The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Tue 30 May 2006

National and international news

Not Little England is musing over the necessity of an English parliament. I'm not convinced that England is the best location for power, it's too far removed from the communities it hopes to serve. Far better that there is a federal power structure, perhaps divided into Kernow, Wessex, East and West Mercia, London, a Kent-Surrey-Sussex amalgamation that we might call Southern, Anglia, Yorkshire, Northumbria, Lancashire (perhaps to include Cumberland and Westmorland).

Hmm. As a starting point, the 1968 ITV franchise map is better than nowt. OK, Anglia needs to expand to include the entire Norfolk coast, the bottom bit of Central could be split between London and Wessex, and Yorkshire might lose its bottom bit to East Mercia, but you get the general idea.

I see these Federal Regions as being the prime decision-making body in their regions. Only those matters that must be handled centrally - national taxation, defence, that sort of thing - should be decided in the UK parliament. The preference must be towards devolution downwards.

For cities, I think that the unitary authority approach promulgated by the Major government proved to be correct - I certainly wouldn't impose a second authority on urban areas now. Rural areas do have particular needs, and there's a balance to be struck between the economies of scale that a county council provides, and the local responsiveness of the district council.

What I would encourage is the growth of parish councils, and their creation (perhaps as ward-level councils) in the cities - it is an extra level of governance, but one that has to be in tune with the local needs. Parish to (city or district or shire) to region to nation to continent; that bottom-up approach is how to build the country.

And in news from Europe...

We protect you is the message from Luxembourg to-day. The European Court of Justice has ruled that airlines do not have to comply with the FARCE's demands for personal information. Why not? the data would not be adequately protected. Passenger data is stored for 3½ years, far longer than any visitor visa, and is "only rarely" shared with other countries. This is not enough to satisfy the EU, which insists on the highest standards of data protection in the world. More.

Speaking of which, I'm surprised (and pleased) to learn that last.fm is a UK / German product, and not yet another export of personal data to a country that doesn't know what to do with it.

posted 30 May 2006, 19.13 +0100

Politics

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