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Lord Mishcon: My Lords, the noble Baroness has had great experience of local government. Could she explain to the House how things would operate if the deputy mayor who was elected had a policy which was directly in conflict with the mayor? With her reputation as someone who likes to see tidy local government, would the noble Baroness please explain how that would be tidy?
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, the bottom line is that the mayor and deputy mayor will have a manifesto. Presumably if the mayor chooses, and it is on a joint ticket, the problem mentioned by the noble Lord does not arise. They will run the election on a joint ticket. That is what my amendment provides.
I am grateful to the noble Lord for saying that I have enormous experience of local government. I should like to think that I have. If I have managed to convince the noble Lord that I have, I am very pleased--but I have not.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, during the last stage of the Bill, these Benches made clear that we were most unhappy about the structure for the new London authority proposed by the Government and set out at such great length in the Bill. However, we have taken the view that having made the effort at that stage to make alterations to the structure, such amendments will be fairly sparse from these Benches during this stage of the Bill. We believe that we need now to shift our concentration to improving the Bill within the framework on which the Government are so clearly set. In particular, we are not at this stage attempting to change the role of the assembly members other than in rather narrow areas.
Similarly, I believe that to have a mayoral candidate running on a joint ticket with a deputy mayoral candidate is likely to confuse the electors who will have four votes on 4th May. That is already difficult enough. I believe that such a joint ticket would compromise the position of the deputy mayor as a member of the assembly. That position is important. All the members of the assembly have a responsibility to scrutinise the actions of the mayor. We believe that that scrutiny function means a mixture of supporting the mayor when the mayor is right in the eyes of the assembly members--that may well mean supporting the mayor against an over-centralising central government--but also reining back the mayor when the members of the assembly believe that the mayor is going off course. We should be concerned to see such a change as proposed by the noble Baroness.
Nor do we believe--the recent brief exchange demonstrated it--that the joint ticket would be more democratic. It would be more democratic if one could vote for a mayoral candidate from one party and a deputy mayoral candidate from another, but not if there is a joint ticket. I do not think that that argument stands up. Therefore, I regret that we are unable to support this amendment or the accompanying amendments.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, it is good news that the Liberal Democrats are not going to continue their strategy of attempting to turn the Bill into something they would have had if they had been in government rather than dealing with the Bill the Government propose. I am glad to hear that. I had said to them that I hoped that that is what they would do. I do not know whether I had any influence; but if I had I think the House owes me a little credit as well as them!
However, this is not a technical matter. It is seminal to the way the new government of London will work. I believe that my noble friend's idea is more likely to work than that proposed by the Government. I believe that they should consider it seriously.
When replying to the amendment in Committee, the Minister said that it would make for too much conflict if there were a deputy mayor on a joint ticket with the mayor. He said that there would be three directly elected components instead of two: a mayor, a deputy mayor, and the assembly. He also said that people have not voted for that. I do not believe that those three statements are valid. If the mayor and deputy mayor were elected on a joint ticket, the electorate would overwhelmingly expect them to agree.
I do not believe that the Minister thought it relevant on the last occasion, but perhaps he would turn his mind to what we all understand is the way things work in the United States of America. It would be very unlikely indeed that the President and Vice-President would disagree. If they did I believe that the Vice-President would have to resign. It is quite a simple point. The Minister said that people working in local government should understand this. My noble friend pointed out that what happens in local government is not similar. The matter has nothing to do with local government. It is a new form of such government. The separation of powers has nothing whatever to do with existing local government.
The noble Lord said that there would be three directly elected components if this amendment were adopted. There would be only two. There would the mayor and the deputy mayor and one vote. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that one would not vote twice on a joint ticket, but once only. There would be the assembly. The components would be only two in number. The first would have added to it the deputy mayor.
The noble Lord said that the people have not voted on this matter. We must use referendums intelligently. When the people voted they did so for a system which they assumed would work. Having proposed one structure, if the Government believe that it should be changed in order to make the system work better, no one would welcome it more than the people of London. I certainly would welcome it. As a Londoner, I voted for a mayor and for the Bill as it stands. I would have no objection to Parliament improving the Bill so that it worked better. I believe that it would do so in the way proposed.
I genuinely believe that this is not a party political matter at all. We are trying to get the government of London to work. I believe that there will be far less conflict and far more effective government of London
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down perhaps I may make this point. I thought that I had not suggested that there would be an extra vote in any physical sense, but that there would be an extra person on the ballot paper or in the election literature, alongside each of the mayoral candidates. There will be four votes. The legislation provides for a first and second vote as regards the mayor and a vote for the electoral area assembly members. The fourth vote is for the top-up list. That was the context in which I made my comment.
Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: My Lords, I support the amendment in the name of my noble friend. I have watched the process from the day of the referendum. As the process has continued, I believe that all of us have discovered that because it is totally new, there could be better arrangements. I feel very strongly that it is a good thing that the mayor tells the people of London who his deputy mayor is to be. I have made it absolutely clear that the distinguished leader of Wandsworth Council, Mr Eddie Lister, would be the deputy mayor if I were fortunate enough to become the mayor. There would be no conflict in that regard, as suggested by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. On the contrary, I have chosen a person of exceptional talent and with experience of local government. It is good that the people of London know that it is a team. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that in every mayoral election in the United States of America--I have been studying the subject quite seriously--the mayor always informs the city who the deputy mayor will be and the name is not on the ballot paper. Of course, it is in the manifesto which clearly states why that person should be chosen.
Perhaps I may add a personal note as I consider the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, a close friend. Like the noble Lord, I have long believed that my noble friend Lady Miller has a long and distinguished record in local government because she has served on every committee in London for many years. She has specialised in selecting those for local government. I believe that my noble friend is wrong and that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, is right. But we should all look on my noble friend as having great experience.
I say to the Minister very seriously that discovery has occurred during the past two-and-a-half years. We now know that the deputy mayor must come from the assembly, but will not be its chairman who will be another person. We could follow the road advocated by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, if, when elected, one looked at the assembly and said, Now I have to find someone to be my deputy mayor". It would be much better to say, I know who I want as my deputy".
I say to the Minister that if there is a chance of rethinking this matter, we would like to permit the mayoral candidates to pick their deputy mayors with the knowledge that they should be separated from the GLA because its chairman is not going to be the deputy mayor. I know that we face a long session over several days. I heard what was said by the Opposition Chief Whip. But we must not have a Bill which contains faults because it has been rushed through.
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