The new metropolitan police authority, to be established with the elected mayor and assembly for London, will not operate in counties neighbouring Greater London, home secretary Jack Straw has confirmed.
Speaking in the Second Reading debate on the Greater London Authority Bill, told MPs that following representations by Surrey CC and others he had accepted that the boundaries of the force should be coterminus with those of the Greater London area.
He explained: 'For historical reasons that we have already discussed, those [present] boundaries extend beyond the 32 London boroughs to parts of Essex, Hertfordshire and about a third of the administrative county of Surrey. In some parts of Surrey and Essex, the boundaries of the Metropolitan police service go slap bang through the middle of existing districts, which makes any effective partnership between the police and those districts more difficult, whatever the strength of will of police commanders and chief executives'.
'Under the new arrangements, we shall at long last have police forces that fit within the administrative areas of county councils or metropolitan areas. That is to the general benefit and it is consistent with our overall approach of aligning criminal justice agency boundaries to improve the working relationships between thos agencies and district councils', he said.
The mayor would be involved through his or her appointment of 12 assembly members, including the deputy mayor, to the police authority. He or she would be able to make representations on the list of candidates put forward for appointment as metropolitan commissioner.
'Equally importantly, as two high profile London figures, the mayor and commissioner will want to establish an effective working relationship. As for the assembly, it will provide a majority of the MPA membership. It will also be required to hold meetings at which it can put questions to the MPA about the discharge of its functions', said Mr Straw.
The new London fire and emergency planning authority will be a reconstituted form of the present authority and will inherit its staff, functions and powers.
Mr Straw commented: 'However, it will have a smaller membership of 17 - just over half the existing number. The majority of members will be assembly representatives appointed by the mayor. The rest will be representatives of the London boroughs.
'Like all fire authorities, it will remain democratically accountable to local people. The proposed arrangements will provide streamlined decision-making and will establish a clear relationship between the mayor, the assembly and the authority'.
The Bill was given an unopposed Second Reading after a Conservative reasoned amendment - welcoming the proposal for an elected mayor but rejecting the Bill because the assembly did not consist of representatives from the London boroughs and the City of London Corporation - was defeated by 396 votes to 140. The Bill awaits its committee stage where the government will come under pressure to introduce clauses to specify procedures for the removal of the mayor from office and to extend the mayor's and assembly's revenue-raising powers.