VOTERS will be asked to decide if they want an elected North West assembly without knowing if it will control transport, the Government has admitted.
And they will not be told if the assembly will enjoy powers over training and skills before the referendum on November 4 which is backed by a multi-million pound "Your Say" campaign..
The two crunch policy responsibilities - the key demands of pro-assembly campaigners - will be left out of the draft Bill, pencilled in for publication on July 22.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is expected to make a statement on the same day as publication on "where we are with additional powers", a spokeswoman said.
But they cannot be promised in the draft Bill itself because Cabinet ministers have yet to decide the extent of powers to be given up by Whitehall departments.
Those disagreements will heighten one of the main arguments of the anti- devolutionists - namely that people are being asked to "vote blind".
The gaps in the draft Bill were revealed by Nick Raynsford, the Local Government Minister.
He said: "Discussions are continuing with other government departments, notably in relation to training and skills and transport issues.
"John Prescott will want to make a statement on them at the time of the draft Bill. They will not be included in the draft Bill but discussions are continuing.
"We have concentrated on powers that enable assemblies to make an improvement to the economic performance of the region."
Mr Raynsford said the Bill would contain beefed-up powers over the fire service and planning, as well as a requirement to involve business, the voluntary sector and faith groups.
A spokeswoman for the office of the Deputy Prime Minister said more powers could be still be pledged in a future Bill but that would not be published before the referendum.
Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Riverside, said it was vital the assembly was able to make decisions about railway grants and timetables, as well as local road schemes.
However, she insisted sufficient powers had already been promised in a White Paper two years ago.
The Bill will only be published on July 22 if opposition parties in the House of Lords agree to pass orders that dictate the referendum will be by an all-postal ballot.