Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

New Clause 21 — Tax

Part of Road Safety – in the House of Commons at 2:45 pm on 18th May 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats 2:45 pm, 18th May 2011

I stand rebuked, Mr Deputy Speaker. I was tempted by the right hon. Gentleman, but I will not be any more. I will make a few more comments, and then sit down.

The next issue is how exactly the transfer of powers back to London will work. It is certainly right that, as the Bill proposes, we get rid of the London function of the Homes and Communities Agency, which is a quango, and transfer it to a democratically elected Mayor answerable to the 25 elected members of the London assembly. That is a good thing. It is also certainly right that the Government abolish the Government office for London. There is no need for a Government office for London as well as a Mayor, a London assembly and a Greater London authority. All those policies are heading in the right direction.

We now need to solve the further dilemma of how we strike the right balance between London-wide decisions, which are perfectly proper, and the interests of the boroughs. I understand that there is still some unresolved tension in that regard. My colleagues on the London assembly and across London think that, on balance, the Government are heading in the right direction, so today, although obviously the hon. Member for Lewisham East is entitled to make her case, we cannot support her. However, I do not want her to take that to mean that there are not further conversations to be had. Obviously the Bill will go to the House of Lords, and there will be opportunities to look at these things afresh.

I am hopeful that today’s debate will flag up the need to ensure—I am happy to have further conversations with colleagues about this—that the new architecture is the right architecture. I heard clearly what the Minister said about the Mayor’s power being subject to the two-thirds support of the London assembly, and I agree that that amounts to a requirement for a cross-party endorsement or cross-party veto. That will be a welcome control mechanism. I do not criticise the fact that the representatives, particularly the constituency representatives, should be able to speak for their constituencies, including for the borough councils within those constituencies, which is one of their jobs.