From the mid-1930s, the Greater London area comprised four types of local government authorities. There were
urban districts and
metropolitan boroughs. The large county boroughs provided all local government services and held the powers usually invested in county councils. The municipal borough and urban district authorities had fewer powers. The situation was made more complex because county councils could delegate functions such as elementary education and library provision to the municipal borough and district councils, and this was implemented piecemeal. Reform of London local government sought to regularise this arrangement.
Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London was established in 1957 and the report was published on 19 October 1960. It proposed 52 "Greater London Boroughs" with a population range of 100,000 to 250,000.
 This was made up of a mixture of whole existing units, mergers of two or three areas, and two boroughs formed as the result of a split. In December 1961 the government proposed that there would be 34 boroughs rather than 52, and detailed their boundaries. The proposed number was further reduced to 32 in 1962.
On 1 April 1965, the 32 London boroughs and
Greater London were created by the
London Government Act 1963. Twelve boroughs in the former County of London area were designated
Inner London boroughs and the twenty others were designated
Outer London boroughs. Outer London borough councils were
local education authorities, but Inner London borough councils were so designated primarily to continue the existence of an
Inner London Education Authority, praised by official Opposition and government who further noted that unusually the former County of London's many small local authorities had no history of providing education. The
City of London continued to be administered by the
City of London Corporation and the
Elections were held on
7 May 1964, with the new councils acting as shadow authorities before coming into their powers the following year.
The boroughs were created as follows. Some relatively minor changes have been made to the boundaries of boroughs since 1965, and two have changed their names.
Former local authorities in the Greater London area
Greater London Council
Between 1965 and 1986 the boroughs were part of a two-tier system of government and shared power with the
Greater London Council (GLC). The split of powers and functions meant that the Greater London Council was responsible for "wide area" services such as fire, ambulance, flood prevention, and refuse disposal; with the London borough councils responsible for "personal" services such as social care, libraries, cemeteries and refuse collection. Several London borough councils and the GLC were involved in the
rate-capping rebellion of 1985. On 1 April 1986 the GLC was abolished and the borough councils gained responsibility for some services that had been provided by the Greater London Council, such as
waste disposal. The
Inner London Education Authority continued to exist as an ad hoc authority. In 1990 it was abolished and the Inner London borough councils also became local education authorities.
Name and boundary changes
Local Government Act 1972 provided a mechanism for the name of a London borough and its council to be changed. This was used by the London Borough of Hammersmith (changed to Hammersmith and Fulham) on 1 April 1979 and the London Borough of Barking (changed to Barking and Dagenham) on 1 January 1980. Borough names formed by combining two locality names had been discouraged when the boroughs were created.
The London boroughs were created by combining whole existing units of local government and it was realised that this might provide arbitrary boundaries in some places. The London Government Act 1963 provided a mechanism for communities on the edge of Greater London to petition for transfer from London boroughs to a neighbouring county district.
 This was used in 1969 in the transfers of
Knockholt in Bromley to Kent, and of
Hooley in Croydon to Surrey. The Act also provided for transfers between London boroughs and neighbouring counties where there was consensus for the change between all the relevant local authorities. This provision was used to exchange two islands on the
River Thames between Richmond upon Thames and Surrey. (See
List of Greater London boundary changes.)
Local Government Boundary Commission for England was established by the Local Government Act 1972 to review periodically the boundaries of Greater London and the London boroughs. The first review of boundaries commenced on 1 April 1987 and reported in 1992.
 Following the review a series of relatively minor adjustments were made to borough boundaries, for example uniting the whole of the
Becontree estate in
Barking and Dagenham. The commission noted that many of its recommendations were strongly opposed and were not implemented. The boundary of the City of London with adjacent boroughs was adjusted to remove some anomalies.
In the London boroughs the legal entity is not the council as elsewhere in the country, but the inhabitants incorporated as a legal entity by
royal charter (a process abolished elsewhere in England and Wales under the
Local Government Act 1972). Thus, a London authority's official legal title is "The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of X" (or "The Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster").
Greater London Authority
In 2000 the
Greater London Authority was created, comprising the
Mayor of London and the
London Assembly. As a strategic authority, it absorbed only limited powers, such as major highways and planning strategy, from the borough councils.