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Greater London Authority Act 1999

Sections 20 to 23: Qualifications and disqualifications

79.Sections 20 to 23 make provision in respect of qualification and disqualification for being elected and holding the office of Mayor or Assembly member and are based on the provisions of Part V of the Local Government Act 1972 which apply to local authority membership. They apply to the selection of a person to fill a vacancy among London members in the same way as to an election.

80.In addition to the nationality and age conditions set out in section 20, a person must at the time of nomination and election also satisfy at least one of the conditions set out there which establish a connection with Greater London, namely, registration as a local government elector for Greater London or, during the previous 12 months, holding property, working or residing within Greater London. If a person elected as Mayor or an Assembly member only satisfied the condition of being a local elector for Greater London and, at any time, ceases to be registered as such an elector he ceases to be qualified to hold office and a vacancy will occur.

81.A person is disqualified from being elected or being the Mayor or an Assembly member if he or she:

  • Is a member of the staff of the Authority;

  • Holds a disqualifying office or appointment designated by the Secretary of State in an order (which is to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure in each House of Parliament);

  • Is bankrupt or has made an arrangement whereby his creditors agree to accept less than the full amount of any debts;

  • Has within the previous five years before the day of the election, or since the election, been convicted of any offence and a sentence of imprisonment of at least three months has been imposed without the option of paying a fine instead (this includes a suspended sentence);

  • Is disqualified under Part III of the Representation of the People Act 1983 for corrupt or illegal practices at elections or under section 85A of that Act for late return of expenses;

  • Is disqualified under section 17 or 18 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 (or corresponding statutory provisions which those sections replaced) because, as a local authority member, he incurred or authorised unlawful expenditure or by wilful misconduct caused a loss or deficiency exceeding £2000 (the GLA itself is a local authority for these purposes);

  • Is a paid officer of a London borough council or the Common Council employed under the direction of a committee or sub-committee of that council, or a joint committee, whose membership includes members of that council and persons appointed by the Mayor.

82.The provision allowing the Secretary of State to designate offices or appointments which disqualify a person for being Mayor or an Assembly member (section 21(1)(b) does not apply to local authorities but is similar to provisions made in respect of the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament. It might be used, for example, to designate certain public appointments, the holders of which would be disqualified from standing for Mayor or for the Assembly unless they resigned from the posts to which they had been appointed. An example of this would be the Chairman of a Housing Corporation.

83.Section 23 provides that section 92 of the Local Government Act 1972 (proceedings for disqualification) will apply in relation to the Authority, as it applies in relation to a local authority.

84.This will allow any registered local government elector for Greater London to instigate legal proceedings against any person on the grounds that he acted, or claimed to be entitled to act, as Mayor or as an Assembly member, while in fact being disqualified from acting under section 20 or for failing to meet the qualification criteria set out in section 19 or to make a declaration under section 23, or for having ceased to be Mayor or an Assembly member through resignation or a failure to attend meetings.

85.Proceedings may be brought in the High Court or a magistrates' court but must be brought in the High Court if the person against whom they are brought claims to have been entitled to act. Proceedings may not be brought in respect of an act that took place more than six months before the bringing of the proceedings.

86.Where it is proved that a person acted while not qualified or while disqualified, the High Court has power to declare a vacancy in his office and order forfeiture of monetary sums while a magistrates' court has power only to impose a fine. Where proceedings are instituted in a magistrates' court, that court has power to refer them to the High Court and they must be referred if the High Court so orders at the defendant's request.

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