English Devolution - Independent Local Government

This section is divided into several parts:

 

1 - Graham's Amendment's to the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill

2 - Devolution - more navel gazing

3 - Hague Misses the Historic Moment on Devolution

4 - Devolution in the Autumn Statement 2014

5 - Graham explaining why we need English Devolution and how it can work 

6 - Graham & others letter in The Times on the Smith Commission's Report

7 - Graham's letter to Leader of the House William Hague MP supporting a Constitutional Convention

8 - Graham's speech in the House of Commons on English Devolution

9 - The Independence for Local Government Bill

10 - The report of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee

11 -How income tax assignment (transparency) would work in England

 

Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill

 

To see Graham's speech at Report Stage of the Bill, click here: http://goo.gl/ODCxvc

 

Graham's Amendments and New Clauses for Cities & Local Government Devolution Bill: Committee Day 2

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC3

To move the following Clause—

“Governance arrangements of local authorities in England: election of councillors

(1) Section 36 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (local elections in England and Wales) is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (1) insert—

 

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment transfers to local people the power to decide their own electoral system for local elections

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC29

To move the following Clause—

“The Local Government Independence Code

(1) There shall be a Code, to be known as “the Local Government Independence Code”, the principal purpose of which shall be to define and regulate the relationship between central and local government.

(2) A court or tribunal determining a question which has arisen in connection with the functions of a local authority, or of the Secretary of State or other public authority in relation to any local authority, must take into account the provisions of the Code.

(3) Schedule (The Local Government Independence Code) which—

(a) sets out the terms of the Code,

 

(c) makes provision for amending the Code,

 

(e) makes provision about remedial orders to amend legislation,

 

 

 

 

Member’s explanatory statement

The intention of this new Clause is to define the independence of local government and to regulate the relationship between local and central government in England by means of a statutory Code.

 

Graham Allen

NC33

To move the following Clause—

“Parish Councils: Power of parish council to sell electricity

In Section 44 (1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 insert “11” between “1” and “16”.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment will allow parish councils to be able to sell electricity that it generates.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NS2

To move the following Schedule—

“SCHEDULE

THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT INDEPENDENCE CODE

1 Chapter 4ZA and Chapter 4A of Part 1 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 are repealed.

2 (1) This Code—

(a) defines the relationship between central government and local authorities; and

(b) makes provision about the financial independence and conduct of local authorities.

(2) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Code shall affect the rights of individuals; and individuals may continue to seek judicial review of any action by a public authority which they regard as unjust or as infringing their rights.

 

Local Autonomy and Local Self-Government

3 (1) Local authorities’ accountability is to their electorates.

(2) Local authorities are autonomous, democratically-elected bodies which independently decide upon, administer and regulate public affairs and deal with all matters of concern within their boundaries to the extent that such matters are not the statutory responsibility of another body.

(3) Local authorities shall continue to operate within the rule of law.

(4) Local authorities shall continue to operate with full legal personality and under a general power of competence. Subject to sub-paragraph (4), local authorities may pass measures on matters affecting the affairs and interests of their area.

 

Scope of Local Government

4 (1) The powers and responsibilities of local authorities will continue to be prescribed by statute.

(2) Local authorities shall have power to exercise their initiative with regard to any matter which is not statutorily excluded from their competence or assigned to another body.

(3) Central government may not propose actions which are intended to, or may reasonably be regarded as being likely to, infringe the independence of local government, as defined in this Code, or affect local government generally or any local authority, unless local government generally, or the local authority concerned, consents.

 

Inter-Governmental Activities

5 Central government and local authorities shall establish joint inspection regimes to set and monitor the standards of services supplied or secured by them.

 

Territorial Autonomy

6 The geographical boundary of a local authority can be altered only by a proposal from the local authority itself or from its electorate. Local authorities must make arrangements for their electorates to put forward such proposals for consideration. Any such locally-inspired proposal for boundary changes, whether initiated directly by the authority or by the electorate of the authority, must be developed with the involvement of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England and shall be subject to approval of the electorate of the area concerned, under arrangements made by the local authority concerned and approved by the Electoral Commission.

 

Council Governmental Systems

7 (1) The electorate of each local authority, through methods agreed by the local authority concerned, shall have the power to choose that authority‘s internal political decision-making systems. The systems concerned shall include a directly elected mayor and cabinet, a cabinet and leader, a committee system, or any other political decision-making arrangement which the electorate may decide is appropriate.

(2) The electorate of each local authority, through methods agreed by their local authorities, may, after a process of consultation carried out by the local authority concerned, agree to and adopt any electoral system for use in elections to that authority.

 

Local Government Financial Integrity

8 (1) Local authorities shall be financially independent of central government, save as otherwise provided for in this Code.

(2) Central government may not place any restriction on decisions by local authorities about the exercise of their financial powers.

(3) The distribution of central government funds between local authorities shall continue on the basis of existing equalisation arrangements. Distribution will continue to be based on the principle of ensuring fairness and balance between local authorities. The basis on which this distribution is carried out must continue to be made public.

(4) Each local authority shall receive from central government a guaranteed share of the annual yield of income tax, as follows. Central government must in each financial year assign to the Secretary of State responsible for the distribution of central government funds between local authorities an amount of money equivalent to the yield from ten pence in the pound of income tax. The Secretary of State must make arrangements to inform each taxpayer in England of the amount of their income tax which makes up the central government funding distributed to English local authorities as a whole.

(5) The amount of the income tax yield referred to in paragraph 8(4) shall be renegotiated between central and local government whenever service provision responsibilities are transferred between central government and local authorities.

(6) Local authorities may raise additional sources of income in their areas in any way they wish, and with the consent of their electorates as expressed through arrangements to be determined and put in place by the local authority concerned.

(7) Local authorities shall be able to raise any loans, bonds or other financial instruments which their credit rating allows and as independent entities will be exclusively responsible for their repayment. All local authorities shall operate “a balanced budget” so that in any one financial year all outgoings, including interest repayments on borrowings, shall not exceed income.

(8) Central government may not cap, or in any other way limit, local authorities’ taxation powers.

(9) The financial transparency standards that apply to central government shall apply to local authorities.

(10) Central government and local authorities may contract with each other in order to pursue their own policy objectives.

 

Local Authorities’ right to co-operate and associate

9 (1) Local authorities are entitled, in pursuit of any undertaking, to co-operate in any way with any other persons, including local authorities, public and private bodies, voluntary, charity or third-sector organisations, and financial, commercial or private enterprises.

(2) Where more than one local authority is responsible for services in a geographic area, those local authorities shall co-operate so as to maximise the well-being of those living or working in that area.

(3) Local authorities may join any association for the protection and promotion of their common interests and may belong to an international association of any sort.

 

Decision-making

10 The administration of any local referendum or other vote on proposals put forward by the electorate of any local authority, or other local decision-making processes involving a public vote, shall adhere to standards set by the Electoral Commission; and those responsible for the conduct of any such decision making processes shall be accountable to the Electoral Commission for their performance against those standards.

 

Legal Protection of Local Government

11 Local authorities may seek a judicial remedy in order to secure the free exercise of their powers, and any other principles of local self-government or individual rights contained within this Code or otherwise enshrined in law.

 

Application of and Compliance with the Code: acts of public authorities

12 It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is not in compliance with the Code.

13 Paragraph 12 does not apply to an act of a local authority if—

 

 

14 In this Schedule “public authority” includes central government, local authorities and any other person certain of whose functions are functions of a public nature, but does not include either House of Parliament or persons exercising functions in connection with proceedings in Parliament; and “an act” includes a failure to act.

 

Proceedings

15 (1) A person who claims that a public authority has acted (or proposes to act) in a way which is made unlawful by paragraph 12 may—

 

(b) rely on the Code in any legal proceedings.

(2) In sub-paragraph (1)(a) “appropriate court or tribunal” means such court or tribunal as may be determined in accordance with rules; and proceedings against an authority include a counterclaim or similar proceeding.

(3) If the proceedings are brought on an application for judicial review, the applicant must have a sufficient interest in relation to the act.

(4) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1)(a) must be brought before the end of—

 

 

(5) In sub-paragraph (1)(b) “legal proceedings” includes—

(a) proceedings brought by or at the instigation of a public authority; and

(b) an appeal against the decision of a court or tribunal.

(6) Nothing in this Act creates a criminal offence.

(7) In this paragraph “person” includes a local authority.

 

Judicial remedies

16 (1) In relation to any act (or proposed act) of a public authority which the court finds is (or would be) unlawful, it may grant such relief or remedy, or make such order, within its powers as it considers just and appropriate.

(2) But damages may be awarded only by a court which has power to award damages, or to order the payment of compensation, in civil proceedings.

(3) No award of damages is to be made unless, taking account of all the circumstances of the case, including—

 

 

(4) In this paragraph—

“court” includes a tribunal;

“damages” means damages for an unlawful act of a public authority; and

“unlawful” means unlawful under paragraph 15.

 

Amendment of the Code

17 (1) The Secretary of State may by order make such amendments to the Code as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(2) Before making an order under sub-paragraph (1), the Secretary of State must consult—

(a) such local authorities,

(b) such representatives of local government, and

(c) such other persons (if any), as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(3) Any orders for amendments made by the Secretary of State are subject to the procedures set out in paragraphs 17 to 19 of this Schedule.

 

Limits on power of Secretary of State to amend the Code

18 (1) The Secretary of State may not make provision under paragraph 16(1) unless the Secretary of State considers that the conditions in sub-paragraph (2) are satisfied in relation to that provision.

(2) Those conditions are that—

 

 

(c) an order under paragraph 16(1) may not make provision to abolish or vary any tax.

 

Procedure for orders under paragraph 1

19 (1) If, as a result of any consultation required by paragraph 16(2), it appears to the Secretary of State that it is appropriate to change all or any part of the Secretary of State‘s proposals, the Secretary of State must undertake such further consultation with respect to the changes as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(2) If, after the conclusion of the consultation required by paragraph 16(2), the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to proceed with the making of an order under paragraph 16(1), the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament—

(a) a draft of the order, and

(b) an explanatory document explaining the proposals and giving details of—

 

 

 

 

 

Super-affirmative resolution procedure

20 (1) A super-affirmative resolution procedure shall apply in relation to the making of an order pursuant to a draft order, as follows.

(2) The Minister must have regard to—

(a) any representations,

(b) any resolution of either House of Parliament, and

 

(3) If, after the expiry of the 60-day period, the Minister wishes to make an order in the terms of the draft, he must lay before Parliament a statement—

(a) stating whether any representations were made under sub-paragraph (2)(a), and

(b) if any representations were so made, giving details of them.

(4) The Minister may, after the laying of such a statement, make an order in the terms of the draft if it is approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(5) However, a committee of either House charged with reporting on the draft order may, at any time after the laying of a statement under sub-paragraph (3) and before the draft order is approved by that House under sub-paragraph (4), recommend under this subsection that no further proceedings be taken in relation to the draft order.

(6) Where a recommendation is made by a committee of either House under subparagraph (5) in relation to a draft order, no proceedings may be taken in relation to the draft order in that House under sub-paragraph (4) unless the recommendation is, in the same Session, rejected by resolution of that House.

(7) If, after the expiry of the 60-day period, the Minister wishes to make an order consisting of a revised version of the draft order, the Minister must lay before Parliament—

(a) a revised draft order; and

(b) a statement giving details of—

 

 

(8) The Minister may, after laying a revised draft order and statement under subparagraph (7), make an order in the terms of the revised draft if it is approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(9) However, a committee of either House charged with reporting on the revised draft order may, at any time after the revised draft order is laid under subparagraph (7) and before it is approved by that House under sub-paragraph (8), recommend under this subsection that no further proceedings be taken in relation to the revised draft order.

(10) Where a recommendation is made by a committee of either House under subparagraph (9) in relation to a revised draft order, no proceedings may, be taken in relation to the revised draft order in that House under sub-paragraph (8) unless the recommendation is, in the same Session, rejected by resolution of that House.

(11) For the purposes of sub-paragraphs (4) and (8) an order is made in the terms of a draft order if it contains no material changes to the provisions of the draft order.

(12) In this schedule the “60-day period” means the period of 60 days beginning with the day on which the draft order was laid before Parliament under subparagraph(4).

(13) In calculating any period of days for the purposes of this section, no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which either House is adjourned for more than four days. 21 A resolution of either House is valid for the purposes of this schedule if, and only if, the motion for the resolution—

(a) is agreed without a division; or

 

 

Interpretation of Legislation

22 (1) So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Code.

(2) This paragraph—

(a) applies to primary legislation and subordinate legislation whenever enacted;

 

 

 

Declaration of Incompatibility

23 (1) Sub-paragraph (2) applies in any proceedings in which a court determines whether a provision of primary legislation is compatible with the Code.

(2) If the court is satisfied that the provision is incompatible with the Code, it may make a declaration of that incompatibility.

(3) Sub-paragraph (4) applies in any proceedings in which a court determines whether a provision of subordinate legislation, made in the exercise of a power conferred by primary legislation, is compatible with a provision of the Code.

(4) If the court is satisfied—

(a) that the provision is incompatible with the Code, and

 

(5) In this paragraph “court” means the Supreme Court; the Court of Appeal; and the High Court.

(6) A declaration under this paragraph (“a declaration of incompatibility”)—

 

(b) is not binding on the parties to the proceedings in which it is made.

 

Power to take remedial action

24 (1) This paragraph applies if—

 

 

 

 

 

(2) If a Minister of the Crown considers that there are compelling reasons for proceeding under this section, he may by order make such amendments to the legislation as he considers necessary to remove the incompatibility.

(3) If, in the case of subordinate legislation, a Minister of the Crown considers that—

 

 

(4) This paragraph also applies where the provision in question is in subordinate legislation and has been quashed, or declared invalid, by reason of incompatibility with the Code and the Minister proposes to proceed under paragraph 25(b).

(5) If the legislation is an Order in Council, the power conferred by sub-paragraph (2) or (3) is exercisable by Her Majesty in Council.

 

Remedial Orders

25 (1) A remedial order may—

 

(b) be made so as to have effect from a date earlier than that on which it is made;

(c) make provision for the delegation of specific functions;

(d) make different provision for different cases.

(2) The power conferred by sub-paragraph (1)(a) includes—

 

 

(3) A remedial order may be made so as to have the same extent as the legislation which it affects.

(4) No person is to be guilty of an offence solely as a result of the retrospective effect of a remedial order.

 

Procedure

26 No remedial order may be made unless—

 

 

 

Orders laid in draft

27 (1) No draft may be laid under paragraph 25(a) unless—

 

 

(2) If representations have been made during that period, the draft laid under paragraph 25(a) must be accompanied by a statement containing—

(a) a summary of the representations; and

 

 

Urgent cases

28 (1) If a remedial order (“the original order“) is made without being approved in draft, the person making it must lay it before Parliament, accompanied by the required information, after it is made.

(2) If representations have been made during the period of 60 days beginning with the day on which the original order was made, the person making it must (after the end of that period) lay before Parliament a statement containing—

(a) a summary of the representations; and

 

(3) If sub-paragraph (2)(b) applies, the person making the statement must—

(a) make a further remedial order replacing the original order; and

(b) lay the replacement order before Parliament.

(4) If, at the end of the period of 120 days beginning with the day on which the original order was made, a resolution has not been passed by each House approving the original or replacement order, the order ceases to have effect (but without that affecting anything previously done under either order or the power to make a fresh remedial order).

 

Definitions

29 In this Schedule—

“representations” means representations about a remedial order (or proposed remedial order) made to the person making (or proposing to make) it and includes any relevant Parliamentary report or resolution; and

“required information” means—

 

 

 

Calculating periods

30 In calculating any period for the purposes of this Schedule, no account is to be taken of any time during which—

(a) Parliament is dissolved or prorogued; or

(b) both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.

 

Statements of Compatibility

31 (1) A Minister of the Crown in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament must, before Second Reading of the Bill—

 

 

 

House to proceed with the Bill.

(2) The statement must be in writing and be published in such manner as the Minister making it considers appropriate.

 

Amendment to the Parliament Act 1911

32 In section 2(1) of the Parliament Act 1911 the words “or a Bill seeking to amend the Local Government Independence Code Act” shall be inserted after the words “maximum duration of Parliament beyond five years”.

 

Amendments to other Enactments

33 In Section 1 of the Localism Act 2011, after subsection (6) there is inserted— “(6A) The general power of competence includes the power to raise revenue through any method including although not limited to local taxation, levies and duties.”

34 Schedule 6 of the Localism Act 2011 is repealed.

Duty to review provisions in primary and subordinate legislation

35 (1) The Secretary of State shall, within six months of the passing of this Act, make provision by Order to provide for the review of all provisions in precommencement primary and subordinate legislation to assess their compatibility with the provisions of the Code.

(2) The order must include—

 

 

(3) The provision that may be made by virtue of subsection (2)(a) includes provision requiring the person to consider whether the objectives which it was the purpose of the legislation to achieve remain appropriate and, if so, whether they could be achieved in another way.

36 (1) In this schedule, “pre-commencement legislation” means a provision that—

 

 

(2) Subordinate legislation under paragraph (35)1 may make transitional, consequential, incidental or supplementary provision or savings in connection with such provision.”

 

Member’s explanatory statement

This new Schedule provides details relating to implementation of the new Clause on the Local Government Independence Code.

 

Graham's Amendments and New Clauses for Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill: Committee Day 1 (FINAL)

First Section (Reports and Statements about local devolution; power to for an elected mayor, deputy mayors etc)

To view Graham's speech on these amendments, click here: http://goo.gl/PUai27 

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC1

To move the following Clause—

“Competences of local government

(1) The Secretary of State must, after consultation with representatives from local government, publish a list of competences of local government.

(2) After the list has been published, the Secretary of State may not publish any amended list of competences of local government without first obtaining approval of the revised list consent from—

(a) the House of Commons, with two-thirds of its membership voting in favour of the amended list, and

(b) the Local Government Association.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause would define the independence of local government, and entrench it beyond easy repeal.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC13

 To move the following Clause—

“Double Devolution statements

(1) A Minister of the Crown who has introduced a Bill in either House of Parliament having the effect of devolving functions or powers of the United Kingdom Parliament or the Secretary of State to a combined authority must, before the second reading of the Bill, make a double devolution statement on the arrangements for further devolving those functions or powers to the most appropriate local level except where those powers can more effectively be exercised by central government or by a combined authority.

(2) The statement must be in writing and be published in such a manner as the Minister making it considers appropriate.”

Member’s explanatory statement

The intention of this new Clause is to make clear what double devolution to smaller councils and neighbourhoods will occur in the wake of big city deals being agreed by combined authorities when giving powers to cities and/or combined authorities.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC18

 To move the following Clause—

“‘Independent Review, Support and Governance

(1) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to lay before each House of Parliament each year a report about devolution within England and Wales pursuant to the provisions of this Act (an “annual report”).

(2) An annual report shall be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as practicable after 31 March each year.

(3) The Secretary of State may by order make provision for an Independent Commission or Advisory Board to undertake a review, challenge and advisory role in relation to:’

(a) reviewing orders and procedure arising from the Secretary of State’s decisions; and

(b) requests for orders received from combined or single local authorities.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause would ensure the Secretary of State has the necessary power to create an Independent Commission or Advisory Board to scrutinise the work of the Secretary of State relating to devolution, Annual Devolution Report and handle requests from local government about the decisions made by the Secretary of State.

 

Mr Graham Allen

53

 Clause 3, page 3, line 27, at end insert—

“(2A) The Secretary of State may make an order under section 107A in relation to a combined authority‘s area if a proposal for other appropriate governance and accountability structures for the authority’s area has been made to the Secretary of State by the constituent authorities.

(2B) The Secretary of State may set out accountability and governance tests in respect of other appropriate governance structures.

(2C) Orders may allow for a mayor or other appropriate governance structure to enter into collaborative working arrangements with more than one combined authority, or local partnership board covering for example rural areas.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment would allow for a Mayor to work with more than one Combined Authority, or partnership board covering, for example, rural areas.

 

Mr Graham Allen

56

 Clause 6, page 6, line 24, at end insert “which is not restricted to a specific governance structure”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment will allow a council to choose any form of governance and would be defined as a local authority according to the 1992 Local Government Finance Act.

 

Second Section (Functions of Combined Authorities and the mayors of such authorities; accountability, funding, general power of competence, Economic Prosperity Boards (EPBs) and governance)

 

To view Graham's speech on the second set of amendments click here: http://goo.gl/IPcBH7

 

Mr Graham Allen

54

 Clause 8, page 8, line 27, at end insert—

“(c) make provision for conferring on a combined authority, upon the request of that authority in relation to its area the full retention of business rates, business rate supplements, council tax, stamp duty land tax, annual tax on enveloped dwellings, capital gains property disposal tax, and multiyear finance settlements.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment will allow local authorities to retain all of their local taxation, including Business Rates and Council Tax.

 

Mr Graham Allen

55

 Clause 8, page 8, line 27, at end insert—

“(c) make provision for conferring on a combined authority in relation to its area discretionary control of council tax discounts, business rate discounts and supplements, and other local fees, charges and subsidies in relation to other retained taxes.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment will allow local authorities to control all of their local taxation discounts, including those applicable to Business Rates and Council Tax.

 

Mr Graham Allen

1

Schedule 3, page 32, line 12, after “persons” insert “including representatives of parish, neighbourhood, community and other councils in the area of the combined authority”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment would allow local representatives from parish, neighbourhood, community and other councils to attend combined authority scrutiny meetings

 

Mr Graham Allen

2

Clause 16, page 16, line 6, at end insert—

“(d) the creation of a Constitutional Convention to discuss further local authority governance, functions and related democratic issues.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment creates the means by which every UK citizen can participate in a national public discussion on local devolution in the context of the wider renewal of UK democracy.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC2

To move the following Clause—

“Subsidiarity

That Subsidiarity as defined by the Maastricht Treaty 1992 Article 5(3) shall apply to the functions of national and local government.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause would build in local government’s independence by using the principle of subsidiarity found in European law.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC4

To move the following Clause—

“Local Government Constitutional Convention

(1) A convention is to be held to consider and make recommendations on the constitution of local government in the United Kingdom.

(2) The Secretary of State must make regulations to—

(a) appoint a day on which the convention must commence its operations,

 

(3) The date appointed under subsection (2)(a) must not be later than 31 December 2016.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause creates the means by which every UK citizen can engage in a national public discussion of devolution local government, governance and electoral systems and make recommendations and receive a response from government and parliament to that national debate.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC5

To move the following Clause—

“Local Government Constitutional Convention: terms of reference The convention must consider the following terms of reference—

(b) the reform of the electoral system for local government,

 

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause creates the means by which every UK citizen can engage in a national public discussion of devolution local government, governance and electoral systems and make recommendations and receive a response from government and parliament to that national debate.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC6

To move the following Clause—

“Local Government Constitutional Convention: recommendations

(1) The Local Government Constitutional Convention must publish recommendations within the period of one year beginning with the day appointed under section (Local Government Constitutional Convention).

(2) The Secretary of State must lay responses to each of the recommendations before each House of Parliament within six months beginning with the day on which the recommendations are published.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause creates the means by which every UK citizen can engage in a national public discussion of devolution local government, governance and electoral systems and make recommendations and receive a response from government and parliament to that national debate.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC7

To move the following Clause—

“Local Government Constitutional Convention: composition

(1) The Local Government Constitutional Convention must be composed of representatives of the following—

(a) registered political parties within the United Kingdom,

 

(c) the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.

(2) At least 50% of the members of the convention must not be employed in a role which can reasonably be considered to be political.”

 

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause creates the means by which every UK citizen can engage in a national public discussion of devolution local government, governance and electoral systems and make recommendations and receive a response from government and parliament to that national debate.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC12

 To move the following Clause—

“Local Government Financial Integrity

(1) Local authorities shall be financially independent of central government, save as otherwise provided for by this section.

(2) Central government may not place any restriction on decisions by local authorities about the exercise of their financial powers.

(3) The distribution of central government funds between local authorities shall continue on the basis of existing equalisation arrangements. Distribution will continue to be based on the principle of ensuring fairness and balance between local authorities. The basis on which this distribution is carried out must continue to be made public.

(4) Each local authority shall receive from central government a guaranteed share of the annual yield of income tax, as follows. Central government must in each financial year assign to the Secretary of State responsible for the distribution of central government funds between local authorities an amount of money equivalent to the yield from ten pence in the pound of income tax. The Secretary of State must make arrangements to inform each taxpayer in England of the amount of their income tax which makes up the central government funding distributed to English local authorities as a whole.

(5) The amount of the income tax yield referred to in subsection (4) shall be renegotiated between central and local government whenever service provision responsibilities are transferred between central government and local authorities.

(6) Local authorities may raise additional sources of income in their areas in any way they wish, and with the consent of their electorates as expressed through arrangements to be determined and put in place by the local authority concerned.

(7) Local authorities shall be able to raise any loans, bonds or other financial instruments which their credit rating allows and as independent entities will be exclusively responsible for their repayment. All local authorities shall operate a balanced budget so that in any one financial year all outgoings, including interest repayments on borrowings, shall not exceed income.

(8) Central government may not cap, or in any other way limit, local authorities’ taxation powers.

(9) The financial transparency standards that apply to central government shall apply to local authorities.

(10) Central government and local authorities may contract with each other in order to pursue their own policy objectives.”

Member’s explanatory statement

The intention of this new clause is that receipts from income tax should be assigned to the Department for Communities and Local Government who will then pass it on to councils.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC14

 To move the following Clause—

“Power to create new council tax bands

(1) Section 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (4) omit “The Secretary of State may by order, as regards financial years beginning on or after such date as is specified in the order” and insert “A local authority may for any future financial year”.

(3) Omit subsection (5).”

Member’s explanatory statement

The intention of this new Clause is to devolve to councils the power to create new council tax bands.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC15

 To move the following Clause—

“Abolition of referendums relating to council tax increases

(1) In Part 1of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (council tax: England and Wales) after Chapter 4 omit the Chapter set out in Schedule 5 to the Localism Act 2011.

(2) Schedule 6 to the Localism Act 2011(council tax referendums: further amendments) ceases to have effect.”

Member’s explanatory statement

The intention of this new Clause is to end the council tax referendum system.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC16

 To move the following Clause—

“Effective devolution committees

(1) The functions of local authorities include the formation of committees to collect and analyse data on effective performance by local authorities of powers and functions devolved to them.

(2) The Secretary of State must not give any directions to such committees.”

Member’s explanatory statement

The intention of this new Clause is to enable Local Government to set up its own “what works” organisation on devolution to examine what‘s effective, either independently or in partnership with, but separate from, the Department for Communities and Local Government.

 

Mr Graham Allen

NC17

 To move the following Clause—

“Scale of devolution

(1) The extent of the devolution of powers and functions to local authorities must not be dependent on the size of the population of the local authority.”

Member’s explanatory statement

The intention of this new Clause is to provide flexibility for devolution on varying scales and foot prints instead of linking the amount of devolution to the size of the recipient.

 

Devolution - More Navel Gazing

 

Devolution for England is not getting a fair hearing having been hijacked by  the wrangle over parliamentary procedures on a handful of England only laws.

The exciting debates being held in Scotland , Wales and N Ireland are being denied to England.

 

Deciding how independent local government can be the vehicle for English devolution, how England can break free of massively overcentralised Whitehall control, how Scottish style income tax retention could liberate English localities are just a few of the issues being pushed off the agenda for an esoteric Westminster issue.

 

After Scotland's referendum party leaders had a unique chance to remake a settled and long lasting new Union made up of  devolved nations, so far they have failed to live up to the historic opportunity.

 

 

Hague misses the historic moment on devolution


The Hague Cabinet Committee set up to look at the consequences of the Scottish Referendum has instead focused on one tiny Westminster issue and deliberately missed the opportunity to bring planned Devolution to England.

England will remain under Whitehall control with a little different window dressing in a rubber stamp Parliament. Ironically Parliament has been ignored in this process with its own Select Committee deliberately refused a hearing. Government sees Parliament's role  as delivering  for Whitehall not championing devolution to the localities of England.

This Report shows a Government trapped in its Whitehall bubble and focussing on the sort of narrow insider issue that demonstrates to all those in the country how out of touch Government is. Evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee from outside the bubble shows that the English people and their local government leaders of all parties want to discuss their freedom via a much broader Devolution agenda not just shore up Whitehall power in the last country in the Empire.

The real debate is not about House of Commons procedure but about how local government can be the vehicle of devolution in England, the lessons which other nations of the Union can learn from the Smith devolution package for Scotland, how each nation could be properly represented in our second chamber, how a democratic settlement could be agreed and codified intergovernmentally, and many other issues all of which Hague has ignored.
Ten weeks ago we came within 400,000 votes of the Union dissolving, 23M people did not vote at the last General Election ( more than Labour and Conservatives put together),a party of the extreme right is polling 15% , people are deeply disenchanted with our democracy. Our politics is broken ,it needs fixing. This is a moment for political leadership not complacency and business as usual. Focussing on one partisan issue and ignoring the wider historic opportunities smacks of rearranging the green benches on the deck of the titanic.

All party leaders should seize this moment and demonstrate their belief that the time for clinging on to massive overcentralisation in Whitehall has gone and that Union and Devolution are the twin principles on which to base a democratic settlement to last into the foreseeable future"

 

Graham's Question to William Hague in response to his statement:

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Does the Leader of the House accept that 23 million people—more than voted Conservative and Labour combined—did not vote at the last election; that 10 weeks ago we came within 400,000 votes of the Union dissolving; and that a right-wing party is now coming in at 15% in current polling? Does he accept that the people are saying, “It’s broken; we ought to fix it”? Does he accept, too, that failure to include a comprehensive English devolution settlement based on the vehicle of independent local government and to substitute it with a minor issue of moving around the green benches of the Titanic on English votes for English laws just does not meet the historic need put to the right hon. Gentleman to do this job of putting forward a Cabinet Committee on devolution—not EVEL. Has he not missed that historic opportunity?

Mr Hague: I agree with a good deal of what the hon. Gentleman said at the beginning of his remarks, and I am grateful to his Political and Constitutional Reform Committee for its input so far and its discussion of all these issues. This is partly about decentralisation and devolution to local government in England. However, I have seen nothing to suggest that that will address the problem here in this House where laws are made of having some Members able to vote on things outside their own constituencies and other Members not able to do the same. That is why we have to make sure that, in addition to decentralisation, we address that further issue here as well.

You can watch Graham's Question here:

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=16728&st=13:03:50

To read more click here: 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141216/debtext/141216-0001.htm#14121635000485

  

Devolution in the Autumn Statement

Devolution

1.97 The Smith Commission was established on 19 September 2014, as a cross-party process

to decide what new powers should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament. The Smith

Commission reported on 27 November 2014 and the government has announced it will now

prepare draft legislative clauses to implement the Heads of Agreement.