Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

Memorandum by the English Democrats Party (RG 08)

  The Elephant in the Room which nobody is mentioning, is that this Inquiry is about ENGLAND's future only. It is not about the National devolution of Scotland, about which Tony Blair said that: Scotland must have its own parliament because Scotland is a "proud and historic nation". This inquiry is also not about Wales which has its own Assembly (which is rapidly metamorphizing into a parliament). The purpose of the Welsh Assembly, as stated in the legislation, is to be a forum of debate for the Welsh "Nation"!

  In England the "Regionalisation" project has its political purposes. These are:


  To attack English National identify by splitting England into competing Regions. Charles Kennedy's enthusiastic remark to Scottish Lib Dems that . . . "In England Regional(isation) is calling into question the idea of England itself", just as the ODPM's aspirational claim that "there is no such nationality as English" gives this game away.


  To create Regions whose boundaries are drawn to give the maximum advantage to the ruling party. Both John Major's Conservative Government and this Government have been guilty of this, viz: The Northern/North East/North West Region boundary changes.


  In no meaningful sense has the Government's Regionalisation programme devolved powers. Indeed, John Prescott's first step in "Re-invigorating local democracy" was to take strategic planning powers away from elected County Councils and give them to the unelected Regional Assemblies whose agendas are controlled by his office. The effect of Regionalisation so far is little more than to centralise local governmental powers into proxy organisations for the ODPM.


  The drive to Regionalise England is partly motivated by the European Union Federalisation project for which there is no democratic mandate whatsoever.

  These motives are undemocratic and improper. Further, as this inquiry is about England only, it is undemocratic for any MP representing a non-English constituency to vote on it.

The potential for increasing the accountability of decision-making at the regional and sub-regional level, and the need to simplify existing arrangements

  There is no democratic mandate for the current Regional structures. The ultimate simplification would be to abolish the muddle created mostly by this Government.

The potential for devolution of powers from regional to local level

  This should read "back" since they are almost all powers which have been taken away! Let's start by returning strategic planning to the County Councils and therefore to some democratic control.

The effectiveness of current arrangements for managing services at the various levels, and their inter-relationships

  So far as Regionalisation is concerned, the arrangements are hopeless. In any case Regions are neither strategic nor local enough to be effective. So far as local government is concerned that does need a shake up to bring back effective democracy and to end the control over centralisation.

The potential for new arrangements, particularly the establishment of city regions

  There is no demand for this nor any democratic mandate. It would be equally improper to use such a scheme for the same political purposes as the current Regionalisation project. The only legitimate devolution for England is for it to have its own national parliament with at least the same powers as the Scottish one.

The impact which new regional and sub-regional arrangements, such as the city regions, might have upon peripheral towns and cities

  This cannot be fully responded to without the publication of the full details of any such proposals.

The desirability of closer inter-regional co-operation (as in the Northern Way) to tackle economic disparities

  This is not the right tool for this job. There may be issues for which there is sense in having such co-operation on an ad hoc and voluntary basis between democratically elected bodies, but this will not be as part of the political agenda of central government.

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