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Governance - 26.05.2009
CEMR welcomes UK Parliament report in favour of local government
In a hard-hitting report published on 20th May 2009, an all-party committee of British Members of Parliament have called for major changes to the central-local relationship in the United Kingdom.
The committee Chair, Dr Phyllis Starkey, said: Central government must take radical steps to tilt the balance of power towards localities, and local government must become more ambitious... Whilst we fully accept that the Government should set strong national strategic goals, it should also pay much greater heed to the benefits of local autonomy. The Government recognized these benefits when it signed up to the European Charter of Local Self-Government so now it and Parliament should act to enshrine these principles in UK law.
The report was warmly welcomed by Jeremy Smith, Secretary-General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, who gave evidence to the committee: The UK has for a long time had one of the most centralist systems of government in Europe, so I warmly welcome this important report by a committee of experienced Members of Parliament. The European Charter, ratified by the UK in 1998, requires that the principle of local self-government should be recognized in the law or constitution - but so far the British government has failed to do so. I hope the Committee's unanimous recommendation will now persuade it to honour this international commitment. In the long run, central as well as local government will be strengthened by these measures.
The report goes on to recommend that new pieces of draft legislation affecting local government should be accompanied by an impact assessment and analysis of compliance with the Charter. In addition, it proposes that a new Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament should scrutinise government compliance with this new constitutional provision.