Local and Central Government Powers

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Deputy Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 8th January 2013.

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Photo of Nick Clegg Nick Clegg The Deputy Prime Minister , Lord President of the Council (Privy Council Office), Leader of the Liberal Democrats 11:30 am, 8th January 2013

I certainly stand shoulder to shoulder with the hon. Gentleman on his long-standing critique of the over-centralisation of power in Westminster and Whitehall. I know that he has welcomed some of the initiatives that we have taken. They do not provide all the answers, but they are significant steps in the right direction. The retention of 50% of business rates by local authorities is probably the biggest act of fiscal decentralisation in England for several years. The city deals, in my view, are a radical template of a wholesale transfer of responsibilities, ranging from transport and capital investment to skills and training, to local authorities. The question that the hon. Gentleman’s Committee is posing is whether that can be done in a more systematic, neat and formalised way, and I am certainly open to look at any suggestions in that respect. It is the tradition in this country to do things in a slightly more informal and uneven way, but his Committee’s report will be taken very seriously by us in government.