The Labour Party has announced their proposals to devolve power from Westminster to the towns, cities, and regions across the country which they believe will bring with it economic growth.
These proposals result from a Commission established by the Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer back in 2020 and headed by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The Commission was tasked with developing an independent report and set of proposals for devolution and constitutional reform, with the ultimate aim of the biggest transfer of power from Westminster to the British people in history.
There are 40 proposals within the report, including plans to stop members of parliament from having second jobs, the transfer of 50,000 civil service jobs out of London and to replace the House of Lords with an elected second chamber – which interestingly first appeared in the Labour Party’s election manifesto back in 1910!
As part of the constitutional reform, it is recommended that the Westminster Government introduce new legislation that guarantees the autonomy of local government and calls for a wide range of powers to be made available to all levels of local government. New powers over transport and infrastructure and development and planning – including compulsory purchase orders on vacant sites – would be handed to the devolved administrations, the mayors and local authorities.
Further devolution of responsibility would also be given to those who prove themselves willing and able to take them on in areas including skills, employment support, R&D and investment. The report notes these new powers are vital for future economic growth, as local leaders need the tools to nurture new clusters of high-paying, high-productivity industries and tailor local economic policies to the specific needs of businesses and workers. Alongside developing around 300 “economic clusters” around the country, the plans also recommend handing taxation and law-making powers to mayors and devolved administrations.
Currently, all the recommendations are simply proposals endorsed by the Labour leader and are not Labour Party policy. A period of consultation to work out the details of how they would be delivered if Labour is successful at the next election is now underway. However, the commission report and the fanfare that it received, give a strong indication of some of the policies that will be included in the next Labour Party manifesto.
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