Sunday, 18 January 2015

Devolution discussions …

It looks like debates about devolution will, once again, come to the fore in Cornwall this week.

On Tuesday, Cornwall Council will debate a “Case for Cornwall” that has been prepared on behalf of the Leader John Pollard. The document states that the unitary authority should be seeking to “secure a range of additional powers and freedoms for Cornwall.” It also claims to be “ambitious” for Cornwall.

Sadly I do not consider the document to be ambitious. It is very much about “local government” in Cornwall, and not meaningful democratic settlements as achieved in Scotland and Wales.

MK members will be making such arguments in the debate on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have issued a press release under the heading: Welsh Powers for Cornwall under Tyler Plan. It states the following:

Cornwall Council could become a powerful Assembly, with powers similar to the National Assembly for Wales under proposals released by former North Cornwall MP, Lord Tyler.

In a major new publication from the liberal thinktank CentreForum, Tyler debates devolution with former Defence Minister and North Devon MP, Sir Nick Harvey MP.

Tyler argues for 'devolution on demand', the official Lib Dem policy, which would see local leaders in Cornwall, London, or any area with a population of a million or more, able to demand powers from Westminster. Harvey proposes abolition of existing local authorities in England, and replacement with roughly 150 'local governments' and 15-20 'regional governments'.

They conclude their 'Devolution Dialogue' with a joint action plan to:

· Enact a Devolution Enabling Bill in the next Parliament, enabling Cornwall to set up its own legislative Assembly

· Complete devolution to every area of England by 2020

· Conduct a 'bottom-up' process through an English Devolution Convention, to determine the boundaries on which new Assemblies or Governments would be drawn

· Limit the number of Regional Assemblies to 20

· Ensure every Assembly has enough members to provide a government and a scrutinising 'backbench'

· Re-examine the effect of devolution on the House of Commons - 'the English Question' - after radical devolution is complete

· Review all local government structures, seeking to empower smaller councils beneath the new legislative assemblies with "double devolution"

The new bodies would take wide-ranging powers from Parliament, including over housing, planning, tourism, education and NHS services.

In the press release, Paul Tyler also talk about a Cornish Assembly growing out of Cornwall Council, and then “additional power for the towns and parishes.”

I have not been able to access the full report online, But as before, I am struggling to understand what the Lib Dems are now saying that they want for Cornwall. One minute, it is just more powers to Cornwall Council, sometimes a proper Cornish Assembly, and often a confusing morphing of a legislative Assembly with a local government body.

The above press release talks about empowering councils beneath "regional Government," which is clearly about district councils, county councils and unitary authorities. But in Cornwall, Paul Tyler only seems to be talking about town and parish councils which makes no sense.

I will update as the week goes on, but have been invited onto Radio Cornwall on Monday morning to discuss Lord Tyler’s proposals. I should be on just after 8.00.

1 comment:

PaulS said...

Actually, the Tyler proposals seem very interesting. Rather than concentration on the very narrow Cornish quesation, he is attempting to address the current democratic deficit across the whole of the UK.

He is also quite right to be suggesting that in Cornwall we do not need the discredited middle level of local government and instead save money and improve communication and local self-determination by envisaging just two levels: Cornish Assembly (under whatever name) and Parish/Town Councils. Power to the Parish!