‘All parts of England must benefit from devolved powers’

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ALL PARTS of England must benefit from new devolved powers, including rural and coastal areas, the Lords has been told.

Labour spokesman Lord McKenzie of Luton said devolution should not be limited to “some of our great Northern cities”, important though they were for economic growth.

“We want to devolve powers to towns, smaller cities and counties,” he said in committee stage debate on the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill.

“We want this Bill to be as relevant to Cornwall, Norwich, Bristol and to South East councils ... as it is for West Yorkshire, the East Midlands and Leicester.”

The Bill meets a Tory manifesto commitment to devolve powers over economic development, transport and social care to cities which choose to have elected mayors.

Lord McKenzie said the Opposition wanted the legislation to reverse a “century of centralisation” but had reservations about how far and how fast the Government was planning to go.

He moved an amendment to the Bill calling for the Government to set out a strategy to ensure the “devolution opportunities” in the Bill were available to all parts of England. Backing the move, Liberal Democrat Lord Shipley said the aim was to improve the legislation. But Tory former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine warned against being too proscriptive.