Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Is one bovvered?

If you want or need to know how much has changed in British politics during the last 10 years then take a look at today's statement by Gordon Brown.

Not only does this break new ground in previewing new laws that are likely to be included in the Queen's Speech this autumn, the priorities he chose demonstrate how power has been devolved under Labour.

So MPs had to listen to a Scottish MP revealing plans for health, education and housing - in England. Scottish schoolchildren, unlike their English counterparts, won't be forced to stay in education or training until the age of 18.

As David Cameron pointed out, none of Mr Brown's constituents will be affected by much of what he said today. The anomaly of a Scottish MP dictating the shape of public services in England while having little say over health and education in his own constituency becomes more stark by the week.

For Wales, see Scotland. Welsh Secretary Peter Hain claimed the statement was "of huge significance" to Wales.

But its significance is unlikely to be felt immediately by parents, students, patients or first-time buyers. Instead, as each law is passed at Westminster so more power in similar areas is likely to be transferred to Cardiff Bay.

The Queen has yet to reveal her views on Mr Brown's decision to trail her speech months before she is due to deliver it at the state opening of Parliament this autumn.

But if Her Majesty was tuned in to BBC Parliament to watch his statement she could be forgiven for deciding there's little point in her turning up to re-announce the programme in November.

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