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Government will not increase devolution safeguards

The government has denied accusations that its devolution process is failing to take into account the needs of communities in its response to a critical report.

The DCLG said it was rejecting the  Communities and Local Government Committee recommendation for additional select committee scrutiny of devolution of specific powers, saying the usual procedure of parliamentary scrutiny was enough.

It also rejected a recommendation that it publish its long-term objectives for devolution on the grounds that these were already being set out in “locally-led implementation plans”.

Although the committee said that it should be made explicit in each devolution deal that areas may acquire further devolved powers over time, the DCLG said that such an approach might undermine the effectiveness of devolved government structures.

Similarly, in response to the committee’s recommendation for greater overlap between the devolved powers included in each deal, the government said that it wanted to maintain a “bottom-up, bespoke and place-led” approach.

In a report yesterday, the House of Lords constitution committee said that the devolution process could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom unless additional safeguards were introduced.

The Newcastle University Centre for Urban and Regional Development has called for an independent commission to review devolution, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Reform, Decentralisation and Devolution, led by Lord Kerslake, has called the current process ‘piecemeal and incoherent’.

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