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Call for English devolution

Thursday May 30th, 2019

A leading electoral campaign group has described England as ‘the gaping hole in the devolution settlement’ and is calling for a public debate on the issue to combat the ‘geography of discontent’.parliament_6925738Sml

The Electoral Reform Society’s report, Westminster ‘Beyond Brexit: Ending the Politics of Division’, sets out a vision to achieve a “flourishing democracy” and calls for a public debate on English devolution, claiming that England remains “highly centralised” and “primarily ruled through British/UK-wide institutions”.

The report argues that the city deals – devolved powers in return for combined authorities and directly elected mayors – are “driven by economic concerns, rather than democratic ones”.

“Regional devolution has been pursued as a way of tackling economic underperformance, administrative inefficiencies and public service reform, not of empowering local democracy,” the report said. “In fact, the democratic aspect has been largely lost in deals decided by local and central elites.”

The report calls for a new, “more bottom-up model”, adding that “regional devolution may be the answer, but it will need to start from a democratic perspective, focusing on people and locality, not economic competition”.

The Electoral Reform Society has long argued for proportional representation for the House of Commons, and in this report, it also calls for more regional representation in the House of Lords, as well as calling for English citizens to be given the chance to chance to discuss their constitutional future. “What is most important about the question of England’s place in the constitutional set up of the UK, is that England has not yet had a say in it,” it said.

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