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Lib Dems offer power to Cornwall

Cornwall would enjoy greater legislative power as part of a devolution law under the Liberal Democrats, party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has outlined today.

Embarking on a tour of Cornwall - a key Lib Dem battleground at the forthcoming general election - Mr Clegg said a new Cornish assembly would allow the county to have a choice on legislation for issues such as health spending and property ownership.

The announcement is expected to chime with some supporters of the Mebyon Kernow party, whose appeal has blossomed in recent years under the pledge of greater power and decision-making for the people of Cornwall.

In an editorial with regional Lib Dem colleagues today, Mr Clegg said: "In the next parliament, Lib Dems would deliver a new law - a Devolution Enabling Act - which will enable Cornwall to take legislative power into a Cornish Assembly, much like that in Wales.

"It could mean more power for representatives in Cornwall to improve areas such as housing, health care, education and public transport. Cornwall could choose to have different rules to England on a whole range of policy areas like academy schools, health service spending, right to buy, second home ownership and bus services."

The Lib Dems have traditionally enjoyed political success in Cornwall - the county was all-gold until they saw their hold halved at the last election when the Conservatives won three of the county's six parliamentary seats.

Announcing the pledge today on St Piran's Day - a day of celebration in Cornwall marking the patron saint of tin miners - Mr Clegg, a frequent visitor to the far south west, said: "When the Cornish Assembly is born, it would be up to those who are elected to shape Cornwall's destiny.

"But we want to give a few examples of what we think it might achieve. Cornwall could alter right to buy, keeping back vital homes for 29,000 people waiting on the local housing list. We could change planning law and council tax so buying up second homes in Cornwall comes with a greater price.

"And Cornwall could blaze a trail, integrating local NHS services and funding with the social care which people rely on all year round - that alone could save millions of pounds and improve thousands of lives."

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