Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has pledged that Birmingham residents be asked whether or not they want an elected mayor.
He told MPs: “We will follow the will of the people.”
Mr Pickles contradicted his colleague Bob Neill, a junior Minister in his department, who previously revealed the Government planned to create a mayor first - and hold a referendum afterwards.
In a recent interview, Mr Neill said voters would be asked ‘we have set up these things, do you want to stick with them?’.
It followed speculation about the meaning of Government plans for a “confirmatory referendum” on creating powerful directly elected mayors in England’s 12 biggest cities, including Birmingham and Coventry.
But Mr Pickles said the plan was to hold referenda first, and only introduce mayors if local people wanted them.
Asked in the Commons if he would create a mayor before a referendum, he said: “Of course we will not - that is completely out of the question.
The proposals will be subject to referendums. “Once we know the views of the people in those 12 cities, we will move on to the election of a mayor if people vote for that.
He added: “This will be subject to a referendum.”
The Government wants to create powerful elected mayors to replace council leaders and take direct responsibility for overseeing council services.