Select Committee on Liaison First Report


Letter and Note from Lord Marsh to the Chairman

Just over a year ago, the Group arranged a structured programme of meetings with the following terms of reference:

To inquire into the reasons for the delays in making progress with transport

improvements in London, including particularly the institutional arrangements and decision-making processes, and to report.

In the course of this programme we held a number of very informative meetings in this and other related areas, including the Minister for Transport, the Mayor of London and the Transport Commissioner for London. We have also received a considerable amount of written material.

It became apparent that, to state the obvious, not only is transport one of a number of key elements in shaping London's future, but the unique scale, complexity and

interdependence of the other key elements in the Mayor's draft London Plan raise

fundamental questions about the ability of the current institutional arrangements and decision making processes to manage the project to a successful conclusion. These include:

- the difficulty of achieving delivery of key infrastructure projects

- the Mayor's lack of resources to ensure implementation of projects for which he is responsible

- the slowness of the planning system

- the lack of coherent priorities for resource allocation and institutional blockages likely to obstruct co-ordinated action.

I am enclosing a note setting out these issues more fully.

Members of the Group are aware that the draft Plan will be subject to an Examination in Public in the spring and that some of the responses to the Regional Government White Paper are likely to touch on some of these issues.

We would stress that the Group is not concerned with the wider political issues of regional government. We are concerned solely with the decision making process and the overall management of the London Plan in its totality to a successful conclusion.

The Group is unanimous in its belief that there is an urgent need for a more systematic and authoritative inquiry into this issue and to that end I should welcome the opportunity to make a short presentation, with two of my colleagues, to the Liaison Committee in support of a Select Committee inquiry into the credibility of the structure envisaged in terms of financing and implementation of the draft London Plan.

Note by Lord Marsh

Why should London have special treatment?

- London is the capital city

- It has a population of 7 .4 million

- It has a GDP of £ 118.5 billion a year -larger than Portugal, Greece or Ireland

- London is Europe's most successful city at attracting foreign companies

- London's economic success is a major driver of the UK economy: failure to maintain its international competitiveness would be damaging for the whole of the UK.

What special issues does London face?

- Its population has grown by 600,000 since 1989: it is forecast to grow by a further 700,000 by 2016

- London has the second highest unemployment rate in England (after the North east): the rate for ethic minorities is 13.5%

- 43% of London's children are living in poverty

- with the average cost of a home over £250,000, people on moderate incomes -

including key workers such as nurses and teachers - cannot afford to live in London

- investment in public services - health, education, housing and transport - of £ 110 billion is needed over the next 15 years to make good past neglect and cater for growth.

The complexity of the issues

Responsibilities for London are diffused among a range of institutions, including

Government Departments and the Government Office for London, the Mayor, Assembly and GLA functional bodies, boroughs, Corporation of London, agencies such as the Housing Corporation, English Heritage, Environment Agency, Learning and Skills Councils, NHS, Strategic Rail Authority, Royal Parks etc.

Why is there a need for an inquiry now?

- it is not at all clear who is responsible for delivering solutions to London's problems - there are obstacles in the way of action on many major issues from transport to building new homes to sports stadia

- the Mayor has published a draft London Plan to set the future strategy for London's development, but lacks the powers or funding to implement it

- there is no clear focus for decisions affecting London within central Government

- there is no basis for determining what share of resources London should receive in relation to either its needs or the tax revenue it generates.

Why a Select Committee?

- there is an urgent need for an objective review of the arrangements for London government

- the GLA Act is an unusual piece of legislation for which there is no precedent: there are issues of the balance between local and regional levels, funding, the uniqueness of London and its evident problems.

- the All Party London Group has looked at these issues over a number of years, but they need to be considered on a more formal footing

- legislation will be brought forward on regional assemblies: it is important that it should be informed by the experience in London and that the opportunity should be taken to make any necessary changes in the London structure.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003