When it comes to regional government, I back the government, not Lord Heseltine

 

                The Heseltine Report “No stone unturned”  was a return to the rain drenched downlands of little Neddies and Labour’s economic plans of the 1960s, laced with that old storm, balkanised England. The Report proudly sets out suggested bondaries for another effort at regional government. I prefer the government’s approach, ending RDAs, regional planning quangos and much of the rest of the panoply of false regional splits in  England. We do not need or want yet another layer of government. We do not want our country broken up  in the way the EU seeks.  Large projects require the national government, smaller ones can be handled by Councils if the public sector is needed at all.

                 Nor are the proposals much more welcome when it comes to analysing their democratic content. The Report recommends taking nearly £50 billion of spending over a four year period and giving it to unelected bodies like LEPs to distribute.  This is money largely at the moment allocated and supervised by elected Ministers.  Businesses are to be encouraged or dragooned into Trade Associations and Chambers of Commerce, who will then speak for them, supply them with services and regulate them all at the same time. The old mysteries or guilds have been long asleep, but this report seems to wish to waken them back into life.

                   The Report throws in for good measure the abolition of all remaining two tier local government, whatever the local preferences.

                    The answer to the UK’s growth needs rests more with tax reduction and simplification,  with simplification and removal of complex and less desirable regulations, and mending the banks.  Changing local government fundamentally, redirecting training and apprenticeship monies, and seeking to give wide ranging powers to unelected regional bodies is not the answer.

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74 Comments

  1. Epimenides
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, how can you dispute the findings of the person who, as Deputy PM, helped lead the Conservative Party to its biggest electoral defeat and still wants the UK to join the Euro?

    • zorro
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Yes, I remember well just before the election in 1997 that he forecast a Tory majority ‘rising 60 seats’…….Enough said.

      zorro

  2. Epimenides
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    I have concluded that Michael Heseltine and Will Hutton are the same person.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Father and Son ?!

    • The Realist
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      The man is a corporatist dinosaur!

  3. Nina Andreeva
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Mikey should be able to prove his thesis by using Liverpool as an example. When he became “Minister for Merseyside” presumably that was start of many billions being pumped into it. Has it since become a little Hong Kong by the Irish Sea?

    In times past when the main industry of a town disappeared the people moved on to seek work elsewhere (The Andreeva household has regularly had to move around the UK due to their professions) So you have the development of the “ghost town”. In the UK that does not happen. Instead you have the phenomena instead of towns like Easington Colliery (look inside the FT website archive for further details) that just exist because there is a benefits system to keep it perpetually on life support.

  4. Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    We want just want less government, lower taxes, sensible employment laws, cheap energy fewer but sensible regulations and sensible banking not Heseltine and his command economy vision.

    • Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      At least the government seems finally to have accepted that wind farms, and their huge damaging subsidy, is absurd, as every decent engineer has known all along.

      All that is except the Libdems and the head (and much of) the absurd self interested – Department of Energy and Climate Change alas.

      • Sebastian Weetabix
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Mr Hayes made a comment. That’s great. But has the policy changed? Have the subsidies stopped? Has planning permission been rescinded? No.

        Nothing has changed. The wind farm bandwagon continues rolling on its merry way.

        Judge them by what they do, not by what they say. Talk is very cheap.

        • The Realist
          Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          So true, and sadly more or so with this government.

  5. ianj wragg
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Of course Hessa was appointed for his federalist views. Telling us we should embrace all things European.
    He hasn’t changed since the 70’s and he should be on the podium today with Clogg who is going to lecture us on the Giod given right for the EUssr to increase spending and telling us all how deluded we are.
    Put these men outb to grass for goodness sake.

  6. Pete the Bike
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Why not take the £50 billion and not spend it at all. Since the country doesn’t have the money and it will be completely wasted anyway just don’t spend it. Give us tax cuts not quangos.
    Also congratulations on your vote on the EU budget Mr Redwood and well done to all the rebels.

    • APL
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Pete the Bike: “Why not take the £50 billion and not spend it at all.”

      Agreed. But why not, not take the money at all in the first place.

      Hestletine suggests that we should tax a lot of struggling businesses, employ a few clerical staff then give some of the businesses, chosen at the whim of the clerks, some of the money back. Because in the estimation of the public sector clerk business ‘B’ is more meritorious than business ‘A’.

      Pete the bike: “Also congratulations on your vote on the EU budget Mr Redwood.”

      Yes, congratulations indeed. But a lot of steam was generated in the media on a vote that is not binding on the PM in any way. Unless something tangible comes out of the whole thing, one might just add it to the list of confidence tricks we have been subjected to by the political class over the last decade or so.

      That would be a pity.

    • bj'sputer
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      “Why not take the £50 billion and not spend it at all.”

      My thoughts exactly. If spent on Mr Hestletine’s plans it will result in malinvestment and bureaucracy.

      This is an example of the infantalisation of people; the belief that only enlightened intervention can inspire and achieve wealth creation.

      Mr Hestletines arguments are defeated by his own observations of the historic successes of regional cities: they did it themselves.

      I don’t trade the markets anyway, but if I did, and if one could, I’d ‘short’ whatever entity the proposed ‘investments’ were to be channelled through.

      The key to attracting investment, innovation and enterprise to presently depressed regions, towns and cities is a low cost base together with individual freedoms and liberties. That means, for example, competitive housing costs amongst other things, so that a far lower percentage of gross/net earnings is needed to sustain a quality lifestyle, leaving more for discretionary spending with its effects on ‘demand pull’ in the local economy.

      Part and parcel of low base housing cost is low household energy costs. Low household energy costs are achievable using the right re-furbishment methods and techniques. Most traditional style urban and suburban housing (terraced Victorian and Edwardian; inter-war semi’s) lends itself to re-furb methods and design which yields significant size increases (who doesn’t want a bigger house?) AND at least a 20 fold (yes, 20 fold–not a typo) decrease in building fabric heat losses (from a current average building fabric U value of around 2.5 to 3.0 W/M2/K down to 0.15W/M2/K) without spoiling traditional appearance and without using ANY green bling whatsoever.

      The key, in turn, to achieving this outcome (and it will take up to 50 years) is to amend householder permitted development rights (PD rights) so as to link provisions in an amended Order to the geometry needed to achieve the energy waste reduction. (I have compiled a paper—in pdf format– illustrating exactly how to do this, with high definition images demonstrating the geometrical changes to familiar house types and the building physics calculations to quantity the improvements achievable. PS Mr Redwood: please email me if you’d like a copy!) Enshrining provisions to enable householders to initiate seriously effective re-furb methods in PD rights allows for a ‘bottom up’ instead of ‘top down’ route to reducing energy waste. A low energy waste housing stock is a necessity, not a luxury as the Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI) ratio continues to decline in the hydrocarbon extraction processes.

      DCLG are soon to consult on changes to current PD rights. Their consultants on the last changes (brought into force in 2008) fiddled around the edges of this concept and overall DCLG did not achieve their stated objectives of liberalising the previous regime, largely due to alarmism from planning interests who lobbied for and achieved dilusion of the more liberalising original proposals. The 2008 Order pays lip service to some limited (and largely useless) ‘green bling’ measures, granting development rights for stuff which most people don’t want anyway. We’ll have to wait and see whether CLG’s new proposals demonstate a better understanding of the housing stock (its geometry: why its like it is in the first place and thus how it can be changed to all but eliminate energy waste). I, for one, am not holding my breath.

      And thanks, Mr Redwood, for your robust dismissal of Lord Hestletine’s interventionist, winner-picking approach Report. What puzzles me though is why Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne went to him in the first place.

    • M Davis
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      …Also congratulations on your vote on the EU budget Mr Redwood and well done to all the rebels….

      Hear, hear!

  7. Prangwizard
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    What was the point of Osborne’s commissioning this report from this old dinosaur? Was he serious? Anyone would know what he’d come up with. Lets hope it’s binned.
    Pleased to read your referring to England, and protecting it from balkanisation. We will get our English parliament. I’d like to think you might be a supporter. Let’s hope those concerned are anticipating this in the planning of the modernisation of the House of Commons etc..

  8. A.Sedgwick
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    His report is not a surprise, neither is the fact Cameron commissioned it. Heseltine is an enigma, whilst being a very financially sucessful man, his politics display all the dreamy socialist flaws and his continued support for the Euro and the EU emphasises this.

    • zorro
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      I wonder if he would recommend the same medicine for his own money….somehow I doubt it.

      zorro

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      I don’t see him as an enigma. He is a man who hasn’t forgotten anything and hasn’t learnt anything. Everything he suggests has been tried before and found wanting. He is, in fact, a typical Edward Heath man – just like Kenneth Clarke. The Tory party needs to grow up and get rid of these people.

      • The Realist
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        But sadly a number cling on in many forms! I could name a whole list but it isn’t worth it.

  9. s macdonald
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I can only assume that Hezza was given this brief to keep him busy and stop his constant carping from the sidelines. I really do think it is now time to fold him up neatly and put him away in a filing cabinet (mind you, I’ve thought that for 40yrs).

  10. Electro-Kevin
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I think you’re right about fragmentation, Mr Redwood.

    However, London-centricity will mean the need for subsidy in the regions. Seeing as most of the decisions to flog off regional industry were made in London then perhaps this is how it should be.

  11. Alte Fritz
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I think Lord Heseltine’s appearance yesterday was not unconnected with Halloween.

    • The Realist
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Or the ghosts of Christmas past!

  12. Single Acts
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I find it hard to understand why anyone pays any attention at all to this outdated, failed and failed again nonsense.

    With regard to the author, does his track record of euro advocacy suggest he has a stranglehold on economic correctness?

    If I were partisan I might wonder if the loyalty he showed to the greatest and most successful PM of modern times makes him exactly the man to listen to in this regard.

    Even in it’s own terms the report fails. If it is better to give out money regionally, would it not be better to give out money locally? If better locally why not simply stop taxing the business person in the first place ~ surely the MD of a company is best placed to know what his company needs. Really taking money off a company, spending some on red tape then maybe giving some back after making them jump through distracting and irrelevant hoops is total madness.

  13. j goodchild
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I would not trust Hessletine as far as i could tbrow him. i hold him personaly for the decline of the Tory party. Ever since he “assasinated”Lady Thatcher the conservative party has been in turmoil. He has only ever been interested in his own huge ego. So i hope the government has the sense to bin this report and listen to the sensible people above.
    We want less government not more quangos. go back to retirement MR Hessletine.

  14. merlin
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Michael Heseltine is an old dinosaur and has been put out to grass. More importantly though he is a europhile and believes in regions of the UK. Does he not remember another old dinosaur, who has difficulty with the english language , being forcefully told in the north east that people did not want regional government. Heseltine should stick to his publishing business and keep his nose out of governing Great Britain he is completly out of touch. He was not fit to be in Margaret Thatcher’s government, and I’m glad he resigned , he would have been an unmitigated disaster as PM and would have probably tried to take us into the euro, which he stupidly still thinks is good for Great Britain. Stick to publishing Michael

  15. zorro
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Good clear post John which identifies the correct medicine for recovery whilst warning the poison being posited by Lord Heseltine. He has mentioned that immigration enforcement should be strengthened, but his blueprint is clearly for regional EU inspired/supported government…..The thought of giving these quangos 50 bn to waste fills me with worry. I dread to think where most of it would end up…..

    zorro

  16. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Osborne has just said on the ‘Today’ programme that he thinks this is an excellent report and will be implementing its recommendations. Like you, I also felt my mind drifting back to the corporatism of the Heath and Wilson years and we know where that took us. Heseltine is a Eurofanatic. His main claim to political fame was removing Margaret Thatcher from office. What is revealing is that Cameron chose such a person to conduct such a report. His actions regularly show me that he is an imposter. Unfortunately your party on the basis of one well delivered speech elected him as leader.

  17. Matthew
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Back to the future with RDA’s – no thanks – been tried and failed.

    A lot of waste, money thrown at pet companies that went bust – after paying out lots of fees.
    Prospective non executive directors, riding on the coat tails of soft equity and loans.

    If there’s money to give back – lower employers NI, lower council tax

    The government is already throwing money at R&D

  18. JoolsB
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    John,

    What exactly are the Conservative party doing to stop the balkanisation of England? Labour deliberately and cynically left England out of their devolution act in their usual partisan self interested way so they could carry on using their Celtic votes and their Celtic MPs to stay in power in England and they are now pushing their Regional Assemblies agenda yet again at every opportunity cynically using the Labour North/Tory South divide as a reason to split England up and yet we hear absolutely nothing from the Tories, not a murmur. When is anyone in the Conservative party going to start standing up for England for change? When is anyone in the Conservative party even going to say the word England?

    England gave the Tories a 62 seat majority in 2010 and yet England and it is predominately only England which is governed by this useless and pathetic coalition? In 2015, England might just give the Tories a majority again and yet because England is the only part of the UK not allowed the government of it’s choice, we could still end up with a Labour Government foist on us with all it’s anti-English agenda (mind you, Cameron isn’t doing too bad on that one) and it will stop at nothing to once and for all break England up into regions.

    Every successive Tory leader from Hague to Cameron when in opposition have pledged to stop 119 Celtic MPs voting on English only matters. Now in power, Cameron has reneged on his promise and instead set up a commission which doesn’t even mention the word England and which Clegg has been allowed to kick into very long grass and which will probably stay there until the other side of the election, by which time it could well be too late. This should have been Cameron’s priority without the need of a commission.

    The reason many lifelong Tory voters/activists will now turn to UKIP in 2015 is because they are the only party who are not only willing to give us that in/out referendum on the EU but also they the only party willing to address the English Question, both of which Cameron and the Tories shamefully refuse to do. Cameron may be too busy wooing Salmond to care about the discriminatory and undemocratic manner in which England is governed both politically and financially but he should be reminded where his votes come from as should our supine Tory MPs and start demanding fairness and equality for their English constituents before it is too late. They should be demanding England be asked just once the same as the Scots and the Welsh have been asked more than once, ie. would they like self determination and their own NATIONAL legislature the same as the Scots and the Welsh already enjoy which would create less politicians, not more as those opposed like to spout as 119 Celtic MPs would not be needed for a start. Only when England has a voice, albeit within a federal system, will the threat of balkanisation finally be laid to rest.

  19. Neil Craig
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    In the options considered the stones may have been turned but the work of Adam Smith has remained unopened, as has the Washington Consensus, the experience of Hong Kong, Singapore & China in actually achieving growth or the work of any of the energy economicst who have shown that growth in electricty production strongly coreslates with economic growth (indeed that it is about 50% more important than industrial investment).

    He may have found a lot of statist parasites waiting under the stones but it would have been better had he actually considered all the options, particularly the ones with a record of working. But then Cameron is on record as promising a “relentless” search into what causes growth and then absolutely refusing to even consider what does, so one should not expect more of Heseltine.

  20. Bryan
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I do not know why Mr Cameron thought Lord Heseltine would do other than rehash ideas and concepts from his past which gained little support then and deserve little support now. Save of course to give again to ‘red’ Ed the opportunity to shoot Mr Cameron in the back-foot.

  21. Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Yesterday, Wednesday, in “Economic Growth – Leave No Tern Unstoned”, I posted along the same lines, although a little less polite. Indeed, comparing Heseltine with another OAP, Ken Dodd, formerly of Knotty Ash, I suggested that economic policy would be safer in Dodd’s hands.

  22. Leslie Singleton
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Cameron’s commissioning of a report from Heseltine is just another of his hard-to-understand unforced errors–all in accordance with his desire to look both ways at once. The idea of your average government twerp picking winners is ridiculous. And wasn’t Clegg saying that the vote last night would precipitate a crisis so huge that we would have to leave good value?

  23. Martin Ryder
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Lord Heseltine is one of yesterdays’ men who was not very good even then. He was more puff than substance and clearly still is.

    Looking forwards, rather than backwards, the vote yesterday was not a defeat for Cameron, nor a victory for the Eurosceptics, it was a useful skirmish before the next, but not the last, battle in Europe. It has shown the EU Commission and their supporters that we cannot be taken for granted and may stiffen Cameron’s spine when he talks to the other EU nations’ leaders. It doesn’t matter if we are the odd one out; we must fight for what is best for us, just as the Germans and the French do.

    Thank you for voting for the Reckless motion. My conservative MP did not. He clearly is a Eurodreamer, or at least not a Eurorealist, and so will not automatically get my vote at the next General Election. He probably also supports windmills!! But as I have never heard anything from him or about him, I do not know. He doesn’t even have a blog!!

  24. oldtimer
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Prescott pushed the regional assembly idea in the North East, where it was roundly defeated in the vote on the issue. People do not want or accept regional government.

  25. Robert Eve
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    As you say John ….’if the public sector is needed at all’.

  26. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    “No turn unstoned” might have been a better title. Lord Hesletine has thought outside the modern box only to think inside an old box.

    Who gave this brief to a 79 year old interventionist Europhile, known to have been an enthusiatic supporter of the Heath – Walker “reforms”? It’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to know.

    The prospect of all these geriatric Europhiles retaining some power and influence is really displeasing, like being condemned to live with Banquo’s ghost for ever and a day.

  27. Chris A, London
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Heseltine proposes taking tax from my business – which I started at huge financial risk to myself. And then asking various quango type groups and meddling politicians (most of whom have no business experience at all) across the country to re-distribute my tax money to their pet projects.

    To see how daft government capitalism is, look at France’s 2 billion euro attempt to make a French version of google, called Quaero … this was 6 years ago and came to nothing, a complete waste of money, the UK cannot afford these errors.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2006/apr/26/news.france

    Once again Rt Hon JR is correct.
    For example I pay £200pm on accountants. £600pm on NI for a low-paid employee. Throw in the fact that even the smallest businesses are taxed at 20%, I could without these hire another person immediately, and immediately expand my business further – where 1/3rd of my business is exports.

    You may also notice when you click on a website that it says ‘This site uses cookies’ select: OK/Leave site …. I have a website, but not an internet business. My internet company tried to charge me £200 to install this notice page – it only exists because of an EU regulation, [2009/136/EC this included a change to Article 5(3)]. I refuse to comply with this pointless EU law at £200, I await prosecution….

  28. Richard1
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    The report also contains some extraordinary proposals for dirigiste intervention by the Govt in the market for corporate control, as the French govt is disasterously and absurdly attempting. Lord H is one of the great communicators on the Conservative side (& we havent got many), but his ideas are pure Heath-Wilson-Callaghan. Quite nostalgic really (unless you are old enough to remember what that was like).

    • outsider
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      @Richard
      Why do you say that the French policy is disastrous?

      • Richard1
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        The new French Govt (and the last one also, though this one seems even worse) is attempting to interfere with corporate strategy. They are even thinking of implementing the old Euro-socialist idea of the govt as a general partner in every (large) business (look whats happened at Peugeot). Govt interference like this (& Lord H seems to propose it) perpetuates failed business models, prevents optimal capital allocation, preserves entrenched interests (managment and employees) at the expense of potential new entrants, investors and customers. The good thing is we will have a control case we can all monitor over the coming years before the policy gets reversed. Hopefully then people wont vote for such nonsense here come the next election.

        • outsider
          Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

          Good textbook stuff Richard but does it bear any relation to reality?
          The French economy was much weaker than ours 30 years ago. Now it is much stronger, more sustainable and with a broader corporate and industrial base.
          The “market for control” does not exist. It is a fiction inspired by investment banks to justify short-term trading and financial engineering. If a company is badly managed, the sensible solution is usually for shareholders to the change the managers and/or the strategy.
          Well over half of corporate takeovers, in my experience, are anti-competitive. A few are pro-competitive because they bring in a stronger third (or fourth) force. Many more have been exercises in leverage, making many more businesses vulnerable to the recession.
          And oh yes, by selling our boring but world-leading building materials sector, for example. we have been able to redeploy the capital more usefully into … sub-prime mortgages and hedge funds.
          If we could swap today’s UK economy for France’s, we should jump at the chance.

          • Richard1
            Posted November 3, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            A longer debate than there is space for here would be needed for a proper comparison between the UK & France over the decades. Remember that the UK in the 80s had to undergo a restructuring after 35 years of socialism not far short of what had to happen in Eastern Europe in the 90s. You are certainly right that many takeovers have gone wrong or shouldn’t have happened, but why do you feel some group of civil servants and politicians are better placed than the owners of a business to decide the best course of action? We will see what happens in France in the next few years. My prediction is is these policies will have to change, as they did under Mitterand in the 80s.

  29. RDM
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I could not agree more!

    It’s a pitty a wake-up call could not be sent regarding Banking Reform?

    Regards,

    RDM.

  30. Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I once had Hezza in my sportscar taking him from a function to his hotel so I asked him why he had signed another piece of federalist nonsense? According to him he did it for the good of the country!!! Uselss then as his Report is now.
    As far as forced membership of a Chamber is concerned then talk to German small & micro businesses who will tell you that, because they are assured of their membership (hence their income) Statutory Chambers are anathema and completely forget to stand up for the smaller guys. Too true, which is why groups such as the Federation of Small Businesses are totally opposed to them.

  31. Barbara
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    If it is true that the Lisbon Treaty splits the UK into 12 regions, all reporting separately to Brussels, then are Lord H’s plans for regional government therefore not ‘Lord H’s plans’, but the plans that must be implemented, come what may? Are they just a list of our instructions, with Lord H being merely the courier?

  32. Glyn H
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    All so completely predictable:,from his comfortable perch, admirably self made before RDA’s (and their spectacularly over paid directors few of whom could hack it in the private sector) he opines about what others should do. Like privately educated socialists who tell others to send their children to grim state schools.

  33. Robert Taggart
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Agreed Johnny, but, the nonsense of two tier local government should end – whatever the busy-bodies in any locality think – most people will not even understand this matter anyway !

    Methinks for England a largely Shire County based form of such would do just fine. The only exceptions being those urban areas of c.100,000 or more population. They would have their own Borough / City Councils – hence – Norfolk minus Norwich, Hampshire minus Portsmouth and Southampton… Also, one councillor per seat elected once every five years.

    Sorted !

    • outsider
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      @Robert Taggart,
      By busybodies I take it you mean residents, just another loaded insulting word like Nimby. If your brilliant solution happened in my area the council offices would be 85 minutes drive away with no bus or rail connection. The existing district council is 20 minutes by car and has rail and bus connections. Unlike the county, it is therefore local government.
      Those who want single tier local government might consider doing away with the upper tier, which will be more feasible now that police are to be governed differently. Or they might just accept that the present system is there for a reason.

      • Robert Taggart
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        @ outsider. Nope.

        Busy-bodies are those amongst us who take it upon themselves – without electoral mandate – to ‘speak’ for the rest of us.

        Regarding your area – wherever that be – one would expect the Shire Council to have at least an office in every town of any reasonable size (c.10,000 population ?) in their unitary patch. Indeed, one would expect them – initially at least – to take over the former District Council premises.

        Sorted ?!

        • outsider
          Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

          “Without electoral mandate”.

          So you would agree that any such changes should be put to a referendum of those affected, so that the outcome cannot be dictated by those you describe as “busybodies” ?

  34. Barbara Stevens
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Who asked this out of date man to bring out a report? Whoever it was, it was bad judgement. Heseltine is out of his depth now and is looking back not forward. He would produce what the EU as intended for years, splitting this nation into regions, his he mad or what? Whatever as happened to the true blue Tories of yesteryear, we still have some who cherish our independance and sovereignty but not this man. The vote on the EU budget I was pleased to see so many Tories at last coming out for the UK and not party politics. I’m not sure why the Labour party voted with them but I’ll give then the benefit of the doubt and believe it was for the nation.
    Cameron goes to the EU knowing the country will walk with him, and if his ideas are rebuffed, I hope he just tells them has it is, and walks away. They are wasting far to much money on silly schemes which is not the real intention we joined up for. Trade was the reason we signed up not dictatorship, Hesletine is proposing we join this dictatorship, he should be ashamed of himself. By proposing EU ideas that’s what it looks like. I just hope Cameron sees the light, the light of discontent amongst our people, and our desire to excit from this expensive club. Clegg’s remarks don’t deserve a mention, he’s living in cookoo land and is way out of touch,

  35. uanime5
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    One problem with this report is that it recommend allowing businesses to import workers from abroad immediately if they can’t find anyone suitable in the UK. Unemployed will never be tackled if companies are allowed to take the easy route and recruit from abroad rather than having to train people in the UK.

    • outsider
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:56 am | Permalink

      Dear Uanime5,
      You are right there. One of the great divides between the political class and ordinary folk is that politicians (like the CBI) are only interested in expanding the size of the economy, because that gives them more money to spend, whereas ordinary people are far more concerned about incomes per head.

      And of course the state, via the NHS, is by far the biggest importer of skilled workers, a point worth bearing in mind every time they say that importing skills is necessary for “business”.

    • Richard
      Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      There is a big problem in achieving this unaime5.
      Like “save the world Gordon”, you seem to be calling for jobs in the UK only to be for UK people.
      What next, only Welsh jobs for Welsh people, or only Warwickshire jobs for Warwickshire people.
      Reading your your many posts you seem to loyally support the EU.
      A major EU right is the free movement of people, which you must therefore support.
      Any EU citizen can come here and take advantage of any UK vacancies, is just a natural consequence of being in the EU.
      We have no legal right to stop this.

  36. Tom William
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    It is a bit rich for Heseltine to preach business behaviour when he publicly admitted in 1996 that he had delayed the payment of bills as a businessman to avoid going bust. His frank admission flew in the face of the then Government’s drive to persuade firms to pay their bills on time.

  37. Robert Pay
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    One weeps to think that we could go back down this path…the aim is clearly to undermine the nation state and to reinforce state dependency, to be paid for by South East England. No wonder Miliband Jr. loved it!

  38. i albion
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Lord Hezzas orders from the EU get England broken up into pieces Prescott tried it and got a bloody nose from the North of England.
    Get England pulled together as One Nation with her own Parliament any thing else is treachery!

  39. Robert K
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Spot on. I couldn’t believe that the old statist dinosaur had been dragged out for a final roar. If there is a pot of GBP 50 billion sitting in Whitehall then simply cut business taxes by that amount and let the private sector get on with it.
    What a ridiculous distraction.

  40. Atlas
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    It may be flippant but the things I most associate with Hesletine are large lapels on his jackets! A satorial return to the 1940s in the 1980s.

    • Atlas
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Hesletine == Heseltine
      satorial == sartorial
      Typos reign supreme in Clegg’s EU!

  41. Barry
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Many recall Heseltine as a somewhat unimpressive Government Minister in terms of sensible decisions and notable achievements. He appeared high in charisma and low in ability.

    Heseltine cannot be realistically considered a top ranking business leader with track record of developing a useful strategic vision. Why was he given the task of producing this report? The report makes the decision even more puzzling.

    JC is right. A few powerful changes are more likely to deliver growth than the “Hesselbine” past sell by date meanderings.

    • Barry
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Delete JC insert JR!

  42. outsider
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Mr Redwood, ” No Stone Unturned” reads more like Lord Heseltine’s testament, full of stories of past triumphs and battles lost, though he does not mention his great success in disemboweling the coal industry on a short-term view of energy prices.

    I do not think that even Lord Heseltine realises how much of the economy has been frittered away, how much of British industry and particularly, how many world-leading British multinationals have been lost.

    The inevitable result is that there will be far less UK industrial innovation, far less risk capital for investment from retained profits and far less growth in incomes per head.

    We do need to nurture companies that could be big and strong 20 years hence as well as our remaining big beasts of growth (including banks and utilities) but picking winners is not feasible.

    One good suggestion, which has been a bee in my bonnet for many years, is strengthening the role of chambers of commerce and using them as the agent for Whitehall “help” for business, especially SMEs. Of course, membership should be voluntary for those who do not need the services and the chambers should be accountable to their members to stop them becoming another arrogant bureaucracy but I do think they could make a big contribution, not least in providing a proper local network for risk capital.

  43. Jon
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    The pro EU Hestletine is just following the EU rule book and an old book it is too. Is it that he likes the idea of big empires and so to him he sees the EU as the new Victorian era. He is wrong on the past and just doesn’t understand how the world has moved on and works now. These older pro EU Conservatives refuse accept the reality of what their child has become. That doesn’t do their “grandee” status any favours.

    • peter davies
      Posted November 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      he not a tory, he’s a lib dim in disguise!

  44. Jon
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Ironic that the person who picked up the Mace because he didn’t like Labour singing the Keep the Red Flag Flying is now part of the backing vocalists brought in.

  45. Posted November 1, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Who in their right mind commissioned a report from an old hasbeen like Lord Heseltine.
    Why him? He was a disaster in office and he is a Eurofanatic who is still touting the idea that we will join the disastrous Euro at some stage.

    I wish these politicians having retired, stay retired and leave us alone. He had his chance and he blew it.

    What next, commision Lord Kinnock to report on Trade Union reform or maybe Lord Prescott on the benefits of free enterprise.

  46. Max Dunbar
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Heseltine wrote “Life in the Jungle”. When is “Life on the Scrapheap” coming out?
    He always was a dangerous and misguided egotist. The last time I saw him on Question Time he looked and sounded past it.

  47. David Langley
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    So when is the government going to get on with it. London Airports etc. Its OK saying large projects for government but this government is incapable of making a decision. Everything is subject to years of reports and inquiries. Fair enough we must plan wisely but action must be far quicker than this, in the long run we are all dead.

  48. Richard
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I will say one thing Mr Heseltine did well was the redevelopment of the old steel works in Dudley West Midlands, into the very successful Merry Hill shopping centre.
    At the time unions and local councils were opposed to the development, but by creating it as a special redevelopment area it went ahead.
    But this new report looks like a 70’s throw back to a time when Governments felt they should prop up lame duck companies and try to pick winners for Government aid packages, nearly all of which were huge amounts of taxpayers money down the drain.

  49. peter davies
    Posted November 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    It does fill me with fear when I hear about reports like this, particularly from the likes of Hezza, they tend to merge into expensive quangos that achieve very little like has been described and indicates a failure to learn lessons of the past by many.

    As has been pointed out, Hezza did help lead the tories into oblivion and will never be forgiven by many for stabbing Mrs T in the back not to mention that his EU/EURO views make him sound absurd at a time when most of the country (even some unions and many in the labour party) is waking up to the mistakes of the EU and EURO. What is Mr Cameron doing?

    He cited Liverpool as an example on TV, is he really saying that Liverpool is now an economic powerhouse as a result of gov’t investment?

    Yes they have had new buildings, yes there’s been a lot of development, but from what I have seen its almost all retail – if you walk around the City centre you will see lots of old long closed bank buildings, unless I’m missing something I’ve never noticed many big non govt institutions suddenly appear when I have visited the area.

    – my understanding is that to change a regions fortunes you need corporations to grow or base themselves there that produce something USEFUL to sell/export, then the retailers will naturally come and invest off the back of the new well paid workforce without govt having to throw money at it so a few shiny shopping centres are not going to do much more than take away from other retail destinations.

    Whilst on the subject of Liverpool, has anyone flown in there and tried to catch a train somewhere fast? Its been a while but I seem to remember coming from somewhere abroad and taking hours just to get to Chester, first by bus to the middle of Liverpool then by train – contrast that with Manchester, Gatwick, Birmingham where you just hop onto a train

    – I just can’t somehow see this helping enhance its case as an international business destination.

    This leads me to agree that any economic development approach must always first look at transport infrastructure, energy prices, taxes, red tape, planning etc to set the conditions right for investment and business otherwise you end up with billions spent by govt and only shiny new buildings will not house much more than subsidized retail units/start-ups which mainly close down once their grants run out.

    This is what EU regional grants do time and time again – I’ve seen a handful of successful businesses in North Wales which started off with some development grants but of those I would guess they could have got the same backing from banks/investors and only took the grants because they were there

    – in the real world the ratio of business success to those that close once the grant has dried up is alarming.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

    Promoted by David Edmonds on behalf of John Redwood both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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