Letter and Note from Lord Marsh to the
Just over a year ago, the Group arranged a structured
programme of meetings with the following terms of reference:
To inquire into the reasons for the delays in making
progress with transport
improvements in London, including particularly the
institutional arrangements and decision-making processes, and
In the course of this programme we held a number
of very informative meetings in this and other related areas,
including the Minister for Transport, the Mayor of London and
the Transport Commissioner for London. We have also received a
considerable amount of written material.
It became apparent that, to state the obvious, not
only is transport one of a number of key elements in shaping London's
future, but the unique scale, complexity and
interdependence of the other key elements in the
Mayor's draft London Plan raise
fundamental questions about the ability of the current
institutional arrangements and decision making processes to manage
the project to a successful conclusion. These include:
- the difficulty of achieving
delivery of key infrastructure projects
- the Mayor's lack of resources
to ensure implementation of projects for which he is responsible
- the slowness of the planning
- the lack of coherent priorities
for resource allocation and institutional blockages likely to
obstruct co-ordinated action.
I am enclosing a note setting out these issues more
Members of the Group are aware that the draft Plan
will be subject to an Examination in Public in the spring and
that some of the responses to the Regional Government White Paper
are likely to touch on some of these issues.
We would stress that the Group is not concerned with
the wider political issues of regional government. We are concerned
solely with the decision making process and the overall management
of the London Plan in its totality to a successful conclusion.
The Group is unanimous in its belief that there is
an urgent need for a more systematic and authoritative inquiry
into this issue and to that end I should welcome the opportunity
to make a short presentation, with two of my colleagues, to the
Liaison Committee in support of a Select Committee inquiry into
the credibility of the structure envisaged in terms of financing
and implementation of the draft London Plan.
Note by Lord Marsh
Why should London have special treatment?
- London is the capital city
- It has a population of 7 .4 million
- It has a GDP of £ 118.5 billion a year -larger
than Portugal, Greece or Ireland
- London is Europe's most successful city at attracting
- London's economic success is a major driver of
the UK economy: failure to maintain its international competitiveness
would be damaging for the whole of the UK.
What special issues does London face?
- Its population has grown by 600,000 since 1989:
it is forecast to grow by a further 700,000 by 2016
- London has the second highest unemployment rate
in England (after the North east): the rate for ethic minorities
- 43% of London's children are living in poverty
- with the average cost of a home over £250,000,
people on moderate incomes -
including key workers such as nurses and teachers
- cannot afford to live in London
- investment in public services - health, education,
housing and transport - of £ 110 billion is needed over the
next 15 years to make good past neglect and cater for growth.
The complexity of the issues
Responsibilities for London are diffused among a
range of institutions, including
Government Departments and the Government Office
for London, the Mayor, Assembly and GLA functional bodies, boroughs,
Corporation of London, agencies such as the Housing Corporation,
English Heritage, Environment Agency, Learning and Skills Councils,
NHS, Strategic Rail Authority, Royal Parks etc.
Why is there a need for an inquiry now?
- it is not at all clear who is responsible for delivering
solutions to London's problems - there are obstacles in the way
of action on many major issues from transport to building new
homes to sports stadia
- the Mayor has published a draft London Plan to
set the future strategy for London's development, but lacks the
powers or funding to implement it
- there is no clear focus for decisions affecting
London within central Government
- there is no basis for determining what share of
resources London should receive in relation to either its needs
or the tax revenue it generates.
Why a Select Committee?
- there is an urgent need for
an objective review of the arrangements for London government
- the GLA Act is an unusual piece
of legislation for which there is no precedent: there are issues
of the balance between local and regional levels, funding, the
uniqueness of London and its evident problems.
- the All Party London Group has looked at these
issues over a number of years, but they need to be considered
on a more formal footing
- legislation will be brought
forward on regional assemblies: it is important that it should
be informed by the experience in London and that the opportunity
should be taken to make any necessary changes in the London structure.