Clegg to discuss greater powers for Duchy with Cornish MPs
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has agreed to meet a delegation from Cornwall to "explore" the prospect of powers being devolved to the Duchy.
Mr Clegg, who is charged with driving the Government's constitutional reform agenda, made the pledge after being pressed about making "better and more efficient decisions" in Cornwall in a Commons debate.
Calls for greater Cornish self-rule were first made more than a decade ago, with proponents contending its heritage, history and size justifies greater independence.
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Many caution against a full-blown Cornish Assembly akin to devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In Deputy Prime Minister's Questions, Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, said: "Cornwall is a distinct region in the UK, with its own unique language and history.
"It has modest ambitions for devolution, not to cut itself off, but to cut itself in to the celebration of diversity.
"Would the Deputy Prime Minister meet a delegation from Cornwall so we can explore how Cornwall can help the Government make better and more efficient decisions in Cornwall."
In response, the Lib Dem leader said: "I'd be more than happy to meet a delegation that he suggests.
"This Government is pursuing a radical agenda of devolution, not just to the devolved administrations within the United Kingdom, but also to the regions and communities within England as well."
The coalition Government is a keen advocate of "localism", which means stripping Whitehall departments of power and handing it to local authorities.
It is considering letting local authorities keep business rates, rather than have them handed back to central Government. Coalitions of business leaders and local politicians – under the title Local Enterprise Partnerships – have been tasked with setting the economic agenda in English regions.
Many saw the advent of Cornwall Council in 2009, a unitary authority that brought about the demise of six districts and the county council, as a forerunner for a Cornish Assembly.
After the Commons session, Mr George said the delegation could include the Duchy's six MPs and the Cornish Constitutional Convention, a cross-party association formed to campaign for a Cornish Assembly. Powers given to Cornwall could include planning, housing and health, he said.