Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Joseph Timan

Andy Burnham facing questions after bid for more power over Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester's MPs will publicly scrutinise mayor Andy Burnham under new arrangements agreed as part of the latest handing over of powers. The new devolution deal which was agreed last month gives the Labour mayor more control over technical education, housing standards and local trains.

The government also agreed to give Greater Manchester a single funding settlement which gives the mayor more of a say over how money is spent rather than having to bid for separate pots of cash for specific projects. However, in return for these new powers, Mr Burnham and the 10 council leaders will now be subject to scrutiny by MPs as well as local councillors.

The 65-page document, which was signed on March 21 commits to allowing MPs who represent Greater Manchester constituencies to scrutinise the mayor and other portfolio holders - which includes council leaders and the deputy mayor - in public, broadcasted sessions held four times a year. These sessions could take the form of Grand Committees, which are forums for all MPs representing a nation, such as Scotland or Wales, to meet in Parliament.

READ MORE: The groundbreaking deal that will change Greater Manchester forever

The trailblazer devolution deal also states that the mayor must attend up to one council meeting a year in each borough, as well as parliamentary select committees, when invited. Mayor's Question Time events - where the public can quiz Mr Burnham directly - must also continue as a condition of the deal.

The details of the sessions for MPs are set to be agreed by the summer. Speaking at the first Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) meeting after the deal was signed last month, Mr Burnham explained more.

He said: "There was a call from Greater Manchester MPs for more oversight at that level. I referenced the Welsh and Scottish situation. They have had a Grand Committee in Parliament for many years since devolution where MPs from Wales and Scotland are able to cross-question ministers from the Scottish government. I suggested something similar here - that there could be a Grand Committee - and it would seem that has found some favour in the text of the deal."

Scrutiny committees made up of councillors from different political parties representing each borough of Greater Manchester already exist. But the trailblazer deal commits to making some changes to the way they work, including paying members of the overview and scrutiny committee to attend.

Councillors on the committee welcomed the new deal at a meeting held on March 22 - the day after it was signed - but they raised concerns about MPs 'duplicating' their work which should be given 'parity of esteem'. GMCA chief executive Eamonn Boylan told the committee that the latest deal is a 'very significant step forward', but said there is still an 'awful lot of work to do'.

The GMCA endorsed the deal at a meeting on March 24 where a timetable for the next steps were set out by Mr Burnham. A governance review will now be carried out with a draft proposal set to be agreed by the GMCA on May 26.

A public consultation on the new arrangements is expected to take place over the summer before the scheme is submitted to the government in September. The legal changes associated with the deal must be approved by Parliament – a process which Mr Burnham said should be done no later than March 2024.

Read more of today's top stories here.


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.