What is the London Assembly?

London Assembly constituency map

In the local elections this coming May, Londoners will elect new representatives to the London Assembly. Here, we provide simple guide to the devolved body which will be scrutinising the new Mayor of London.

What does the London Assembly do?

  • The role of the Assembly is to monitor the decisions and actions of the Mayor
  • The Assembly’s approval is required for the Mayor’s Budget, Mayoral Strategies, and confirmation of certain appointments
  • A two-thirds majority – 17 votes – is required to throw out a budget
  • The Assembly also plays a scrutiny role, which is carried out by 17 different committees, sub-committees and working groups
  • Every year, usually in April or May, the Assembly will hold an AGM and vote to elect the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Assembly, and the Chairs and Deputy Chairs of each committee

London Assembly constituency map

Elections and voting – who gets a seat?

  • 25 Assembly Members are elected to the London Assembly under the ‘Additional Member’ system of Proportional Representation (PR)
  • This means that 14 are elected directly and represent large, multi-borough constituencies, and 11 are elected by PR from a ‘London-wide’ list using ‘modified d’Hondt’
  • Parties need at least 5% of the vote to get a London-wide seat
  • Only Labour and the Conservatives have won GLA constituency seats to date
  • Labour, Lib Dems and Greens often work as a block to do deals on committee memberships and chairmanships

The Greater London Authority (GLA)

  • The GLA encompasses the Mayor of London, as well as the London Assembly
  • The GLA was created in 2000, following a London Referendum held in 1998 where 72% voted in favour
  • The GLA Act (1999) received royal assent in October 1999, and the first elections held in May 2000
  • It is responsible for the administration of Greater London, and shares local government powers with the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation

What does the (statutory) Deputy Mayor do?

  • Under the GLA Act, one Assembly Member is always designated as the ‘Statutory Deputy Mayor’
  • The statutory Deputy Mayor is appointed by the Mayor, and mainly serves to step in in the event that the Mayor is absent or incapacitated
  • The Deputy Mayor must be appointed from amongst the elected members of the London Assembly, and does not have to be a member of the same party as the Mayor
  • For example, Ken Livingstone appointed Jenny Jones – a Green Party Assembly Member – as his Deputy Mayor between May 2003 and June 2004
  • Under his Mayoralty, Boris Johnson created a number of simultaneously serving Deputy Mayors, who take a role in overseeing particular policy areas
  • If the Mayor is killed or resigns, the Statutory Deputy Mayor becomes Acing Mayor for a period of up to six weeks – after which a London-wide by-election must be held

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