London,
29
November
2012
|
00:00
Europe/London

Statement from Mayor Jules Pipe on No2Veolia deputation

Following a number of enquiries from local media outlets, the Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe has released a statement clarifying his position with relation to the No2Veolia deputation at last week's meeting of the Full Council.
 
The statement reads as follows:
 
"I was in discussion with the Council's Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer about the appropriateness of hearing this deputation and the use of the Council’s procedural rules before I was made aware of Cllr Kelly's own intention to propose a motion under 12.8 of those same rules. It is absolutely untrue that the motion I seconded was drafted by UK Lawyers for Israel with whom I have had no contact and to my knowledge never encountered. Cllr Kelly may have received advice from UK Lawyers for Israel as to the potential use of rule 12.8, and even potential wording, which is a matter for her alone. The final wording of the motion read by Cllr Kelly was in fact written by me, as the Labour group's support for the motion was absolutely conditional on the fact that it should be purely procedural and make no value judgements about the issues under discussion. My statement seconding the motion – the text of which can be supplied – was crystal clear in stating that it could not be taken as support for any side on the wider issue.
 
"There is a wide range of views within Labour Group about the Middle East. Although Cllr Akehurst's views on Israel are a matter of public record, he declared an interest and absented himself from the Labour Group meeting whilst the Group discussed whether a motion under rule 12.8 should be supported.
 
"Lastly, and whilst I appreciate that there are very strong views on all sides about issues relating to the Middle East, I stand by my assertion that Hackney's Council Chamber is no place for such discussions as it is an issue over which Hackney Council has no influence.  It is also at best pointless and at worst legally inappropriate for the Council to be lobbied over a procurement decision to be taken by another body.  Since the Council meeting, the willingness of both sides, and of certain media outlets, to distort facts, make claim and counter-claim, and create an entirely disproportionate hysteria around whether the Council should have taken this debate into the Council chamber, convinces me that the decision of the majority of elected Council members was the correct one."
 
The Mayor also drew attention to a statement he made in the Council Chamber:
 
"Let me be clear, I would be saying the same whatever side the deputation was taking on this matter.

"There are members in this chamber who are against the views held by this campaign and there are people here who are equally sympathetic towards it.

"Despite those personal opinions, anyone attempting to portray this decision to not hear the deputation as the Council, or all of its councillors, agreeing with one side or the other of an international political debate will be both untrue and mischievous.

"It is simply saying that on behalf of all the diverse communities of Hackney, that we will not be diverted from the task of making this borough a better place to live, and that goes for the debates in this chamber."
 
The full text of the Mayor's speech to Council is below:
 
This being a procedural motion there is no debate.

So in seconding this motion I will be sticking purely to an explanation of why this chamber should not receive the deputation.

First off, I do not believe that there is a freedom of speech issue here.

If people want to debate this issue let them hire a hall – and see how many people come. No one is being silenced.

Freedom of speech does not mean that this chamber has to listen to absolutely everything and anything that someone wants to bring to it.

There have always been limits, there are criteria, in the constitution in what can be brought here, including those for a deputation.

In this instance a judgment has been taken that the wording submitted by this deputation meets the strict interpretation of those criteria. Many of us here tonight, however, believe that it does not observe the spirit of that criteria.

We as members are entitled to take that view, to decide that it is inappropriate to hear this deputation, and use rule 12.8.  That is what it’s there for.

There are two principal reasons why I believe the majority of us here feel it is inappropriate – one regarding procurement processes, and secondly, one that could be reasonably considered to be rooted in an international political issue.

Both these issues are not ones that are matters for this meeting.

The letting of the NLWA contract is legally a matter for that organisation.  Indeed our own borough solicitor has said specifically that if the deputation was heard, any reference onwards from this body to NLWA should be sent to the Chief Executive of the NLWA and not the Board, in order that it did not become direct lobbying of board members about a contract. An indication for me, if one were needed, that we would be sailing close to the wind on what is acceptable with regard to interference in a procurement process.

Also, from emails I have seen, the Chief Executive of NLWA is well aware of the issues that this deputation want to raise, and no conceivable reference from this body could add to their knowledge of these matters.

To my mind that reduces any such reference to the status of inappropriate lobbying by this authority.

 The second reason not to hear this deputation is that the parties in this chamber for many, many years have observed an informal agreement that we do not use this chamber to debate issues of principle over which we have no practical or meaningful control. The apogee of such issues are those of international political debate that have the potential to divide communities.

In all the time I have been on the Council I do not remember it misusing this chamber to discuss international political issues.

I think you have to go back to 1980s to find the Council having such priorities. 

"Hackney Council does not have a foreign policy".

Let me be clear, I would be saying the same whatever side the deputation was taking on this matter.

There are members in this chamber who are against the views held by this campaign and there are people here who are equally sympathetic towards it.

Despite those personal opinions, anyone attempting to portray this decision to not hear the deputation as the Council, or all of its councillors, agreeing with one side or the other of an international political debate will be both untrue and mischievous.

It is simply saying that on behalf of all the diverse communities of Hackney, that we will not be diverted from the task of making this borough a better place to live, and that goes for the debates in this chamber.

I am convinced that 48,000 voters did not vote for me in order that I should debate issues such as this at Council, and so I will be voting for this motion which has support from all three parties.