London Taxis

MQT on 2010-06-09
Session date: 
June 9, 2010
Question By: 
Richard Barnbrook
British National Party
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Do you envisage many black cab taxi drivers being forced to give up earning a living as London Taxi drivers when age limits on Taxis are imposed on the fleet in 2012?

Supplementary Questions: 


Answer for London Taxis

Answer for London Taxis

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I think, Mike, there are lots of ways. I think we should have a strategic impact into the way health services are generally configured in London. I think there is a role for greater democratic accountability to this body.

I think the primary way that this body should be responsible for healthcare in London is in promoting public health. So many of our policies and so much of what we talk about and so much of our conversation earlier on today was about air quality or transport or modes of transport. We are there to promote healthy living in all kinds of ways. I think that there is a lot that we could be doing here in this body on public health. That does not mean we have to become the lead nanny in the city, but there are things you can do, with the very considerable public health budgets, on a pan-London basis. If you look at what happens in London, the money is divided up across the city. I think a bit of concerted action would pay dividends.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): I am very pleased to hear you say that because the reason I put the question down was I was concerned that, in the discussion about the changing governance of London, health has not been present. It was not in the Conservative mini-manifesto, A New Settlement for London's Government.

It seems to me there is an opportunity, with the abolition of the strategic health authority that is now going ahead in London, with NHS London effectively being abolished and commissioning being done elsewhere, to beef up our input into planning in London, to take the London only issues. Unless we act now that will go by default. Will you agree to join with whoever - including ourselves in terms of talking to Andrew Lansley [Secretary of State for Health] and others in Government - about ensuring that the regional input to health planning in London is cemented in and does not go, by default - as at present it does, because we have a Health Strategy done here which everybody then just ignores.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No. I think there should be greater regional input. I had regular conversations obviously with Ruth Carnall [Chief Executive, NHS London] and Richard Sykes [Chairman, NHS London] and the London Strategic Health Authority (SHA). I am very grateful, by the way, to Richard [Sykes] for all the work that he did.

There is a slight limit here to our power grab mentality. I am concerned that we should not bite off more than we can really chew with the health service. I think there is scope for us to be consulted and to have a role in looking at the strategic priorities for London. You may disagree and I would be interested if you do but I do not think we should be trying, in this place, to run healthcare in London.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): No, no. It is about strategic input. Not hordes of bureaucrats running things but writing in, for example, a duty to have regard to your strategy which currently is not there; they can just ignore it and they are ignoring it and they have done for years.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think that is reasonable. I personally see real opportunities in the public health side of things. I think that there are huge sums of money being spent on this but they are being spent in penny packets across London in all sorts of different schemes with no real concerting of effort. This is something that we could make a big difference on.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): I have got a practical suggestion for you on that. Currently within the Government Office for London - which, certainly from this side, we are very pleased is being abolished - there is a regional public health group, which is an offshoot of the Department of Health. If we are not careful that will simply go upwards so the consequences of abolishing GOL will be London's public health group will go national. We should be making a particular bid - and get Pam Chesters [Mayoral Advisor on Health and Youth Opportunities] on to it - to bring that down because nation civil servants will just take stuff off nationally unless we watch them. So that is a very practical thing. Will you look at that?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I will. We have had a good conversation already with Ruth [Carnall] about this. I would be grateful if you could take it up with Pam [Chesters] --

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Yes, I will do.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): She is very much of your way of thinking.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Good. A third suggestion is around the London Ambulance Service which is the only emergency blue light service that is not part of this. It seems to me the London Ambulance Service could become a functional body, as with fire and police, and then we would get joined up. Already there are patient transport issues that would team up across with TfL, and the whole civil emergency side would team up with other work that is already going so. So that would be another one that could be brought down to regional level.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I like the idea. I think possibly I had better take it up with representatives of the emergency services, from TfL.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Yes, but they will not like it of course because it is change. It does not like change. Just a bit of history for you.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Let me look into, Mike.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): When the Conservatives set up the Greater London Council (GLC) originally they put the London Ambulance Service under the GLC, and it was only taken off the GLC in, I think, 1971. So a bit of history. Bring it back. Thank you, Chair.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Can you tell us why it was taken off?

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Presumably because they wanted to nationalise it, to take it up nationally.