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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 22:25 GMT

UK Politics

GLA loses power to impeach mayor

Londoners will have a mayor by May next year

Ministers have overturned a House of Lords attempt to allow the proposed mayor of London to be impeached by the Greater London Assembly.

MPs voting in the Commons defeated the Lords amendment to the Greater London Authority Bill by 306 votes to 151, a government majority of 155.

Opening the two-day debate on the Bill, Environment Minister Nick Raynsford told MPs that giving assembly members the power to dismiss the mayor was to take the choice of mayor out of the hands of Londoners.

[ image: Nick Raynsford: The mayor should not be impeached]
Nick Raynsford: The mayor should not be impeached
He said: "Five million people could feasibly vote for the mayor. It seems astonishing that someone could then be removed because 19 people dislike them."

Two days of Commons time has been given over to debate hundreds of Lords amendments to the Bill, most of them made by ministers.

The number of amendments to the Bill angered the Conservatives, who were also anxious over Mr Raynsford's decision to steer the Bill through the House after he has taken the job of running Frank Dobson's campaign to become the Labour candidate for mayor.

Tory Eric Forth asked: "Is it appropriate for Mr Raynsford to be present in the light of his very prominent political role involved in the mayoral elections to come?

"It may be that he would wish to consider whether it was appropriate and whether or not it might prejudice his position and the position of the candidate for whom he is giving such visible support."

But the minister dismissed Mr Forth's remarks and told MPs: "My involvement today is merely to bring my experience and knowledge of the Bill to the House's aid and assist the passage of this complex matter."

MPs also voted to back a measure enabling early voting in the mayoral election scheduled for next May.

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