David Aaronovitch presents the combative, provocative and engaging debate.
It's been clear since the vote on Scottish independence that far from ending the question on devolution it was the start of a much bigger debate on how the country is run. Plans for more Scottish tax raising powers have this week been matched by demands from more than 100 English councils for more powers to be devolved from Westminster. And we're not just talking about how often the bins are emptied, or grass on the verges cut. A recent report said that Greater Manchester, the UK's second largest metro area, should not only be able to decide its own independent planning policies, but should also be able to raise taxes and set immigration levels. There's even been talk this week of responsibility for the criminal justice system being devolved to local control in London and Manchester. This isn't just an argument about who pulls the political levers. At its heart is profoundly moral question that has exercised philosophers for centuries. How do we create a civic society in which people can flourish? Is there such a thing as too much democracy? The first big experiment in this area was the creation of elected police commissioners, which, with an average turnout of 15%, can only be described as being greeted by resounding apathy. Is devolving power a moral imperative that enables more people to be involved in making moral choices about the good society and how to create it? Or will increasing devolution fracture our nation of the common good? Do national institutions like the NHS bring more than just economic efficiencies? Are they a way of binding us in to a set of values beyond self-interest? By devolving power over fundamental core services are we just creating a system where people can not only express their local preferences, but their local prejudices?
Panellists: Jill Kirby, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser
Witnesses: Andrew Harrop, Ed Cox, Tim Stanley, Peter Hitchens
Producer: Phil Pegum.