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Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 246A:



("( ) the requirements for nomination of candidates for the position of elected mayor, and").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 246A, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 246B and C and 247A.

The first of these amendments seeks to insert in Clause 29 a requirement for the Secretary of State to make regulations as to the nomination of candidates for the position of elected mayor. I included this provision as I am not clear that it is otherwise covered. It seems to me that some attention needs to be paid to the number of nominators that a candidate for the position should have. If a potential elected mayor needs nominations only from the same number of electors as any other councillor, I question whether that would be appropriate. The number for councillors is not large and an elected mayor would, by definition, be representing and dealing with a much wider area. It may be that the Government have in mind a multiple of the number of nominations needed by a candidate to be a councillor. But this is a matter which needs attention.

Amendments Nos. 246B and C deal with the question of elections for the return of elected mayors. I sought to include two relevant points, referring not just to mayors but also to other members of an executive who are directly elected. It seems to me that the way in which the elections of a directly-elected cabinet are dealt with should be set on a fairly similar basis to that which applies to the return of elected mayors. Finally, Amendment No. 247A deals with a similar point to that covered by Amendment No. 246A. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for the issues that she has raised on these amendments. We do not believe that Amendments Nos. 246A and 247A are necessary because the Government already propose powers in the Bill to make such regulations.

Clause 29 already proposes to enable the making of regulations about the conduct of elections by applying or incorporating previous enactments with or without

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modification. That includes legislation on nomination requirements for candidates. In addition, government Amendment No. 242, to which I spoke during the first day in Committee, provides that the mayor is a councillor and a member (including nomination requirements for candidates) unless regulations provide otherwise. Therefore, we consider that Amendments Nos. 246A and 247A are unnecessary.

However, we broadly agree with the points made by the noble Baroness in speaking to Amendments Nos. 246B and 246C. In fact, this issue goes wider than Clause 29 of the Bill; indeed, it applies equally to other clauses, in particular Clauses 25, 26, 27 and 28. Therefore, we wish to take the matter away and consider it carefully before returning to the Chamber. In the light of my response, I hope that the noble Baroness will not feel it necessary to press her amendments tonight.

Baroness Hamwee: I thank the Minister for her reply. I wonder whether she can tell the Committee what the Government have in mind with regard to the number of nominations for an elected mayor. Is this a matter that has been considered?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: We have not yet come to a firm view on whether the nomination requirements for mayoral candidates should differ from those for other councillors. We would like to give the matter further consideration. Perhaps it will be helpful if I point out that regulations under Clause 29 will be subject to the draft affirmative procedure and, as I have already indicated, subject to consultation with the electoral commission once it is established. Therefore, this Chamber will have another opportunity to debate the issue when those regulations are considered.

Baroness Hamwee: I thank the Minister for that further response. By now she will be very clear that our view is that the number of nominations required for a candidate for elected mayor should be rather more substantial than for a councillor. I am aware of the difficulties that at least one of the independent candidates for mayor of London is having. He is spending all his time going round the boroughs gathering up the 330 signatures that are required, but that figure may be on the high side for mayors outside London. I am grateful to the Minister for her comments about Amendments Nos. 246B and 246C, and beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 246A.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 246B and 246C not moved.]

9.15 p.m.

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 247:


    Page 14, line 24, at end insert ("and


(c) the recall of the Mayor in the event of a loss of confidence and the filling of a casual vacancy").

The noble Lord said: This amendment would give the Secretary of State power to make regulations to provide for the recall of the mayor, should that become

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necessary and appropriate. I am, again, conscious that we are returning to a subject that we debated on a number of occasions during the progress of the GLA legislation. We failed to convince the Government at that time. However, it is possible that, during the course of events in the Conservative Party before Christmas, the Government began to wonder whether they were right to resist this proposal. I suspect that they may be wondering even more now as regards events which may well unfold in their own party in two or three weeks' time.

We are discussing an extremely important issue. In the case of an elected mayor, whether in London or, with slightly less profile but still high profile, in other major cities, we are vesting in one person very considerable power; and, indeed, even greater profile and influence. I do not put forward lightly the proposal that such a person should easily be recalled simply through any party shenanigans, for whatever reason. But the fact that such a person should be elected for four years and be beyond any recall--subject, of course, to the law of the land--must surely be wrong.

I cannot think of any other elected politician in this county--or, for that matter, in most other countries--with considerable personal power who cannot be recalled for any matter other than clearly breaking the law, or going demonstrably mad. Surely we should have some provision for the recall of a mayor in circumstances upon which we may speculate tonight, but perhaps it would be better not to do so. We can all envisage circumstances when that action might become necessary and it is clearly unsatisfactory at that stage to find that nothing can be done.

I am aware that when we discussed the GLA Bill the amendments we sought to move were objected to at least in part as a consequence of the different mechanisms that we suggested for recalling the mayor. I accept that that was only part of the argument, but it was certainly a part of it. In this amendment we seek to give that power to the Secretary of State to determine. The Secretary of State, of course, can do no wrong and will be far more capable of dealing with this matter than the humble Members on these Benches trying to construct amendments. However, I say in all seriousness that I hope this amendment concentrates on the principle of the issue rather than on the mechanics of achieving the outcome which we seek. The principle is extremely important. We should not allow people to attain such considerable personal power without any means of recalling them under any circumstances. I hope that the Government will give this issue further consideration. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: As the noble Lord said, during the passage of the GLA Bill we discussed this matter several times in connection with the role of the mayor. The question of recall of the mayor became a matter of relatively high drama in this Chamber. I suspect that the arguments behind the amendment will resurface. However, we do not even know what mechanism the noble Lord proposes, as he proposes handing responsibility for the mechanism of removal to the

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Secretary of State to prescribe in regulations. At least during the passage of the GLA Bill several different mechanisms to remove the mayor of London were proposed. I objected to all of them on the principle that one group of elected politicians should not be able to take a decision--I was going to say "conspire"--to remove another directly elected politician. That does not apply in any other part of our constitution.

It is not correct to say that there is no means of removing the mayor; indeed, the noble Lord in effect referred to them. The mayor will be subject to the law of the land and to local government regulations. Demonstrable insanity is catered for in local government provisions, as it was in the London Bill. Should a mayor be removed for political reasons, or should this important office be subject to recall on the basis of a political arrangement by other elected politicians? We have a judicial procedure in the event of crime being committed. If, however, it is a case of political misdemeanours as viewed by the mayor's opponents within the council, or by some other group that regulations may prescribe, I do not believe that is a legitimate case for recall and I would resist any amendment on those lines.

I accept that there is a slightly stronger argument for recalling a mayor through popular mandate: that is, through a petition or through the demand of a minimum number of the electorate. However, at what figure does one pitch a petition or trigger a ballot to make it legitimate as a means of overthrowing the decision of the majority of the electorate--if the mayor is elected on a majority, or a number close to a majority--without making it appear ludicrously high and unattainable? Therefore there are problems of legitimacy as regards any political means of attempting to recall the mayor.

I do not accept that that is a sensible way to deal with an office which we expect to last a full four-year term and to be responsible for delivering a wide range of services. I do not accept that the mayor should be restricted or recalled because perhaps he or she is not of the same political persuasion as the majority, or a temporary majority, of the council, or there is an issue on which the 5 per cent threshold--if that is to be the relevant threshold of the electorate--might be mobilised through good organisation. It would gravely inhibit the mayor to carry out a four-year strategic approach to his or her task on the basis that such a response as I have described might be provoked if a particular issue was unpopular.

I therefore oppose the amendment in principle in relation to political removal. It is there already in practice in terms of legal crimes and Local Government Act crimes; it is not necessary to get the Secretary of State, with his admittedly vast ingenuity, to draft regulations which would enable the removal of

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a mayor part-way through his or her term. I oppose the amendment. I hope that the noble Lord will not pursue it.


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