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New Clause 21 — Tax

Part of Road Safety – in the House of Commons at 2:15 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 2:15 pm, 18th May 2011

I will give the right hon. Gentleman this: he is right on textual analysis but remains wrong on policy, because his solution is a centralist one that would give the Secretary of State a veto. The whole point of what we are doing, in improving the Bill from its original state, is that we do not allow the Secretary of State to veto a decision taken by elected representatives in London; rather, we allow the assembly, which is the established body for keeping the Mayor of London in check, to exercise the veto. In policy terms, that is preferable.

I am disappointed that the Opposition object to this. As I recall only too well, in 1999 they made great play of having devolved power to London by establishing the Greater London authority. I now accept that that was the right thing to do. We are following the logic of that by enabling Londoners to take the decision as to what is the best shape and size of an important regeneration tool for London. They do that with the Mayor making the proposal and the assembly having the ability, if necessary, to veto it, and the boroughs being able to be consulted and to exercise influence through their elected members of the assembly. I am sorry that the Opposition seem to want to start a bit of a war where none need exist, because there is consensus among all parties in the assembly that it is desirable to go down this route.