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If devolution’s good enough for Scotland, it’s good enough for England, say council leaders

If devolution’s good enough for Scotland, it’s good enough for England, say council leaders

🕔01.Dec 2014

English council leaders are stepping up the pressure on David Cameron to extend Scottish devolution to cities and regions south of the border.

The leaders of 119 English councils, including Sir Albert Bore in Birmingham, signed a cross-party letter warning the prime minister that English people won’t accept Scottish devolution unless it is matched in England.

The move follows recommendations from the Smith Commission, which set out plans to allow the Scottish parliament to take responsibility for setting income tax rates and bands.

MSPs will also take control of half of Scotland’s VAT receipts, billions of pounds of welfare spending and be given greater borrowing powers.

Holyrood will be able to top up benefits and create new ones. And a raft of other powers will also go north in the biggest boost for devolution since the Scottish Parliament was created in 1999.

Mr Cameron has promised to publish proposals on “English votes for English laws” in the next month, limiting the voting powers of Scottish lawmakers in the House of Commons.

The council leaders’ letter calls for Cameron to go a step further and devolve more powers to England, amid growing discontent in Conservative as well as Labour ranks over the promises made to Scotland to keep it in the union.

The letter also asks Chancellor George Osborne to grant England fiscal powers.

The letter states: “Earlier this week, the Smith Commission set out a better deal for Scotland, granting more control over funding and recognizing the importance of devolving power down beyond Holyrood. It’s England’s turn now.”

The letter continues: “We leaders and supporters of local government in England of all parties and types of local government congratulate Scotland on the measure of devolution they have worked for and that is now proposed by the Smith Commission.

“We call upon central Government and party leaders to recognise that local government should be the vehicle for devolution in England and to now negotiate with us using a similar non-party Commission to agree a comparable package of measures for local government in England which can appear in the Manifestos and be enacted after the General Election.”

As well as Sir Albert Bore, other signatories include Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester city council, David Sparks, chair of the Local Government Association, Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, and Jim O’Neill, author of the RSA Cities Report.

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