Memorandum by Gareth Butler (RG 48)
I have experience of the 1979 referendum in
Wales and the 1997 referenda in Wales and Scotland as well as
Devolution in various National regions across Europe, I made submissions
to the Richard commission on devolution in Wales and have a response
the White Paper "Better Government for Wales" from the
Wales Office. I have also the experience of three levels of councils.
You are welcome to have an opinion on English Devolution and the
reasons for the failure in the North East of England which could
be easily foreseen and analysed from experience herenot
all of my expertise is however FOC.
In response to your questions:
The accountability question obviously needs
a regional elected body in the first instance nominated by various
councils with MPs and Lords also as members. accountability needs
to take into account technology with the body meeting live on
Devolution should be seen as an enabling process
with subsidiary law created to facilitate lower levels of government
The problem of having various services at various
levels is that many operate in quangos whose areas are not synonymous.
The functions that are democratically accountable have diminished
and the decisions of those outside the local government sector
are geographically remote. It would help if the decisions were
in the first instance all made in one chamber for a region where
some accountability could take place.
The concept of the city state is not a new one
but the boundaries of the cities need to reflect that the more
wealthy from the city live in rural areas and dormitory towns
outside the boundaries that have been drawn for most cities. The
city is denuded therefore of both income and apparent talent in
any survey that takes place.
The regions that your office may see fit must
take into account the wishes of the electorate. A case in point
is Cornwall where the aspirations of this Historic Country are
backed by the Charters of Europe but ignored by your department.
A super south west region based in probably Bristol would make
this far flung part of what is now England even more remote and
less accountable. A special case should be granted here which
would be an experiment in regional government in itself. There
are functions that are better administrated by a devolved body
of 1/2 m rather than one much larger and more remote.