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The question - Devolution


Almost 1M people in the North East last week voted overwhelmingly against setting up a regional assembly.

What do you think about devolution?

Devolution could be good if real power is devolved. If central control remains it will be an extra layer of bureaucracy giving little benefit, apart perhaps from opportunities for early retirement for certain local government highway engineers.

Paul Jameson, 50, highways engineer, Malvern I believe that a certain amount of regional autonomy is needed, but think the regional assemblies that were created are an expensive waste. I do not think that the Scottish or Welsh know how much the assemblies cost them, or the size of subsidies paid from central government, and are therefore unable to gauge the benefits. The argument for Scotland is that Scottish oil revenue pays for the assembly. But this will no longer be the case when it runs out in 10 years time.

Allan Howlett, principal project manager, London It will just increase bureaucracy.

John D Brownlie, 56, project director, Shrewsbury A regional government only makes sense if it can materially affect the way the area is governed. Britain has a parliament at Westminster that should concentrate on national and international matters (and have a lot fewer members), and our local government should make decisions on matters concerning its area - rather than the one club fits all approach we currently have.

This local government would have to cover several counties. Below that there should be perhaps two more levels - the regional councils - like East Hampshire where I live, and the lowest level, the parish councils. Making decisions at the lowest possible level, instead of centralising power, would mean central government accepting that lower levels of government may do things it does not like. I cannot see Labour or the Conservatives accepting that. What was offered is just a talking shop - more people and paper, not much real power, and nothing taken out of the system of government. I think it will just increase bureaucracy.

Mike Dommett, 47, civil engineer, London Scottish and Welsh devolution show the inordinate expense of cost and bureaucracy in such a move. I see regionalisation in the UK leading to the same consequences. This is not the way we should aim to operate local government. Regional thinking is good, but regional control is not.

Certainly, let us review our regional unitary, county and district structures where necessary and of course, if they work well, let us change them to introduce the traditional instability, cost, confusion and change that we all love so much.

Dudley Swain, 57, performance manager, Exeter I just do not understand why the government is doing this piecemeal. Either all regions (in which I include Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) should have regional assemblies, or none should. If one region 'merits' such a body, then, by definition, all should. It's obvious.

Luc Koefman, 34, windfarm engineer, France Prescott's proposals will only create more bureaucracy, which will be paid for by more tax. I support the German model where the regional parliaments perform a similar task to the Lords. This I also see as preferable to a political mayor.

It is notable that the London mayor seemed more effective when independent.

Andrew Powell, 42, senior group engineer, Manchester

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