Devolution for the English

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Devolution for the English

By | 2017-09-02T18:54:45+00:00 July 29th, 2013|Blog, UK|29 Comments
Morris dancers outside the Pump House in Brighton Lanes (picture william / geograph.org.uk)

Morris dancers outside the Pump House in Brighton Lanes (picture william / geograph.org.uk)

Devolution has brought great changes to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but what about England?  What do the English get out of it?

An article by Sue Cameron in the Daily Telegraph last week proposed the idea of an English administration and first minister being accountable to English MPs in the House of Commons, separate from the UK-wide government answerable to the Commons containing Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs, too.  She wonders what would happen if the two governments, UK and English, were composed of different parties.

The bigger question lies, though, in what happens when the two governments are from the same party.  That is to say, when the UK government has a majority in the House of Commons based on MPs from England only.  This was the case in 1983 and 1987, for example.  At that point, while UK-wide policy remains in the UK-wide House of Commons, the politics – which everyone knows is more important – will take place in the English-only House.

MPs from the other parts of the UK will not only be consistently outvoted in the House of Commons but they will also find themselves largely excluded from the wider debate and the personal relationships on which politics depends because that will involve only the English.  Increasingly, they will wonder why they bother turning up.

To allow the English members of the House of Commons to form a parliament for England might solve the English problem but at the price of exacerbating the Scottish problem.  A truly federal arrangement, under which every MP has equal status in the House of Commons, would work much better.  It means breaking with tradition, but tradition is going to get broken one way or another, whatever happens.

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29 Comments

  1. Terry 02/08/2013 at 11:08 - Reply

    “MPs from the other parts of the UK will not only be consistently outvoted in the House of Commons…”

    Good! They have no business meddling in matters that are English only matters. They have no mandate and no moral authority to vote.

    “…they will wonder why they bother turning up”

    I’ve wondered this for fifteen years. Why do they do all day? They don’t represent a single voter (English or Scottish) when it comes to really important matters like Health, Education, Policing, Social Policy etc etc

  2. Barry Hamblin 03/08/2013 at 00:48 - Reply

    I think you will find MPs vote along party lines rather than for the community they were elected to represent, so you could not say the 550 mps elected to represent English constituencies would have the majority vote on any legislation, by citing the figure of 550 it is of course mathematically possible but in reality it never happens. If the 550 mps elected in England had any spine or indeed any thought for democracy, they would have collectively sorted out English devolution and democracy by a) Getting rid of the Barnett formula and b) Forming an English Parliament, but they won’t, when questioned the majority of mps say they are elected to represent the British Govt when patently they are not, they are elected to represent their constituency, in the meantime I as part of England’s electorate are treated as a second class citizen in my own country because I only get one vote for a GB Govt, whereas in the other nations of the UK the electorate get two bights of the political cherry one for the UK Govt and one for the own Parliament/Assembly.

  3. Nigel Sollitt 08/08/2013 at 17:56 - Reply

    Clearly the proposed idea of the UK MPs representing constituencies in England effectively also being MPs of an England parliament would be as unfair as the current situation where no-one in England, apart from London, has devolved parliamentary representation. The previous two comments focus on the wrong part of the report. It is just the last two sentences that ought to be focussed upon: “A truly federal arrangement, under which every MP has equal status in the House of Commons, would work much better. It means breaking with tradition, but tradition is going to get broken one way or another, whatever happens.” To have a truly federal arrangement, all parts of the UK would have to have equal representation. That means collectively in the UK parliament and individually in their own parliaments or assemblies. At the moment the only parts of the UK who have both are Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London. The first stage in the solution to this injustice therefore has to be the empowering of those parts of the UK that have representation in only the UK parliament and still have no parliament or assembly of their own! Breaking with tradition started almost two decades ago with devolution to Wales and Scotland. It is now time that that breaking of tradition was also afforded to the likes of Yorkshire and Cornwall etc.

  4. Barry Hamblin 10/08/2013 at 00:20 - Reply

    In reply to Mr Sollitt – In what way would it be unfair for English constituent MPs also being members of an English Parliament? for that is what they would do under a federal UK, what you are proposing if I am right is for England to be divided up into regions (aka John Prescott), each region to have it own assembly and then send representatives of said assemblies to the British Govt, so in effect no English Parliament, no collective English voice, and no nation, thus the end of England. Mr Sollitt we don’t have to break tradition an English Parliament stood at Westminster long before the British took it over, if you offer the people of England the choice of an English Parliament or Assemblies we would vote for an English Parliament, you say London has devolution it has nothing of the sort, any proposal that the GLA legislates for can be over turned by the British Govt if it does not suit, the same cannot be said for decisions made in the Scots Parliament or the Welsh assembly. Mr sollitt are you aware that any legislation made in the Scots and Welsh devolved bodies are not scutinized by the house of Lords, yet legislation of an English nature is. If the British Govt leaves the West Lothian (English question) unanswered and does not scrap the Barnnett Formula, The people ofEngland will follow Scotland and seek independence from the British State then Mr Sollitt each county can send their representative to an English Parliament, each county can send representatives pro-rata according to its size, that would mean less MPs for England to pay, no legislation being passed between Parliament and a House of Lords and equally no need for any additional buildings because England would already have them. That would obviously leave the British homeless but a far better choice than leaving the English homeless

  5. Terry 10/08/2013 at 07:51 - Reply

    @ Nigel…
    “Clearly the proposed idea of the UK MPs representing constituencies in England effectively also being MPs of an England parliament would be as unfair as the current situation where no-one in England, apart from London, has devolved parliamentary representation.”

    Clearly such an idea wouldn’t be unfair because it would mirror the rights of English MPs being unable to interfere with the will of MSPs or Welsh AMs on devolved matters. For the record, no-one in England, INCLUDING London, has devolved Parliamentary representation.

    ”To have a truly federal arrangement, all parts of the UK would have to have equal representation.”

    You can’t have this unless you unravel the current devolution settlement. It was decided that the nation would be the devolutionary minimum unit. The nation was paramount, despite one nation being twice the size of one and four times the size of the other. The precedent is set.

    ” At the moment the only parts of the UK who have both are Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London”

    At the moment the only parts of the UK who have both are Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    ” The first stage in the solution to this injustice therefore has to be the empowering of those parts of the UK that have representation in only the UK parliament and still have no parliament or assembly of their own!”

    That’ll be England then

    ” Breaking with tradition started almost two decades ago with devolution to Wales and Scotland. (whereby power was devolved to the UK’s constituent nations) It is now time that that breaking of tradition was also afforded to the likes of Yorkshire and Cornwall etc”

    It is now time that that breaking of tradition was also afforded to the last remaining nation, that is England

  6. Nigel Sollitt 12/08/2013 at 02:44 - Reply

    In reply to Barry and Terry: I refer to the explanations of how UK MPs of English constituencies also being MPs of an England Parliament would be unfair given by Richard in his original piece. I would also ask, as Members of the UK Parliament cannot also be Members of the Welsh Assembly, Northern Irish Assembly or Scottish Parliament, what makes you think it should be different in respect of England? This proposal would not mirror the position of Scots and Welsh, quite the contrary, their devolved parliamentary institutions can only make decisions on matters concerning their own affairs whereas this proposed system would effectively give the English Parliament the ability to make decisions on UK matters as well as on English only affairs.

    By “devolved parliamentary representation” I refer to any parliament/assembly etc which has devolved powers to make decisions for those it represents. London may not have the same level of powers as Scotland or Wales and the UK government may retain the power to overturn its decisions but the point is, it does have the devolved power to make those decisions in the first place whereas no other region in England does.

    You say, “It was decided that the nation would be the devolutionary minimum unit.” I say to that, firstly, that someone deciding something does not mean either that it is right or that it should be accepted forever; and secondly, if you look up the definitions of ‘nation’ you will find that it does not exclusively refer to the population of a recognised country but also refers, for example, to a population sharing a common identity, heritage, culture or language, such as Yorkshire or Cornwall.

    Whether you accept London has devolution or not, at least you accept that not all parts of the UK do! The difference between us is whereas you argue that England is the only part of the UK that does not have devolution, I would argue that Yorkshire, Cornwall and any region in England except London are all parts of the UK that do not have devolution. Why this difference between us? There could be many reasons but two of them are very likely to be that whereas you identify yourself primarily as ‘English’ I identify myself primarily as ‘Yorkshire’ and whereas you believe that England is one nation, I beleive that there are too many social and economical disparities between the regions as well as differences in heritage etc for that to be the case.

  7. Terry 13/08/2013 at 18:05 - Reply

    Nigel, only an English Parliament, with powers equal to those of the SP will work. Anything else that addresses the English Question will be a fudge and will eventually break down.

    The reason the nation was chosen as a suitable unit for devolution was because people share a commonality which can give a Government authority to rule. One reason for calls for Scottish independence is because they feel they don’t always get the Government they vote for (because the UK sometimes votes in the Tories, but Scotland never does). If they held commonality with the rest of the UK, this notion would not occur.

    There are strong regional identities and loyalties in England, yet the main reason for the 78% NO vote in the region where is was most likely to succeed was down to their fears of its impact on the unity of England *. This is reinforced by the latest Census (Census, not Poll) that showed nearly 70% identify more as English, or English/Other, than those who saw themselves as British or British/Other at 29%. This is from the England and Wales pool, so the figures are somewhat deflated as far as English identity is concerned. **

    Can you imagine, if we were to be given the same Constitutional privileges as those afforded to the Scots, and that was based upon Regional lines? Can you see Sheffield having a different NHS to Chesterfield, or Birmingham having free tertiary education yet Solihull not?

    You mention that the regional differences in England are too great. I content that England is far more homogenous than any other nation in the UK. Compare industrial, modern south Wales to rural, touristy north Wales. In Scotland the Western Isles and the Highlands are Celtic in language and culture, quite distinct from the regions of the Central Belt and the Lowlands. We, in England, literally speak the same language, whereas other parts of the UK don’t.

    Finally, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved legislative powers… every one of them. London has no such powers and cannot therefore be usefully considered as having Devolution by any standard pertinent to this debate.

    ————
    * “…the romantic stirrings of Yes 4 the North East failed to resonate among a population that is probably more ‘English’ – rather than British, with vague notions of Englishness – than many realise. One of the authors was struck by the number of times respondents in straw polls raised worries about the impact a partly-devolved North East would have on the unity of England, and the implications for other regions.” Peter Hetherington Constitution Unit, Devolution Monitoring Programme, November 2004
    ** English identity (either on its own or combined with other identities) was the most common identity respondents chose to associate with, at 37.6 million people (67.1 per cent). English as a sole identity (not combined with other identities), was chosen by 32.4 million people (57.7 per cent).

    • British identity (either on its own or combined with other identities) was a common identity chosen by 16.3 million people (29.1 per cent). 10.7 million people (19.1 per cent) associated themselves with a British identity only.

    • Welsh identity (either on its own or combined with other identities) was chosen by 2.4 million people (4.3 per cent). 2 million people (3.7 per cent) associated themselves with a Welsh only identity.

    A small percentage of people in England and Wales associated themselves with a Scottish or Northern Irish identity (1.0 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively). 5.5 million people (9.8 per cent) said they had a national identity which was classed as ‘Other’.
    Geographic distribution for national identity (Figure 4: National identity, England and Wales, 201

  8. Barry Hamblin 13/08/2013 at 20:44 - Reply

    In reply to Nigel Sollitt, London currently has the GLA, previously the GLC till the Tories disbanded it. The GLA came into being because it was realised that their needed to be a London wide authority to liase with the London Borough Councils so that there was a co-ordinated approach to Transport, Police and Education within London, the GLA was and is about running a world class city like London, it was put to the electorate as such, there was nothing in the lead up to the newly formed GLA that mentioned devolution, just about electing a London wide body to manage London’s affairs just as the former GLC, the phrase “devolution to London”, came about through John Prescott who had ideas of balkanizing England into 9 regions (funny that these 9 regions were also the same regions as shown on an EU map without the word England being printed), you can bet if London’s GLA was sold to the electorate as region of the EU or Britain, there would have been uproar. Just imaging if a British Govt or the EU decided to split the Yorkshire ridings into its 3 constituent parts with each having an assembly, fighting each other for Govt or EU funding, as a proud Yorkshire man would you put up with your great county being divided? Just recently EU funding designated for Yorkshire was diverted to Scotland ( another bribe ) by the British Govt, why? because the British Govt do not want to upset the Scots in the lead up to the Independence vote, now under an English Parliament do honestly think that would happen? Answer no for two reasons, England would overwhelmingly vote for an EU exit, so no need to receive your own money back, secondly with the Barnett Formula gone England would have more money to distribute and have to bribe nobody.

  9. Nigel Sollitt 14/08/2013 at 20:41 - Reply

    You both talk to me about England and the English as though I have the same feelings of loyalty and identity as you do. I do not; I identify myself as a Yorkshireman and my loyalties are primarily to Yorkshire and her people! Yorkshire (Jorvikskyr) has a history and heritage that is quite different to that of England. As I have said before, our roots are Danish, not Anglo-Saxon. The Kingdom of Jorvik was an independent nation until 954AD and continued after that as an autonomous earldom with our own Danish based traditions, customs and law. In 1069/70 we suffered the harrowing of William the Bastard of Normandy where around 100,000 of my people perished as a consequence of defending that autonomy. Had it not been for William, and that event in particular, there is every chance that ‘Yorkshire’ might now have a status within the UK similar to that of Wales. Effectively, Wales now has the autonomy devolved to it that Yorkshire had taken away all that time ago. You might well say that this is all too far in the past to be relevant but there are in Yorkshire to this day too many surnames, placenames and words used that are of Danish origin for our unique heritage to be forgotten. Also, try offering that argument to the people of Cornwall (Kernow) who base their identify on an even older heritage! For the foregoing reasons I do not concern myself too much with the ‘West Lothian question’ asked by Tam Dalyell but with ‘The Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough question’ asked of the Prime Minister by David Blunkett on 27th October 2010: “Can he think of one single reason why the people of Yorkshire should not determine their own priorities and, one reason why they should not have their own white rose Parliament? No valid reason has been forthcoming!

  10. Terry 15/08/2013 at 15:57 - Reply

    For the foregoing reasons I do not concern myself too much with the ‘West Lothian question’

    It’s a pity the WLQ doesn’t concern itself too much with you. You might not then have Foundation Hospitals, Tertiary University Tax or your NHS being cut in order to preserve higher spending elsewhere.

    It has little to do with your loyalties (though I’d drop the blood line angle if I were you. A sense of belonging has little to do with racial purity) and everything to do with allowing the only nation in the UK so far not being asked if they’d like a Parliament of their own.

    You would obviously vote no, but the majority would vote ‘yes’, if every poll is somewhat accurate

  11. shaun toft 16/08/2013 at 10:18 - Reply

    English devolution is unfortunately the furthest back along the road in the UK, it is stuck without a viable progressive movement, unlike in Cornwall where Mebyon Kernow, and organizations such as the Cornish constitutional convention have been active for well over a decade in the arena of creating coherent devolution policy, the same goes for Yorkshire and their devolution movement. What many English bloggers fail to comprehend is that another English parliament, presumably based in London, will continue most likely to do nothing for the periphery. I cannot speak for the folk in Yorkshire but if they feel an assembly of their own would benefit them the most then they should be given that opportunity, otherwise how is devolution creating better governance for all, or proper democracy?
    As a Cornishman, things are much much different here, our identity is bound up in a separate history and language, as well as suffering the same kind of chronic underfunding as the north and the Scottish and Welsh economies there is an issue of national identity that is being undermined. In short, many Cornish folk do not trust the idea that an English parliament/assembly would be any more sympathetic to our economic or cultural/ethnic individuality than the current elite London parties of today!!
    I of course welcome better governance for the English in whatever form that takes for those who want it, unfortunately all too often in blogs and comments i see a total lack of consideration, and often a complete brushing aside of the points i’ve made above for those who have their own movements and identities.

  12. Nigel Sollitt 17/08/2013 at 02:26 - Reply

    “Foundation Hospitals, Tertiary University Tax or your NHS being cut in order to preserve higher spending elsewhere”.

    I would not argue against your view that these are examples of disparities between those parts of the UK who have devolved government and those parts of the UK who have not. However, I would argue against your view that there is only one part of the UK that does not have devolved government. Whereas you see ‘England’, I see a collective of regions receiving disparate levels of social and economical investment by a central government that blatantly chooses to allow some regions to suffer decay and poverty so that it can fund the prosperity of other regions it favours (which just happen to be those geographically closest to where central government is located). Devolving England as a single entity would mean the continuation of central government and the continuation of those disparities between the regions. If central government is unable to govern so that all regions enjoy similar levels of prosperity, then they should not also deprive those regions the opportunity to achieve those levels of prosperity by governing themselves.

    “It has little to do with your loyalties”

    It has a lot to do with your loyalties! The reason you feel aggrieved by the disparities you mentioned and the reason you campaign for an English parliament to resolve them is precisely because of your loyalties! As for your comments on blood line and racial purity, they are exactly that, YOUR COMMENTS; I have made no reference to either!

  13. Terry 17/08/2013 at 11:11 - Reply

    Nigel, you referred to “Yorkshire and her people”as being somehow different to England (despite being part of England for more than 1,000 years) on the grounds of …“As I have said before, our roots are Danish, not Anglo-Saxon…”. If this isn’t a reference of yours to race and blood line, I don’t know what is. This has no relevance today and it is good to leave such ideas off the table.

    The crux of the matter is that you prefer regional devolution for England and national devolution for the remaining nations: whilst I prefer equal treatment for all.

    Your policy has been put to a plebiscite, mine hasn’t. Your policy has been soundly rejected, mine hasn’t been tested yet. Those opposed to an EP fear the results of such a vote because Poll after Poll show it to be a popular solution (unlike regionalism), but we’re either a democracy or we’re not.

    As a northerner (although the other side of the Pennines to you) I don’t want this part of England separated from the richer South. Apart from ridiculous outcomes such as 11 different Parliaments, NHS policies, education systems, policing etc etc. It would entrench the North/South divide and possibly cause the South to wonder why they bother subsidising everyone else.

    This inward looking parochialism is exactly what devolution has provoked in Scotland and I hope we don’t make the same mistake for England

  14. William Grant 17/08/2013 at 17:40 - Reply

    Charles Kennedy once claimed that he spent half of his time in the House of Commons redirecting correspondence, on matters which had been devolved to Holyrood, to the relevant MSP. This occurs because people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are still getting more than half of their news from UK sources and are unsure which government departments have been devolved. Hence, the clamour in Scotland, at any rate, for more powers for Holyrood. If England also had ‘devo-max’ there would be so little required to do at a UK level, that Westminster Hall would be all that would be required, with approx. 60 seats, for the federal UK parliament. UKIP’s plan for a federal parliament in the House of Lords is already past its sell-by date.

  15. Nigel Sollitt 18/08/2013 at 10:02 - Reply

    Terry,
    Please do not be so arrogant that you think you know better than I do what I have and have not said! I have made no reference to ‘race’ or ‘blood line’ at all! Further, as you are obviously so keen on giving a quotation prior to making a point relating to it, I challenge you to give a quotation where I have used the terms ‘race’ or ‘blood line’ anywhere other than in response to your allegations? You said that this has no relevance today and it is good to leave such ideas off the table, yet it was you who put those ideas on the table in the first place and it is you who seem so determined to keep them there? My reference to Yorkshire’s roots being Danish, not Anglo Saxon was said to demonstrate how the heritage and culture of Yorkshire is different to the heritage and culture of England, THAT IS ALL! Are you saying that heritage and culture is a taboo subject and has nothing to do with ones identity or even nationality? Rubbish! It is heritage and culture that makes us who we are and heritage and culture that gives us our identities and nationalities! For example, the Welsh would not be Welsh if it were not for the heritage and culture of Wales! If heritage and culture is a taboo subject, please can you explain how we have government departments dedicated specifically to it and why we have organizations like, ‘English Heritage’?

    You say I prefer regional devolution for England and national devolution for the remaining nations. I believe that Yorkshire will never receive a fair deal under a central government for either the UK or England but would realize her full potential under a devolved government for Yorkshire. I also believe that Yorkshire has every qualification for devolved government that has any of those parts of the UK already with devolved government. As for parts of the UK other than Yorkshire, I would prefer them to have devolved government on whatever viable basis they desire, whether that be individually or collectively on county, region or country level. I am well aware, for example, that there is much support in Cornwall for Cornish devolution but have heard no calls at all for devolution to any Scottish region.

    Whilst I agree that your policy of an English parliament has not been put to a plebiscite, I dispute that my policy of a Yorkshire parliament has been put to a plebiscite, ever! I think you are referring to the referendum put to the North East in 2004 where a devolved assembly was not successful. Do not make too much of that result! Firstly, the turnout was only 49% which means the 77% who voted NO equates to only 37% of the electorate. Secondly, most of those 37% were not northeasterners voting against a devolved assembly but people from outside Newcastle protesting against the planned seat of power being Newcastle. Reliable votes genuinely against a NE Assembly were therefore limited to those from Newcastle itself. Thirdly, the devolution on offer at that time amounted to very little power at all and was seen by the electorate as ‘not worth the cost’. If powers similar to those currently enjoyed by Wales and Scotland were properly debated and offered to Yorkshire, the outcome would be much different to that of the North East referendum in 2004!

    How can you, as a northerner, say that the South subsidizes everyone else? The economy of this country was born of natural resources, the discovery of foreign lands and the industrial revolution. That means coal mines, Captain Cook and Calder Valley, okay, cotton mills of Lancashire too, if it makes you feel better!? Then there’s the defence of that economy; I would wager that if there were such statistics, you would find that the ratio of servicemen contributed compared to size of population is historically much lower in the South than it is in any other part of Britain! How do you justify saying that the South subsidizes everywhere else when year after year government spending per head of population is above the UK average in the South and below the UK average in the North. Surely those statistics argue the case that the North is subsidizing the South? There was, a few months ago, a report demonstrating that if the North of England were an independent nation, it would be the eighth most powerful economy in Europe! So to where is the benefit of that economic power going whilst the North is not an independent nation? It certainly is not to those who deserve it! This can only mean that either it is not being realized due to lack of central government investment or that it is being realized and syphoned off to somewhere else! And if you genuinely do believe that the South is subsidizing the North, are you prepared to accept that situation or would you prefer to see change whereby the North can prosper and have no need for subsidies? Change that will only be achieved by devolution to the north!

  16. Barry Hamblin 18/08/2013 at 13:31 - Reply

    Well I have doubts about the North of England being the 8th most power full economy in Europe, here is a link to productivity within England, you might just change your mind.

    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/regional-trends/region-and-country-profiles/economy–june-2013/economy—yorkshire-and-the-humber–june-2013.html

  17. Nigel Sollitt 18/08/2013 at 23:34 - Reply

    Barry,
    I said, “IF the North of England WERE an independent nation it WOULD BE the eighth most powerful economy in Europe”. Your comment and link refer to productivity under the existing circumstances where the North of England is governed by the UK and they actually support my argument: Why is the North of England not realizing its full economic potential under central government?

    http://www.ippr.org/events/54/9296/cafe-politique-the-north-south-divide-myth-or-reality

  18. Terry 19/08/2013 at 17:51 - Reply

    Nigel, if I inferred a racial argument from your comments that Yorkshire was somehow separate to the rest of England because of Yorkshire’s Danish ancestry, then I apologise. I would have thought that a thousand years of having a broadly common culture, language, legal system, citizenship (subject-ship?), etc etc would have trumped any different ‘roots’ of 954AD, but you’re entitled to your opinion.

    Devolution to a county or regional level for England is regional devolution. There are some in Cornwall who call for independence, but they are in the minority, as are those who call for the same in the Shetlands. You are therefore promoting regionalism and for the record, Yorkshire does not have “every qualification for devolved government that has any of those parts of the UK already with devolved government”, because it is not a nation. Every other part of the UK that has devolved government is a nation whereas Yorkshire isn’t.

    Regionalism was soundly rejected and it was rejected in the area thought to be most acceptable to it. Plans for Yorkshire were dropped because Prescott knew the voting would be worse elsewhere.
    You ask me not to ‘make too much of that result’ because only 37% voted “NO”. By that logic, only 22% voted for the WA and 38% voted for the SP with tax raising powers (1)…. so 37% is VERY healthy., in fact we could call it ‘the settled will of the people’.

    I am also aware of the arguments put about by Prescott and his apologists, but I prefer to listen to those working the doorstep, who were taken aback by the number of people concerned about its impact upon England and its unity (see quote given previously).

    I agree with everything you say about the North contributing so much and so much more than the South for the past few hundred years. The North was the powerhouse behind the country and when its markets and resources were the Empire. After the war the Empire disappeared and new markets opened up on the European mainland. A combination of cheap labour and being in the wrong place caused decline in the North whilst the South flourished. Now, it’s payback time and we want to see some of that revenue flow north… it’s due, we’ve earned it.

    What I don’t want is a dozen or so regions competing for inward investment by undercutting each other. It doesn’t make sense and it is a VERY unpopular idea.

  19. Barry Hamblin 20/08/2013 at 00:08 - Reply

    Nigel, you did not say the NE would be the 8th most powerful economy in Europe, you referred to a report that allegedly says that the NE would be, I have given figures that prove it would not be, anything else is just supposition, the facts are there over the last 10 years the NE has under performed given the bench mark, now why is that? You give a reasonable opinion regarding central Govt but it has to be remembered that were plenty of MPs who held cabinet offices under Labour, Mr Blair being one of them who came from the NE and what exactly did they do to help the NE, the answer can be found in ONS figures, absolutely nothing.

    As a person who lives within the GLA area I have no problem with the redistribution of funds to other parts of England that are in need of regeneration and more devolution at county level (no more talk of regions) but this has to be within the framework of an English Parliament, as I have commented before an English Parliament would not have diverted EU funding from Yorkshire to appease the Scots, an English Parliament would be rid of the Barnett Formula so more of England’s tax take could be spent on England.

    Nevertheless we will have to agree to disagree, your are no doubt a fervent Yorkshireman and I fervent Englishman, but I will leave you with this scenario, if the regionalist get their way and England is divided into 9 regions, you can bet a night follows day the very idea of England will cease to exist, we will be back to pre 950ad where separate Kingdoms fought for land and resources, perhaps another cousins war might be on the horizon

  20. Nigel Sollitt 21/08/2013 at 02:17 - Reply

    Barry, you’re quite right; I did not say the NE would be the eighth most powerful economy in Europe but you’re quite wrong when you say I referred to a report that allegedly says that the NE would be! The point I made was not in respect of the NE at all; it was in respect of the whole of the North of England! You have not given figures that prove it would not be; you have referred to a report that gives figures showing that it is not under the prevailing circumstances. Circumstances that I am saying are inhibiting the prosperity of the northern counties and preventing their full potential being realized. Those circumstances being the absence of devolved powers, which if in place, would mean instead of having to go cap-in-hand to a Westminster and Whitehall who are too busy focussing attention on London and the South East, making Barnett Formula payments to those already devolved or bribing the Scots to vote ‘the right way’ in the forthcoming independence referendum, the northern counties can determine their own destiny within the UK and strive toward realizing their full potential!

  21. Nigel Sollitt 21/08/2013 at 11:04 - Reply

    Terry, as a northerner it is time you realized that since the days of Guthrum of the Danes and Alfred of Wessex, the south has considered itself to be ‘real England’ and the rest to be its mere dominions. That is exactly why ‘central’ parliament is in London and why the south has prospered as the north has been sapped dry. You can liken it to the Empire where the resources of Britain’s dominions were sapped for the benefit of Britain. Like the nations of the Empire, starting with America, said ‘enough is enough’ and realized that they would be better off governing themselves, it’s time the same was realized by ‘Wessex’s dominions’. To favour an English parliament over devolution to the northern counties is to allow the aforementioned injustice to continue. The only way the counties of the north will correct that injustice and turn decay into prosperity is by having the devolved powers to do so! How can you say that devolving powers to constituent parts would damage England? Doesn’t the USA have more than 50 constituent parts that each have the powers of self governance and isn’t the USA a super,power? You argue that regional devolution is not popular but, apart from the fact that being unpopular does not equate to being wrong, as ‘region’ literally refers to ‘a territory of one’s rule’ I would argue that Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland collectively demonstrate that regional devolution is popular to the extent of what you might call 75% of the UK!

  22. Terry 23/08/2013 at 11:45 - Reply

    Nigel, the North was once the powerhouse of the UK. Look at the buildings in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield. They were the fabulously wealthy cities and their buildings were statements of this.

    The markets have changed and the South East is now generating most of the cash. Ring fencing the wealthy area now is a really, really bad idea. Apart from the fact it would generate multiple NHSs, Education systems, Social Policies etc etc, it would create an intolerable financial burden and the privately educated, privately medically treated will soon question why they are subsidising everyone else.

    Do you think the Southern Parliament would have allowed the BBC to relocate to Salford, or the Inland Revenue to Durham?

    A Parliament for the North is not just unpopular, it’s wrong. Further devolution to the regions of England can be considered but it will be a matter for England to decide, not the UK.

    As for the South East governing everyone else, it doesn’t bear superficial examination. There are 533 English constituencies. Of these only 74 (13%) are in London and a further 74 in the south east (including Southampton and the New forest which are in the south not the south east!) The north West of England has 76 constituencies, two more than London!

    (BTW Scotland Wales and NI do not constitute 75% of the UK, it’s more like 12%)

  23. Nigel Sollitt 23/08/2013 at 23:51 - Reply

    So earlier on you were arguing that all the UK has devolution except England yet you are now arguing that 88% of the UK doesn’t have devolution?!

    You say the “The markets have changed and the SE is now generating most of the cash.” Is this an acceptance by you that England is not a single market but a collective of regional markets? Or, perhaps, a collective of regions that are each affected by the markets differently? Or better still, a collective of regions that, because of their differences, each require individual governance to realize sustained prosperity amid changing markets? The reason the SE is currently generating cash whilst the North decays is because the regions do not have such individual governance and because central government has invested in the SE whilst depriving the North!

    Your arguments about multiple NHSs, Education systems, Social Policies etc etc, creating an intolerable financial burden do not seem to be supported in those parts that have devolved governments. The people of Wales, for example, have fully endorsed devolution after a referendum in 2011 where they voted 63.49% in favour of making their own laws on exactly those issues. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-12648649

    As for the BBC relocating to Salford, try telling those that worked at BBC Leeds that that was a good move. Also, I think you will find that ‘Inland Revenue’ has not existed since 2005.

  24. Terry 24/08/2013 at 13:31 - Reply

    Nigel are you employing the “deliberate misunderstanding” fallacious argument technique?

    1. I have only ever said that thee out of four nations (that comprise the UK) have devolved Government.I have only ever said that England, alone, has no devolved Government. The fact that England comprises 80odd % of the UK in no way changes my proposition.

    2. The markets that have changed are the markets we sell to. The goods supplied by the North are up against fierce competition and have a natural geographical disadvantage. This has nothing to do with Government, but Government can relocate their services to poorer areas (as we have seen with the BBC and HMRC). This wouldn’t happen with your fractured world.

    3. Wales in their second referendum (lucky Wales, do you think we could have just one referendum?) voted 63.49% in favour of more powers. That is almost as popular as demands for an English Parliament, according to pinion poll after opinion poll

    4. If we devolved powers to areas the size of Wales we would have 30 Parliaments, 30 bureaucracies, 30 tax systems, 30 NHSs, 30 university funding systems… it would be a very expensive chaotic system. You would also have to unravel the nation based devolutionary model and replace it with regional one

    … in all, it’s a complete non starter

  25. Nigel Sollitt 24/08/2013 at 15:56 - Reply

    You said three out of four nations of the UK have devolved government. When I went to school three out of four meant 75%, yet when I said 75% of the UK has devolved government it was you that employed the “deliberate misunderstanding” fallacious argument technique by saying, “(BTW Scotland Wales and NI do not constitute 75% of the UK, it’s more like 12%)”!

    I have other matters to deal with right now but will be back!

  26. Nigel Sollitt 27/08/2013 at 02:49 - Reply

    2. Of course the markets we sell to change, but it is the responsibility of the government to put projects and funding in place to ensure that we adapt to those changing markets. Unfortunately the UK Government is ‘selective’ in which regions it is prepared to invest such projects and funding and even more unfortunately, Yorkshire is not one of them! It has everything to do with the government and Yorkshire will see no change under your world of continued central governance!

    3. Do you think Yorkshire could have just one referendum?!

    4. With some parts of the UK already having devolved powers, it already has started!

  27. Terry 27/08/2013 at 10:55 - Reply

    75% of the UK’s nations have devolution, but 80-odd% of the population suffers a democratic deficit.

    2. Governments do not create jobs and it is foolish to let transitory politicians interfere in such matters. Governments can offer tax breaks and offer other incentives to alleviate the effects of market economics and encourage inward investment. England will continue to see investment and resources diverted to Scotland wales and NI until it can speak with one voice

    3. there has already been a referendum on English regional devolution and it was rejected. It is now time to complete the devolutionary process on the same (equal) terms as those offered elsewhere.

    4. Yes it has. National devolution started fifteen years ago and we need to complete the process.

  28. Barry Hamblin 29/08/2013 at 17:19 - Reply

    Nigel, Just thought I would give you this snippet from the Yorkshire Post

    “The groups of councils known as the Leeds and Sheffield city regions have each agreed City Deals with Ministers, increasing local control of funding previously spent by government departments, and Humber authorities are in discussions over a similar agreement.

    But pressure is growing for a more significant shift which would see English councils receive their money from a single England Office in a similar way to the devolved administrations deal with Whitehall.”

    Not really a clear voice for a Yorkshire Parliament or indeed one for the North, but a clear illustration of local authorities requiring one voice to engage with the British Govt and if we get an England office, we will pushing for more powers allocated to the England Office, might just as well have an English Parliament to give the people of England a voice as well

  29. Nigel Sollitt 02/09/2013 at 02:24 - Reply

    Terry, my argument is not regarding your percentages of the UK population that have and do not have devolution and is not regarding your view that the imbalance needs to be addressed, it is regarding your idea of how the imbalance should be addressed. Whereas you say that the imbalance should be addressed by devolving power from the UK Government to one central government for all England, I say that that still amounts to central government and that real devolution can only be achieved by devolving power to Yorkshire and other viable counties or regions.

    Considering only the employment/unemployment position of Yorkshire, I would be tempted to agree that governments do not create jobs, however, saying that governments are not responsible for job creation would be ridiculous!

    There has not already been a referendum on English regional devolution at all! There has only been a referendum on North East devolution. Yorkshire remains just as deprived as England of a referendum on devolution.

    Barry, thank you for your snippet. To be frank, so long as Yorkshire obtains meaningful and worthwhile devolved powers, I do not mind to much how those powers arrive there!

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