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It shouldn't be 'Scots cannot be Prime Minister' but 'MPs in Scotland' cannot be. We have Scottish MPs, such as Liam Fox who are MPs for English constituencies.

Alan Duncan is also wrong to say the Conservatives have a majority in England BUT we did win most English votes at the last General Election.

Do we really have to come out with this nonsense? It gains us no support from anyone, but i costing us voters in Scotland.

It would make more sense if the Conservatives supported a standardisation of the British Legal and Education systems. Instead of attacking the sympotoms we would actually tackle the promblem. Then there scottish parliament could be left to deal with less important matters. I think that would strike a better cord with the public, especially in Scotland.

That's certainly not the kind of tone you expect from a unionist.

Yes, we need to sort out the devolution imbalance, but can we do it calmly, without whipping up tension in a xenophobic way?

And please, Oliver Heald, stop this false argument about extra tiers and costs of an English Parliament. Simply make the HoC = English Parliament and let MP's stay closer to home. No new layers, no new buildings, no extra costs, just savings and MP's spendingmore time with their constituents.

It's time for London to let go off a little bit of power and devolve power starting with a parliament for each country, rather than a centralised London power base seeking to control too much. I thought B2L was committed to decentralisation?

The possible Scots Prime Minister, would need to be re-elected by his Scottish constituency. Campaigning in Dunfermaline did not do him much good!!

It's not that new anyway-the Scottish Office was able to pursue policies at odds with the rest of the UK.

When Malcolm Rifkind was Secretary for Transport, he had the right to deal with the Newbury by-pass but the Edinburgh by-pass was not within his remit.

When Michael Forsyth was Minister of State at the Home Office, he could deal with policing in London but not in Stirling.

The Conservatives also relied upon Ulster Unionists for a majority in 1996-7 and 1952.

This is making us seem still more anti-Scottish and any change will just vandalise the constitution.

This is just the sort of sloppy language & thinking I was concerned about yesterday. There is a difference between the PM of the United Kingdom and the Scots/Welsh/N Irish (or even English) leader of a national assembly/parliament.

English votes on English Matters is about symetrical devolution. It is saying that in practice that for matters that affect only parts of the UK (as Wales does not yet have equivalent devolved powers to Scotland & N Ireland has no devolution) then the MPs elected for constituencies representing those areas should form the decision making body (interesting implications for N Ireland...)

Do not turn a convulted constitutional issue into whether Gordon Brown can or cannot be UK PM. He can as long as there is a UK. Welsh, N Irish, English or Scots are all able to be PM. In the days when Britishness extended across the Empire we had a Canadian PM, Jan Smuts was seriously considered as the replacement PM if Churchill had died during the War.

Francis Maude asked for lessons learned - we should have learned by now that spokesmen should be properly briefed and if on front bench measured and careful with what they say.

Alan Duncan author of that wonderful book, 'Saturn's Children,' an excellent read, (hardback version) which he now spends all his time denying he ever wrote.

Is this man to be taken seriously! Saw his interview yesterday, his comment on the B&C byelection, 'I would rather lose a byelection, than win one like the Liberal Democrats,' You show me a good loser, I'll show you a loser.

The West Lothian question is in danger of becoming the Conservatives' Europe.

Headlines like, "Almost impossible to have a Scottish PM" do not do anything to assist our democracy.
A Scottish PM is not a problem. It is the right of any nationality in the UK to attain the highest position in politics.
The problem comes when an MP with a Scottish (or Welsh or NI) constituency want to be ruler of England, now that they have their own Parliament or NATIONAL Assembly.

Democracy does not exist where there is no democratic accountability. Gordon Brown was elected to a Scottish constituency and therefore is not democratically accountable to me or anyone else in England, for the majority of his decisions, which will affect only England.

Britain is not a democracy. Stop lying to yourselves and to the people of England. We know what you are all up to and we won't let you get away with it forever. Patience is running out and anger is growing by the day.

Grow up, take a long look in the mirror and see what the rest of us see - Treacherous back stabbers, who think they can prevent us having our own Parliament by using stupid stunts like this one, which is totally unworkable

Ted @ 10.03 is absolutely correct: "This is just the sort of sloppy language & thinking I was concerned about yesterday. There is a difference between the PM of the United Kingdom and the Scots/Welsh/N Irish (or even English) leader of a national assembly/parliament".
As in many things, this mess stems from Blair not thinking things through. Nulab has altered or destroyed something (the Union), as he has tried to do with the HoL and the post of Lord Chancellor without working out the consequences.
What we have now is a demonstrable unfairness in the system; English, Welsh and Irish MPs no longer have a part to play in Scottish affairs, so why should MPs (not only Scottish) who represent Scottish constituencies have any part to play in purely English affairs?
This is in no way racist but a restatement of the West Lothian question originally put by that well known Labour Etonian, Tam Dalyell.
We would all prefer, I suspect, that Blair had not started the fragmentation of the Union in the first place but he did.
What we do not want, above all, is the bureaucratic Nulab solution of extra tiers of government. English days for English matters in the HoC (from which MPs of Scottish constituencies would be excluded) seems worthy of closer consideration.

Glad to see the general consensus is that Alan Duncan is wrong.Tory MPs have to be extremely careful.We have a good good case but we have to argue it with skill.Shooting your mouth off as Duncan has done in order to get a cheap headline is not the way to go about it and will only generate distrust amongst the electorate.

I think the West Lothian question needs an answer now that Scottish devolution is here. The current arrangement is just not politically sustainable and will IMO become an political issue if Brown succceeds Blair as PM. Excluding Scottish MPs from voting at Westminster on purely English matters is a sensible way forward.

Another possibility is to create an English Assembly to which purely English matters are devolved. This body should sit within the HoC and English MPs will automatically receive a dual mandate for both HoC and the new Assembly. That way purely English matters could be 'devolved' to the English Assembly without the costs of more politicans and new premises.

the Tories need to get away from talking about it being unacceptable for a Scot to be PM. The key issue is whether an MP representing a Scottish seat can become PM. There are several Scottish Tories who represent English constituencies and they could obviously become PM without constitutional difficulty. A pedantic point but one that needs to be stressed if the Tories are not to appear anti-Scottish in general.

Alan Duncan obviuosly meant a Scottish MP and, in that, he is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

How can an Scot MP be PM when the people that elected him (or her) will not be affected by 90% of his policies and actions. This would be unrepresentative government and thus wholly undemocratic. The Conservatives should make a huge issue out of the West Lothian question - its a sure fire vote winner!!!

We need to propose solutions to the West Lothian question, rather than come out with this nonsense.

Imbalanced devolution or not, a prime minister is prime minister of the whole UK.

There are plenty of reasons why Gordon Brown shouldn't be PM, but representing a Scottish constituency isn't one of them.

I am furious about the tone coming from English MPs. Alan Duncan should apologise.

How does he think this kind of intervention affects Tories in Scotland? Things are dire up here. We are almost completely marginalised, and the media and opposition take every half-chance to paint us as anti-Scottish. On this occasion, we've given them an open goal.

I question whether the shadow cabinet really understands Scottish politics. If David Cameron wants to lead a party of One Nation, then he *must* give Scotland some focus, just like he's doing with the North of England. He needs to:

- Sort out the Party's organisation in Scotland, which is weak;

- Embolden the Party's Scottish leadership;

- Encourage the Scottish Party to develop an imaginative, bespoke policy platform for Scotland (and the Scottish Party needs to follow this up); and

- Clamp down hard on the "forget Scotland" mentality that afflicts some of the lazier thinkers in the English party.

Morale in the Scottish Party is low again, after a brief spike after the March conference in Perth. We took the mother of all beatings in 1997, and some people are still terrified of getting hit. And we have little chance of getting long-term traction when people like Alan Duncan comes out with stuff like this. We're taking a hammering for it.

Yes, the devolution settlement is unfair. That's what happens when you put people with no sense of nation in charge of constitutional reform. But it's done now. We have to be the bigger people, and an English nationalist response to a Scottish nationalist provocation will just weaken the Union further.

The SNP is delighted with the headlines this has created. The divisions Labour has created, and we are fuelling with contributions like Alan Duncan's, play right into the separatists' hands. Do we want more Tory MPs in Scotland? Do we want more MSPs? Well, to do that we need to pick up votes from people with a right-of-centre worldview, but vote SNP because they don't want to be seen as anti-Scottish. Believe me, it's a significant constituency. We are the SNP's main challenger in many parts of Scotland, and vice versa. Perhaps the Party in London might want to explain to candidates in places like Perthshire, Angus, Galloway and Moray why they have just taken them down at the knees.

We have to embrace devolution, and create a working settlement for the entire UK, that strengthens the union and addresses the grievances of the constituent parts. That will be hard, but we will need to carry the entire country with us, which will be impossible when we keep letting the Scottish establishment paint us as anti-Scottish.

Scottish politics is different from the rest of the UK. And we need our English colleagues to understand that, and be sensitive to it, rather than sweep in with careless language and leave a battered Scottish Party so pick up the pieces. Again.

David Cameron needs to take charge of the situation up here, or he'll not get the Scottish MPs he needs to enter Downing Street, or govern with legitimacy once he's there.

Excluding Scottish MPs from voting at Westminster on purely English matters is a sensible way forward.

It would also put Prime Minister Brown in a strange position of not being able to support his own government's legislation.

The devolution argument can be used to damage Brown, but we need to use it carefully.

It occurs to me that there's a case for the V (votes) in EVOEL, but also a case for the entire House to be able to speak on "English Matters". If there's anything at all to be gained from Devolution (and semi-cousin, Localism) it must surely be the opportunity to experiment and report back on successes and failures. This is an under-reported benefit of the Federal system in the US.

We need to move the debate on, and not confuse Union with uniformity - as our chums in Bruxelles tend to.

Total rubbish. Alan Duncan shit-stirring again.

Language, William!

I was originally attracted to the concept of EVFEL as a messy compromise to the West Lothian problem.

However, over the last few days I have been heavily influenced by some fairly powerful arguments against these proposals.

The continuation of a UK Parliament is based on the continuation of the Union. If we accept the validity of the Union, we must surely accept equality for all Members regardless of their constituency.

However, with EVFEL we are saying that a Prime Minister, democratically elected, and invited by the Monarch to form a government, would then be barred from voting on the legislation set out in the Queen's Speech because of his constituency?

In choosing a Prime Minister the Monarch appoints the person most likely to command a majority in the House. What if the leader of the Labour Party was a Scot and could therefore not command a majority (on English legislation), even though the Labour Party had won they election?

Such a constitutional mess could damage the Monarchy and produce a "democratic deficit" greater that the West Lothian Question.

In reality, despite the emotional attachment of so many, it is time to accept that the Union no longer exists except in the hearts of romantic traditionalists.

Fiddling around with EVFEL is like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. Instead, the Conservative Party could show true courage and leadership by addressing the real problems and leading the debate on a new constitutional post Union settlement.

So the UK is a unitary body when the sheer weight of numbers means that England tells the rest of the UK what to do, from immigration to taxation and the economy to the declaration of war - but as soon as England does not have total control (50 odd MP's out of nearly 600) then Scots can no longer be PM?

I am a Scottish Unionist because I believe in the values of Britain. This isn't the values of Britain.

Again, can I remind you that EVERY poll taken in Scotland shows the Scots think that only English MP's should vote on English matters. It seems though that even when the Scottish people are supportive, that it is not enough to stop the "race card" being played.

Tartan Tory has hit the nail right on the head. We need Scottish support, we need to be seen as a credible alternative Governemnt who can and will represent voters accross the nation.

English tories need to stop this 'stuff' Scotland attitue, and remember that many times it has been the Scottish Conservatives that kept them in Government, and they will be unlikely to form the next governmenty without a few more Scottish MP's.

Scotland should be a far greater importance to the Conservaties than the North of England, because there are seats all over the Country that are traditional tory heartland, yet in many of them we are pushed into 3rd or 4th place. Edinburgh and Aberdeen are two of the UK's richest cities, yet we have not a single MP in either of them. Vast tracts of 'leafy subburbs' accross Scotland have no tory representation, Cameron needs to start focusing on Scotland, a Conservative breakthrough here should be top priority, because without it we be hard pushed to ever for a government with even a small majority.

Except of course the race card isn't being played by anyone on this board or by David Cameron.

Serf

"It would also put Prime Minister Brown in a strange position of not being able to support his own government's legislation."

How much does that really matter? As Prime Minister Blair doesn't introduce Bills into the Commons himself. That's done by a member of the appropriate ministerial team, and as we know Blair doesn't attend that often even to vote.

So either he or equally Brown could decide that he would always appoint one of the Labour MPs elected in England as (say) the Minister of Health for England, and that Minister could put forward proposals which were as close as possible to the Labour health manifesto for England, taking into account that only the other MPs elected in England would be allowed to vote on them.

It's true that as an MP elected in England Blair could vote on them if he wanted to, while Brown couldn't vote on them even if he wanted to, but then nor could Blair, Brown or any of the other MPs vote on that matter for Scotland or Wales.

And it's true that Brown might not get the legislation he really wanted for England, but then neither he nor Blair would necessarily get the legislation they really wanted for Scotland or Wales. But at least in theory the electorates in England, Scotland and Wales should each get something closer to the legislation they really wanted, which is supposed to be the point of devolution.

It's untidy, mainly because the UK grew in an untidy way, but it's not unworkable.

Malcolm

Once people start saying that any Briton cannot be PM because of his nationality or even constituency then you have a two-tier society.

We all know what the two-tiers will be, and they are based on nationality.

Not one person here as replied to the fact that although Scottish MP's can have a deciding factor, only if the conditions are right and only in some occasions, that English MP's dominate nearly every major factor of Scottish life without reciprocation. I think some people believethe Scottish Parliament rules every aspect of Scotland. It does not.

The union has always been totally in England's favour. It seems strange this is never formulated into the equation.

This is a matter that can be resolved very quickly and painlessly, especially as change has the support of the English and Scottish people. This being the case, you have to wonder why people are making this into such a major problem?

It pains me to say, but could it be because Gordon Brown is Scottish? If he was from the Home Counties would it be such a problem?

Maybe Alan Duncan's language was sloppy,but it doesn't change the facts that the current set up is anything but democratic.

Just try to explain to students that are about to start university how & why their fees have been tripled.

Personally I have no problem under the current set up of a Scottish MP becoming prime minister,provided they represent an English or Welsh constituency.

The point regarding former Ulster MP's voting with the Tories is completely eroneous since there was direct rule and no Stormont.

It is important to point out though that London MP's for example now with their London Assembly may well also be voting on thing nationally that in London are decided by the GLA so is it possible for there to be a London MP as PM if it isn't for a Scottish one either, what about a Welsh or Ulster based PM?

The only answer has to be to roll out a Federal Structure devolving powers in areas where they have not yet been devolved and not continuing with ad-hoc change, English County Councils perhaps could get the powers administered by the Scottish Parliament in Scotland.

Clearly absurd when MP's that represent 5 million people out of a total of 60 million can inflict new laws that don't effect them or their constituents on the other 92% of the population.

And we don't need an extra parliament or tiers of extra politicians and even more bureacrats,just the exclusion of Scottish MP's for votes on English only issues.

John

You say the current situation is anti-democratic, but then say no-one representing Scotland can be PM?

Also, can you answer this please? If every English MP wanted to go to war and every Scottish MP did not, would this mean that Scotland could opt out?

If the UK nations are equal this would be the logical choice. However, the UK nations are not equal. England (understandably) dominates completely, so let us not pretend that this union of nations is not in England's favour.

From England's perspective it has three choices:

1. We are a Union that is dominated by England, but to keep that Union England has to compromise on some issues. This is the present Union.

2. We have a Union of equal nations were England loses power, because it loses it's advantage of sheer population size. This is a federal UK.

3. We have a break-up of the Union and England loses complete control over the north of the UK, much like Ireland.

I’m afraid I will have to stand up for Allan Duncan. He was simply speaking the logic of the West Lothian question, and of course what he meant was that there is now a question mark over the ability of a MP for a Scottish seat to be PM after this crazy and poorly thought out Blair devolution settlement. Why shouldn’t our front bench spokesmen comment on issues of the day and if it opens up debate, all power to their elbows. I have spoken to few Scots who don’t accept that change is needed, the tragedy is that no (elected) Scottish Tory has the courage to articulate the debate.
I agree with all of Tartan Tory’s points but part company with him on the idea that interventions such as Alan Duncan’s threaten the Union. It is failure to address the real issues of the devolution settlement that will threaten the Union.
Why should Brown be able to legislate for all manner of things in England but have to defer to little boy Jack on all things Scottish other than defence and foreign policy. There is a world of difference between the position of Rifkind Forsyth and Lang who held office before the Scotland Act and the position today.
Far from doing us no good in Scotland as Andrew Hardie suggests Alan Duncan’s comment highlights precisely the problem that has to be addressed by Scottish Tories, don’t shoot the messenger.
Our lone MP’s Peter Duncan and now David Mundell have consistently refused to vote on matters that are otherwise devolved in votes in the House of Commons, only the fact that they number only one makes the gesture just that. Unless and until Scottish Tories start talking about Conservative solutions to Scottish problems of course we are going to be seen as irrelevant up here. The main reason we have allowed Salmond to label us as anti Scottish is that we currently lack politicians capable taking him or even Sturgeon on in debate and winning. Lets start standing up for ourselves and putting forward Conservative ideas, as the only right of centre party in Scotland we should have the field to ourselves or do we?
This very morning we have again been upstaged by Nichol Stephen who is extensively reported as actively considering a 2p cut the Tartan tax and a further reduction in the UBR. Were we not talking about this pre Goldie?
The real test of the devolution settlement will only come when we have a Conservative government in Westminster against whatever left wing coalition we end up with after 2007 in Scotland.
If Allan Duncan’s comment gets the debate going on amending the Scotland Act and finding a solution to the West Lothian question then he is to be thanked not scorned. It’s high time our wee jokey Scottish Parliament faced up to the reality that the rest of the UK will simply not allow it to go on spending money without democratic accountability. The genie is out of the bottle on the Barnet formula and the problem won’t go away. Let’s have the debate.

A sense of perspective needs to be maintained in respect of this issue. Whilst it is undoubtably important it is essentially a chattering class issue about which only political anoraks like us care deeply about.

People might say representing a Scottish constituency matters when asked in a opinion poll on the subject. However it is not going to be a vote deciding issue for the vast majority of the electorate in any part of the UK. In this regard it is similar to most voters views on Europe and fox hunting.

Most voters have opinions on these issues but they are not defining. The electorate at the next general election will continue to make its minds up based upon Labour's record and the perceived competence of the Tories to be a viable alternative. The benchmarks the electorate that matters will use in forming their opinions will be the economy, schools, health and crime and NOT Europe, Scottish MPs or fox-hunting.

Therefore it is important for the Tories to not get to sidetracked by these issues and push them to the fore thinking they are vote winners. They may motivate the hard core but they won't mobilise the ever growing pool of floating voters. The Tories need remain focused on the issues that matter to floaters and establish credibility.

Failure to do so will ensure that the Tories are perceived like the LDs, lacking in credibility and obsessed with constitutional issues. To go down that road lies electoral failure and will ensure Brown is re-elected as PM at the next general election.

Dulouz

You are making the very fundamental mistake of confusing devolved issues with non devolved issues.

Clearly Defence,Foreign affairs and the Economy have not been devolved and any descisons are taken on a UK basis,therefore your war example is spurious.

No problem for a Scottish MP to become Prime Minister provided that they are excluded from voting on devolved issues.
Alternatively, nothing stopping them standing for an English or Welsh constituency.

Maybe if the whole devolution issue had been thought out properly in the first place or alternatively Scottish Mp's followed the example of the Nationalist MP's we would not be in this mess.

Huntarian

' sense of perspective needs to be maintained in respect of this issue. Whilst it is undoubtably important it is essentially a chattering class issue about which only political anoraks like us care deeply about.'

You don't seem to be in touch with younger people,my daughter who at present can be described as a floating voter,yet to vote for the first time,is wondering why her student fees will be tripled and her debt increased by £ 6,000.

Long overdue that this farce was ended,its not complicated and its certainly not astro physics,Scottish MP's are excluded from voting on English only issiues whether they be back bench MP'S ministers or prime minister.

Blair and the Scottish raj decided to ignore the sound advice of their own backbenchers such as Tam Dayell and are headed for a major mess.

On the other hand probably Blair is ok with it since it may well block Gordon from beinjg the next PM.

The speaker should rule that on English only issues the Scottish MP's are barred from voting,very simple solution!

John

I am merely making the point that English MP's on all the really important issues like defence, the economy, foreign affairs and immigration can totally overide the wishes of Scottish MP's.

You pretend that UK affairs are treated as different and that all the nations are treated equally but they are not. The reality is it is English affairs and interests not UK. Scots are well aware of this and have accepted this over the last 300 years. The Scottish body politic is much less powerful than the English body politic.

For example, at the moment Scots would welcome more immigration to Scotland to boost the population and economy, but England say no because it doesn't suit them.

I can't believe that England does not see that it's enormous population compared to Scotland gives it presently (and always has done) total domination in the Union. The reason England does not have a separate Parliament is because by not having one it gains advantage of population. In effect the UK Parliament has always been the English Parliament.

A federal UK or break-up would actually give it less power over the affairs of this island as a Scottish Parliament would have to be treated as an equal in foreign affairs, immigration etc. The population advantage of England would be nullified. In independence, it would no longer be able to control such basics as immigration onto all of the island nor which national armies it allows onto this island - as well as thousands of other things taken for granted at present.

England is rushing headlong into a decrease of power because of a complete mis-calculation of it's real power. It wants equality in one area that it is disadvantaged forgetting this means equality in all other areas where it holds absolute power. How strange!

John
I think you your comment was meant to refer to Chauncey Gardener.
I agree with your daughter! My offspring live and work in London and are in the vanguard of debate about equating spending levels north and south of the border.

Dulouz, to understand the strong views of some English nationalists you have to see the issue in its proper context. Very briefly - long term plan to split up the EU members states and create a "Europe of Regions"; Maastricht Treaty establishes Committee of the Regions; Bruce Millan, previously veteran Scottish socialist MP, becomes EU Commissioner, gets responsibility for Regional Policy and Relations with the Committee of the Regions; works with Labour while they're in opposition, produces Millan Report setting out a scheme for "devolution" within, which really means euro-regionalisation of, the UK; Labour comes to power, holds referenda in two EU Regions, Scotland and Wales, and later in a third EU Region, London; Scottish Parliament, and Welsh and London Assemblies set up; Prescott starts on the next stage, surreptitiously setting up unelected Regional Assemblies across the rest of England; as the English realise what is happening, they start to fight back; politicians, including Tory politicians, brazenly deny that Regional Assemblies have anything to do with the EU, even in one case when they were actually on the EU Committee of the Regions (yes, Cllr Shakespeare, I'm talking about you); Tory party not interested until others have done the work of building up public opposition to the break-up of England; some opponents opt for the idea of an English Parliament, while others do not; Prescott thrashed in a referendum in his best hope Region, the north east; some Tories in England start to see possible electoral advantage in appearing to join with the opposition, but others see it more as a way of stirring up antipathy between the English and the Scots, and giving Brussels a helping hand by breaking the Union; some of the English nationalists, especially those who have been demanding an English Parliament, are now so angry and frustrated that they're quite easily suckered into following the Tory europhile lead and shooting themselves in the foot by calling for an end to the Union - and that, in brief, is the story so far.

Huntarian

After Scottish independence, how long will it be before the North of England asks how much longer should they subsidise England-wide serving bodies, jobs and organisations that are London based?

Why should the North of England subsidise Wembley, the Millenium Dome and the Olympics as well as government and the civil service, which London alone couldn't afford, and yet make use of?

Also, why should England subsidise the UK's Nuclear weapons and not get full use of them? Bring them home from Glasgow and set them up in the Home Counties!!!

Just Kidding!

MPs in Scotland could be PM if either fix for the West Lothian question went in. The PM then would only be in guaranteed charge of the federal and international functions of government.

Of course the Conservatives never had a problem with English MP's voting on matters that only affected Scotland.

These anti-Scottish statements from the likes of Duncan show the Conservatives as hypocritical bandwagon jumpers. I think if the situation in Scotland was reversed, or even if we had 10-15 Scottish MP's, the 'West Lothian Question' would never be mentioned. How long before the public at large realise this?

More Importantly, would it not be more to the point to leave discussion of the West Lothian Question until after we have some proper Policies in place, and even more importantly until the Elecetions have gone ahead in Scotland and Wales next year?

2007 should be a priority, because it is going to be our first big test, and Cameron should be very very careful to make sure that no one in the party doews anything to harm our chances in them. If we fail to make any progress next years, labour and the Lib Dems will use it against him in the run up to the general election.

I would like to respectfully ask Tartan Tory @ 11.18, if he would have minded if a group of English MP's had decided that Scottish students should pay towards their university fees? I fully realise that that is not likely to happen, but could you not for a moment try to imagine how angry you would feel.

Obviously our present PM was the originator of this fiasco - like so many others, by not 'thinking through' his proposed legislation properly. The legislation itself having been brought in quite cynically to give labour MP's a majority when they needed one - NOT to benefit Scotland!!

I don't think that most people feel anti-Scottish, probably most students envy the free tuition, and many old people (if they know) the free care available, but then Scotland has a much smaller population than England.

But I DO think that what worries quite a few people is that with Mr. Brown as PM - given what we have all learned about his methods and stated aims already - that he will use the same tactics as with tuition fees, to bring in a raft of other laws that will affect England and not Scotland?!

Doulouz,nobody but nobody has advocated that someone can't be PM because of their nationality.I assume that Duncan was referring to the constituency they represent.Even then he is probably wrong.But equally nobody can argue that the current situation is sustainable or that it is right or fair.

John

"You don't seem to be in touch with younger people,my daughter who at present can be described as a floating voter,yet to vote for the first time,is wondering why her student fees will be tripled and her debt increased by £ 6,000."

I agree student debt is a major issue for young people (mine own debt is big enough and about to get bigger thanks to Mr Blair) but talking about it in terms of the votes of Scottish MPs in the HoC is not going to mobilse them to vote.

Indeed if tuition fees and student debt are to be a vote decider for young people then they are unlikely to vote Conservative given that Cameron has said Blair's policy is essentially a Tory one and that Howard was wrong to oppose it.

Alan Duncan said:
"I'm beginning to think it is almost impossible now to have a Scottish Prime Minister "

Hi Malcolm, that comment from Duncan seems a pretty clear suggestion to me that he thinks someone Scottish could not become prime minister and I am sure it will to most who see it.

Surely Alan Duncan should at least clarify what he meant by that statement?

Patsy Sergeant said:

"I don't think that most people feel anti-Scottish, probably most students envy the free tuition"

I see the old Lib Dem lie is still being believed. In Scotland we don't have 'up front fee's' however, after student graduate they have ton pay for the cost of their education through a 'graduate annuity tax'. Plus the student loans in Scotland are over £1000 a year lower than in England, with higher intrest rates.So if anything Scottish students have at least as expensive a time, if not more so than English students.


Beasically the Lib Dems lied about scrapping fees, and we need to amke sure every voter knows about it.

Patsy Sergeant:

"I would like to respectfully ask Tartan Tory @ 11.18, if he would have minded if a group of English MP's had decided that Scottish students should pay towards their university fees? I fully realise that that is not likely to happen, but could you not for a moment try to imagine how angry you would feel."

Respect to you, too, Patsy.

I agree with you. If you read my post again, you'll see that I don't defend Scottish MPs voting on devolved matters. In fact, I don't mention it. The unfairness is undeniable.

I do think EVFEL is a messy solution, and difficult to sustain legally, but absent some truly radical constitutional reform, it's the best idea going.

The tuition fees example you raise is, of course, grotesque. (And while I haven't checked, I'll bet my flat that a fair few of those Scottish Labour MPs had the gall to put "free tuition in Scotland" on their re-election literature.) Yes, even though it was the MSPs who "delivered" it, and it was a Lib-Dem policy in the first place. They're not big on shame.

But I do have a massive problem with saying an MP for a Scottish constituency can't be Prime Minister. Regardless of the lop-sided, or unfair, devolution settlement, the Prime Minister is Prime Minister of the entire UK.

Also, let's remember that the Westminster Parliament still controls foreign and defence policy, national security including border contols, most economic policy, social security (the biggest spending department), some transport policy, and all constitutional reform (including the composition and powers of the Scottish Parliament!)

What Alan Duncan is effectively saying is that a Scot can die in the army, but not be the person who decides to send it into battle. I suspect he didn't mean to. The problem was that he just didn't think about what he was saying.

I also object to the tone of some of the analysis coming from English tories, often on this board. How many times have I read "we don't need Scotland", or something similar?

Language like this does untold damage to our cause in Scotland, and I respectfully suggest that Huntarian understates the threat it poses to the Union. The SNP are like kids in a candy store, and it sticks in my craw that we've made it so easy for them this time.

Huntarian is right, however, that we make it difficult for ourselves in Scotland, too. We've been outflanked by the Lib Dems, of all people, on tax relief, of all issues. This is the sort of thing I was referring to, when I called for bolder leadership and imaginative policies right here in Scotland in my earlier post.

What's the solution, then?

I mentioned radical reform. Radical constitutional reform comes uneasily to most Tories, including this one, but we can't retain the lop-sided "solution" we have now.

I propose full fiscal autonomy for the Scottish Parliament, and symmetrical devolution to an English Parliament, and upweighting the powers of Cardiff and Stormont to make these symmetrical, also. These would replace the House of Commons as it is currently composed. An elected House of Lords would become a UK-wide senate, to handle reserved matters and act as a second chamber to the national parliaments.

It's a huge change, but the status quo can't be maintained and EVFEL is a sticking plaster at most, and not without its own complications.

The current constitutional settlement is an unsustainable mess that is logically incoherent. The answer in the long term is either a proper federal UK with parliaments/assemblies for each of the four nations and a UK parliament. As I said earlier we could dual mandate English MPs and the English parliament could sit at Westminster to try an minimise additional cost. Non-English MPs could then only deal with UK matters where as English MPs would deal with devolved English matters. The alternative is to scrap devolution and restore everything abck to Westminster which I am sure would go down like a lead balloon north of the border.

Please don't forget that 80% of our new laws, everywhere in the UK, now come from Brussels through EU treaties negotiated by the UK government and ratified by the UK Parliament, followed by EU Directives and other instruments agreed by UK ministers in the Council of Ministers. Then there's the European Convention on Human Rights, and UN conventions, both of which increasingly condition British laws, and in both cases it is the UK government which is the contracting party to the treaty. "Foreign affairs" now means "domestic affairs", and they are all matters which are and must continue to be reserved to the UK Parliament.

This is one reason why it would be quite wrong to cut the number of Scottish MPs - the corollary of "one man, one vote" being that each person elected should represent the same number of voters, as far as practicable - and another reason why they should not be excluded from the office of Prime Minister.

I propose full fiscal autonomy for the Scottish Parliament
The only way in which this would be possible is if the UK was formally dissolved as a political entity, within the UK this not possible and rather the solution is to devolve power in the rest of the UK and seperate English and Welsh Law - I rather favour Regional Government for Scotland rather than a Scottish Parliament which naturally is Lowlands dominated and really I don't think that it has changed things much for people in the Highlands & Islands.

Then Local Authorities could determine most things and a Council of England, Council of Scotland, Council of Wales and Council of Ulster could determine respectively English, Scottish, Welsh and Ulster Law. The number of MP's could be reduced to a third or less of the current level and devolution would be equal throughout the UK, so far as the Council Of Europe goes the UK should leave.

Rather that first sentence of my message should have been in italics as I was quoting.

The bare minimum is EVFEL. But it's only a starting point. Duncan was speaking what is going to be true (I have been thinking this for more than a year now, and I bet other Scots abroad have bee too) - it simply will not be tenable for Brown to become UK PM while sitting for a Scottish seat.

There is a good debate to be had about our constitutional realignment. Going back to the Union, though it's what I wish, is not going to happen. Should we federalise more? Have complete fiscal autonomy for Scotland, ie independence? Not sure.

Being sad, I was mulling over this on a train journey this morning. Has this outcome occurred to anyone? (In the spirit of "Getting Ready for Brown". He's quite aware of the anomaly and of the damage that will be done to him if matters don't change. I now predict that he will announce, on finally assuming the PM's job, that he will set up a Speaker's Conference to debate the issue in detail; and that meanwhile he will resign his seat and stand in England at the next general election.

Will Blair stand down as an MP at the next election? If so, Gordy could easily take that seat, it seems pretty safe and it's English.

Would be a pretty canny move I think!

Tony Blair is standing down at the next General Election as an MP, so is John Prescott so I have gathered, I can't see Gordon Brown leaving his seat and standing for an English constituency and if he did I rather think that Labour's position in Scotland would suffer as a result - whether or not he is PM he would still under current laws be able to vote on the same Westminster matters as others, I don't think anyone would have objected back in the days when the Northern Ireland parliament had it's own Prime Minister if someone had become UK Prime Minister with an Ulster seat.

If Gordon Brown was sitting in an English constituency he'd still be the same person and there'd be another Labour MP in his current constituency so what difference would it make?

What needs to happen is that they need to get on with devolving powers in other areas that in Scotland would be handled by the Scottish Parliament.

Time for Scottish independence. We don't need the Union any more. Let them do it their way and we'll do it ours.

Tartan Tory, I like your ideas for reconstituted parliaments, which other posters have also described, but the idea which I think would settle one much talked about problem, is the HoL's to act as an elected UK wide senate chamber, to act as a second chamber to the national parliaments.

I wonder whether something as forward looking as that could ever take place, the present government can't get beyond seeing the HoL as a RUBBER STAMPING machine for all their .....legislation!!

We have had at least one Scottish PM (with a Scottish constituency) that I can recall, before.

Its not so much that Brown is representing a Scottish constituency, I think, as that no matter how many gimmicks he adopts, he comes across as a very parochial type of Scotsman, who no matter how hard he tries, finds it difficult to feel at ease with the English.

"And we don't need an extra parliament or tiers of extra politicians and even more bureacrats,just the exclusion of Scottish MP's for votes on English only issues."
Posted by: Simon | July 03, 2006 at 12:59

Agreed but we must be pedantic about the wording: not "Scottish MPs" but "MPs representing Scottish constituencies".
Conservatives should conserve all that is good and we should cherish the Union which Nulab has begun - perhaps unintentionally - to fragment.
This point is causing more heat than light, so could we perhaps agree on the following:
i. the present West Lothain question is inequitable and therefore unacceptable.
ii. we do not want any further regional assemblies or other bureaucratic solutions.
iii. therefore only MPs representing English constituencies should vote on purely English matters in the HoC.
If the majority of contributors can go along with these basic points, we could flesh out further arguments without upsetting the Scots.
We must stress that this is not racist, nor is it specifically anti Gordon Brown. He gives us plenty of much better arguments to reject him in any case.

This is an incredibly interesting debate.

I am torn from one response to another. I am a strong believer in the Union and would want to see it remain. However I accept there is a need to make changes.

What I am wary of is raising this issue with the wrong choice of language. It is clear that a Scot should not be barred from being PM if they represent an English constituency. However I feel it is also wrong to suggest even a Scottish based MP cannot be Prime Minister. While there is a clear case to exclude that person from voting on English only issues, the UK government (that a PM leads) is responsible for many areas of government and to suggest that a Scottish based MP should not have the right to run that seems wrong.

We have benefitted as a country from having our constitutional structures develop in an evolutionary manner. We have never had straight lines in our constitutional makeup and I am not convinced we either could have them or would want them.

We have struggled because New Labour took an axe to how we were run and in a couple of short years started making major changes.

I am not sure on what the way forward is - there are many possible ideas here. Some more to put in the mixer, that I do not nescessary agree with, but would enjoy your views.

* First, what would have happened if instead of a Scottish Parliament the UK Parliament simply devolved power to local areas throughout the UK. So you would have big city councils, areas councils with the powers of the Scottish Parliament?

* Second, although one MP got slated for it. How workable would be the idea of making MSP/MP a joint role. A number of days legislating on Scottish/Welsh laws and a few on UK legislation? It would reduce the number of Politicians. It would not bar a MP for a Scottish constituenct being PM. They would co-ordinate policy on UK wide issues, appoint English based MPs to decide English issues.

I also wish to challenge the view that a Scottish based PM or MP for that matter would not be responsible for their actions to the electorate. Clearly if there actions were unpopular, their party would be voted out of office by the part of the UK with the most seats - England? It is less direct I accept, but does not break the link totally.

* Third,I am very interested by the Lords suggestion - making it the upper chamber on devolved issues and allowing it to discuss UK issues. Would that mean that the PM sits in the Lords? Second, what chamber, if any would scrutinise UK wide legislation?

I guess the problem with this is that the more people talk of it and if we ever had a grand committee, the pressures on the Union may get to breaking point. I am not convinced many people really thought about or dare I suggest cared about how the Lords worked until we had various Committee's looking at it. They were generally content that it was going along nicely. It is education, health that concerns people.

I am curious. The SNP are a left-wing party yet it has been suggested above that they have the potential to take a lot of Tory votes. How is this so?

Why don't you just say "Scotland's MPs."

The Conservatives are stuffed too full of Unionist dinosaurs to drag themselves into the 21st century. for that reason, England will not become a democracy under Cameron's leadership.

Turn back people, nothing to see here..........

Richard-look at the seats the SNP win. Moray, Banff, Galloway & Upper Nithsdale, Perth, Angus-these were all Tory once. They rarely take seats from Labour's Central Belt heartland and keep them.

The Lib Dems are left-wing but lots of Tories in the South West like them. The difference is that some in the SNP heirachy are fairly centre-right-Fergus Ewing and his mother, for example.

As for the West Lothian Question-Churchill had a majority over Atlee by virtue of Ulster votes when Stormont was still in effect. Churchill's justification was quoted by Dodie Robertson in 1997 in a devolution debate.

Rob D - do you have that justification written down or a link to a website?

Why are we attacking Alan Duncan when in fact he is talking about an issue which the majority of people in England agree on. Lets get it straight, we as a party will never get back the support we had in Scotland due to fact of the SNP is know regarded as the second party in Scotland(and with that it doesn't matter wether they are left or right). With that yes we should never give up there, but common sense should tell us if we ever want to get power back in the UK we have to win back the North,Midlands and South West from Labour and Lib Dems not Scotland.
It may hurt some peoples feelings by seeing the above but it was always going to happen once the Scottish Parliment was set up.

Richard - re the SNP. The ability of the Nationalists to be blood-curdling socialists in Maryhill whilst posing as nice wee ladeez in Perth is just one of the more revolting problems facing Scottish Conservatives. I think the parallel with the LibDems in the SW is spot on. What you do about it is anyone's guess.

but lets remember when we were last in government votes in Parliament for which there was no majority in scotland were pushed through courtesy of English MP's. Thats fine if its a UK wide issue like defence of Foreign Policy. However, prior to devolution there were still votes at Westminster on purely Scottish matters such as Scotland's separate education and legal systems. There is no logical difference between that and what is occurring now.

Also on a more minor point, the way the Barnett formula works means that the size of the block grant is calculated on the basis of english public expenditure. Thus there is no separate vote to determine this is calculated automatically o the basis of English expenditure. The level of spending in England is often determined in the financial provisions of otherwise England-only legislation. If the proposal is to remove the right of Scottish MP's to vote on such Bills then they will not have any opportunity to vote on matters relating to the level of the block grant. Whatever you think of the Barnett formula (im in favour of it) surely scottish mp's must be able to vote on matters such as this. So for those proposing EVFEL what is your solution to this matter, bearing in mind the Party in England has stated it will continue the Barnett formula?

Richard at 2237 - yes the SNP geT centre-right votes. Look at their main areas of strength as has already been said, rural often wealthy seats - Angus, Perth and North Perthshire, Moray etc etc.

Think also of the normal dependence of centre right parties on picking up patriotic votes - so important to english tories, US republicans etc. as peoples national identities have changed since the war this vote no goes snp rather than tory in many instances. the scottish equivalent of essex boy tories vote snp up here. their msp's are mostly left but they are not without right wingers such as Jim Mather MSP and to an extent mike russell.

Never mind the West Lothian question,what about the West London question? The constitution of the UK as it stands is full of anomalies. Within England itself, inner-city MPs could vote for say, new nuclear power plants, which wouldn't affect their constituents anything like as much as those in the rural location where the plant would be.

As for the SNP-the party wasn't originally left-wing. It swings left in 1979 after being ejected from the Tory seats it lost to the Thatcher tide. Of course it wins a lot of them back again in 1987 and 1997, whilst failing to make any real inroad into Labour seats-only Dundee and Western Isles have stayed SNP after going from Labour. The Isles are not typical.

In Scotland we are in real trouble. I accept we will never get to the level we were in the 1950s, but it ought to be possible to do better. It's not that people there don't work hard, but the party is seen as anti-Scottish and interventions like Alan Duncan's are going to make Mr Mundell's seat a little harder to hold.

Remember, anyway, Rifkind, Laing, Forsyth, Buchanan-Smith and Hector Munro all at varous times held power in England that they couldn't exercise over their constituents. There would have been more 1979-97 had the Scots in 1987 not done to the Tartan Tories what the UK did to the rest of the party.

James M-sorry for the delay, been in court. The debate below deals with some of the rancour of the Tories using Ulster votes when Stormont was in full sectarian swing. I apologise-I misremembered the quote and it may not have been Churchill but the point still holds:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/cgi-bin/newhtml_hl?DB=semukparl&STEMMER=en&WORDS=churchil%20member%20ireland&ALL=churchill%20members%20ireland&ANY=&PHRASE=&CATEGORIES=&SIMPLE=&SPEAKER=&COLOUR=red&STYLE=s&ANCHOR=70220-13_spnew8&URL=/pa/cm199697/cmhansrd/vo970220/debtext/70220-13.htm#70220-13_spnew8

Thanks Rob D

"Shadow Trade & Industry Secretary Alan Duncan's remarks that Scottish devolution has made it "almost impossible" for Britain to have a Scottish Prime Minister have produced plenty of newspaper headlines this morning".

That quote comes as a surprise. I thought it was impossible for for Britain to have an English Prime Minister?


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