Tag Archives: federal UK

The Supreme Court decision on a Scottish Referendum

The Supreme Court has delivered the judgement everyone expected from it – the obvious statement that, under the law as it stands, the Scottish Parliament does not have powers to call a referendum on Scottish Independence without the consent of the UK parliament. This judgement presents one opportunity and one threat to Liberal Democrats.

The opportunity is the chance to cut through the squabbles between Conservatives and the SNP by pushing our own policy – that of a truly federal UK. A Federal UK has been Liberal policy for over a century and to my mind we do not emphasise it sufficiently often or strongly. Voices in other parties (including respected former ministers such as Malcolm Rifkind and Gordon Brown) have from time to time hinted at support for a watered-down version of federalism, but we are the only party which can authentically present the idea as fully worked out and our own.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

John Shipley writes: A Federal England – what should it mean?

Late last year I was asked by the Federal Policy Committee to chair a working group on regional powers in England within a Federal UK. The group was charged with developing policy on powers for the level between local government and the Federal government, taking into account the broader vision set out in conference motion “The Creation of a Federal United Kingdom” (passed at Autumn Conference in 2020). The group was asked to build on existing policy as set out in policy paper 117 Power to the People (2014) and policy paper 130 Power for People and Communities (2018) and consider models from other Federal States such as the Federal Republic of Germany.

A modernised Federal United Kingdom has long been a key priority for Liberal Democrats – encompassing a fair voting system for all elections, reforming the House of Lords into a Senate, and developing a written constitution.

The motion passed in September 2020 represents an important foundation for the creation of an England of the Regions

It sets out principles for the UK to become a union of its nations and regions.  In relation to England, it says we believe in a truly federal United Kingdom with an equitable distribution of resources between different parts of the United Kingdom based on their respective needs. It refers to federal and state governments in which subsidiarity applies to the nations and regions of the Union and in which the exercise of public responsibilities is decentralised as much as is reasonably practicable. It says that the Upper House should become representative of the nations and regions of the United Kingdom and that there would be a federal Council of Ministers to enable the governments and parliaments of the various parts of the Union to work better, building on the work of joint ministerial committees.

The motion however says nothing about local government. It does not say how many English regions there should be, nor what exact powers they should have. It does not say anything about taxation or how resources would be redistributed. It implies each region can have ministers but not for which departments. Clearly, the detail needs to be filled in – hence the working group.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 34 Comments
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