Clegg hints at more power for Yorkshire in a federalist UK

Yes supporters crash a Labour Better Together rally on Buchanan Street in Glasgow
Yes supporters crash a Labour Better Together rally on Buchanan Street in Glasgow
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THE Scottish referendum will be the catalyst for major devolution to Yorkshire, the Deputy Prime Minister has said.

Nick Clegg said that within two parliaments he wants to have seen a major change in how the English regions govern themselves.

Mr Clegg will host a major devolution conference in Leeds in November as he seeks ideas on how power will finally be pulled back from Whitehall.

But the Liberal Democrat MP ruled out creating any new organisations, saying voters had already made clear there is no appetite for a return of “Labour’s failed regional quangos stuffed with new politicians.”

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Clegg hinted at a plan for an increasingly federalist UK.

“The Scottish devolution offer means we are going to have put rocket boosters under the process of devolution to England,” Mr Clegg said.

“My own view is that the one pit fall we have to avoid is just creating more quangos for more politicians. That means no return to Labour policies, but also we have to say no to this Tory idea of an English parliament.

“What we need is to build on what is already there, the city regions and the counties that make up our country. If we work with what we have we can avoid turning this debate into what quite a lot of Tory and Labour MPs want to, which is a sort of parlour game of creating more jobs for politicians.”

Mr Clegg will today set out his views on the new era of devolution as he launches an IPPR report into the need for more powerful cities.

The think tank report suggests a 10 year timetable to decentralise the governance of England, including the need for funding powers letting local leaders

control their spending rather than bidding to Whitehall for cash.

“If we don’t give control of the money then we are only going through the motions,“ Mr Clegg said.

“It has to be about money, not just a talking shop for politicians.

“That’s rule number one, to focus on actually moving power. Two is to work with the cities and the counties that we know already.

“And three is that we use this as an opportunity to create a new economic centre of gravity in the North of England.

“I know, as the Government’s most senior Northern MP, that we have to shout loud and fight hard to get a good deal for the North.

“That is what I’m doing with the Northern Futures project. Clearly the big cities are powerful already, but we have to be more than just the sum of our parts. As part of that I will bring the local growth committee to the North in October and in November I will bring all this together into a major, major public conference in Leeds to distil the best ideas, to sketch out a map for the North of England.”

Pushing through legislation for a “devo-max” deal if Scotland votes No next week has already caused some Conservatives to warn against the continuing push for devolution.

“There are parts of the Conservative party who object to modern life, let alone any change,” Mr Clegg said.

“You just have to let them witter from the back benches. We cannot do anything that gets in the way of further devolution to Scotland, but we then use that as the catalysts for what comes next.”

Nick Clegg: Now is the time to shift power to the regions