act and Related Reforms

Ability to call in significant planning decisions handled by London boroughs.

Strategic oversight over housing investment decisions in the capital.

Establishment of the London Skills & Employment Board (LSEB) and the London Waste & Recycling Board (LWARB).

Arising From the 2011 Localism Act and Related Reforms

Homes and Communities (HCA) functions in London transferred to the GLA from Whitehall.

LDA functions transferred to direct GLA control.

London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) established as an executive arm of the GLA to oversee the development of the Olympic Park.

Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) established as an executive arm of the GLA as a replacement for the MPA and with oversight of the MPS.

London Resilience function transferred to the GLA from Whitehall.

Prepared 28th March 2013