LABOUR CONFERENCE: Benn promise to devolve power to counties and parishes in post referendum settlement

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hilary Benn

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hilary Benn - Credit: PA

Labour will devolve power to cities and counties, parishes and neighbourhoods, in a bid to answer England's questions about a post-referendum settlement, Hilary Benn has told the party's conference.

The shadow communities secretary made no reference to English votes for English laws in the Commons, the constitutional dilemma which has dominated much of the first day of the Manchester gathering.

Mr Benn said as well as honouring the promises made to Scotland, Labour would 'offer a new deal to England too'.

He said: 'I want cities and counties, towns and districts, parishes and neighbourhoods to make more decisions for themselves and to have more control over the money they raise and contribute.

'But I want that to be fair, because what we have now certainly isn't.'


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He added: 'Conference, change is coming. Change that devolves power but which also binds our country together.

'Every part of our United Kingdom - side by side, shoulder to shoulder. England and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.'

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Mr Benn condemned Conservative cuts to local government budgets, insisting poorer places had been hit 16 times harder than wealthy ones.

He said the Conservatives had 'rotten values' and insisted Labour would address the 'unfairness'.

Mr Benn said: 'We will make sure devolution goes hand in hand with redistribution from each according to their ability to contribute, to each according to their need.'

Earlier, in a debate on housing and local government, Jim McMahon, the leader of the Local Government Association Labour group, said the 'centralist experiment' had failed.

He also warned of a 'disconnect' between normal people and Westminster, which he stressed had to be addressed to prevent the advance of 'cynical' parties like Ukip.

Mr McMahon said: 'Now is not the time for the status quo. Labour, we are at our best when we are bold. We are also at our weakest when we are timid.'

Unite member Steve Turner won applause by telling delegates: 'Be brave - we need to end the right to buy.'

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