My involvement in the IPPR’s Devo More project

On  Friday, IPPR published my paper Funding Devo More, the fruit of a long period of reflection about devolution finance and how the UK might do it differently and better (that’s available here).  It also marks the start of my involvement in IPPR’s ‘Devo More’ project.

The aim of this project is to consider how devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland might be enhanced; how to make a devolved UK work better.  That means increasing the scope of devolved powers and responsibilities, but also looking at the Union as a whole and how to improve that.  Effective devolution means more self-government, but it also means ‘more Union’; a more effective tier of government that delivers certain functions that devolved governments are unable to, in a way that makes it clear what the Union does for citizens as well as what devolved governments do.  That is a far cry from the vestigial sort of entity it has often become in many of the Scottish debates.  It’s also a step beyond the current thinking that suggests ‘more powers for Scotland (or Wales) means less for Westminster’; this need not be zero-sum game, if the thinking about what is involved is careful enough.  If we are to continue to live in one decentralised country, we will all need to be clearer about which government does what and why.

I’ve explained separately some of the ideas underpinning my financing paper, which will be carried through into the project as a whole.

The ‘Devo More’ project will necessarily be a wide-ranging one, and our next big piece of work is to look at how devolution of aspects of welfare and social security might be accomplished, and what the implications of that will be.  Another strand will be the sort of changes needed at the centre of government for is rather different sort of union to work.  There is a good deal involved in the project, and those interested should keep an eye on the project’s webpage, which is here.

I’m very glad to be working with the Institute for Public Policy Research, and particularly Guy Lodge, on this project.  IPPR have long taken a serious interest in debates about devolution and its implications, including the work they have done recently on developing public attitudes about national identity in England, their ‘Borderland’ project on the implications of change for Scotland for northern England, and how ‘English votes for English laws’ at Westminster might work.  (The same can’t be said for most of the other London think-tanks.)  For my part, working with IPPR isn’t a reflection of any political views; as well as formal committees, I’ve advised parties and politicians from across the political spectrum in the past (including Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour, the SNP and Plaid Cymru), and hope to continue to do so.  It is simply a pragmatic judgment about who has the willingness and the resources to do serious, policy-oriented thinking about the future of the UK.  In this respect, IPPR have stolen a march on their rivals.

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14 Comments

Filed under Devolution finance, Intergovernmental relations, Northern Ireland, Publications and projects, Referendums, Scotland, Wales

14 responses to “My involvement in the IPPR’s Devo More project

  1. Old Albion

    How about considering fairness, equality and democracy for England by the creation of an English parliament?
    No, i didn’t think you would………………………………………………..

  2. Independent England

    The IPPR wouldn’t do that Old Albion. Didn’t you know? There’s no demand for an English Parliament. That’s what they keep telling us. Not true of course. Plenty of polls show that of all the constitutional issues which need addressing, England’s position in the UK is the most pressing. Groups like the IPPR would rather talk about things like the implications for England if Scotland goes independent rather than address the English Question.

  3. Independent England

    Should have said implications for Northern England

  4. Old Albion

    If you follow the “English votes for English laws” link.You will see IPPR have already dismissed the idea of an English parliament…..what a surprise …….

  5. DougtheDug

    Having read the Funding Devo More report it’s simply Calman MK II.

    All it really does is extend the control of the Scottish Parliament over income tax while proposing that the top up funding is based on the average need across the UK rather than on the specific needs of a region as Barnett was. In other words it’s a major funding cut for Scotland.

    The report as usual is hamstrung by that simple red line that no devolution proposal can ever cross, that no region of the UK can be given control over its own resources to ensure that public funding is spread evenly across the UK. Control of Scotland’s natural resources, control of energy policy, control of corporation tax and control of the welfare system are not proposed in there. (In addition the idea that the Treasury will hand over full control of income tax in Scotland to the Scottish Parliament is really just wishful thinking.)

    The only real lever for the devolved parliaments to gain extra revenue will be to increase income tax as that is the only major tax they will control. The devolved parliaments will be unique in that the only way they can increase funding for public services will be to increase the burden of income tax on their population. There will be no other taxes, personal or business, under their control which will be big enough to make a difference and spending cuts on areas such as defence will be outside their scope.

    Devo More can be summed up for Scotland as follows:

    If income tax rates are kept as the rest of the UK then Scotland will receive enough top up to match the average spend across the UK which is well below its current funding. As public spending is cut by Westminster in England then the top up grant will fall as the block grant does now and the only way to maintain services in Scotland will be to increase the personal tax burden on Scots. In addition, Scotland will get to keep the nukes but not the oil revenues.

  6. Dave

    How can ‘devo more’ claim to meet the democratic aspirations of the Scottish people, when a third of them want outright independence, and another third want the Scottish Parliament to control everything but defence and foreign affairs?

    I think that you and the IPPR are being disingenuous in making such a claim.

  7. Old Albion

    Scotland does damn well out of lop-sided devolution. It’s about time Westminster admitted England exists politically and gave us the chance to reap some benefits.

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  10. Dave

    Old Albion:

    Since ‘England’ elects the vast majority of MPs at Westminster, then you already have an ‘English’ parliament, and have had one for centuries, and which has governed predominantly in the interests of ‘England’.

    One thing I can tell you is that it has never, ever, governed in the interests of Wales.

    Having said that, as a citizen of Wales, I wholeheartedly support the creation of an exclusively English Parliament. The sooner the better. It’s a shame it hadn’t happened before Wales was pillaged of its natural resources to create the British (sic English) Empire from which Wales gained little or nothing, and now reduced to a (colonial) dependency.

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