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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 September 2006, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Brown in pledge to devolve power
Chancellor Gordon Brown
Mr Brown will seek to devolve power away from Whitehall

Gordon Brown will seek to devolve power away from central government if he becomes prime minister, he has told the BBC in an interview.

The "Bank of England independence" model, devolving policy from ministers, would let those "better able to manage, just get on with it", he said.

Earlier, it was revealed Mr Brown would consider giving day-to-day control of the NHS to an independent board.

On Tony Blair, he said he must "make his own decisions" while still PM.

You show that you are not anxious to hold on to powers that should be better administered or better dealt with by other people
Gordon Brown

Mr Brown was interviewed by Jon Sopel for BBC One's Politics Show, which will be screened on Sunday.

In the case of the Bank of England, Mr Brown, as chancellor, made the institution responsible for interest rates.

"The model of Bank of England independence offers us a way forward, because you give up power and you show that you are not anxious to hold on to powers that should be better administered or better dealt with by other people," he said.

"At the same time, you make this distinction which governments, perhaps politicians, have been reluctant to do, between setting a general policy guideline and letting people who are better able to manage just get on with it."

'Great leader'

Speaking about Mr Blair, Mr Brown said there was "undoubtedly uncertainty" about his position.

"Look, you've been dealing with a unique situation - a prime minister that says that he's not going to stand at the next general election as a leader of his party.

"But my position has always been that Tony Blair should be free to make his own decisions and I think that's where the position is at the moment."

Under his stewardship we've been slipping behind other countries like Ireland and Norway when we have the people and the ambition to do so much better
Alex Salmond
SNP leader

He paid tribute to Mr Blair as "a great prime minister" and "a great leader of the Labour Party".

The chancellor once again confirmed that then-junior defence minister Tom Watson - a staunch Brownite - had been to deliver a present for Mr Brown's baby a day before he had signed a letter calling for Mr Blair to resign.

Mr Brown told the BBC he "knew nothing of that letter" and criticised Mr Watson for signing it.

"I think it was a mistake," Mr Brown said.

'Pretty outspoken'

"He probably, reflecting on it, may wish to change his mind but the important thing... is that Tony Blair should be free to make his own decisions."

Asked about the balance in relations with the US, Mr Brown denied the UK was "scared to say boo".

"I don't think that is true, of course, because I've just mentioned Guantanamo Bay where we've been pretty outspoken and of course now President Bush has agreed that Guantanamo Bay should over time be closed," Mr Brown said.

"We've also been pretty clear about what happened in the initial stages of the reconstruction of Iraq."

Mr Brown's record was criticised by Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond in a speech to party activists in Aberdeenshire.

Mr Salmond published what he described as a "dossier" detailing Mr Brown's "mishandling of the Scottish economy".

He said: "Under his stewardship we've been slipping behind other countries like Ireland and Norway when we have the people and the ambition to do so much better.

"Scotland should be flourishing, but under Labour we're languishing in the doldrums."

  • The Politics Show - BBC One on Sunday at 1200 BST.




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