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The ‘evolution of devolution’ – Committee launches inquiry into English devolution

24 September 2020

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) has launched an inquiry into English devolution.

Devolution has become an established part of UK constitutional architecture. However, while legislative and executive devolution has been established and evolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there has been no equivalent devolution in England, the largest of the four nations. This has created asymmetry in governance arrangements in the UK. 

Since 2014, there have been several initiatives to ‘devolve’ power within England. Ten Combined Authorities (which include the areas controlled by ‘Metro Mayors’ such as Manchester) have now negotiated bespoke ‘devolution’ deals. This has added to the complexity of English local government.

The PACAC inquiry will consider what aims and principles should underpin devolution in England and the extent to which any such devolution should be in line with the rest of the UK. The Committee will also inquire into the purpose of the current ‘devolution’ deals in the Combined Authorities and whether those purposes are being achieved. This will provide a basis on which to scrutinise the Government’s forthcoming English devolution White Paper.

Chair's comments

The PACAC Chair, William Wragg MP, said:

“The Government has committed to set out plans for full devolution across England, but what English devolution would and should look like is still unclear. My Committee will consider the constitutional and political issues surrounding devolution in England in order to scrutinise the Government’s proposals carefully. We want to make sure they don’t further complicate governance in England and provide people with a meaningful influence over the governance of their communities and regions.”

Ahead of the White Paper, PACAC invites evidence in response to the following questions:

  1. Should devolution in England use the reserved powers to bring it in line with devolution in the rest of the UK?
  2. What aims and principles should underpin devolution in England?
  3. Should devolution in England use the reserved powers to bring it in line with devolution in the rest of the UK?
  4. To what extent should there be consistency in devolved and local governance within England, and to what extent is asymmetry necessary?
  5. What is the purpose of the current ‘devolution’ deals and mechanisms? Are these purposes being achieved?
  6. How should decisions on English devolution be agreed? 
  7. How should the interests of different parts or regions of England be better represented to central government as well as in intergovernmental arrangements and in Parliament? 
  8. Is there public demand for such structures/measures?
  9. On what basis should the form, geography and extent of devolved regions or area be determined, and what role should culture and identity play?

Get involved

PACAC wants to hear from you. We welcome submissions from anyone with views on the questions above. Information about how to submit evidence is available here.

Further information

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