Previous developments in 2014, including the referendum on Scottish independence and the announcement of the “Northern Powerhouse”, have meant that in 2015 the idea of devolution cemented its place at the forefront of much political debate. The following ten of our most popular articles on the issue demonstrate how it impacts upon many areas of policy including housing, health, the economy, and the EU. To view all our articles on devolution, click here.
The issue of devolution is squarely on the agenda. Yet despite appearing to have obtained the coveted policy position of a principle without political enemies, the devolution mission itself is not guided by any clear principles, writes Bob Hudson. Instead, actions have been tactical rather than strategic, while current proposals are characterised by democratic, constitutional, financial and strategic ‘deficits’.
The Conservatives shocked everyone by winning a small majority at the 2015 General Election, despite predictions of a hung parliament and the possibility of constitutional wrangling over who had legitimacy to form the next Government. As they bed down for another five years, Louise Thompson looks at what their unexpected victory means for parliament, focussing on the SNP influx, English Votes for English Laws, and the Brexit referendum.
UK cities currently have limited control over the majority of their finances, significantly constraining their ability to target investment where it is needed most and preventing them from retaining the benefits of encouraging local growth. Andrew Carter argues that we can no longer afford a high degree of centralisation as the status quo; fiscal devolution to cities is necessary.
The government has attempted to portray the ‘Devo Manc’ proposals for governance change in Manchester as a bold step towards the decentralisation of power in England. Here, Robin Hambleton, explains how the proposals actually represent an extraordinary boost to top down government in a state that is already one of the most centralised in the Western world.
Following an agreement last year to devolve powers to the Greater Manchester region and for the creation of a directly elected mayor, George Osborne has announced a new agreement to devolve the NHS to Manchester. In this article, Bob Hudson examines the agreement in depth, explaining that there are four main policy-implementation gaps regarding national governance, regional/local governance, financial governance and democratic governance.
Scottish devolution began in 1999 with high aspirations and ambitions that the new form of Scottish government would be transformative and would greatly improve the quality of governance in Scotland in the areas for which the new institutions had responsibility. The evidence from a recent inquiry, however, indicates that the institutions of health governance in Scotland since 1999 have failed to make any fundamental change in health outcomes and patterns of inequality. Increased powers for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government does not thus necessarily lead to enhanced governance and effectiveness in any one particular policy area, writes Norman Bonney.
With Parliament having voted in favour of adopting English Votes for English Laws on 22 October, the Housing and Planning Bill became the first piece of legislation to be considered under the new process. Steffan Evans writes that the Speaker’s interpretation of the new Standing Orders during the Bill’s second reading will have a significant impact on how devolution will be debated in the future.
Devolution to a model set out by the centre is not devolution at all, writes Jonathan Carr-West. We need local authorities and groups of local authorities in cities and counties to come forward with detailed and realistic proposals on how they plan to grow their local economies and improve local services and what powers they need to achieve this.
The Government is doing deals with combined authorities in England which will see responsibility for services costing billions of pounds devolved to a more local level. But what governance systems are being put in place to manage this transfer of power? Ed Hammond explores some of the issues surrounding the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, currently progressing through Parliament, and the implications for meaningful local accountability and transparency.
10. The EU referendum and legislation on ‘English votes for English laws’ will be crucial for Scotland’s future in the Union
The crucial factor in any future move towards Scottish independence is not the will of the Scottish electorate, which clearly rejected independence in last year’s referendum, but the will of the English electorate, writes Elliott Green.
(Featured image credit: mwmbwls CC BY-NC-SA-2.0)