Greater London Authority (Referendum) Bill — 10 Nov 1997
Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Since the abolition of the Greater London council 11 years ago, London has been the only western capital without any form of democratically elected citywide government.
For 11 years, the people of London have had to put up with an eccentric administrative patchwork made up of secretive Cabinet committees, ad hoc arrangements and a plague of quangos. No one was responsible, so no one was to blame. No one was ever to blame.
"Who governs London?", the people asked, "Who is in charge?"--and answer came there none. No one represented London. The Minister in the previous Government supposedly representing London actually represented a rural Suffolk constituency. The whole set-up was amateurish--and it showed.
London, with its customary inventiveness, did its best to compensate. Public, private and voluntary sectors came together in a variety of partnerships. They published strategies and launched initiatives, but there is a limit to what can be done by busy people with other responsibilities.
Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst):
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. I wanted to pick up his rather sneering reference to amateurishness and his implication that there is something wrong with local government in London. How does he square that with a recently published survey in which international business
I beg to move, To leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
"this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Greater London Authority (Referendum) Bill because it fails to provide for Londoners to be consulted on proposals for an Assembly and for a directly elected Mayor separately."
He did not quote The Guardian , which can hardly be accused of being a Conservative-leaning paper--although I suppose anyone who is against the Government is accused of being Conservative-leaning. The Guardian asked why, if the Government are so sure of their case, they cannot put it to the people. Why can they not argue the case for a directly elected assembly if it is as self-evident as they appear to believe?
It is right that the ALG should reflect those views. Happily, the majority on the ALG did not accept those views and, later tonight, the majority in this House will not accept those views.
We scarcely had a disastrous election result on 1 May.
Question put, That the amendment be made:--
The House divided: Ayes 167, Noes 342.
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