Mayoral Appointments (Supplementary) [3]

Session date: 
May 21, 2008
Question By: 
John Biggs
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

John Biggs (AM): Can I move on very quickly to the issue of Sir Simon Milton who is a man who a lot of Labour Members in local government in London and elsewhere have a great respect for, for his abilities. We may not share his ideology but he is relatively at the 'One Nation' end of the spectrum and that is pretty good news. However, there is a further complication about his appointment. First of all you announced in a press release that he was to be appointed as your senior planning adviser. We now find that a different person, one of your many Deputy Mayors, is effectively now your senior planning adviser and Sir Simon is not. We now find that his position has been clarified so he is actually only going to give you informal advice, presumably behind the bike shed or something, occasionally, maybe or maybe not on planning matters, which you agreed earlier are very serious matters and powers of the Authority. Can you clarify his role?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Mayoral Appointments (Supplementary) [3]

Answer for Mayoral Appointments (Supplementary) [3]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I do find it a little bit sort of dog in the manger-ish. Here we have got a guy who is a very, very distinguished public servant and who has decided to resign from his leadership of Westminster Council, to take no salary at all, no pay at all, to give advice about planning issues in London and here you are quibbling. I think he is going to do a fantastic job in helping a new administration get through some important planning decisions.

John Biggs (AM): There was someone you might have heard of, Thatcher I think her name was, who invented a regulation which said that local government politicians could not serve in positions of giving advice to local authorities, could not be employed as senior employers of local authorities; it is somewhat more complicated than that, but -it seems to the outside as if there is a device here which has been designed to allow him to jump through the hoops of this, which will both embarrass him and complicate matters in the Authority in a way which will, sooner or later, end in tears. We would like you to end it sooner rather than later and clarify the position.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I wonder, John, whether you made these footling objections when the previous Mayor appointed Glenda Jackson and Diane Abbott, both of whom were elected politicians, to exactly identical advisory posts without pay -

John Biggs (AM): As you know from your superb education, Boris-

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I do not believe the record shows that you kicked up a fuss then and I think that all you are trying to do now is throw sand in the eyes of Londoners and pretend that there is a problem when there is not.

John Biggs (AM): All I am doing is reminding you, Mr Mayor, of the law. May I genuinely suggest - Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think you have accepted that the law is on my side.

John Biggs (AM): No, absolutely not. Not yet I do not think. You might find some way of doing it but it would be such a convoluted way that -

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You mentioned some edict of Margaret Thatcher with which I am not familiar.

John Biggs (AM): It is what we call colloquially the Widdecombe rules about the ability for local politicians to also serve in an advisory or senior administrative role in local government.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): The difference is - and can I just repeat this for the avoidance of doubt for the global multitude watching this - Sir Simon is not going to be paid.

John Biggs (AM): That is not a difference. That is not a difference.

Richard Tracey (AM): Mr Mayor, I think we ought to be saying to Mr Biggs, 'If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear'moving back to the question of your Forensic Panel which, I agree with you, it is made up are extremely authoritative and experienced people.

Many, many Londoners will have been shocked to read the first class journalistic journalism of Andrew Gilligan during the election campaign and they will now expect, Mr Mayor, that when we have the findings from the Forensic Panel that they are published and indeed that they are put on the GLA website.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): They shall be. Can I just repeat to make it absolutely clear, a lot of the stuff that the LDA has done may very well turn out to be extremely good work. What we are instituting is not a witch-hunt. We are not intending to invalidate absolutely everything that has been done either in this building or in any other of the GLA functional bodies. I want to make that absolutely clear. There are lots of people who have done a fantastic job over the last eight years and their achievement should be recognised as well.