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Greater London Authority Act 1999

Sections 52 to 60: Meetings and procedure of the Assembly

113.Section 52 provides for meetings of the whole Assembly. Within ten days of an ordinary election (as set out in section 3), the Assembly must meet to elect a Chair and Deputy Chair.

114.The Assembly must hold ten meetings each year, at which it will consider the Mayor's report (details of which are provided in the note on section 45), and question the Mayor and employees of the Authority. The Assembly may also consider other matters at these meetings. After each ordinary election, the first of these meetings must be held not later than 25 days after the date of the election. Thereafter, the Assembly must hold meetings of this sort at intervals of not less than 28 days. The Assembly may also hold any other meetings it chooses.

115.The Mayor and the staff he appoints (other than his two political advisors) will be required to attend these monthly meetings and answer questions put to them by the Assembly. Subsection (4) of section 70 specifies those employees of the Authority who are to be required to attend the Assembly's meetings as part of their terms and conditions. They will include senior permanent officers, together with the Mayor's ten personal appointments (see section 67).

116.Subsection (8) of section 52 allows the Chair of the Assembly to call extraordinary meetings of the Assembly at any time.

117.If the Chair refuses to call an extraordinary meeting after a request by five members of the Assembly has been presented to him, or if the Chair fails to call an extraordinary meeting within seven days of receiving such a request, then any five Assembly members may call such a meeting. The power to request or call an extraordinary meeting cannot be delegated by the Assembly to a committee or to an individual Assembly member.

118.Section 53 contains provisions on Assembly procedure. The Assembly will take decisions by a simple majority of those present and voting at a meeting, except where there is express provision to the contrary. The Assembly will be able to determine its own procedure and that of all its committees and sub-committees, including the size and composition of a quorum. This discretion will be subject, among other things, to the provisions set out in section 52 requiring the Assembly to elect a Chair and Deputy Chair, to hold regular meetings, and deal with the holding of extraordinary meetings.

119.Section 54 provides for the delegation of the discharge of the functions of Assembly. The Assembly may arrange for any of its functions to be exercised either by a committee or sub-committee of the Assembly, by a single Assembly member or by a member of staff of the Authority. In the case of delegation to a single member, the Assembly may only delegate its functions under section 67(2) – staff appointments – and section 70(2) – terms and conditions of staff – to a member of the staff of the Authority appointed by the Assembly. This section also provides for delegation by committees to sub-committees. In arranging for its functions to be exercised by a committee or individual Assembly member, the Assembly does not thereby prevent itself as a whole from exercising those functions. Certain functions must be exercised by the whole Assembly and are not capable of being delegated to all; for example, its duty to hold a meeting to elect a Chair and Deputy Chair, as provided for in section 52.

120.There are special provisions relating to the Police. Section 20 of the Police Act 1996 requires relevant councils to make arrangements for questions on the discharge of the police authority's functions to be put by members of the council at meetings of the council. Paragraph 78 of Schedule 27 inserts a new section 20A, which makes corresponding provision. The Assembly will not be permitted to arrange for its functions under section 20A of the 1996 Act to be exercised by an individual Assembly member

121.Section 55 provides for the appointment and membership of Assembly Committees and sub-committees. It also provides for the Assembly to appoint “advisory committees” and for the membership of such committees. Section 56 provides for minutes of meetings of the Assembly, Assembly committees and sub-committees to be kept in a form to be determined by the Assembly

122.Section 57 covers rules on the political composition of Assembly committees. Local government provisions governing the political composition of committees, set out in sections 15 to 17 of and Schedule 1 to the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and regulations made under those provisions, will apply to committees of the Assembly. The effect of these provisions is to require the Assembly to ensure that the allocation of appointments to Assembly committees reflects the strength of different political groups in the Assembly as a whole.

123.The Assembly shall be required to review the political composition of its committees, as specified by section 15(1) of the 1989 Act, when it first appoints members to any committee.

124.Section 58 makes the Assembly and its committees and sub-committees subject to the rules, with some modifications, which apply to local authorities generally requiring them to hold meetings in public, give public notice of meetings and make documents publicly available. These requirements are set out in Part VA of the Local Government Act 1972 (sections 100A to 100K and Schedule 12A). The Authority is not required to make available for public inspection “background papers” which would disclose advice to the Mayor. The Assembly shall exclude the public from meetings where confidential information is going to be discussed and shall not make available documents which would disclose certain categories of commercially sensitive information which relate to TfL and the LDA.

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