David Cameron Calls for More Local Powers Across U.K.

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from The Wall Street Journal,

U.K. Prime Minister Says Scotland and Rest of U.K. Should Have Greater Independence.

Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday pledged to honor his commitment to give more powers to Scotland after voters chose to stay in the U.K., but in a surprise move, the British leader also endorsed greater autonomy for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr. Cameron’s proposal suggests that the pledges he and other pro-union parties made to grant Scotland powers over tax, spending, and welfare could trigger major changes in the way the whole country is governed.

“Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs,” he said outside his official residence, 10 Downing Street.

“The rights of these voters need to be respected, preserved, and enhanced,” he said.

Mr. Cameron gave no details, but such a move would be a substantial change for the U.K., where most power has been centralized in London.

Northern Ireland and Wales already have regional parliaments with some autonomy, including over health and education, giving England more to gain from such a proposal.

There has been a long-running debate about whether lawmakers in London representing constituencies outside England should have a say on some affairs that only affect England, while those in England have no say on similar matters that affect Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Former Foreign Secretary William Hague had been tasked with drawing up plans and a cabinet committee was to be set up immediately, Mr. Cameron said, adding that he hoped other political parties would contribute.

Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, also welcomed the Scottish vote and said he supported further devolution.

“We will deliver on stronger powers for a stronger Scottish parliament,” he said at an event in Glasgow. “And we will also meet the desire for change across England, across Wales, across the whole of the United Kingdom.”

Mr. Cameron, Mr. Miliband and the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg promised Scotland the new powers as recent polls showed Scots might vote in favor of independence and end the 307-year union.

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