Regional Assembly Powers (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
May 22, 2002
Question By: 
Mike Tuffrey
Organisation: 
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Would you agree that there is an opportunity - where the regional assemblies outside London have greater powers than we do - to insert "and London" as the bill goes through parliament? What is good enough for outside London is certainly good enough for London! Whether we can take a lead in doing that is the first issue.

My second question is, would you agree that now we're two years in and we can start to learn some of the lessons as to what is and isn't working, shouldn't we be sharing that with Parliamentary colleagues when the White Paper turns into legislation, to help foster a debate - which certainly, from the Liberal Democrats side, we want - as to increasing the regional tier in government in this country?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Regional Assembly Powers (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Regional Assembly Powers (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

The Management Board looked at how we'll proceed on this, and we will certainly set up a major lobbying operation particularly geared towards the House of Lords. I suspect it will be unlikely - given the government's present majority - that the Bill will be amendable in committee or on the floor of the Commons - but very often, as with the GLA Bill, amendments are made in the Lords stage, and then the government has to learn to live with them. The extra powers that assemblies will get that we don't have are hardly earth-shattering: some greater influence over the train operating companies, some degree of control over the housing allocation of funds, and two or three other small areas. The reverse of all of this is, given the assemblies won't have the policing powers that we have and won't have the transport powers, one has to wonder what sort of people are going to stand for bodies which are full time and have such a small remit.

In my opinion, for assemblies to work they should be the Waste Authority, they should be the Further and Higher Education Authority, they should be the NHS Regional Authority for the area, and they certainly should now be the Policing Authority. The idea that criminals are confined by county boundaries is nonsense. The Met's about the right size for London. England probably requires 10 to 12 police authorities to be really effective, and equally the case with fire authorities. There are 54 fire authorities in England, each with a chief officer and a training school - there are huge economies of scale that could be mobilised for what are genuinely regional responsibilities. If I can echo Peter Mandelson - it is the absolute timidity of this government that is so breathtaking. That after five years in office they have such a small and paltry load of baubles with which to create regional government.