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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 08:44 GMT
Does England need regional assemblies?
There is big support in the regions of England for devolving power from Westminster to elected regional assemblies, according to a new poll commissioned by the BBC.
Almost two-thirds of people (63%) want regional government, according to the survey, with less than a quarter (23%) opposed to the move.
The poll suggests the most popular reason why people in England would support a regional assembly is to give their area a stronger voice in both Westminster and Brussels.
The survey also revealed that we classify ourselves more by our local town than by our country - we are more likely to say we are Scousers or Brummies than say we're British.
Would you like your local area to have more political power? Do you feel more affinity to your region than England or Britain?
This Talking Point was suggested by Denise, UK :
Do the English really 'want regional parliaments'? Would we end up like the US with its State run schemes?
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This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
To John of France, yes we do love paying our taxes over here because overall we pay some of the lowest taxes in Europe.
Another level of bureaucracy sounds like a nightmare but if it means this country becoming less London-centric then I'm all for it.
Regional assemblies are not enough! What England needs is independence from its moaning British siblings.
Absolutely - the sooner the economy of the South East is freed from subsidising the rest of Britain, the better!
If the English had their own Parliament, as do the Scots, Welsh and Irish, then regional government would not be an issue. I have seen numerous English fans out here flying the Union flag at the cricket games. The English don't know the difference between being English and British.
As a Merseyside resident I just can't wait to have all the political decisions for the region made in Manchester... Not!
Yes, an assembly today and finally a Republic of Yorkshire.
No more nonsense from these fancy southerners and their Lacastrian friends.
I look forward to singing 'Ilkley Moor' as the newly formed Yorkshire football team win the World Cup!
Devolution has been a waste of time and money. It was done in haste and without thinking through the whole issue of the British Constitution. That is, does the UK need a federal system or not? A federal system a 100 years ago may have "solved" the "Irish Problem". This partial devolution is a failure. Some regional autonomy, not "national" is what is needed to develop the economies of those regions. This is particularly true of the Scottish Highlands and islands who will continue to suffer under the Scottish Parliament.
When Wales and Scotland gained parliaments, England should have got one by default. There should be no need for a referendum, but an automatic English parliament. Some years ago Blair was asked "Is there to be an English Parliament?" He said, "There has been no call for one". Well we're calling for one now!
Bill Bell, UK
I see they are at it again! The government I mean. Prescott has decided all on his own that 1000 year-old counties are to be abolished. This is the real reason that Labour are touting regional assemblies. More divide and rule. Well, he won't get away with it.
England needs a parliament so it can run its own country without subsidising any others.
I would most certainly support a national assembly for England. I'm not so sure about regional assemblies. Are we not divisive enough already? This small island of Great Britain has more in common with it's fellow nations than it gives it self credit for. What happened to "united we stand, divided we fall"? Would we really be better off as separate nations, or are we just pandering to foolish pride?
Alex C., Australia
What we need is fewer politicians with greater powers. We also need to give them the ability to actually implement policy decisions more quickly. If people then saw the effects (good and bad) and could associate those responsible we'd encourage more interest in voting.
Why should England be more devolved than Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland? More importantly, it is wrong that non-English constituent MP's at Westminster have the ability to vote on issues which are only relevant to English constituencies.
James Miller, UK
Having English regional assemblies will just provide another layer of bureaucracy and yet more self-serving politicians that WE will have to pay for.
If these costly talking shops are going to be imposed upon us Cornwall should get its own assembly rather than being part of a fake euro-region called South West England. Also Shetland and Orkney should get their own assemblies too rather than being lumped together with Scotland. They once had their own language (Norn), have their own flags and feel more Scandinavian than Scottish.
Michael Kilpatrick, Cambridge, UK
Doesn't it strike you as slightly odd that this government seems intent on splitting up the UK into large regional assemblies - ones that would easily, say, be amenable to some sort of future control by Brussels in a Britain fully integrated into an EU superstate?
The short answer is no. Although English, I live and work in Wales. As an 'outsider', it seems to me that the Welsh Assembly has been an unmitigated disaster. There has been no decrease in political chicanery (e.g. the Chamber Orchestra funding scandel), no increase in efficiency and the whole thing just costs money (witness the multi-million pound farce that masquerades as the new Assembly building). The recent outcry in north and central Wales over the decision to award Newport city status, cited as further evidence of a massive south Wales bias, suggests that such assemblies merely serve to relocate the big fish of government to a much smaller pond. In fact, the only solution to the north-south argument in Wales is probably regional Welsh devolution!!!
Michael, Scotland, UK
All this would mean is that we would see more politicians, more beauracracy and more money wasted on talking shops.
J Kerr, England
As a Yorkshire man, I suppose I should feel as much regional pride as anyone. However, given the appalling performance of some of our local authorities and councils - many of whose members would doubtless make up such an assembly - I think this would be a recipe for disaster. Also, what exactly would these assemblies do, apart from spend money? Better the devil you know, if you ask me.
Phil T, Oman
Regional assemblies are fine in principle, but a number of key issues would have to be resolved. Firstly, would the assemblies have revenue raising powers. If so, wouldn't this simply increase the burden on local residents? Remember council tax in London was raised by a significant amount to pay for the GLA. Secondly how would the assemblies sit with other regional bodies such as chambers and RDAs.
Finally, those in the other regions keen on having their own should ask themselves what benefits London has received from having one.
You really enjoy paying your taxes over there don't you. Has anybody given any thought to the cost of setting up a complete tier of administration? Just think of all those highly paid executives itching to get your tax money, so they can an empire build at your expense.
Simple question, has the employing of thousands of administrators, pen pushers all, improved the treatment that your health service now offers?
Ian - You are 100% correct. But remember that no system is perfect; French, British or otherwise. I am in strong favour of decentralization. Whether Britain ends up a Federal nation or not has yet to be scripted. What must be understood is that for decentralization to actually work, power must be handed from the Central government in Westminster to the regional or country assemblies.
John, France has had a regional system of government since 1982. Granted the regions don't have real power, but I don't see the French complaining. They seem to be the most over governed nation from local government upwards. If Scotland and Wales can have devolution then why can't we in the North?
21 Mar 02 | UK Politics
English 'want regional parliaments'
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