In the 2001 Manifesto the Government made a commitment that provision should be made for directly elected regional government to go ahead in regions where people decided in a referendum to support it and where predominantly unitary local government is established.
The Government's proposals for establishing elected assemblies in those English regions that want them, and for improving existing arrangements in all regions, were set out in "Your Region, Your Choice: Revitalising the English Regions (CMS511)" which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published in May 2002.
The Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003 provides for referendums and associated local government reviews. My right Hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced in June 2003, following a soundings exercise, that the north-east, north-west, and Yorkshire and the Humber regions would be the first regions to progress towards a referendum for an elected assembly. Local Government reviews are under way in those regions. When the Boundary Committee have presented their recommendations orders in Parliament for referendums will be laid.
If there is a "yes" vote, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will need to introduce further legislation to provide for assemblies to be established. The first assemblies could be up and running early in the next Parliament.