Ken wrote to the Prime Minister asking for a change in the law so that the Mayor of London could only have one job. The reply fell under the purview of Grant Shapps:
Thank you for your letter of 27 February 2012 to the Prime Minister; he has asked me to reply on his behalf as the Greater London Authority Act is the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government.
I have considered your request carefully, but my department has no plans to amend legislation in this way.
I believe the electorate are best placed to make judgments on whether elected representatives are able to pursue other interests in their spare time. Indeed, it would be quite illiberal to pass laws restricting and regulating what individuals can do in their evenings and on weekends.
Indeed, the effect of your proposed regulations would have meant you were unable to serve as Mayor of London when you were first elected in 2000, since you were a Member of Parliament, had paid columns in The Independent and the Evening Standard, had a book contract with Victor Gollancz, and received five-figure sums from after-dinner speaking agencies. Subsequently, during the period you were Mayor, you had a continuing commercial interest in Localaction Ltd, receiving payments for television, radio and writing.
In this context, I view your new-found interest in this issue to be wholly inconsistent and a further argument against ill-thought-out regulation. Calling for regulation on ‘full-time mayors’ whilst running a part-time company is as consistent as calling for a clampdown on tax dodging whilst using a company to avoid paying income tax.
Obviously, outside interests must open and transparent – and the Coalition Government has taken steps through the Localism Act 2011 and the new local government Transparency Code to entrench such transparency in law. I would note that the Greater London Authority has been at the forefront of promoting the transparency agenda in the last four years, such as being the first local government body to start publishing its spending online.
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government
Well Guido laughed…