John Shipley, Party Spokesperson for Communities and Local Government, laid out the targets in the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill that the Lib Dem Peers will be fighting for:
My Lords, I welcome the Second Reading of the Bill and I am grateful to the Minister for her kind comments earlier. I welcome the Bill not because everything in it is right but because it represents a further and very important stage in achieving greater decentralisation and fiscal devolution within England, through which growth can be increased outside London faster and local government can make more effective use of public money by joining up service delivery. There will be a number of contributions today from these Benches and I welcome that, because there is a wealth of practical experience here to draw on. Some colleagues who are not able to speak today will be speaking in Committee.
The Minister was right to say that the record of the last Government in encouraging decentralisation was impressive. It was, however, only a start. Crucially, there is now a much clearer understanding that you cannot run the whole of England from London, so I support the principle behind the Bill. It will decentralise power out of Whitehall and enable fiscal devolution. Because it is an enabling Bill, it means that one size need not fit all and that it can be voluntary for combined authorities or councils to propose schemes that are generated locally and have some local ownership.