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Directly Elected Mayors

Volume 516: debated on Thursday 21 October 2010

15. What representations he has received on his proposals to establish directly elected mayors in 12 cities in England. (18474)

We have received many communications from various people who are interested in mayors, and it is our intention to introduce 12 mayors. We will also be introducing additional powers. I think the problem with mayors in the past is that they have been just another politician—[Hon. Members: “Boris!”] But as Boris Johnson has demonstrated in London, with passion and with power one can transform the post.

We have had elected mayors in North Tyneside for more than eight years, and our most effective one was Mr John Harrison, who was the Labour mayor for four years. He did much to progress the area, but, unfortunately, we now have a Conservative mayor. Regarding the proposal for 12 elected mayors, one of the Local Government Ministers has said that they will be chosen from among council leaders, with a referendum to follow afterwards. Should they not be chosen in an election, as the coalition agreement states?

I have to say that Linda Arkley is doing a fantastic job as the Conservative mayor, and a very effective one, too. Perhaps the hon. Lady should have paid a little more attention to the earlier question, when I ruled out the possibility that we would be imposing mayors. This will be subject to a referendum. It was the Labour party that imposed forms of government on local government without consultation and without listening. This Government have learned the lesson; we will follow the will of the people.

Does the Secretary of State agree that, in regard to the localism agenda, there might be a case for arguing that the imposition of a referendum on elected mayors is as bad as the imposition of elected mayors themselves?

My hon. Friend, whom I have known for the best part of 30 years, is sometimes a stranger to democracy. I know that democracy is an inconvenience, but I do not think it that it will do any harm to consult the people of Bradford.