Gordon Brown adopts Regional Ministers plan – advocated by NLGN – for constitutional reform
29 June, 2007

NLGN has welcomed the creation of new Ministerial portfolios for each of England’s regions, calling them “a major advance for both leadership and accountability”.

Welcoming the creation of new Ministerial portfolios for each of England’s regions, NLGN Director Chris Leslie said:

“Gordon Brown’s new constitutional agenda must strengthen the ability for England’s regions to be heard at the highest levels in Government, and the appointment of Regional Ministers is a major advance for both leadership and accountability. Our Redesigning Regionalism pamphlet published a few months ago recommended this change, following a fundamental rethink of regional decision-making following the ‘no’ vote in the north east referendum on an elected regional assembly in 2004.

If England’s regions are to enjoy greater prosperity and economic growth in the years to come, local authorities and national leaders must come together to fight for the major investment and infrastructure needed in every city and community in the country. We believe that the next steps must include a stronger voice for local government in directing regional decision-making, and a role for Parliament in scrutinising the work of regional agencies and regional Ministers.”

The eight regional Ministers were announced as part of Gordon Brown’s Government reshuffle.

The think tank also said that it was encouraged by reports that the appointment of regional Ministers is a prelude to the proposed changes in.

Many of these ideas were originally proposed in NLGN’s 2007 report, Redesigning Regionalism: Leadership and Accountability in England’s Regions written by Chris Leslie and Owen Dallison. The report builds upon a 2006 NLGN pamphlet by Ed Balls MP, John Healey MP and Chris Leslie.

Redesigning Regionalism argued that:

“the appointment of a series of Ministerial portfolio holders to represent and act for Government as policy leaders in each of the English regions might provide a greater degree of focus for regional policy, encourage a more integrated regional approach across Whitehall, and offer superior opportunities for scrutiny and cross-examination of regional decisions in Parliament.

The argument in favour of such regional portfolios is strong if one is seeking to raise the profile and leadership of those functions currently undertaken (but often buried) within the myriad of different departmental silos.

We believe that the presumption should first be that such regional decisions are devolved to regional leaders, rather than retained nationally but in the personage of a Ministerial portfolio holder. Devolving functions, rather than managing centralism in another form, has to be the route of first choice”.