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New Clause 21 — Tax

Part of Road Safety – in the House of Commons at 1:56 pm on 18th May 2011.

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Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 1:56 pm, 18th May 2011

I am disappointed in the hon. Lady’s response, because I thought that we had got a good deal of the way down the track to meet what were sensible concerns. There is a difference between recognising that the establishment of a mayoral development corporation is part of the outworking of London-wide policy, in which the Mayor will have to have regard to the strategic economic and developmental interests of the whole city, which may be different from the individual interests of a single local authority, and recognising that the assembly is the body that this House has already charged with holding the Mayor to account for the way in which he exercises those powers.

There is a difficulty with giving a veto to an individual London borough, because the borough’s interests are very properly not required to be strategic in the same way as those of the Mayor and of the assembly. Often they are, in fairness, and I do not mean to diminish the importance of the London boroughs. As the hon. Lady knows, I spent 16 years as a London borough councillor before spending eight years on the London assembly. That may indicate precocious sadness on my part, but that is a different matter. Both bodies fulfil very important functions, but they are different functions, and, if we are rightly going to put a check and balance on the Mayor’s exercise of his strategic role, we must do so through the assembly—the elected strategic check and balance. The boroughs have an important role in this because the Mayor is required to consult them, among other bodies, and they therefore have a powerful tool in being able to raise their concerns and to lobby their borough elected representative on the assembly to ensure that their case and their voice is heard.