Devolution to and in England

On Monday Parliament held a debate on devolution in England. Many MPs just wanted to talk about devolving more powers to Councils. I made the point that before you can fairly devolve power within England you first should devolve power to England. The Departments of Health, Local Government and Transport are largely or wholly English departments. Parliament should reflect that in its voting and debates. Our English Ministers in these departments should recommend to Parliament what parts of their powers would best be devolved to Councils.

Giving more powers of decision to Councils may or may not be a good thing. It depends on what the power does, and it depends on the quality of leadership and management of the Council you are giving it to. Some people both dislike centralisation, and they dislike a “postcode lottery”. In each case you have to chose. If you like more decentralisation, you must like postcode lotteries. The whole point of more devolution is to get different answers and different spending priorities in different places. If they all wish to end up doing the same it would be cheaper and easier to have centralised control and management.

I gave a couple of examples from transport policy in my area where I would accept different answers on devolution of power. Wokingham Borough has devolved responsibility for the A329M. We would like to continue it over the river into Oxfordshire to make it an even more useful road. Oxfordshire refuses. Were it a national rather than a local road the central government could make a decision without having problems over powers.

Wokingham does not have powers over the budget of Network Rail. Network Rail is owned by taxpayers and spends large sums of tax revenue. It controls important pieces of land, and its rail tracks create substantial road congestion owing to the difficulty of crossing the railway. It would be good to delegate some of Network Rail’s budget to Wokingham to allow us to spend some of this money on improving the railway, the access to it and the crossings over it to help our general transport system. Network Rail has been persistently unhelpful in my experience.

No amount of transferring budgets and powers to Councils within England can make up for the lack of any devolution to England. When Scotland choses her own Income Tax rate, so should England. That is not a job for Councils, but for English MPs at Westminster.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Indeed and as the Tories are now virtually only a party in England one might expect them to be be rather more keen to ensure a fair deal for England. Yet is seems they are far keener on breaking it up. Thus having this silly local barriers to sensible & efficient administration. The election could be won on this issue but Cameron is not interested he seems actively to want to lose it.

    I often wonder how many £Billions or even £Trillions are wasted as one arm of government fights with another over who should pay for something, or whether something should happen or not. One sees it all the time where government departments endlessly push any potential liabilities away onto another government department who then try to push it back or one to another with legal arguments or loop holes. This is entirely futile as one or other department will usually pay in the end or we all pay because the needed service was not provided. In the mean time we pay for all the legal arguments and the pushing from pillar to post.

    Government departments are often set up like many squabbling children arguing for years over something at vast expense yet delivering nothing of value at all to the public from this squabbling. The only protection for the public from this are MPs and they are clearly not doing much at all to deliver this. Most are far more interested in consultancies with vested interests, buying votes, promising things to voters from the magic money tree, career progression or just keeping in with the party leaders.

    When is the doubtless dreadful (with its six foolishly chosen priories, The deficit, Jobs, Tax levels, Home ownership, Education, Retirement) finally be published? The priorities should be lower taxes, smaller & far more efficient government, far less EU, far cheaper energy, more houses built with less restrictive planning, more roads built as needed, more airport runways as needed, more jobs for all, fewer payments to the healthy but feckless ….

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 6:13 am | Permalink

      Clearly you need an efficient, inexpensive and quick central government arbitration system for any disputes between local areas/departments. But is anything in government ever efficient, inexpensive and quick?

      • zorro
        Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        Think of all that lovely money going to the lawyers arguing the toss over this and prevaricating ad infinitum…… It warms the cockles of my heart NOT!

        Anyway, good to see that Cameron thinks that CSA is a national danger and needs to be tackled…… Shall we take a rain check on that one?


    • agricola
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      I am surprised that you have left out sensibly controlled immigration. the elephant in the room for CMD.

      • zorro
        Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        More like the brontosaurus in the room surely with net migration levels higher than under Labour?


      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        Indeed Cameron’s racist (EU good/Australian, Canadian, American, New Zealanders and everyone else bad) open door immigration policy is clear absurd depressing wages and augmenting the deficit.

        Claire Perry was on the daily politics trying to defend Cameron’s clearly indefensible policy and his “no ifs no buts – tens of thousands ratting” she performed this impossible task rather well. But then as a minister under Cameron you must get plenty of practice. HS2, the wind & PV grants, the 299+ tax increases, the IHT ratting……

        It would however be so much easier to defend a sensible points based immigration policy for only the people we actually need.

    • Timaction
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      They want to break up England under EU dictate. The hidden message is always more EU. With over 65% of our laws made by foreign dictators the message is always hide the truth from the sheeple.
      People have a choice. More EU and foreign dictatorship and invasion by the legacy parties or self rule by the peoples party. I know what my family and friends are doing.

  2. Brian Taylor
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    English Votes by English MPs, if the same law is voted on by only Scottish, Welsh or NI MPs.
    At the Election if we get a Conservative majority Parliament do we get the above??????
    Wil it be in the manifest?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      No it will not be they have sum unacceptable fudge. What will it say on Osborne’s £1M IHT promise of about 7 years ago too?

      Anyway he is slipping further behind in the polls – even the hapless/hopeless Miliband will beat him.

      All for a lack of a simple uplifting vision of lower taxes, cheap energy, sensible immigration, less EU, a fair deal for the English and far less EU and government in general.

  3. Mark B
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    For some strange reason, UK MP’s seem singularly in the entire world, to be hell bent on their own demise.

    When all the power has gone, do any of the think that they will still be in a job, and that people such as myself will still be willing to pay them ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink


  4. Mark W
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    There is one thing worse than a postcode lottery. That is whereby a skilful planning officer undertakes huge powers locally, and then goes to be followed by an incompetent with far too much responsibility. Devolving to councils is not a brilliant idea. However voting rights of MPs should just be demarcated against the powers of devolved governments. I know labour muddy the waters with the London mayor. Simple, take London MPs out of public transport decisions in England. It’s not likely that London buses subsidy levels would cover rural England anyway.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Indeed it is important that decisions are made at the right level for the type of decision being made. For example with halogen or other lighting systems that should be clearly the person who buys and uses the light and the building. Ones who knows his circumstances, personal needs and his financial position. But with the EU is seems it is the bureaucrats in Brussels influence by interested parties in the industry.

    So much for Major’s big lie of “subsidiarity”.

    • agricola
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Subsidiarity lacks clarity and it’s paucity will lead to barbarity.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      As a matter of principle I object to the very concept of “subsidiarity” within the EU, which could only have been accepted by somebody who was committed to the legal subjugation of their country within a pan-European federation. I do not agree, and never will agree, that the EU, which legally is still no more than an international organisation established by treaty between its sovereign member states, can represent a “higher” level of government, superior to the national governments and parliaments from which its powers derive, and can therefore be in a position to delegate powers downwards to “lower” levels. However almost all of the MPs we elect do accept that putative legal subordination to the EU; as we have seen directly from several Commons votes over recent years very few of them are committed to the sovereignty of our national Parliament; and nor do I realistically expect that to change with the election of new MPs in May, as it is already clear that very few of the candidates selected by the old parties actually believe in the sovereignty of the Parliament to which they aspire.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Road improvements would be good throughout the nation. But money has been allocated to HS2 and foreign aid instead.

    • agricola
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Not to mention the vast sums we pour into the EU to little effect and none existent accounting.

      • Timaction
        Posted March 5, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        No. Our £14.5 billion net club fees fund everything in foreign Countries. So we’re being taxed to pay for foreign infrastructure, farmers and more foreign aid. Please understand how much the legacy parties have duped you! So join the peoples party. The fee is bigger than the costs of the entire police pay head for England and Wales. Get it?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Indeed but governments always like grand projects (usually expensive & bonkers ones like HS2, the Olympics, wind farms etc.) when often what is needed is the pot holes repairing, the bus lanes removing and some sensible phasing of traffic lights. Lights that do not discriminate against the vast bulk of road users who are in cars and vans trying to get to work or do their work.

      • zorro
        Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Pot holes are an absolute disgrace in roads around Heathrow with some parts of the roads clearly sinking under the weight of traffic….


  7. eeyore
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Thank you for speaking up for the unremembered English. When I begged my own MP in Cornwall to do the same, he responded with a manifesto for a “Cornish Assembly” predicated on the “cultural and historical differences of the Cornish”. One simply despairs.

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink


      Agree, I simply do not understand why the majority of our MP’s simply do not seem to understand the bloody obvious.

      Before you do anything else, you need to have all Countries within the UK with the same powers under devolved Government.
      Then if you want to devolve powers to larger unitary Authorities further, then that is the time to talk about it, not before.

      I guess you feel like your banging your head against a brick wall sometimes John, but do please keep up the argument for an English Parliament, we must win this one, or scrap devolution completely.

      This regionalisation of England is putting the cart before the horse.

      • JoolsB
        Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink


        It’s not that our MPs don’t understand the bloody obvious, on the contrary they do, but they choose to deliberately ignore what poll after poll is telling them re. an English parliament, for reasons of pure self interest and the fact an EP will put most of them out of a job. The Westminster gravy train is obviously far more important to them than fairness for England.

        With respect to John, he has never argued for an EP. His suggestion was a watered down version of what the rest of the dis-UK enjoys which is their own parliament. John was proposing EVEL which Cameron has already ratted on. Two hatted MPs where they represent the UK one day and England the next unlike their Scots & Welsh counterparts of course, who have the luxury of two over-represented legislatures to stand up for their interests. EVEL would not have offered England equality but it was a start but it seems even that is too good for us English.

      • Timaction
        Posted March 5, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        Please understand that the Westminster village are agents for the EU and therefore everything is to support that project. Regionalisation, mass migration is to remove all thoughts of nationalism from the English to promote their European goal. The peoples party is the only answer.

  8. Ian wragg
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Just the next step in the quest to Balkanise England. Was there any mention of EU involvement in this. We all know that Brussels wants England divided up according to the official EU map where England doesn’t exist. Useful fools the lot of you.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink


    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      I am disappointed that our host did not respond to your post. Perhaps he doesn’t like to admit that, as with most things, the EU calls the tune to which our politicians willingly dance.

    • DaveM
      Posted March 5, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      “We all know that Brussels wants England divided up according to the official EU map where England doesn’t exist.”

      Do you really think that a country which has existed for 1300 years is really going to disappear just because some prat drew a map? Is France going to cease to exist? Or Spain, Portugal or Greece? Of course it isn’t.

      The history of Europe is one of nation states making alliances, breaking alliances, arguing, trying to take control, realising they can’t take control, and so on. This is just another phase in that history which will end up, as it always does, with a load of nation states trying to work out the best way to live near each other without killing each other, with the Meds trying to work out how to take as much as possible with the minimum effort, the Germans trying to take over the continent, the French being a general pain, and everyone hating the English. Because that’s what Europe does.

      What our host is talking about here is the devolution of powers to a body of 55 million people, the majority of which see England as their country – not the UK, not the EU. If the people of Europe submit to a bunch of fools in Brussels the way you are suggesting they will, and if the people of England start describing their nationality as, e.g., ‘Arc Manchaise’, there will have been a remarkable change to the nature of human behaviour.

  9. Leslie Singleton
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Councils’ job should be to keep the drains running, repair pot holes, light the streets at night and a few other similar tasks. Their task should be that of a mechanic not a decision maker (IMHO of course).

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Indeed any they should not have any involvement in schools at all. That should be a matter between the schools, government funding (vouchers) and the parents. What is the point of a parasitic LEA in the middle?

    • David Murfin
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      I remember when I was at school and wondering what kind of job I should have and how I would do it, my father telling me that the Town Clerk was subject to much criticism for not being available in his office, but always just wandering around the town. On the other hand, the roads and pavements were promptly repaired if defects appeared, and council workmen never knew when he might appear.

  10. DaveM
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    It sounds to me like MPs are going to end up over-complicating things by seeking the easiest solution. Of course the easiest solution should never be confused with the simplest solution. Why can’t all you people in Westminster – who are so much cleverer than the rest of us – just work out what should be devolved and what should be centralised, and then work out the best way to do it. Put a bit of effort into it !!

    Businesses and organisations change all the time. They do it – generally speaking – with the organisation’s (and its employees) best interests at heart, and (although they may have personal ambitions) rarely have loyalty to other organisations, whips, agendas, etc.

    At my work, we get the best and most appropriate people together, we propose, discuss, compromise, and so on. Very rarely do we stand around shouting insults at each other, looking smug, and making animal noises. We tend to find that approach doesn’t achieve an awful lot.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      The want to over complicate it , so when English people demand their own Parliament , they will tell us it is impossible because, as a result of England being fractured into competing City fiefdoms, an English parliament won’t be able to cope with all these different levels of devolution.

      We already see this in Labour’s response to even the most inconsequential suggestions for devolution for England , where they use the London assembly as a reason why England can’t have its own Parliament. It is going to be many times worse when we get Osborne’s City Mayoral fiefdoms.

      If they are going to use the fracturing of England as a reason why English people can’t get their own Parliament, then we should have had a say in the London assembly being set up, as it appears to have effected out constitutional rights, and we should all be having a say in Osborne’s constitutional dogs breakfast.

    • agricola
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Spot on. The behaviour that appals us all out here in the real World derives from the school, university, H o C gopher, safe seat route into parliament. Not so dissimilar to the behaviour on the terraces in years past. Many of our MPs have never had to behave in a real job, so in parliament they remain feral.

      • Anonymous
        Posted March 5, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        Red team Vs Blue team tit-for-tatting at the Westminster debating/luncheon society the (WDLS) Don’t we all love it !

        England is finished.

        All I want to do is remove my support from the Weedles (WDLS) at this election and all after it.

        It is quite clear from their actions that they hate people like us and want us replaced.

        The allegedly racist UKIP cartoon published by the Daily Mail this week in which a media character stated to the effect that ‘the nuclear British family are the real problem in this country’ is bang on the nail. Except I would have replaced that figure with a parliamentarian.

        John. Your Prime Minister could do well to assure people like us that we are not hated. Because it certainly feels so from his refusal to deal with mass immigration.

        The feeling I have is that I’m stuffed whether I vote Tory or not. I’m sure many feel the same. And your party has lost something like 25% to UKIP.

        What’s to lose from voting UKIP ? It’s got to be better than being slapped around like some posh boy’s fag – and I have nothing against posh boys so long as they are on my side !

        • Anonymous
          Posted March 5, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          “Ah. But the economy is in sound hands with the Tories.”

          Well. Based on building houses ad infinitum. What happens when that stops ?

  11. Old Albion
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    JR. Since 1998 we have had successive (dis)UK governments trying to pretend England doesn’t exist (politically)
    There has been an unspoken policy of ‘don’t mention England’ Even you partook in it when recently blogging on tuition fees.
    Since the Scottish referendum and Camerons ‘vow’ even some MP’s have realised failing to include England in devolution is leading the (dis)UK to it’s graveyard.
    Rather than tackle the issue sensibly, we now have a government who thinks handing out morsels to councils equates to devolution for England. This is NOT devolution. This is further obfuscation to try and con the English into believing they are getting devolution. When in fact they are getting ‘Balkanised’
    Devolution has taken place for Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland, at NATIONAL level.
    England must have exactly the same, a NATIONAL devolved body, ergo an English parliament. Nothing less will do.
    Any devolution to English councils, regions, counties etc. must be the responsibility of English constituency MP’s only.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      I noted that Miliband when announcing his tuition fees policy for England, couldn’t actually utter the word England.

      • Old Albion
        Posted March 4, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        Nothing new Iain. The whole (dis)UK parliament has an unspoken rule.
        ‘Never mention England’ (politically)

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        I think the word England is banned by EU diktat. Forms now even say “country of birth for example UK”!

        • DaveM
          Posted March 5, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

          Simple answer to that (as with ‘nationality’ being white British, etc) – tick ‘other’ and write England/English.

  12. Jerry
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    John, a question, when you talk about “councils” are you talking about the County or District (and the metropolitan equivalents) level?

    I don’t see that there will be much of a problem beyond what we already have with postcode lotteries if you are talking about county Councils but agree that giving devolved powers to the already (often) dysfunctional District Councils will end in a nightmare.

    Reply We were mainly talking about Counties and unitaries

  13. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Rotherham, Oxfordshire and support to terrorists in London…all courtesy of councils.

    Central control is perhaps the better of the multitude of evils…only just perhaps. And then there’s the loonies of the EU.

    Pity we have to wait for General Elections to come about…..the contempt works both ways!

    • Sandra Cox
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Not such an outrageous question from Lord Tebbit in his blog on the Balkanisation of the UK and England, following the Scottish referendum:

      “What will now be ahead as we plunge into the “regional devolution” of England? What will [we] do if a devolved administration in one of our great cities proposes to govern under Sharia law?”

      The Telegraph, 19 September 2014

  14. Iain Moore
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    British MPs and British political parties seeking to fracture and balkanise England in order to pre-empt any constitutional settlement for England .

    The neglect of England by the Cameron Conservatives I had become used to, but I really didn’t think they would be the ones to balkanise England . But I suppose I was naive as the Cameron Conservatives had made it their business to antagonise their core support by pursuing metropolitan lefty New Labour policies.

    It is clear the British establishment are on route to destroying England , England is the last colony of the British establishment and they are going to do their utmost to ensure it is divided and ruled for their interests and not the English peoples interests.

  15. JoolsB
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    One thing is certain. As long as Cameron is PM, there is no chance of England getting any form of devolution at national level. He’s even ratted on his promise made only five months ago of English votes for English laws. Despite him and your party only being in power thanks to England, you have all repeatedly shown your contempt for it. So much so, none of you will even say the word, even when you know you are talking about English only issues such as education, £9,000 tuition fees, health, transport, local government and soon income tax. All parties have one mission only, to do the EU’s bidding and balkanise England into EU manageable size regions with their city deals and their regionalisation. They are all discussing amongst themselves how best to offer England a mere morsel of what the rest of this dis-UK already enjoys whilst deliberately out of pure self interest, ignoring the blinding obvious, which is to ask the English what they want in the same way Scotland, Wales & NI have been asked more than once.

    England has voted Conservative in the last two general elections but England alone in this dis-United Kingdom is deliberately denied the government of it’s choosing and even if England were stupid enough to vote again for the party which obviously holds them in as much contempt as Labour and the Lib Dums, England could and probably will still end up being governed by an even more anti-English Labour party propped up by Scottish Nationalist MPs, all dictating policy, including income tax for England which bizarrely they will have absolutely no say on for their own constituents and those who who voted for them. We will probably once again see MPs with Scottish (or Welsh) constituencies being appointed Ministers of English only departments just as they were under Blair and once again as then, one other thing is certain, Cameron and all the other spineless MPs squatting in English constituencies will utter not one word of protest. After all, they don’t want to upset the rest of this so called union do they and to hell with where that leaves England.

    All two and a half main parties deserve our contempt. For the first time in my life, this ex-lifelong Tory does not care if the Tories do not win the next election because the above scenario of Labour and the Scots Nats governing us is now our only hope of England being woken from it’s apathy and demanding we English get to be treated as equal citizens in this joke of a union. Something to their eternal shame, the Tory party have failed to do.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      We are the Architects of our own demise.

      When you have a Labour voter who was called a bigot by a former Leader of the Labour Party, willing to vote for the same party, over and over again, you will never get the change we need.

      Look North of the Border to see what I mean. The Scots wanted out, or so some thought, and up popped the Three Stooges with a promise for more powers. Until we are prepared to do the same to the LibLabCON, then you will be treated like the voting fodder you are.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        Sorry Jools, that last bit was not very nice. Did not mean to be.


        • JoolsB
          Posted March 5, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          That’s okay Mark, no offence taken. I agree with you. I was a lifelong Tory voter but they have lost my vote and as I said, I really don’t care who wins in May to the point that I am beginning to think the best chance for England in the long term, although not short term, is for an anti-English Labour/SNP/Lib Dum coalition.

    • ChrisS
      Posted March 5, 2015 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      [/I]For the first time in my life, this ex-lifelong Tory does not care if the Tories do not win the next election because the above scenario of Labour and the Scots Nats governing us is now our only hope of England being woken from it’s apathy and demanding we English get to be treated as equal citizens in this joke of a union. Something to their eternal shame, the Tory party have failed to do.[/I]

      This lifelong Tory is very close to thinking exactly the same way. There must be millions like us longing for a genuine patriotic English party leader.

  16. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    The government has announced that it is selling its 40% stake in the cross-Channel train operator Eurostar for £757.1m. “This is a very good deal – it means we can cut the national debt, it means we can invest in our national infrastructure and it’s fantastic value for British taxpayers.” said George Osborne.
    Perhaps you should remind him that he is still increasing the debt by almost £2bn per week and under his ‘stewardship’ it has almost doubled.
    Is he the Natalie Bennett of the Conservative Party?

    • zorro
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      No, he just takes the voting public for simpleton numpties….. He will need to be awoken from his complacency.


  17. agricola
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Internal English devolution, already dismissed by those in the North East, is just so much smoke and mirrors. It is designed by socialists to distract from English laws for English matters. Socialists know that their doctrine is dead in the water in England. By creating devolved largely urban areas they think they can keep socialism alive and in control.

    Having pulled the blanket from your eyes I concede that there are areas where joined up projects could be beneficial. These can be done by councils talking to each other and having joint working groups. No need to create yet another elected power or devolved government.

    The devolution idea also suits Brussels. They like the divide and conquer aspect that devalues England as a sovereign nation.

    Sadly your party has talked the talk under CMD on English laws for English matters controlled by English MPs. This now seems to have been brushed under the carpet because you are in no position to deliver. To the best of my knowledge we have not had a vote on the matter in the H o C, which at least would let us know where everyone stood before going into the election. Everything from CMD is now for after the election, when if in power, we will find that he has numerous reasons for not discussing it further. Just like the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

  18. Bert Young
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    In terms of priorities “England for the English” has to be top of the list . The Scots have their degree of independence and they now have no right or say in what goes on South of the Border . The Scots should be “disenfranchised” from English matters .

    The question of what should be nationally decided (roads , rail , education etc ) must first start in the allocation of revenue and resources before being devolved to other area authorities . After the allocation has been made a centralised system of monitoring and control has to be in place to ensure standards have been and are being maintained . In other words a continuing balance of national and devolved centres is the only possible approach . The example given of the idiotic continuing problem of the “other bridge and road extension” between Berks and Oxon is a good one .

    The quality of control and management at local levels is a problem and will remain so until the method of selection and the qualifying standing of the individuals concerned is sorted out . The same is true of the background and standards required of our MPs. I have long advocated a minimum requirement of age and 10 years of successful experience in industry or commerce before being eligible for selection . I would want to stop the process of University and straight to Central Office .

    In any successful organisation there are 2 essentials : the first is the skill and relevant background of the Chief Executive , the second is the quality and reliability of first line supervision . There must be in place a well thought out medium term strategy and a follow up delegated system of monitoring and control .The Board that oversees the entire operation must have the right to sack the Chief Executive and be required to report its decisions to the shareholders . I trust your responders will see how such an approach would work in the government and control of this country .

    The “road map” to be followed is a matter for the electorate to decide , outside influences such as the EU have to remain outside .

  19. libertarian
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Our entire system of “government” is a total dogs breakfast. Some taxpayer fund raising has been handed to small private companies ( BID’s ) there’s no accountability or mechanism for removal. Some taxes are raised locally but spent centrally and a small portion handed back. We have far too many layers of government which costs far too much money and wastes even more. Local elections are a joke. Our city council held a meeting to plan to go back to open government from a closed cabinet style. You won’t be surprised that they held that meeting behind closed doors !!. What passes as national democracy a series of rotten boroughs artificially put together yet skewed in favour of one party & a second chamber of appointed failed politicians, party donors and low level celebs it is a joke in the 21st century and nothing like a democratic system.

    What we need is an English parliament. What we need is a directly elected government what we need is one less layer of local government.

  20. Peter A
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I watched almost all that debate! It constantly confounds me that with the threat of SNP holding balance of power and The Tories being in reality primarily an English party, more Tory MPs don’t pull their finger out on this issue.

    The debate has been hijacked by regionalists and the only people who will lose out are the Tory party and the English people themselves who will be led by Milliband and the Scots.

    Thank you for your efforts John it’s a pity that our party didn’t jump on Cameron’s excellent post referendum speech.

    • William Gruff
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Peter A:

      … the only people who will lose out are … the English people …

      A not so minor point is that the postulated losers are the people of England not the English people, who live in all sorts of out of the way places over which the British government has no sway.

      That aside, the people of England can undo anything done to them by the British government, at any time. We do not have to live with the consequences of British perfidy.

      Looked at in any other frame than the very short term, it’s a big win for England and goodbye and good riddance to the ‘United’ Kingdom.

  21. Stu S
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I am for devolving budgets to the lowest practical level but this has to be done sensibly.

    The massive purchasing power of government spending should be used, for example buying drugs or basic medical equipment such as walking frames, so that we can as a nation buy better, buy wiser.

    Local decisions as to what drugs to prescribe or not – “post code lottery – are best taken by local professionals, not managers either at local or national level. The local professionals could still take note of national bodies such as NICE but should not be constrained in deciding local priorities.

    I totally support your campaign for improved English democracy, keep up the good work.

  22. Roy Grainger
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I assume the main reason Mr Cameron wants to devolve running the NHS to local big city councils like Manchester, all under Labour control, is simply to demonstrate that they will repeat the example of Wales and make the service worse and there may be a few Conservative votes in it. In general this type of regional devolution is an EU divide-and-rule tactic that should be avoided where policy should be set nationally – for example, I doubt the Scottish moratorium on fracking will result in Scottish electricity bills being higher than in England as it rightfully should.

    • English Pensioner
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      No doubt all salaries for the senior officials working for Manchester City Council will be substantially increased in view of their additional responsibilities in running the local NHS.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Just imagine the terrifying thought of a Labour mayor being responsible for the NHS in Greater Manchester with a £6bn budget. This is Osborne’s work. The people of Greater Manchester have not been consulted, nor, initially, were the councils or councillors until it had been agreed with the council leaders (almost all Labour).
      Devolution clearly doesn’t involve those who are affected and have to pay the bill.

      • alan jutson
        Posted March 6, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink


        “just imagine……”


        I see more bailouts in the future, this time for Manchester to cover over expenditure.

  23. Richard1
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    The line that it’s all awfully tricky, some councils have devolved powers, London decides it’s own transport etc so we can’t simply have Justice for England is a Labour Party obfuscation. It’s very simple indeed. Parliament might decide eg to delegate powers on transport in London to the Mayor. For all I know or care the Scottish Parliament might do the same to the local authority in Aberdeen. But that doesn’t alter the central issue: it is intolerable that the people of England should have to live under laws passed by MPs from Scotland to whose constituents those laws do not apply. We might as well invite 100 French MPs to join Parliament for the purposes eg of setting tax. If an issue is devolved to Scotland, whatever it is, then Scottish MPs must be excluded from speaking or voting in Parliament on it. If it creates 2 classes of MPs well then the Labour Party should have listened to the likes of Tam Dyell when they went down the devolution route in the first place, in a partisan attempt to damage the Conservatives in Scotland (successful) and to secure Scotland for Labour (unsuccessful).

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Knowing something of the history I don’t accept your partisan misrepresentation of Scottish devolution as a partisan attempt by the Labour party to damage the Conservatives in Scotland.

      Why should the Labour party need to do that, when the Conservatives had already so badly damaged themselves in Scotland that they went from securing over half of the votes and seats in the 1955 general election to winning just a quarter of the votes and one sixth of the seats in the 1992 general election, and finally ended up winning only one sixth of the votes and no seats at all in the 1997 general election?

      Apart from any other reasons, the Labour party wanted to keep Scotland in the UK because it sometimes had to depend on the Labour MPs elected there to make up the numbers and supply leading members in the Commons, and devolution was an attempt to ensure that by taking the wind out of the sails of the Scottish nationalists; it is surely to the shame of your own party that we have had to rely on the Labour party to hold try to the United Kingdom together by countering the Scottish separatist movement which your party helped to fuel.

      • Richard1
        Posted March 5, 2015 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

        The Labour Party thought devolution would be a winner for them in Scotland. They were warned at the time by Comservatives, and even some of their own people like Tam Dyell, that the consequences would be exactly what has now happened – nationalism has been fuelled as the devolved govt has power without responsibility. The Labour Party has caused the separatist disaster in Scotland.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

          It was the Tories who fuelled separatist sentiment in Scotland, which actually found more effective expression through the devolution that Labour had supported to try to suppress it, and now because Labour took the “No” side in the referendum it finds itself being lumped in with the already-long-hated Tories.

    • William Gruff
      Posted March 4, 2015 at 11:13 pm | Permalink


      But that doesn’t alter the central issue: it is intolerable that the people of England should have to live under laws passed by MPs from Scotland to whose constituents those laws do not apply.

      That is not the point of contention. The issue is not that we are governed by people who have little effective authority in their homelands but that they have no moral authority in ours and are not accountable to us for their acts. Whether or not the people of Scotland are subject to those acts is irrelevant to us.

  24. English Pensioner
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Devolvement of power always seems an easy way for those at the top to disclaim responsibility, in much the same way as setting up “Agencies” to do various government jobs. For example, the Minister of Transport can now deny responsibility for any problems with the A329M on the grounds that it has been devolved elsewhere. One wonders if our motorways would ever have been built if responsibility for roads had been delegated to the Counties!
    It also follows that with more devolvement, our MPs will be doing far less work and bearing in mind that the majority of new legislation comes from Brussels which has merely to be rubber stamped by Parliament, do we need Parliament sitting as frequently as present? Perhaps Parliament will be able to sit a mere couple of days per week and MPs’ salaries reduced pro-rata!
    Personally, I’m opposed to devolvement except in respect of England being able to govern itself on all matters which have been devolved to Scotland and Wales. Devolvement is likely to result in it being difficult to bring anyone to account, as with the NHS and child grooming failures. It also results in many well (overpaid?) posts with “chief executives” earning far more than the prime minister. I suspect it would cost far more, with duplication of resources and facilities.
    No, the government’s job is to govern, not to avoid responsibility by passing the buck elsewhere.

  25. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    For goodness sake, if MPs can vote through an Act called the Scotland Act, starting with the words:

    “There shall be a Scottish Parliament.”

    as they did in 1998, and they can vote through other rather similar Acts with respect to Wales and Northern Ireland, why is it such struggle to think that there should be an Act called the England Act starting with the words:

    “There shall be an English Parliament.”?

    What is the matter with the 533 MPs elected in England that apparently none of them think that their English constituents deserve what the Scots have had for over fifteen years, no more and no less but just the same, and instead all of them will either try to avoid the issue altogether or they will try to confound what is basically a simple problem with a simple solution by proposing various other schemes, second or third rate fudges, most of which involve breaking up England in one way or another?

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 6, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink


      Agree absolutely with your comments.

  26. CdBrux
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I lived in Greater Manchester for some 9 years before moving abroad a few years ago. I broadly welcome the recently announced ‘devolution’ of powers to the area (2.7 million inhabitants and an economy, I understand, larger than Wales) even though the resulting Mayor almost certainly would not be from a political party I would naturally support. So why do I support it? The main reason is to get more local decision making using local knowledge and not from a bunch of people sat in Whitehall too remote from the area. Will it be perfect? No. Do I think it will be better than today? Yes.
    I think the important part to how well it can work is in the detail, for example the following:
    • Competence of the local administration to cope with the additional responsibilities – here some councils will be in advance of others so lets devolve to those who are ready
    • Availability of and willingness to call on national expertise for input into certain areas as required and central to also facilitate best practice sharing
    • National standards that (for example in healthcare) that must be attained or exceeded, but using the flexibility of local knowledge to find the best suited solutions – this may even encourage innovation in finding new ways to do things. This will not stop a postcode lottery but the aim is to lessen the impact
    • Clear setting and protecting of what are national priorities and projects, for example it seems the A329M would be one, ensuring (if appropriate) the right balance between long distance / commuting services on finite rail capacity.
    • National to intervene and make final decision in case of 2 adjacent councils not agreeing (maybe the A329M example can come in this category, after all if Oxfordshire agreed then why the need to involve anyone else?)
    • Major taxation decisions nationally, but incentives to local councils as already done in some way to be able to keep a decent portion of incremental taxation / rates generated thanks to their pojects, or the money saved by delivering the required outcome more efficiently
    I don’t pretend to have all the answers or that this would be so easy, but I think the debate in terms of England is how to devolve a sensible amount of powers away from Whitehall and into more local hands in order to make better decisions making on how best to spend the money available

  27. ian
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Loving every minute of it, watching the voters trying to work out what happening.
    Waiting for the manifestoes to come out which are not worth the paper they written on with no if no buts leading the way. I seem to recall a person on the steps of downing street saying the english matter will be sorted before the 2015 election, downing as in street, maybe the votes would be better off if you move to upper street, catch 22

  28. Peter A
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    On a side note what is Cameron doing ducking the tv debate in last week of election? ! Even in Scotland his favourability ratings v Millibund are 20pts up. 2 way bates are his best way to look statesman like v Millibund

    Does he not want to win?

  29. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    You made a good point in the house.It is a pity it was nearly empty. It doesn’t make a good impression if the only full house is PM’s questions.

  30. ChrisS
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    All of our politicians with the exception of our host and a few notable members like Frank Field seem to completely ignore the obvious :

    England is a Country : why would any Englishman want to see it dismembered just to suit the EU ?

    We simply cannot accept 300,000 net migrants a year, whatever their colour or religion and no matter how many points they have on UKIP’s scale. Our infrastructure cannot possibly cope with this rate of growth.

    We cannot continue spending more than we earn.

    We have to export more and import less if our Country is to survive.

    As Basil Fawlty said about Sybil :

    MPs should be on Mastermind : Special subject the Bleedin’ Obvious.

    I despair !

  31. A.Sedgwick
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    There are far too many Councils in their several formats, amalgamation is necessary but is impossible to foresee. It is very difficult to understand why Mr.Cameron does not repeat his clear commitment to devolution for England, made last September. His only hope of winning the election is with that policy and/or an early unequivocal in/out referendum.

    Interested to read your comment about the A329M, I remember forty years ago the extension of this road with a bridge over the Thames was a hot local topic. It presumably continues to look like a ski jump going nowhere.

  32. Iain Gill
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I’d rather see more powers with the citizens!

    Giving councils the NHS to run in Manchester is just as bad as giving it supposedly to GP’s to run everywhere else (although the clinical commissioning groups are little different to PCT’s in practise, and mainly run by the same staff), please just give individual patients control of their own health spend!

    Same for state schools, give the parents control of their own education spend.

  33. Iain Gill
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what the election looks like to an MP, but to me it looks decidedly unrepresentative. The bias in the media and mainstream politics is massive.

    For instance Fathers 4 Justice are something like the 3rd or 4th most supported pressure group but their issues are not even being covered. All their policies on their website make complete sense to me. are another pressure group fighting the nutty lefty anti car nutters in our public sector, again not a sniffle of their issues in anyones campaigns. On immigration even UKIP are far too open doors for what I feel are real world opinions, where is the politicians really prepared to speak for what the majority feel?

    We feel more like a one party state with minimal differences between the candidates put up for show.

    Sad to see.

  34. Jon
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    It’s interesting to see the SNP backing away from using any of their devolved tax powers calling it now a race to the bottom. They have ditched their corporation tax reduction idea on that basis.

    I don’t want much devolution to councils. With MP’s the media and scrutiny mean we can hold them to some account, that coverage and scrutiny is not there on local councils. I favour Westminster devolution though good point about transport.

  35. John
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Whatever the British government decides it will have no ligitimacy in the eyes of the English because the people have had no input into the outcome. Ask the English people, the same as Scots, Welsh and NI were asked, what they want. Without that endorsement it will just be another command that we will not live with.

  36. turbo terrier
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    John, you must refrain from writing entries like this.

    Apart from the 100 odd in Westminster who have realised the real threat to our survival as a nation please stop upsetting the rest as your level is way way above their capabilities.

  37. turbo terrier
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Jools B

    One thing is certain. As long as Cameron is PM, there is no chance of England

    I will have a very large vodka and tonic on strength of that.

  38. Richard
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    The problem with devolving powers to ever smaller entities comes when devolved areas are under the complete control of one single party who, without the checking presence of an opposition, then treats the area as its own fiefdom.

    The eventual result is corruption and dereliction of duty to care for the people of the area.

    We saw this recently in Rotherham.

    Either areas should always be sufficiently large for an opposition to exist or else FPTP should be replaced by an alternative system of voting to ensure an opposition is always present to keep a check on those in power.

  39. William Gruff
    Posted March 4, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Our English Ministers in these departments should recommend to Parliament what parts of their powers would best be devolved to Councils.

    Notwithstanding that there are no English ministers in the British government (not even a Secretary of State for England to balance those of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) it is unbelievably naïve, or unacceptably disingenuous, to assert that ministers whose forerunners have, over the past century and more, worked assiduously to arrogate the rights, though not the responsibilities, of the local authorities of England would surrender any of any real value to the rightful owners, and to expect us to accept that they can be trusted to.

    Is there even one amongst the six hundred and fifty who would risk the opinion of the great unwashed who pay for everything?

  40. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Have you noticed that those who like devolution are much more keen on the devolution of powers and budgets than on the responsibility of raising revenue?

    This applies ESPECIALLY to Scotland.

  41. E Justice
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    A voice for England.A First Minister for England.A Parliament for England.
    How can the rest of the MPs who are sitting in English seats not understand and want that?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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