Nick Clegg

6 Apr 2011 08:38:05

Whatever happened to justice for England? (Resumed)

by Paul Goodman

Nick Clegg's Commons grilling yesterday over social mobility has grabbed the media's fancy this morning.  His stalling on the Government's commission on the West Lothian question has got less attention -

Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): As well as being responsible for having probably destroyed the electoral hopes of the Liberal party, the Deputy Prime Minister is formally responsible for the West Lothian question. He will know that a private Member’s Bill is in Committee, under which every piece of legislation would be labelled according to which parts of the United Kingdom it affected. That would start a process of denying Members from Scotland the right to vote on all legislation in this House. Does he support that Bill?

The Deputy Prime Minister: This is a very difficult issue—[ Interruption. ] It is an issue that has bedevilled Governments for a long time. We do not support the Bill, but we support the establishment of a commission to look into the West Lothian question, and we will establish one in due course.

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con): Further to the question from the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty), can the Deputy Prime Minister give us a little more clarity on his timetable for establishing the West Lothian commission?

The Deputy Prime Minister: There is a need to ensure that we do not overlap the important work of the commission on the West Lothian question with the equally important work that we are doing on the reform of the other place. Once we have established the progress on that draft Bill, which we will publish before the end of next month, we will be in a clearer position to determine the timetable for proceeding on the West Lothian question."

The Government claims to be pressing ahead with its possible review of a British Bill of Human Rights.  It can also find plenty of time for Clegg's various social mobility and University access schemes.  It's failure to find a little to probe the West Lothian question is a scandal.  Harriet Baldwin is doing a good job on this issue, and should keep going.