Yorkshire ‘should be in the first wave of devolution to assemblies’

Two Lib Dems have set out proposals for English devolution

Two Lib Dems have set out proposals for English devolution

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A SERIES of assemblies should be set up across England to take over powers currently wielded in Westminster, according to two Liberal Democrats.

Former Defence Minister Sir Nick Harvey and Lib Dem constitutional affairs spokesman Lord Tyler argue the move is needed to settle the issues raised by devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Coalition has promised devolution deals to give cities more control over their affairs and Sheffield and its neighbours become one of the first areas to reach an agreement.

But in a paper published by the CentreForum thinktank today, the Lib Dem pair argue such deals are not proper devolution as central government remains in the driving seat.

While expressing differing views over exactly how English devolution should go forward they suggest that up to 20 assemblies could be set up to take the lead role in areas such as transport, housing, planning, economic regeneration and tourism.

Writing in the paper, Sir Nick says Yorkshire “would be a good candidate for a first wave of our process.”

He said: “Our proposals are for radical devolution from London, and not just to cities, but to rural areas too.

“It is the only way to bring about a renaissance of local accountability and to stop some small rural local authorities going bankrupt.”

The paper suggests devolution to all parts of England could be completed by 2020

Lord Tyler said: “London covers just one per cent of the surface area of the UK, yet it accounts for 13 per cent of the UK population, and more than a fifth of the total UK economic output.

“These disparities serve both London and the rest of the country badly: the cost of living in the capital is prohibitive while the economic potential of the rest of the country is undermined.

“Our joint plan takes the debate about England out of the cul-de-sac of votes in the House of Commons.”

He added: “Only radical devolution out of Westminster can make politics more accountable, by ensuring decisions are taken as closely as possible to those they affect.”

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