Government officials have undermined Sadiq Khan’s suggestions that setting up a new pension for the Mayor and members of the London Assembly would flout Parliament’s will.
Yesterday sources confirmed Mr Khan would use his veto to stop City Hall setting up a new pension scheme after ministers blocked access to the local government scheme for AMs, councillors and directly elected mayors.
In July a spokesperson for the Mayor told this site he did not “consider it appropriate to award himself a pension in the light of this decision by Parliament.”
Yesterday a source said: “The coalition changed the law to take away pensions for the Mayor and Assembly Members. Sadiq didn’t support these changes because he believes everyone deserves a pension – but it is now the law”.
Mr Khan made several similar statements at today’s Mayor’s Question Time where he claimed the lack of pension for AMs was down to “the coalition Government”.
The Mayor suggested AMs could lobby the government to overturn the claimed ban and said he would provide a covering note of support.
In response, Labour Assembly leader Len Duvall told the Mayor he was mistaken and that there was no legal block on AMs and the Mayor setting up a new pension scheme.
Duvall highlighted that the Act of Parliament which established City Hall makes specific provision for them having access to a pension, suggesting that had ministers wanted to ban London’s politicians from accessing any alternative scheme they would have amended the Act.
Instead the Act continues to permit the “establishing and administering one or more” pension schemes for Mayors and AMs.
The Mayor’s stance has angered AMs in all parties but it was his own Labour colleagues who were most critical of him today.
Mr Duvall claimed the Mayor was fuelling any public misperception by inflating the cost of a scheme, highlighting what he described as “leaked” briefings to the media which almost exactly matched the mayor’s comments to AMs today.
At one point fellow Labour AM Jennette Arnold could be heard to mutter “step up and show some leadership” while Florence Eshalomi, AM for Lambeth and Southwark, tweeted: “Unfortunately looks like future London AMs will need 2be wealthy or retired. There I was thinking some progress on representation.”
Seemingly unprepared for the avalanche of criticism, Mr Khan resorted to quipping: “It’s good to see cross-party agreement, even if it’s on the subject of pensions for Assembly members.”
Despite the obvious anger of his colleagues, Mr Khan insisted he will not agree to a new scheme being set up.
Following today’s MQT session, a spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Local Government told MayorWatch there is no legal or statutory ban on City Hall politicians setting up a new scheme and confirmed ministers had deliberately not amended the GLA Act to ensure they were able to do so if they wished.