North East Assembly (Supplementary) [7]

Session date: 
November 17, 2004
Question By: 
John Biggs
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Certainly, I think Labour Members have great sympathy with the view about GOL and its inexorable growth and welcome the work of the scrutiny commission. I have one question which is about lessons out of the north-east referendum, which is I think touched by something you said earlier, and it is that, although that may be viewed as a defeat of the Government's agenda on devolution, it actually points to another very important area of work, which is working with the UK's other great cities, because I think there is still a very strong case that cities such as Manchester, Leeds, and Newcastle will find common cause with us in promoting themselves as engines of economic growth.

That is something that we, as London Assembly Members, and you, as the Mayor of London, could very effectively find common cause with other UK cities in progressing. Do you think that is an area of potential work?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for North East Assembly (Supplementary) [7]

Answer for North East Assembly (Supplementary) [7]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I do. I am one who still has in my office Derek Senior's (Redcliffe'Maud Commission on Local Government) minority report to the local government review from 1969, where he broadly advocated strong city regions with real devolution of powers. In the end, of course, what Peter Walker (former Secretary of State for the Environment) brought forward in Edward Heath's Government was a mish-mash of two tiers and confusion, and some cities, like Manchester whose boundaries are drawn so tightly as to be completely unrealistic' Manchester should be a city authority of at least 1 million people. It is barely half that, and a neighbouring authority's boundaries cut across what is, clearly, the entity of Manchester.

Certainly, I would like to work with those other big cities to see what we can do to devolve more powers from central Government. I think, in the sense that we have been successful here, it is because things were devolved from central Government to us. Therefore, we have been able to drive up police numbers, improve the bus service, and press ahead with this capital. None of these things were taken from the boroughs. They were devolved down from Government, and Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, and Leeds are big enough and have talented enough officers and members to be able to do the same.