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Lord Whitty: This is a rather novel proposal by the noble Baroness. She may be at a slight disadvantage because it may be slightly more logical for the amendment to be taken with other amendments to be taken later which deal with the assembly being only effectively a delegate body from the London boroughs. The noble Baroness will not be surprised that we intend to resist that amendment. But were the totality of the Conservative vision for the structure of the authority to be adopted, there may have been some scope for discussing whether the deputy mayor should be designated as a member of the assembly.
However, with an elected assembly and a directly elected mayor, I do not believe there is much of an argument, whether on a joint ticket or a parallel election, for a directly elected mayor. I am not aware of a similar situation being pursued elsewhere in local and city government. The noble Baroness tried to give two analogies to the Committee. The first in relation to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister is not entirely correct. The Deputy Prime Minister currently has a wide range of powers, as the Committee will know because I represent him in this Chamber. However, this is an entirely different situation, with a directly elected mayor and an assembly whose main role is one of scrutiny.
Nor is the analogy with the United States entirely appropriate. Indeed, from the early history of the United States, it seems that the case for a directly elected mayor is fraught with difficulties. The Committee may recall that in the early years the vice-president was not elected
If the mayor were to run on a separate ticket, the deputy mayor would clearly have a separate but equal mandate. If they were running on the same ticket, what would be the difference between the mayor designating his or her own deputy and the mayor having a running mate? It certainly would not increase the range of choice, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said. It is possible that, if there were parallel elections, the deputy mayor would receive a larger number of votes than the mayor--which would create an interesting problem. Because of the allocation of functions, it is clear that the mayor's view would prevail. Were there to be an equal or arguably higher legitimate vote for the deputy, how would that appear?
If the two were elected on a joint ticket and subsequently fell out over policy, how would that problem be resolved? The whole administration could soldier on but there would be a degree of political stalemate and the authority's energy would be diverted to in-fighting and stand-offs because the mayor would be unable to sack or replace his or her deputy with someone who shared his or her views or whose support the mayor needed in the assembly. That seems a recipe for chaos.
As to whether or not the deputy mayor appointed by the mayor should be a member of the assembly, the whole rationale is that there is some division of powers between the assembly and the mayor. The deputy mayor will, in a sense, be a bridge between the two parts of the authority--so that they have a shared sense of purpose and work together for the people of London as a whole. That is a reflection of consensual politics among the institutions in the authority. We propose one or two specific roles for the deputy mayor, including that he or she must sit on the new police authority. That would provide a vital link between the assembly, mayor and new democratic policing structure that we are putting in place. That link would be undermined by the amendments.
The Opposition argue that if the deputy mayor were an assembly member, the role of the assembly would be blurred. That is not the case. The assembly would have clearly defined powers to call to account the mayor, deputy mayor and other members of the Administration. The mayor would have to answer to the assembly and justify actions and reasons. Other than the deputy mayor, no assembly member would have executive functions. The rest of the assembly's scrutiny role, therefore, would not be compromised. The assembly will be seen to be at the heart of the mayor's
Were the mayor to be separately elected there would be considerable constraints on the mayor's ability to act throughout his or her term of office. Were a deputy mayor to be designated by the people, the mayor would not be free to structure his administration as he saw fit--which may change during the course of the period of office. The mayor could not, therefore, appoint a new deputy in mid-term whatever the circumstances. The amendment would rule out that possibility, which would seriously constrain the mayor's freedom of action.
The noble Baroness will see that there are many difficulties in the concept of a parallel and directly elected deputy mayor. She herself indicated that there would have to be a large number of consequential amendments, although I congratulate her on spotting the number that she did in this group. Given the structure that we are proposing, which the House and the London electorate have endorsed, a directly elected deputy mayor would not be sensible. I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Young: Before my noble friend decides, I want to take up some of the arguments used by the Minister. I was surprised when he said that there is no such arrangement in local government. There is no such arrangement as a directly elected mayor in local government anyway, so we are talking about something quite different. As we are entering into an arrangement that is uniquely introduced into British local government for the first time, it is right and proper that my noble friend should raise the points she has.
In my days in local government, the deputy lord mayor played an important role. Reading the Bill, it seems extraordinary that the office of deputy mayor of London is not stated and made. That office must be a significant part of the governance of London. The Minister said the intention was that the deputy mayor would sit on the new police authority and be the link person. That clearly indicates the importance that the Government attach to the office.
The Minister made much of the argument that the amendment might present the opportunity for conflict. From my reading of the Bill and understanding of the assembly's structure, I would have thought it was a recipe for conflict. All the way through, there are to be two lots of directly elected people in London. There are bound to be endless conflicts between the boroughs and the mayor's department--all directly elected and all arguing for different things. If the Minister is in doubt, any of us with experience in local government outside London knows perfectly well that there are conflicts at this very moment between districts and counties. That will be repeated in London.
The question for the Committee is what is likely to make for the most effective form of government in London, on the assumption--it is certainly mine--that we want this set-up to work and be in the interests of Londoners and good government in London. I do not
Baroness Miller of Hendon: I apologise to the Committee and particularly to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that I did not make it clear that the proposal was for an election on a joint ticket--not a separate election.
The Minister commented on my remark that extra drafting would be necessary. I was trying to make the point that since the Bill left the other place there has already been an enormous amount of redrafting, with 67 new clauses. The Minister said there was more redrafting to come. That is symptomatic of recent Bills. For example, one hardly recognised the Employment Relations Bill when it reached here from the other place. Redrafting is no reason for not being concerned.
The Minister did not answer my point that this is very much a new way of doing things. This is the first statute to attempt to divorce the executive from the legislature. That has to be done carefully and without muddying the waters. Clause 41 definitely muddies the waters. On the one hand, there is an assembly whose duty it is to scrutinise the work of the mayor. Then all of a sudden, the deputy mayor appears to be selected from the assembly. That weakens the whole idea of a separation of powers and must be looked at again.
The other point that I should like to raise with the Minister, because he did not seem to answer it, is one made by my noble friend Lady Young relating to Amendment No. 3. The amendment refers to Clause 2(1) of the Bill, which says:
"The Authority shall be the Mayor of London, the Deputy Mayor of London and the Assembly". Whether or not it is decided that the deputy mayor should simply be someone chosen from the assembly, the point is that if the deputy mayor is going to have these roles and functions to stand in for the mayor in certain designated areas under the subsection that I mentioned earlier, he will be an important part of the authority and should be so named. I shall be most grateful if the Minister can comment on that amendment.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Before the Minister responds, perhaps he could answer some of the questions posed by my noble friend Lady Young. I believe that he was about to do so before my noble friend rose to speak. I shall be most interested to hear his answers. I should like to say to my noble friend Lady Miller that I do think it makes all the difference in the world that she meant that the mayor and deputy mayor should be on a joint ticket. I was picturing the kind of
However, if it is a joint ticket, that would be a very different thing. No doubt it would be seen by some as a dream ticket, but these two would doubtless work together in tandem satisfactorily because they would have been elected to do so. It is a much more serious amendment if it is a matter of a joint ticket. Therefore, I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say in reply, especially to the points raised by my noble friend Lady Young.
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