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Lord Whitty: The noble Baroness has been consistent in claiming that the Secretary of State's powers in the Bill are excessive, and I understand her view. However, we contend differently. We believe that the Secretary of State needs certain reserve powers, and although some powers accorded to the Secretary of State are transitional, the bulk of the powers are reserve powers to be used in exceptional circumstances.
There is no logical reason why those reserve powers, if they are not exercised in the term of office of the first mayor, should be unnecessary in the term of office of the second mayor, or the mayor's second term, depending on circumstances.
We consider that a proper balance is struck in the Bill in relation to the powers of the Secretary of State, which are mainly reserve powers. Apart from the powers which relate to the setting up of the authority in its early days, we consider that the powers we have built into the Bill should apply throughout the period of whichever mayor is elected henceforth.
We need a balance. We are not giving total autonomy to Greater London; nor are we totally laying down from the centre what a Greater London Authority should do. We are giving it a fair degree of flexibility and freedom, subject to reserve powers. That seems to be the correct and sensible constitutional balance which does not run out on 1st May 2004. If it is right now, there is no obvious reason why it should be wrong on 2nd May in five years' time.
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