Benefits to business of devolution- (01.02.02)

The CBI were reported this week to be "deeply sceptical" about devolution, in particular the plans for elected regional assemblies in the UK. They fear that the assemblies will follow the Scottish and Welsh models of political rhetoric and bureaucracy rather than achieveing anything useful for business. The director general, Digby Jones would rather the government concentrated on speeding up planning processes, infrastructure and skills issues and simplifying the regional decision making process.

The CBI are right in many ways, the current devolution model does little other than create a talking shop that has a minor effect on social issues. An alternative though would be to allow the regional assemblies to have control over their own industrial policy. This would then allow development decisions to be democratically controlled by the local people they affect rather than through unelected bodies appointed centrally as at the moment. To do this however would first require the government to have a stated and clear national industrial policy, something it seems unwilling to do. Certainly the Treasury seems as keen to prevent regional assemblies from having an influence over this area as it has prevented the Department of Trade & Industry from developing national policies in this area.