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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 Heidi Alexander Heidi Alexander Labour, Lewisham East 2:15 pm, 18th May 2011

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to the two amendments in my name, although it feels rather strange to be doing so when we have already had much of the debate. I will speak to amendment 351, which relates to the establishment of a London housing and regeneration board, and seeks to guarantee that at least 50% of the membership of such a board would be made up of representatives from the local authority. I will also speak to amendment 352, which we have already debated at some length, and which relates to the process that has to be gone through to establish a mayoral development corporation. Under the amendment, the agreement of any council that is affected would be required before an MDC could be established. I am conscious that there is much to debate this afternoon, so I will limit my remarks.

I will move on to why I tabled the amendments. I should say at the outset that the amendments have been promoted and supported by London Councils, which, as hon. Members know, is the cross-party organisation that represents London boroughs. We can debate the localist merits of the Bill as a whole, but the provisions on London are distinctly regionalist. Whereas in other parts of the country there is the abolition of regional spatial strategies, we still have the London plan. The Bill proposes the winding up of the London Development Agency and the London part of the Homes and Communities Agency, with their powers being transferred to the London Mayor. Due to the Government’s understandable desire to ensure that the regeneration legacy of the Olympics takes effect, there are proposals in the Bill to enable the Mayor to set up a mayoral development corporation. However, as drafted, the Bill suggests that there could be an MDC anywhere in London, and not just at the Olympics site. My amendments would act as a brake on the concentrating powers that the Bill puts into the hands of the Mayor of London.

They would give councils and councillors a voice, and they would give people in London the same say as people elsewhere in the country.

Amendment 352 would make it a requirement that a local authority in a proposed MDC area must agree to its establishment. If more that one local authority is affected, all must agree. The Bill as drafted gives complete power to the Mayor and the Secretary of State. Under Government amendment 213, the support of two thirds of the assembly will be needed for a proposal to move forward. That is not a sufficient assurance. There could be a situation in London in which local people are completely against the setting up of an MDC, councillors and the local authority in the area are completely against the setting up of an MDC, and the GLA constituency member is completely against the setting up of an MDC, and yet if the Mayor wants it to happen, it will happen. I ask hon. Members, what is localist about that?

We had some fun in Committee. On Second Reading, my right hon. Friend Mr Raynsford talked about the prospect of a new Mayor of London—perhaps Ken Livingstone in a year’s time—choosing to establish a mayoral development corporation in Bromley. I will not repeat those comments.