Letter: A basis for regional government in Britain

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'Taking stock in Scotland' (10 March) maintains that the '(German) Lander were once states themselves'. This completely ignores the post-war Allied reorganisation of the German state, which resulted in several new Lander, notably the Rhineland-Palatinate (under French occupation) and North Rhine-Westphalia (under British occupation) which now has a population of more than 17 million.

In addition there are the city states of Berlin (London please note), Bremen and Hamburg.

Nonetheless, it is true to say that England, with the possible exception of the Duchy of Cornwall, has had a much more unitary structure than Germany. However, this does not mean that there is no regional feeling or administration within England.

Not only do the large departments of state have their 'regional offices', but the eight standard economic regions, particularly in the north and partly under Scottish influence, are increasingly taking on a life of their own. The Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Association has been well established for several years, and it was joined last year by the North West Regional Association and the North of England Assembly of Local Authorities.

You pour cold water on 'inserting a new regional tier in British governance', but does not the creation of the EC Committee of the Regions imply, if not governance, at least something along the lines of the administrative rationalisation that Mr Lang has proposed for Scotland?

Some such thing is hinted at in the report in last Sunday's Independent saying that Mr Waldegrave is 'examining plans to combine all the regional offices operated by Whitehall departments and the Central Office of Information (in England), to create a network of government 'one- stop shops'.'

It seems highly likely that in time such 'administrative regionalism' would take on a more political hue, as citizens demanded, in the spirit of subsidiarity, that such administration should be accountable to those it served.

Yours faithfully,

SIMON PARTRIDGE

Co-ordinator

European Regionalist Network

London, N2

10 March

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