Government in Britain is too centralised. Too many decisions affecting local communities are made in Westminster. Part of the crisis of confidence in our political system and institutions is because people feel distant from the decisions that are taken on their behalf.
Labour has always been, and remains, the Party of devolution. One of our proudest achievements is devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If Labour is elected in 2015 we are committed to continuing our record of devolution. We want to see a fair, democratic and effective system of government across Britain. To achieve this we will:
1 - Put in place a new English deal. During the next Parliament, a Labour government will take £30bn of decisions away from Westminster. We will give this financial power to city and county regions for transport and housing, business support, skills and further education provision, and employment support. We understand that the best people to make decisions for the Colne Valley and Yorkshire are the people who live here.
2 - Hold a Constitutional Convention. This will be rooted in our nations and regions, to agree future governance arrangements for the United Kingdom. It will look at how regional devolution can be strengthened; how the regions can be given more of a voice in our political system; how we can promote our regional and national culture and identity
3 - Establish a Senate of the Nations and Regions. This will replace The House of Lords. It will be made up of representatives from the regions and the four nations of the United Kingdom. It will mean that a much better spread of people from across the country will be represented in Westminster.
A Labour government will tackle the unfairness of a House of Lords which currently has more members from London than from the East Midlands, West Midlands, Wales, Northern Ireland, the North East and Yorkshire and Humber combined.
4 - Further devolution to Scotland. This will follow on from promises made after the referendum campaign.
I firmly believe that government decision-making should be rooted in the communities affected by those decisions. But I do not believe that people want new layers of government. Instead, we need to give more power to our existing local authorities. They should be freed up, so that they can work with each other and other public bodies to provide joined-up services.
English votes for English laws
Labour absolutely supports English votes for English laws and to finding a solution to the West Lothian Question. However, we agree with senior Conservative Kenneth Clarke that this is not a simple question that can be settled by a few people in a committee in a few months.
It is because we are committed to fairness that we propose a Constitutional Convention, a Senate of the Regions and devolution of funding and decision-making power away from Westminster to local authorities.
This is a complicated constitutional change. I support a cross-party consensus to find a workable and practical solution for all of England and the English regions. Let the parties put their proposals in their manifestos and let the people vote on the best solution.