A Parliament for England

This paper calls for an English Parliament, but in a novel form. Unlike proposals which involve a new layer of representatives, a fresh set of elections, and a new building to house it, the ASI proposal uses existing institutions. Under the ASI plan, following the next general election the MPs representing English constituencies should meet in the Palace of Westminster as the Parliament of England, having equivalent powers over health, education, policing and transport as the Scottish Parliament presently has.

They would elect a First Minister, as the Scots do, who would then put together a cabinet which would govern England in the designated areas of responsibility. The UK Parliament would remain responsible UK-wide matters and would control the various departments in charge of them: security and immigration, foreign affairs, international development, defence, employment and social security, energy, constitutional affairs, and tax and the economy.

A YouGov poll found that those in favour of this proposal outnumbered those against by a margin of two to one.

 

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Stemming the growth of UK regulatory agencies

The ASI's regulation supremos, Keith Boyfield and Tim Ambler, have published a new briefing paper as part of our Regulatory Monitor project, entitled Stemming the growth of UK regulatory agencies.

The ultimate objective is to merge all the existing regulatory agencies into a single Fair Trade Authority, which would be formally responsible to parliament and which would intervene only to ensure free, competitive markets. A great deal of the regulation aimed at protecting the consumer could be left to the courts, while the greater use of market mechanisms, such as mandatory insurance, would serve to improve standards.

 

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Independent Scotland: The Road to Riches

If an independent Scotland chose to follow the Republic of Ireland's low-tax route, as SNP leader Alex Salmond has indicated it would, Scotland's growth rate might be expected, over a five-year period, to move closer to Ireland's trend growth rate of 7 percent. Given a further five years of Scottish growth at that trend level, and before diminishing returns set in, Scotland's growth over the ten-year period would put its index 71.5 higher, more than a two-thirds increase in GDP.

By contrast, says Stein, the rest of the UK would be expected to have grown rather less, by just over a quarter. The result would be dramatic for Scotland. Measured in household income per head, Scotland, which started £1,700 behind the rest of the UK, could be expected to be £6,000 ahead of it at the end of that period.

 

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Transforming Higher Education

Dr Terence Kealey highlights the reasons why American universities are superior to ours, and other economically advantaged nations'. He states that the aim of all universities must be to move away from state dependence to independence, with there being an urgent need for their endowments to be restored to assist in this move.

The best universities in the world are independent, but in the UK we've made the mistake of allowing governments to fund - and therefore control - the universities directly. The Higher Education Funding Councils should be abolished, and the universities should be freed of state control. The HEFCs' funds should be transfered to needs blind funding agencies to allow students, regardless of background, to access higher education on the grounds solely of merit.

 

[gview file="http://www.adamsmith.org/wp-content/uploads/Education_Kealey_Briefing.pdf"]

Working Welfare

Inspired by the successful US welfare reforms of the 1990s, the proposals in Working Welfare would make work central to the benefits system. All working age people not meeting national disability criteria would face "immediate work requirements". This requirement would be backed with tough sanctions – "no work, no benefits" – and any absence from mandated work without good cause would trigger a pro rata reduction in benefit payments. The ASI proposals would also revolutionize the delivery of welfare. Responsibility for its provision and administration would be devolved to local agencies, which would be paid according to results. Agencies would be rewarded for getting people into work for a set period of time, ensuring an ongoing and personalised service for jobseekers. The report also advocates raising the personal income tax allowance to £12,000, to tackle high effective marginal tax rates for those trying to enter the workforce, and to make life easier for those with low incomes.

 

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Open Access for UK Schools

Open Access for UK Schools: What Britain can learn from Swedish Education Reform argues for a radical overhaul of the UK school system.

Inspired by Sweden's experience, the report calls for the UK to implement a universal open access scheme, which would allow parents to send their children to any school of their choice – whether state, private or religious – and make these schools eligible for government funding on a per–pupil basis. Two conditions must be met: the schools must not charge additional fees, and must accept pupils on a first-come-first-served basis.

 

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Land Economy

Land Economy proposes the most radical change in land use in decades, putting the case for redeveloping agricultural land into a combination of woodland, housing and infrastructure.

By converting just 3 percent of the farms in England and Wales over a ten year period, covering 90 percent of the land with trees and the other 10 percent with houses, we would create 950,000 new homes and almost 130,000 hectares of new woodland.

 

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Alternative EU Constitution

John Hopkins won the Institute's £1000 prize for the best draft EU Constitution under 3000 words in length. The contest was inspired by widespread and growing concern that both the original rejected constitution and the new draft treaty are far too long and complex to be comprehensible to the citizens of EU member states. The new draft Treaty (English version) is 67,000 words long. The US Constitution, by contrast, is just 7,700 words long.

 

The Right to Choose: Yes, Prime Minister!

Sweden has been operating a choice-based school funding system since the early 1990s, with great success.

To promote this right to choose in the UK, three proposals are recommended: (1) parents should be entitled to remove their children from failing schools and choose any other school instead; (2) public finance would be available to all schools on the basis of the number of students they could attract; and (3) a non-refundable tax credit to provide parents with a pound-for-pound reductions in their income tax liability (up to an agreed limit) for each child they have in non-state education.

 

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EUtopia

Britain must get off the back foot in EU negotiations and positively advance its own vision of what the EU should be like. While other countries vigorously promote federalism, Britain is reduced to being a permanent critic - the Grumpy Old Man of Europe. Instead Britain should be linking with other countries to advance its vision of a common market, open trade, cost-consciousness, better decision-making, and deregulation. These goals would be as good for the whole of Europe as they would be for Britain. Instead of a fruitless debate about pulling out of the EU, we should be striving to end protectionism and make it a paragon of open markets, free trade, and efficient administration.

 

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