New Year's Eve (Supplementary) [10]

Session date: 
December 17, 2003
Question By: 
Meg Hillier
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

What a laugh if you take it as a funny joke, but actually it is really quite important constitutionally. We are here to scrutinise the work of the Mayor and the money you are spending, Londoners' money, and yet you are refusing to give us this information. Can you have an avowed support for open Government when this flies in the face of that? Mike has asked what you are trying to hide. When you say you are still in detailed discussion about safety on the night and finessing the finances that does worry me. You talk about the action not actually happening. You have let a contract of £1 million and I think it is reasonable, and our legal duty in fact, to ask that we receive that.

The other point I want to ask is who do you think should decide what is Mayoral advice. We are hearing that it is your own advisers, including some political appointees, who can decide and rule on what is Mayoral advice and what you therefore cannot share with us. It seems to me that ought to be part of the Monitoring Officer's role and not something that is in the heart of your office, because that is counter to the whole spirit of effective and open scrutiny. Can you answer those two questions that I have just asked? Why we cannot have this, because you have let the contract, that action has happened, and what your view is about Mayoral advice and who should rule on that?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for New Year's Eve (Supplementary) [10]

Answer for New Year's Eve (Supplementary) [10]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

On your latter point, where a Mayoral adviser gives a decision it is a decision given on my behalf that I stand fully behind. They merely are the vehicle that actually articulates what is my decision. At the end of the day, the decision is mine, for which I am solely responsible and I take full responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

What has emerged over this is the point I touched on earlier. Clearly the Assembly was identified as a body that would scrutinise the actions and decisions of the Mayor. Normally that is really simple and easy because when it is all done, you then get to say what you think of it. This is one of those small number of occasions, almost all of which have had some degree of controversy around them, whether it is St Patrick's Day or New Year's Eve, where the actual implementation of the decision takes so long that you are in a sense getting involved in scrutiny before the Mayoral action has actually been finalised.

Over the next few weeks lawyers are going to go over this, yours and mine. At the end of it we will know where we all are legally. At the moment, there are different opinions, as there usually are. When we know clearly what the law is I will have to live with it just as you will.