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London: GLA

Volume 684: debated on Thursday 13 July 2006

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government are today publishing a Statement setting out final proposals for additional powers and responsibilities for the Greater London Authority (GLA)—the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

In November 2005 we launched a consultation exercise which looked at options for giving the Mayor a greater say in the planning and delivery of London's strategic services. The consultation exercise stimulated a great deal of interest and debate about the future strategic governance of London. We have carefully considered all the responses to consultation in deciding the final package of new powers published today.

The Mayor will have new lead roles in housing and adult skills in London, a strengthened role over planning in the capital, a stronger strategic role on waste and additional strategic powers in a wide range of policy areas including culture and sport, health, energy and climate change and appointments to the boards of the GLA's functional bodies.

On housing, the Mayor will prepare and publish a London housing strategy and a strategic housing investment plan, setting out the priorities to meet the housing needs of all Londoners. The Mayor will decide the broad allocation of the affordable housing part of the regional housing pot in London in line with the strategy.

On skills, the Mayor will chair a new skills and employment board, in partnership with London's key business leaders, which will prepare an adult skills strategy for London. The board will be supported by the learning and skills council (LSC) for London, which will sit within the national LSC structure and spend its adult skills budget in line with the priorities set out in the strategy.

The Mayor's planning powers will be enhanced to give him a greater strategic say on planning in London. He will be able to direct changes to boroughs' programmes for the local development plans they produce. The Mayor will also have a stronger say on whether draft development plan documents are in general conformity with his London Plan. Furthermore, the Mayor will have discretion to determine planning applications of strategic importance.

The Mayor will work closely with the boroughs in a new, London-wide waste and recycling forum, which will manage a new fund to improve performance and promote collaboration in waste and recycling. The Mayor will make appointments to the boards of key London cultural organisations. His health role will be enhanced. He will promote the reduction of health inequalities in London, and prepare a strategy to tackle those inequalities.

Finally, the Mayor will have a new lead role in tackling climate change. The GLA will be subject to a new duty to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapt to its unavoidable impacts. The Mayor will publish a climate change and energy strategy setting out his plans for minimising emissions of carbon dioxide caused by the use of energy in the capital, helping eradicate fuel poverty and harnessing economic opportunities for London from investment and innovation in energy technologies and energy efficiency. He will also publish a climate change adaptation strategy setting out how the capital should adapt to the effects of climate change.

We are strengthening the London Assembly's role. The Assembly will be able to set its own budget, publish an annual report highlighting its work and achievements and hold hearings with candidates for key appointments the Mayor proposes to make. The Mayor will be required to have specific regard to the views of the Assembly and the GLA's functional bodies when preparing or revising his statutory strategies.

Arrangements for appointing GLA employees will change so that most appointments will be made by the head of paid service. The Mayor and Assembly will jointly appoint the authority's three statutory posts.

This package devolves powers from Whitehall to London wherever feasible. In specific cases it strengthens the Mayor's powers in relation to the boroughs where we are convinced this will deliver better co-ordinated strategic services.

It provides a robust and coherent set of strategic powers for the Mayor and Assembly, fulfilling the Government's manifesto commitment. It ensures the capital has the strong leadership it needs as a successful world city to meet future challenges, including hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It builds on the success of the GLA to date, providing the authority with additional powers to make a real difference to the quality of Londoners' lives.

We plan to implement the changes as quickly as possible. We will introduce a GLA Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows to enact any changes requiring primary legislation. Other changes will be made through secondary legislation or by agreement.

Copies of the policy statement, an accompanying regulatory impact assessment, a summary of responses to consultation and the responses to the consultation exercise have been placed in the Library of the House.