A new report says City Hall should be allowed to pass legislation on health issues in order to help the Mayor fulfil his duty to boost the wellbeing of Londoners.
When the Greater London Authority was established in 2000 the Government gave the Mayor a responsibility for promoting public health and tacking health inequalities, but didn’t give the post-holder power over the NHS or a role in delivering health services.
The London Assembly says devolving the ability to legislate on health matters, and the creation of a new London Health Commissioner post, would ensure future mayors could better fulfil that duty and improve healthcare in the city.
The proposal is one of several recommendations for increasing the Mayor’s power and relevance to Londoners through extra devolution.
Others include ministers handing over control of property taxes, the Mayor and local councils being given joint control over business rates, a devolved skills budget and control of all suburban rail services starting with the Southeastern franchise which is due for renewal in 2018.
Assembly Members have also backed calls by Mayor Boris Johnson for City Hall to gain responsibility for the criminal justice system within the capital in order to speed up the handling of prosecutions and reduce court delays while also cutting costs in the Crown Prosecution Service through greater co-operation with the Met and other partner agencies.
Today’s report also calls for AMs to be given additional powers to hold the mayoralty to account on behalf of Londoners, including the ability to reject mayoral appointments, amend the mayor’s capital budget and the right to summon information.
Darren Johnson AM, Chair of the committee which authored today’s report, said the Assembly has been “key” in ensuring the Mayoralty was accountable to Londoners.
He added: “Our scrutiny of the Mayor’s policies has been critical in creating better transport and safer streets since 2000. That is the difference devolution makes to ordinary Londoners.
“The next logical step is to devolve powers to tackle the housing crisis, to create tomorrow’s skilled jobs in sectors like computer programming, and to reverse the stark health inequalities that divide our capital.
“Our report highlights the cross-party support for sensible new powers for the Mayor and for the Assembly as a check on the Mayor – from all London Assembly political parties, from London Councils and from experts in London public services.”