Devolution dissected

Tom Brown's "Answering the English question" (18 December) is yet another illustration of the mess into which our half-devolved, half-reformed constitution has fallen.

Time, perhaps, for vision and some radical proposals. The maximum possible range of responsibilities should be devolved to assemblies for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. The latter assembly should meet anywhere but London - Birmingham or Manchester being the obvious candidates. Those matters not suitable for devolution would remain with a slimmed-down UK parliament. Defence, foreign affairs (including relations with Europe), some taxation and social security matters are obvious candidates, but the presumption should be for devolving unless impossible. Assemblies and their executives should have some tax-raising powers of their own; no representation without taxation is as important a principle as its converse. If, for some purposes, the entity England-and-Wales still had a function, then either both assemblies could be involved in decision-making or joint sessions could be held.

The biggest potential upheaval would be for the Civil Service, which is probably why nothing on these lines will happen.

Ann Franklin
Milton Keynes