Purpose of the Yorkshire Parliament

The purpose of the Yorkshire Parliament would be to transform Yorkshire, the three ridings and the city of York, into the best place in the world to live, work and play.

This is a very simple statement of a vision which would require many complex processes to achieve. When we talk about what powers a Yorkshire Parliament should have; it must have the powers to achieve its purpose.

There are many definitions of the purposes of government but most of these are flawed. An example of the four main purposes might be to establish laws, maintain order and provide security, protect citizens from external threats and promote general welfare by providing public services. The problem is that a government can fulfil all of these and still perform abysmally in the eyes of its citizens.

Surely, the purpose of government is much more complex. At the very minimum, it should provide reasonable levels of security; ensure that everyone is housed in decent, affordable accommodation; that everyone can afford enough food; that everyone can afford enough energy to heat and light their homes; that everyone has access to effective, affordable healthcare; that all children have access to high quality education; that adults have access to further education and training as necessary; that everyone has access to employment; and the list goes on.

In a sense, basic services should be basic rights. These are not handouts. We, the people, actually pay the government to make these services available but all too often they simply do not deliver.

These ideas might be considered too political by some, but the current system is politically biased in that it preserves the over concentration of power in Westminster. Such a concentration of power could, and does, lead to abuses. In addition, it leads to the undermining of local government and discrimination against the English regions. It should not be considered political to provide the government basic guidance on what it should be trying to achieve especially if this is simply restating the basic rights of individuals.

It should be up to the people to decide on the priorities for the government, not some distant elites.

We would require a Yorkshire Parliament to consult the people before embarking on each legislative session, not to present them with a fait accompli designed in the halls of Westminster, but to genuinely ask them what they want from their government.

The Yorkshire Parliament would be a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

There are currently insufficient matrices to judge the performance of government. GDP is an economic measure that provides very broad information about areas but little information of variations within. The Human Development Index is not yet anywhere near complete. Further measures of performance may be required but various statistics are collected anyway so this should not be an undue burden. The people must hold the government to account on an ongoing basis and not just at election time.

The Yorkshire Parliament would fulfil a role that the Westminster Parliament currently does not. It would belong to the Yorkshire people because we would tell it what we want. We would hold it to account. Its performance would be measured against standards that we would lay down as well as those generally accepted standards that are laid down internationally. There is no need for this to be an onerous process. In fact, it might be expected to foster a closer relationship between government and those governed.

If we get it right, the Parliament should pay for itself. If we get it wrong, we would only have ourselves to blame, but let’s be clear, if we keep on the current Westminster path, Yorkshire will continue to decline. What else can we expect from a Parliament that does not even acknowledge the existence of Yorkshire.

To be fair, if the Westminster Parliament has no properly defined purpose, how can it be expected to achieve?

The Yorkshire Parliament: it will be our voice and the key to our future.

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