Graham Launches Indpendence for Local Government Bill
Today Graham launched the Local Government and Independence Bill.
Read it here: Local Government and Independence Bill
Summary of the Bill and key points
The Bill is printed Parliamentary format having been examined and amended by QC’s,local government institutions, academics and Parliament’s Public Bill Office, it could be used next May as a basis for legislation by any incoming party .
It’s Preamble states its purpose in one sentence- to declare local and central government separate and independent, separate their finances and triple lock the provisions so they are very difficult for central government to ever repeal easily. It would bring us up to the standards commonplace in most democracies, would make local councils the vehicle for devolution in England, and liberate our local people, their talents and their local economic energy and creativity from the dead hand of Whitehall .
Schedule One[P4] is the heart of the Bill. It sets up and [unlike discredited voluntary “codes”] defines and protects in statute law the Local Government Independence Code.
1Local autonomy. Sets up independent local authorities constitutionally responsible not to Whitehall but to the local electorate.
1Scope. Elected Councils are made responsible for all local matters.
1Inspection regimes. These services like OFSTED etc will be jointly run by the localities in future.
1 Boundaries. Elected Councils will be able to agree boundaries and joint working arrangements themselves.
1Governance. Local people will decide their own systems [mayors /committees etc.] and electoral systems [PR ,First past the post etc.]for themselves
1 Financial Independence.
Whitehall is statutorily barred from interfering in or capping local finance. Equalisation stays the same via DCLG Scottish style “Income Tax Assignment “with no local variation ,will apply to England too so the product of 10p income tax goes to Councils via the DCLG.Transparency and accountability is further aided by every electors salary slip making the amount plain [rather like National Insurance is now ]  Elected Councils may with consent of their electors raise additional funds [Hotel tax, Workplace parking levy, Sales Tax etc.] Independent Councils may borrow against their credit rating but must operate a balanced budget and of course can have no central support if they go bust. Elected central government may support whatever “federal programmes” it wished to.
Schedules Three and Four
These are designed to make it as difficult as possible for Whitehall and central government to reduce the powers of Independent local government ,the triple lock makes easy repeal impossible and would exacts a high political price from those who attempted to return to interference and traditional micro management. The safeguards include any erosion of the Rights of Local Government being subject to the protection of the 1911 Parliament Act[a second chamber veto].
A spokesman for the City Centred campaign, comprising the Mayor of London, the Core Cities Group, and London Councils, said: "We welcome Graham Allen’s important contribution to debate as to why and how England’s local government should be granted greater freedoms from central government control. There are growing cross-party calls for this issue to be addressed in order that our regions can better drive economic, social and political growth in response to local priorities.”
Further info contact Sarah Gibson, London Mayor' office 0207 983 4231
A fully worked up Bill which gives local government its independence from the stranglehold of Whitehall will be launched on Monday at a reception attended by the Mayor of London, the Core Cities Cabinet and London Councils. A statutory code has a triple legislative lock to prevent easy repeal by central government.
Significant new financial autonomy has been granted to Scotland and Wales which will allow them to reinvest locally-raised taxes free from central control. England’s cities and regions should also be allowed to retain more of the local taxes they raise rather than have Whitehall determine their spending priorities. Devolving fiscal powers keeps decision-making closer to the ground, makes political leaders more accountable and allows more integrated investment decisions. It will help drive innovation and stimulate economic growth and jobs that will greatly benefit the nation.
“I very strongly support the Mayor of London, the Core Cities Cabinet and London Councils in campaigning for greater financial independence, my Bill takes the next logical step to bring England into line with virtually every other western democracy and create separate and independent local government” said Graham Allen ,Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee.