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Changing Britain Together

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- further devolution to Scotland and a Constitutional Convention for the UK

Ed Miliband yesterday reaffirmed our commitment to deliver further devolution to Scotland and announced proposals for a full Constitutional Convention rooted in our nations and regions, to address the need for further devolution across the UK, including England, and political reform of Westminster.

The problem

The Scottish referendum, alongside the rise of UKIP, highlights deep anger across the UK with Westminster politics from so many people who feel that our country doesn’t work for them. 

Labour’s plan for Britain means big economic change about how our country works and for whom it is run. Labour will answer that call, delivering fairness at work, tackling inequality with a higher minimum wage and fair taxes with a 50p rate for the highest earners. 

But we also need change in the way we are governed because we will not now sit back and put up a ‘business as usual’ sign over Westminster. 

Policy announcements

Yesterday Ed Miliband reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to deliver on our promise of further powers to Scotland on a timetable beginning immediately. He also called for a Constitutional Convention so that other people in Britain, including England, have the chance to shape their own futures with a dynamic devolution settlement. 

In the coming weeks Labour will set out how this should begin before the next election with every nation and region in the country engaged in a dialogue with the people about how power needs to be dispersed, not just in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but in England too.

This will involve the people rather than just an elite in Westminster, and regional debates will bring together elected representatives with ordinary citizens and civil society.

Each region will produce a report outlining a series of recommendations, covering for example: how sub-national devolution can be strengthened; how the regions can be given more of a voice in our political system; how we can give further voice to regional and national culture and identity.

This would be followed in the autumn of 2015 with a Constitutional Convention to determine the UK-wide implications of devolution and to bring these recommendations together.

It will discuss the shape and extent of English devolution and what reforms are needed in Westminster, as well as the case for a regionally representative Senate or for codifying the constitution. Major recommendations would then by debated by Parliament.

Q&A
 
Does Labour support the PM's proposals?
We will examine his proposals, but we need much bigger change than the PM talked about. Change in how the country is run and who it is run for.
The message from this referendum was a call to bring power closer people, but more than that a call to make Britain work for ordinary working people. Rewarding hard work, tackling insecurity and making it possible for the next generation to get on. 
A Cabinet Committee is not the answer to this desire for change, a Labour Government is.
 
But does Labour support ‎English votes for English laws?
We must not have a Westminster-led rushed solution to these issues, but instead one led by people. The English and England's regions do need to have their voice heard, which is why we will devolve more power to people throughout England.
We will study any proposals to give English MPs more powers of scrutiny of legislation. But we're wary of back of the fag packet proposals that risk undermining the integrity of the UK. After all, we have spent two years keeping our country together.
 
Will Labour re-open Barnett?
Barnett has served the people of the UK well – we see no justification for re-opening this issue now or in the future.
What is the timetable for further devolution to Scotland?
During the referendum campaign, Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg published a joint agreement on a timetable for further devolution.
  • Immediate action today to start the legislative process.
  • A Command Paper including all party proposals published on 30th October.
  • Engagement with civic Scotland and the Scottish Parliament.
  • Heads of Agreement by the end of November.
  • Draft clauses for the new Scotland Bill published by the end of January.
  • Immediate introduction of a Scotland Bill after the General Election regardless of who forms the Government.​
How does that fit with Labour's constitutional convention timetable?
We’ve just finished a two year referendum campaign in Scotland so there has been very extensive public debate about what powers should be devolved in future and all three parties have set out plans. The wider debate about English devolution and reform of Westminster is at an early stage and if the voices of our nations and regions are to be properly heard will need to take longer.
Alex Salmond says that Labour had reneged on its pledges for further devolution;
As Ed Miliband said yesterday: “Alex Salmond is wrong. We will deliver on our promise of further powers to Scotland on the timetable set out during the referendum campaign.”​

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