UK

Call for more local council powers after Scottish vote

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Image caption English councils want increased powers including over spending and taxation

Councils in England are calling for an urgent meeting of a constitutional convention to consider the wider impact of the Scottish referendum.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said new powers must now be given to local areas in England and Wales.

Some ministers, such as Deputy PM Nick Clegg, broadly back decentralisation.

But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said "new taxes, more politicians and new tiers of local administration was not the answer".

Appetite for devolution

LGA chairman David Sparks said public trust in the "old ways of central control has been shattered beyond repair".

He thinks the appetite for devolution "will not stop at the border" and the rest of the UK "won't be content to settle for the status quo".

The councils now want a firm timetable for pushing powers out across England.

The LGA said the establishment of an English parliament would not represent "true devolution".

Instead they argued that a constitutional commission should examine ways to give local authorities more control over spending and taxation.

It came as group of regional newspapers issued a joint call on their front pages for more powers for the north of England.

Titles including the Journal and the Chronicle, both in Newcastle, Northern Echo in Darlington, Middlesbrough's Gazette, Yorkshire Post and Manchester Evening News said the part of the country should be given "far more control over its own affairs".

Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out creating an English parliament but hinted that English MPs could get the final say on laws affecting England only.

The three main Westminster parties have promised more powers for Holyrood in the event of a "No" vote in Scotland.

Conservative calls for an English parliament have been led by backbench MP John Redwood.

'Ducked question'

Conservative former cabinet minister Liam Fox said change was "unavoidable" to address the ability of Scottish MPs to vote on devolved issues in Westminster.

Mr Fox told the BBC's Newsnight programme that there was an "imbalance in our constitutional relationship".

"There are a number of ways that we can address that but I think now it will have to be addressed. Politicians have ducked the question for too long," he said.

Labour MP John Denham called for devolution within England.

Mr Denham told the programme: "At first you've got to have a constitutional convention in England.

"Secondly, we are going to have change in Westminster, it's clear that the more powers that go to the Scottish Parliament, the less you can have Scottish MPs voting on the same issues for England. That's got to change in one way or another.

"Thirdly, though, England is much too centralised. So this isn't just about reducing the influence of Scottish MPs in Westminster, it's about getting English decisions out of Westminster."

Shadow international development secretary Jim Murphy told the BBC there would be "much more power and more decisions made in Scotland".

Queen's role

Meanwhile, anti-monarchy campaign group Republic has called for a Parliamentary inquiry into the Queen's "underhand, deliberate and provocative" interventions into the Scottish independence referendum.

Republic's chief executive Graham Smith said: "Comments made by the Queen last weekend and widely reported in the press as pro-Union were a deliberate attempt to influence the vote.

"Earlier briefings to the press about the Queen's concern were also clearly a deliberate attempt to influence the result of the referendum."

Ahead of the referendum, the Queen said she hoped "people will think very carefully about the future" when she spoke to a well-wisher outside a church at Crathie, near her Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire.

It followed reports claiming the Queen was growing increasingly concerned about the vote.

Buckingham Palace has said any suggestion the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the campaign was "categorically wrong".

"Her Majesty is simply of the view this is a matter for the people of Scotland," the palace said in a statement.

After the polls closed, BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt tweeted: "Palace officials say the Queen has been following the independence referendum closely."

The Queen is expected to issue written statement late on Friday afternoon.

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