Select Committee report

Wednesday 15 January 2014, 10:00am

Motion detail

That this Assembly:


A. Broadly welcomes the Fourth Report of the House of Commons’ Communities and Local Government Select Committee on the Greater London Authority Act 2007 and the London Assembly and looks forward to further public debate and proposals for the enhancement of London government’s powers and responsibilities; and


B. Agrees that:


i. As stated by the Select Committee, the Mayor has to be held to account for the substantial powers he or she exercises and that an Assembly composed of Members able to focus on the same issues as the Mayor is the correct vehicle and that the corollary of a ‘strong’ Mayor must be a scrutiny body located at the same, in this case London-wide, level;


ii. A balance therefore has to be maintained between a strong Mayor who is able to implement his or her manifesto commitments and an Assembly with the potential to make the Mayor rethink any ill-considered decisions. As such, the Assembly should be provided with additional powers, such as those set out below, to ensure both that a Mayor is generally always able to govern effectively but also that genuinely problematic proposals have a realistic chance of being capable of amendment by the Assembly or further consideration;


iii. As stated by the Select Committee, the duty upon the Mayor to publish a forward plan of key decisions and the power for the Assembly to then be able to call-in mayoral decisions before they are implemented would simply make the Assembly's powers consistent with those of local councils that have directly elected mayors. This power represents an important means of scrutiny but one that should and probably would be used sparingly. The Assembly would be willing to consider options under which this power would be applied only to agreed categories of mayoral decisions (noting, for example, that it already has powers to amend the annual revenue budget proposals and to reject draft strategies).  The Assembly is of the view that being provided with a power to call-in certain mayoral decisions would ‘improve the overall efficiency of GLA decision making, and to ensure full scrutiny of important decisions before they are implemented’;


iv. As stated by the Select Committee, the Assembly should, in order to be able to exercise effective scrutiny oversight of an area of mayoral responsibility that has grown significantly in recent years without a commensurate increase in associated Assembly powers, be able to amend the Mayor's capital spending proposals, as it can his current spending, as well as prudential borrowing limits and grants and transfers among the GLA and functional bodies.  This would enable the Assembly to exert a formal influence over significant capital spending on housing and key transport infrastructure projects such as the Underground and Crossrail as well as the Mayor’s revenue budget.  It would provide a sanction in the event of a Mayor proposing irresponsible or unaffordable prudential borrowing or capital spending plans;


v. As stated by the Select Committee, the Government's response to the report of the London Finance Commission on the Mayor's tax and spending powers should include a review of the tools available to the Assembly to hold the Mayor to account. The review should include an assessment of additional and separate resources and expertise to enhance the Assembly's financial scrutiny role;


vi. As stated by the Select Committee, the Assembly should be granted the power to reject the Mayor's Police and Crime Plan on the same basis that it can all other mayoral statutory strategies;


vii. In order to ensure that the office of the statutory Deputy Mayor of London continues to be filled by persons who have been elected to office (noting the potential powers that this office-holder could exercise in certain circumstances) and in order to ensure that some of the other persons (noting the increased scope of mayoral powers in recent times) within the executive arm of the GLA Group have been elected to office the Assembly agrees that its Members should continue to be able to serve concurrently as Assembly Members and/or, following a decision by the Mayor, on the boards of the bodies within the GLA Group in order to provide a complementary balance to those who have been appointed as officials by the Mayor; 


viii. In order to ensure that the perspectives of the public can be represented in decisions and debates at board level, all boards appointed by the Mayor should include elected representatives;  


ix. The Assembly should have the ability to decide to convene a non-binding Confirmation Hearing with the Mayor’s nominee for the office of statutory Deputy Mayor of London (as is the case for when the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime is a Member of the London Assembly) but, for the reasons given above, the Member appointed to this office should not be required to resign from the London Assembly upon appointment; 


x. The Assembly should have the power to summons the Mayor, all his or her board appointees and people and information from organisations outside the GLA Group that have a significant role in delivering or facilitating mayoral strategies and related policies and services; and


xi. Noting the use of the Mayor’s statutory power of direction over the Fire Authority in 2013, a review of future governance arrangements for the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority should be undertaken by the Government, with the GLA, LFEPA and London Councils playing a lead role in any such process.