Parts of England are set to find out if they will get the chance to vote on whether they want their own regional assembly.

Three areas – believed to be the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber – are expected to be given the go-ahead for referendums.

Voters will be asked whether or not they want an assembly in their region and what level of local government would have to make way for the new assembly.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott will reveal details in the House of Commons.

The Government has not yet agreed on the powers the regional assemblies would hold, but it is believed they would include the ability to raise money through council tax and borrowing.

Those powers are expected to be set out later in a draft bill.

The Electoral Commission will review the local government arrangements in each region and recommend how the structures should be reorganised once the new assemblies are in place.

The Government says the first assembly could be put in place soon after the next general election.

Campaigners have been calling for regional assemblies ever since Scotland and Wales achieved devolution, but the Conservatives say there is little interest in them.
Mr Prescott, whose Hull constituency would be affected by the plans, has long wanted regional devolution.

But his oppositive number on the Conservative benches says few of those affected by the plans were interested.

David Davis said only 8,000 people – just 0.01% of the affected population – had responded to the consultation scheme on the proposals.

“The Government’s desire to plough ahead with the referendums despite such huge disinterest defies belief,” he said.

However, opinion polls suggest there is strong support for the assemblies in some regions.