Draft Greater London Authority (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Order 2001

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Dr. Whitehead: Yes. The Mayor's power of direction is a requirement to produce an air quality strategy and to liaise with other London local authorities to ensure that air quality standards are raised. The Mayor cannot set his own arbitrary standards that have no relation to the national air quality strategy or EU directives. The Mayor has a power to make better, rather than an arbitrary power.

The status of the Committee of the Regions should be emphasised and that relates directly to the point raised by the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood. The Committee of the Regions must be representative, and the UK delegation must represent all interests in the UK. Members of the delegation to the Committee of the Regions in Europe are not mandated from particular parts of the country, but represent the whole UK. The attempt to secure regional and political balance by the device that I described does not mean that a delegate from north-west England can talk only about matters relating to that region. The effort is made merely to maintain a balanced delegation. Once those people sit on the committee, they may be rapporteurs or chairs, but they do not operate as a delegate for a particular part of the country. The question is one of eligibility—making it possible for the Mayor or a GLA member to be in that delegation. The Mayor or GLA representatives would not be required to represent London alone.

Mr. Wilkinson: The Minister knows that, under the treaty of Nice, the membership of the Committee of the Regions will increase by about one third to accommodate representatives from the newly acceding states. Will the UK membership increase? Moreover, will that enable representatives from the GLA to sit on the committee without bumping off existing representatives from London local authorities—although Lord Toby Harris has a dual mandate?

Dr. Whitehead: The treaty of Nice did not change the membership from each member state for the Committee of the Regions. It would be difficult to conclude that the potential arrival of the Mayor of London would bump someone off, because at the end of each cycle of appointment to the Committee of the Regions a new delegation is appointed. One could say that the Mayor bumped off someone from the north-east or east Anglia, but there would not necessarily be a relationship between the arrival of the Mayor and the disappearance of another representative of London. It is in that context that we must consider the status of the Mayor of London.

I may have made an error of nomenclature. The Secretary of State can provide guidance to the Mayor on enforcing standards for air quality; he does not direct the Mayor. The Secretary of State can issue directions outside London, and the Mayor can do so inside London. The Secretary of State can issue guidance to the Mayor, and the Mayor must pay regard to the national air quality strategy and EU air quality standards. I hope that I have made that clear.

Mr. Pickles: I wish to be clear that that does not affect the answers that the Minister gave me on the Mayor's powers to bring in arbitrary standards.

Dr. Whitehead: That is absolutely right. I merely wanted to describe the overall architecture. The Mayor's relationship with London boroughs is as I described it earlier.

We have had an exhaustive run around the amendments. I trust that hon. Members are now thoroughly informed on those matters—and a number of other matters, to their surprise. I trust that the Committee will support the amendments. I thank the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar for his indications of support.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

    That the Committee has considered the draft Greater London Authority (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Order 2001.

Committee rose at eleven minutes past Eleven o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Beard, Mr. Nigel (Chairman)
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr.
Davey, Mr. Edward
Gilroy, Linda
Murrison, Dr.
Perham, Linda
Pickles, Mr.
Prentice, Bridget
Ruddock, Joan
Vis, Dr.
Whitehead, Dr.
Woolas, Mr.

The following also attended, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(2):

Field, Mr. Mark (Cities of London and Westminster)

Wilkinson, Mr. (Ruislip - Northwood)

 
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Prepared 25 October 2001