Thursday January 6th 2005, Edward Davie, Epolitix
John Prescott's regional assembly plan has been attacked by MPs as "disappointing, lacking ambition and failing to devolve enough power".
The deputy prime minister's vision of devolved regional government in England already seems to have been sunk by the overwhelming No vote in the North East referendum last November.
Now an ODPM select committee report originally designed to improve the legislation has criticised the proposals for not planning bodies that could "make a real difference".
Accepting the bill will almost certainly not proceed, the committee recommends that any future legislation needs to be "more ambitious than the draft bill proposed last summer so that regional bodies would be created that can make a real difference".
The backbenchers say their report "puts down some markers for the government to consider should it consider it appropriate to return to the question of introducing elected regional assemblies".
Despite the embarrassment of seeing his flagship policy so forcefully rejected by voters in what was thought to be the most likely region to vote Yes, Prescott has promised not to give up on his dream.
Committee chairman Andrew Bennett said: "The scope of the powers and responsibilities which the government was prepared to give to assemblies was disappointing and would limit their effectiveness.
"Any initiative to promote effective elected regional assemblies has to have the commitment of all government departments which was clearly not the case."
The report suggests that for elected regional assemblies to be effective, the government needs to devolve decisions about how funds are spent on promoting economic development and skills.
It urges that they should be able to develop and implement their own regional training and skills development policies and programmes. As in London, the assemblies should act as transport authorities, deciding on the distribution of funding currently allocated by Whitehall for local transport plans, say the MPs.
The MPs found that only the ODPM and to a lesser extent the DTI were prepared to devolve powers and that responsibility with local government overlapped.
They also argued a clearer case is needed for elected regional assemblies in terms of value for money for the electorate.
The report concludes voters in the North East were not convinced elected assemblies were worth the money.
"They were unable to see in the modest powers of assemblies sufficient prospects of concrete improvements in their daily lives to vote for their introduction."
Despite the embarrassment of seeing his flagship policy so forcefully rejected by voters in what was thought to be the most likely region to vote Yes Prescott has promised not to give up on his dream.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
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- Hannan in the Telegraph
- Penny drops for Linford...we were right all along!...
- The net is closing Mr. Barber
- 'No Vote shake-up could cost key jobs
- "Ball's in your Court"
- Prescott's assemblies 'disappointing'
- Further assembly blow for Prescott
- Regional Assembly Plans 'Need Powers Boost'
- Prescott's regional plans in ruins
- Weasel words and phrases.
- The Majority isn’t always right –Something for ref...
- Regions plan finds few to support it
- HOW TAXPAYERS' MONEY WAS SPENT
- Even on Prescott's Home Turf...Money Wasted
- ▼ January (14)