Education policy is devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and there is already a significant divergence in policy between the home nations. There is now increasing pressure for further devolution both to the home nations and to English regions.
UCU is calling on politicians in Northern Ireland to ensure that education providers are included in consultation on further devolution of policies with an impact on skills provision (e.g. energy, broadcasting) to Northern Ireland. Decision-making bodies with a responsibility for education and skills should allow for appropriate representation from education providers, and devolved administrations should be encouraged to partner and share good practice in order to minimise unnecessary duplication and fragmentation of the sector.
What is each party proposing?
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
- Work to create a collaborative atmosphere between Westminster and public services in Northern Ireland
- Support additional powers being conferred on the devolved administrations, and continue support for devolution of corporation tax
- Support a UK-wide constitutional convention being held to determine the make-up of the constitution in light of reforms
Democratic Unionist Party
- Push for constitutional stability
- Bring forward legislation to reform the structure of government in Northern Ireland
- Agree a guaranteed minimum level of representation for Northern Ireland in the House of Commons
Social Democratic and Labour Party
- Push for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
- Establish, in partnership with the British government, a Scottish-style commission to begin the devolution of further powers including control of fiscal levers
- Continue sustained lobbying for a strong Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland
- Seek the transfer of all economic and fiscal responsibility, including tax rates, to the Executive and Assembly ensuring all tax revenues are retained in Northern Ireland
- Continue to work for full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and push for a Bill of Rights
Ulster Unionist Party
- Use devolved powers to lower corporation tax to 12.5%
The majority of Northern Irish political parties have included clear commitments to further devolution in their Westminster manifestos.
In terms of constitutional change, the SDLP and Sinn Fein both focus their manifestos on ambitions for full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and introduction of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. Alliance has called for a constitutional convention, while the DUP calls for legislative reform of the Northern Ireland government and constitutional stability.
Alliance, Sinn Fein and the SDLP all state their support for the transfer of additional powers including greater fiscal autonomy. Specifically, Alliance and the UUP refer to support for devolved control of corporation tax; this was secured in March 2015 by an act of parliament.