Memorandum by Andrew George MP (RG 62)
I want to respond to the invitation the Committee
has issued in the light of its Inquiry into whether there is any
future for regional government.
There are three issues which I and my fellow
Cornish Members of Parliament (Colin Breed, Julia Goldsworthy,
Dan Rogerson and Matthew Taylor) wish to convey for the Committee
to reflect upon.
1. REGIONAL AFFAIRS
I have been surprised and disappointed that
since the resounding "No" vote in the North East Devolution
Referendum on 4th November 2004, neither any Government Minister,
nor the Leader of the House nor anyone else with an influence
on these matters has sought to call a meeting of the Regional
Affairs Standing Committee, to provide an opportunity for a post
referendum reflection on lessons learned and how to seek to build
a new consensus for devolution, if that was desired.
I have raised the matter in letters, business
questions and debate and am surprised and disappointed that the
Government has so far resisted the opportunity to permit the Standing
Committee an opportunity to debate an issue which would have been
the most substantial that the Committee would have considered
since it was set up in early 2001.
2. GOING BACK
I attach with this brief submission a copy of
a debate I provoked in the Westminster Hall on 23 November 2005Local
and Regional Government (Columns 450WH-473WH)
One of the key principles I felt it was important
to convey to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was a reminder
that devolution was fundamentally about "letting go"
rather than "holding on for dear life" of the agenda.
I also set out a proposal for how that principle could be translated
into policy practice.
Fundamentally, this would involve the Government
setting up and "enabling" a process and an opportunity
for local authorities and communities to bring forward a "business
case" and to bid to the Government for the transfer of powers
on the basis of that case from a "menu" of powers set
out in the initial enabling legislation.
3. CORNISH CONSTITUTIONAL
Dovetailing into the approach outlined, we have
been sent copies of the submission from the Cornish Constitutional
Convention and wish to make clear our support for the approach
that it takes.