London: Four years on (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
March 14, 2012
Question By: 
Andrew Boff
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Andrew Boff (AM): I would like to have been a fly on the wall, Mr Mayor, on the eighth floor - if they are watching up there - amongst your team when the Chair described me as a sycophant! I would have been interested to see what they thought.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Did she call you a sycophant just now?

Andrew Boff (AM): Yes.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): It is no disgrace, by the way. It is a perfectly honourable calling in a politician!

Andrew Boff (AM): Once again I disagree with you. It is a disgrace and I will not be one. Have the last four years of your mayoralty been better for taxpayers, Mr Mayor?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for London: Four years on (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for London: Four years on (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): They have. Thank you. I do not know why the Liberal Democrats forgot to mention that. They love putting up council taxes so much. By the way, in those areas where Liberal Democrats hold sway, actually council tax would have gone up even more if we had not come in and frozen it. The average household in some parts of London was seeing increases of more than £1,000 in their council tax over the previous administration. That had to be stopped because, frankly, the money was being wasted. That was what got my goat. That is one of the reasons I decided to become Mayor. It was watching this stuff and reading about this stuff and realising that you had a government in London that was completely high-handed in its approach to taxpayers' money.

Andrew Boff (AM): I am assuming, therefore, that that extra money that is in people's pockets as a result of your mayoralty might encourage more people to pay tax at the full PAYE rate rather than setting up companies in order to avoid paying that full PAYE rate.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I thought we were doing well. We had got through almost an hour-and-a-bit of this disputation without mentioning that sort of thing. I do think it is very important to crack down on tax avoiders of all kinds and to make sure that people pay their fair share of taxes. One of things that I think should be in the budget is that all the smart people who are now avoiding stamp duty by getting their accountants to come up with dodges like sub-sale relief or whatever it is; that needs to be cracked down on. If everybody has to pay stamp duty, sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. If you invite me to comment on whether it is right for people to set up phony companies or pretending their family is a company, no, I do not think that is right.

Andrew Boff (AM): That does not really distinguish you, Mr Mayor, from your predecessor because your predecessor was very, very hot on publicising his opinions on people who avoid tax, of course. Of course I cannot raise this document because that would be out of order, but I am assuming your predecessor must have published a progress report from his period of time between 2004 and 2008. Do you think it would be a good idea to get hold of that document - I am sure it exists - and compare it to your document so at least Londoners can judge?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes. This is about whether you do what you say you are going to do. We in 2008 made a series of pledges to London. I have gone through them. We have looked at everything we said we were going to do and we have audited what we promised and what we have delivered and here it is. Londoners can see it. Our commitment to delivering our promises in 2008 is a measure of our determination to keep going and deliver for London over the next four years.