NCVO urges William Hague to listen to voluntary sector on devolution in England

Sir Stuart Etherington, head of the membership body, says in a letter to Hague, who will chair a government committee on the issue, that future devolution of power will be more likely to succeed with the input of voluntary organisations

William Hague
William Hague

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has written to William Hague, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, urging them to let the voluntary sector’s voice be heard in discussions about devolution in England.

Last week’s Scottish independence referendum, in which Scotland voted to remain part of the UK after being promosed by the three main political parties in Westminster of further devolution of powers, triggered wider questions on the make-up of the UK and the broader issue of the position of England within the union.

William Hague, the Leader of the House of Commons, has been asked by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to chair a committee to explore devolution in England.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, has today written to Hague asking to meet to "discuss how you might best involve views from wider civil society". He writes: "Questions of local power and accountability have become ever more pressing in recent years, and I believe a thorough review of local structures has the potential to significantly improve people’s engagement with democracy.

"Any options for the future devolution of power in England will be better informed, and more likely to succeed, if the voices of voluntary organisations and community groups are part of the committee’s deliberations."

He said that the NCVO’s 11,000 member organisations, which in turn reach more than 200,000 of England’s smallest community groups, would be keen to participate in such discussions.

Etherington has also written to Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and the government’s lead on constitutional reform, and Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, who has pledged to create his own "constitutional convention".

The referendum has also led Scottish charities to consider how to harness the civic participation and democratic energy generated by campaign.

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