Your Region, Your Choice: summary - North West
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by the Prime Minister, the Right Hon Tony Blair MP
This White Paper is a great opportunity for the English regions.
It delivers on our Manifesto commitment to provide for directly elected regional assemblies in those regions that want them.
It gives people living in the English regions the chance to have a greater say over the key issues that affect them as well as the power to devise tailored regional solutions to regional problems.
And it builds on the success of devolution elsewhere in the UK - offering people more accountable, more streamlined, and more joined-up government.
This White Paper is about choice. No region will be forced to have an elected assembly. But where there is public support for one, we believe people should be given the chance to demonstrate this in a referendum. So far, three regions have shown strong support for such a referendum - the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.
We have done a lot to decentralise decision-making to the English regions. Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) have been established to help strengthen the building blocks for economic growth in all regions, with a network of regional chambers to scrutinise them. We are also giving extra resources and greater freedom and flexibility to the RDAs, and - as we promised in our Manifesto - we will further strengthen the regional chambers and the Government Offices in all regions.
For some regions this may be enough. But other regions may want to go further than this and grasp the opportunities offered by an elected regional assembly.
These proposals will not mean creating more bureaucracy. In regions where people vote to have an elected regional assembly, we will move to wholly unitary local government to ensure that government remains streamlined.
Devolution has strengthened Britain because it has allowed the different parts of the UK to give expression to their diversity whilst celebrating the values that bind us together as a nation. We believe that devolution can offer the same benefits to the English regions.
But in the end, it is down to the people in each region to decide. It is your region and your choice.