Caroline's speech at Lib Dem Conference 2023: Devolution is not done – we need a London Parliament

In her last Liberal Democrat conference speech before she steps down from the London Assembly, Caroline Pidgeon called for the establishment of a regional Parliament for London, along the lines of the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments.

Caroline argued that the Brexit vote to ‘take back control’ was not a vote to centralise more power in Whitehall and Westminster, but rather to bring control closer back to local communities and regions that have long felt neglected or left behind.

Caroline Pidgeon speaking at Liberal Democrat conference 2023Caroline described the London Assembly as a great scrutiny body, but as an organisation lacking in any real powers to enact meaningful change. Instead, she advocated for real power to be devolved to a regional London Parliament, citing the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments as successful models to follow and noting that all of England could follow suit with regional parliaments with responsibilities over areas such as health, housing and education.

The Liberal Democrats have long supported the devolution of power away from central government and have supported the idea of a federal UK, where the regions and nations that make up the UK would have more power as in countries like Canada and Australia.

Commenting after her speech, Caroline said:

“That kind of half-hearted approach from Labour and the Conservatives of “maybe you can have a bit more power if you ask nicely” is just not equal to the task of reforming Britain.

“The result of the Brexit referendum was a tragedy, but one message I took from it was one of frustration; a sense that politics doesn’t really respond to what people need or what they worry about.

“It is a travesty to see powers come back from Brussels but now stuck, centralised in Whitehall, rather than in communities.

“A proper Parliament for London, with real power, including over raising and spending money would serve as a powerful force to drive forward London and for Londoners to have a greater say over the future of their city and their communities.”

Caroline Pidgeon speaking at Liberal Democrat conference 2023Caroline Pidgeon speaking at Liberal Democrat conference 2023

Photos: Dinendra Haria