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Traditional Unionists should not be upset by a proposal that days be set aside to debate English and Welsh laws because all that does is achieve parity with Scotland. We surely do not seriously want to press for a separate English Parliament, neither do we want to weaken the Union any more than Blair has done already.

In theory I agree with this policy; in practice we need to remember we are a unionist party and take care with the language we use.

It should not be presented as a standalone policy - Labour got us in this mess by ignoring the constituitional implications of assymetric devolution. So we should be looking at how we address those within an overall policy to strengthen the Union.

It should not be driven by our opposition to Gordon Brown (or other Labour Scots ministers) - that comes across as both "Jock bashing" and political gamesmanship. I have serious reservations about Ken Clarke's ability to present this policy without his usual overblown and often insulting rhetoric.

And we should plan how we launch and then drive forward discussion in a professional manner - no leaks to papers, no ill prepared fly-by-seat-of-pants spokesmen.

What's our answer to "well you didn't worry about this when you imposed the poll tax?" - have we researched if Labour have majority of English MPs or votes in 1966/68/74?

How does this fit in the wider devolution debate? Do we support giving Scotland greater tax raising powers? Will Scots Tories be given greater autonomy? What's are position on Wales? etc.

Maybe powers that the Scottish Parliament wields could be handled by Local Government in England, Wales and Ulster?

I think there needs to be a full Federal Structure rolled out across the UK, or what will happen is that more ad-hoc change will most likely result in merely replacing a system that many people grumble about with another system that many people grumble about and mean that yet more ad-hoc changes are proposed to balance out perceived inequities in those.

As always Ted ,a very sensible post.Currently I am starting to fear for the future of the Union.Even 'though a break up would benefit our party in England where I live it would I think be a tragedy for the country as a whole.
Clarke's proposals seem to me to be a way of assuaging English anger at the status quo and should be supported but as Ted said we should be very careful in the language we use when debating this and should not try to inflame passions any more than is necessary.

I worry about this policy. There will be consequences which we need to think through.

What happens when we have a Labour prime minister (with an overage National majority) but a Conservative Leader of the Opposition (with an overall English majority)?

That would see the bizarre prospect of a Conservative "Leader of the Opposition" able to pass legislation on hospitals and schools while not in official power. Meanwhile the parliamentary process, civil service support, house of lords appointments etc all would be in the hands of the official government (who have no ability to actually govern in most of the country on many of the main issues). Remember, our system is designed to give support to leaders of the opposition to oppose governments; it is not designed to give them support to actually be 'in power' on key issues for much of the country.

This would be a weird situation but we know it is quite a plausible one. We need to make sure we are comfortable with it before signing up to this policy.

Mark Clarke's post neatly encapsulates why many constitutional scholars regard EVoEM as unworkable.


Agree with your concerns which is why I said we must think through such a change. However the actual situation would be close to that obtaing in countries where the Executive proposes but the parliament decides. A Labour PM would of necessity need to take greater acccount of the English majority in the laws proposed for English only matters. The HoC Committeees would have a greater say in the drafting of the acts and we could see Committe Chairmen becoming close to de facto ministers.

My view is that it is an evolutionary step to an English devolved parliament - increasingly in Westminster we would have a true shadow English Gov't operating in Parliament. Taking the next step to a UK Parliament and an English one would be easier.

If it requires two buildings then let a smaller UK Parliament be created somewhere less South East Centric (we could always follow the US & Australian model and put it in Berwick as a neutral spot!) and let Westminster return to being the English Parliament as it has been for a thousand or more years.

I quite agree with Ted. What we need to take note of is that EVoEL is a temporary solution which would cause further destabilisation down the line.

We need to learn the lesson of Canada, that an overly centralised but asymmetrically devolved structure is unstable and open to abuse by whichever party is in power, and merely results in every other election being about some constitutional issue.

Ted, your final comments suggest that you recognise that EVoEM is inherently unstable and would collapse into an English Parliament sooner or later. In the meantime, quite apart from the practical procedural difficulties, how on earth you imagine that the average voter will make sense of it all? Do you think the person on the Clapham omnibus will readily grasp the notion of “Committee Chairmen becoming close to de facto ministers”?

It won't work. This is what will happen - The PM can be an MP with a Scottish constituency. He can formulate policies only for England. He can't vote on them, so he uses the whipping system instead and gets his party to vote the way he wants them to - In effect, England will still get the policies that a Scottish MP wants imposed on them. Policies, I might add, that will not be visited upon his own constituents.
For too long, the Auld Enemy mentality has been allowed to become government policy. We have had enough. You have failed to prevent the discrimination of England and by doing so, have aided the current bias against us.
A Scottish MP cannot and should not be the First Minister for England, which is what he will be, in effect.
The ONLY way to sort out the dogs dinner of a mess the government have of devolution, is to make each country equal. England MUST have its own Parliament.
The problem with Westminster, is that they do not listen to the people until it is too late.
This will be driven by the working classes and whichever route you take, however much you protest, we will have our own Parliament in the end. How painful that road will be, is down to the politicians, but the damage they do to their careers will be a consequence of how long they ignore us or how much they dismiss us.
You might not like it, but when it comes down to it, the people will win out in the end and the messier it gets, the more likely it will be that your beloved Union will crumble in the aftermath.

I think ultra-Tories are concerned about the theology of the Union. I think Joe Public couldn't care less - they're more interested in the common sense that EVoEL seems to offer.

Indeed, after the World Cup I'd venture that too much concern for the Union might seem almost "pro-Scots/anti-English" - yet another opening for the eye-rollers like Heffer.

The rejection of the NE Assembly also suggests a strong degree of economic pragmatism out there - EVoEL is a low-cost fix, an English Assembly an expensive politician's wet dream.

It's just such a shame that this arrives with Ken's imprimatur on it, making it damaged goods in the eyes of many, even before they read it.

"That would see the bizarre prospect of a Conservative "Leader of the Opposition" able to pass legislation on hospitals and schools while not in official power."

If he had a majority of English votes it's fine by me!

E.V.O.E.M.it will be somthing but not enough,an English Parliament is the only right and proper step how can it be anything else?

So, Richard, effectively we’d have two Prime Ministers: an official one for the UK and a shadow one for England. Except, hang on, it wouldn’t just be EVoEM (or EVoEL if you insist) would it? As Lord Baker’s Bill makes clear, sometimes it would be E&WVoE&WL. Perhaps the UK PM might also have enough Welsh support to be the E&W PM too. And then there’s NI …

Still, not to worry. We all know that Ken has his finger firmly on the pulse of the Conservative party, so I’m sure he’s thought all this through …

An English Parliament is the only common sense answer.
Far from being another layer of government, cutting out the neighbouring MPs is a much cheaper option and entirely democratic.
The conservatives and Labour supported an expensive war in Iraq to impose democracy there.
Giving England a democracratic government is much easier than bombing the hell out of us.
We do not want the assemblies. We want our country to remain whole and with its own Parliament, representing us at national level. We want to vote for our own government, as the Scots do at present.

Only an English Parliament will redress the balance. If its good enough for Scotland, its good enough for England. The stable doors are already open. England will surely bolt if this situation continues.

The people of England should be asked in a referendum if they want their own Parliament. A public debate will allow everyone to hear all sides of the argument. There are no arguments that can justify not asking us.

I wrote a letter to the Democracy Task Force on this issue. They did not bother to either acknowledge or reply to me.

The whole idea is idiotic. An English parliament is the only answer to the West Lothian Question.

EVOEL will simply lead to more tension and threaten the union.

An English Parliament is simply part of devolving power locally. Why drag Scottish MP's away from the constituents all the way down to London when they could debate issues quite happily in their own parliament and vote accordingly?

Restoring balance will reduce tension and create strength.

EVOEL is basically a reasonably "sounding" fudge for those not brave enough to propose what is really needed, but its negative effects will be very damaging for lots of the reasons alreay mentioned above.

Remember making the HoC = English Parliament involves no new building, no extra cost, no extra layers and will actually enable the Scottish MP's to spend more time with their constituents instead of having to spend loads of time and cost travelling all the way down to London.

This is the 21st century. Let's be practical and devolve power, not find unworkable excuses to retain London as centre of all things.

You must give it to those 5 million Scots who somehow dominate 50 million Englishmen and women! On the other hand this could all be small-minded reactionary paranoia.

Why is it never reported that every poll asking Scots - "Should only England's MP's should be allowed to vote on English matters?" - has been given a resounding YES?

It is not Scots who are against this but the Labour Party - yet all the hatred of "them" seems to pour out. Even on Sky's Adam Boulton today there was talk of "we" and "them" from all sides, completely forgetting that this was British television. If the English suddenly came across this attitude every day of their lives they may well see things in a new light.

I agreed with the Iraq war, however most Scots did not. They did not want to go to war but England did. Now in the most important of all decisions I think it can be clearly seen who dominates the Union. Why isn't this imbalance in the Union given publicity?

When England can no longer control the placement of Nuclear weapons in England, can no longer control immigration and the borders of England, can no longer decide when to go to war, can no longer decide taxation or the economy than you can moan about imbalance in the Union.

Until then get your English votes for English matters - it is only fair - but don't keep justice between the nations at that or else it is only vested interest.

The policy is a piece of nonsense that will cripple the Commons, cannot be applied to the Lords and will be a gift to the SNP - and possibly also Gordon Brown.

Thanks, guys, it will allow us to portray you as not having changed from the days you imposed the poll tax on Scotland and show you just cannot tolerate those who vote Labour:


Sadly the link is too long - click on "Fourth Term" below to read the argument. Bring. It. On.

Firstly I'd like to point out that Labour is not primarily to blame for the current mess. That dubious honour must go to the Conservative and Unionist Party, which cleverly managed to transform its more than 50% support in Scotland in 1955, into its present 15%. If that hadn't happened, Blair wouldn't now be able to call upon 41 out of the 59 Scottish MPs to serve as his lobby fodder.

I hope that rather than toying with the dangerous gerrymandering idea of dumping the Scots simply because they'll no longer vote Tory, the Tory leadership are asking themselves how their party got it so badly wrong in Scotland, and what policies they could propose and would pursue in office in order to make the Scottish economic and therefore political scene, and also that in Wales and the north and west of England, more closely resemble that in the south east.

There's nothing in the water or the air in Scotland which means that most Scots must grow up to be rabid lefties who automatically detest and despise Tories - they didn't used to, not even fifty years ago, and Scotland produced Adam Smith!

Secondly I'd like to point out that of 646 MPs at Westminster, 529 are elected in England, while only 59 are elected in Scotland. (Wales 40, Northern Ireland 18.)

So the idea that "the Scots" are dominating "the English" is nonsense. The domination is by the Labour oligarchs, through their command of a Commons majority - which they'd still have even in the absence of the Scottish MPs, except on the very few occasions when enough Labour MPs elected in England rebel.

Once again, the Tory leadership should be asking themselves how they ever allowed Labour to beat them so comprehensively in three successive general elections across the UK, not stirring up antipathy between the English and the Scots in the hope of scraping up a few extra votes in England.

English votes on English matters, what a farce any body with a brain can see that can esely be scrapped when it suted political reasons pure and simple, but excepting that English Parliament with its own executive couldn't be scrapped for political reasons.

Why are you Tories so afraid of facing the truth that your future lies with the English voter, not in Scotland, why because they don't like you and don't want you ruling the rust up there. You talk about New Labour being dominated by Scots, and it is even Blair is a Scot, but the fact is you Tories should look at your own party leadership quit a few of us English have noticed that there are a good few Scots dominating your party. For instance your beloved leader David Donled 'i have Scots ancestery as well and there's a lot of Scots blood running through these vains' Camron, who seems far more interested in seducing the Scots than showing any interest in English Rights, he has even refused to scrap the highly undemocratic and dispicable Barnett Formula.

Your leadership cares little for English Rights or an English Voice, why, because the Formation of an English Parliament and Executive would bring an end to that Barnett Formula, plus lets face it your beloved so called Union is coming to the end of its dispicable, unbalanced and undemocratic existence but then look on the bright side nothing lasts for Ever does it, like your beloved day's of Empire have come to an End so is your beloved Union, and for me the sooner the better, then England could get on with sorting its own future out.

You Tories believe that English Votes on English matters is the way to go simply to protect your beloved Union, your not facing the uncomfortable truth and that is the only democratic way forward is an English National Parliament and executive, why don't you ask the English People what they want, not the Scots, Welsh or the Norther Irish but the English People instead of Presuming what you say we want just to save your beloved Union.

Your future lies with the English, like the future of the English lies in their rights and voice, within a Free Democratic English Parliament and Executive not with the Scots or keeping this werthless Union alive.

P.S talking of Labour and your Party being overly Dominated by Scots, have looked at the Lib-Dems as well their overly dominated by Scots as Well, I wonder Why?

A second reference to "your beloved union". Actually I'm an English nationalist, but I'm convinced that the interests of both England and Scotland are best served through the Anglo-Scottish Union, while the interests of both are also best served by leaving the European Union. If you want to worry about economics, the costs of the European Union really put any small "subsidy" to Scotland in the shade.

They did not want to go to war but England did.
It's not clear that there was any difference between England and other parts of the UK on the issue, indeed the place where support for the war was strongest was Iraq itself as many Iraqi's recognised it as the only way to get rid of Saddam Hussein and the Ba'athist regime as opposition forces inside Iraq were too fragmented to do it themselves.


Your obsession with Scots "dominating" England is laughable. Please tell me how 5 million people dominate 50 million? Either Scots are spongers or they are the masters - make up your mind? How do 59 MP's dominate the other 589?

To be honest your rant on a minority being blamed for everything and "dominating" the majority has very much the tones of the 20th Century.

Also, can I remind you that as this is still a unitary nation-state called the United Kingdom which includes Scots as well as the English, no-one can be discriminated on the basis of their birth. To say otherwise is pure racism.

PS A perfectly otherwise lovely lady told me that she did not want Kirsty Young to be the new presenter on 'Desert Island Discs'. I presumed she didn't like her and asked if this was the case. "No", she said "she is a lovely girl - it is just that she is Scots."

That attitude is much more dangerous than which football team you support at ta World Cup.

English votes is I agree inherently unstable and could well lead to an English parliament but I think it would do so in a way more likely to hold the union together than proposing as a first step an English Parliament which would release the anti-Scots rhetoric that is evident in certain posters above.

Yes Denis Cooper the Scots Unionists did have 51% of vote in mid 50's but decline in Empire and in the strength of the Kirk moved a large proportion of our old vote from the Unionists to the SNP. I consider the decision to fully integrate the Scots party with the old English & Welsh Conservative Party was a fatal blow. In the 50's the Conservative & Unionists had separate Norther Irish, Scots and English (incl Wales) parties. This separatism didn't stop Scots being selected as leaders of the party (Sir Alec) but it allowed national sentiment to be expressed with the confederation.

There are in all likelihood more Scots in England than Scotland, and quite a few English in Scotland. There are Welsh and Northern Irish throughout the islands. Many of us have roots in all the nations of this United Kingdom and to drive apart this union with tabloid language and tabloid cultural references is dangerous and will diminish all the peoples of this country.

If we want to follow sporting sentiments then let's behave like Rugby Union where support for England and Scotland means joshing the opposition and that's taken in good part rather than the tribal football culture.

Malcolm at 09.29 said:

"Currently I am starting to fear for the future of the Union.Even 'though a break up would benefit our party in England where I live it would I think be a tragedy for the country as a whole."

Why do you think that Malcolm? Aside from the party - in which I entirely agree with you - please explain the other benefits of the Union for the English.

Jon White - define "the English" please. Residents? England football supporters? People born in England?


Total control of British immigration (Scottish borders), no Nuclear weapons on English soil, Control of Scottish fishing waters and oil, No need to worry about a neighbour who may see allies in countries that are not England-friendly, Use of Scottish soldiers (more have fought and died per population than England).

In other words Jon, England will no longer to control the top half of this Island and may find that in not doing so there are problems that it had never considered.

Ted, residents of, and tax payers in, England.

Dulouz, if you believe that we currently have control of immigration, then you are clearly not in the real world.

I have no problem with having nuclear weaopns on English soil, not having them now (which I actually wasn't aware of) is no benefit at all.

Scottish fishing waters, like English ones, are controlled from Brussells, not London.

Scottish Oil? Debatable. IF we consider the resources in the North Sea as Scottish only, then you have a point. However, continuation of the land line would put many fields under English control, and the exploitation of these resources has been done with British, Dutch, and American money. Scotland alone could never have exploited this resource.

Troops - see post elsewhere. No-one doubts the courage or sacrafice of Scottish soldiers.


Don't be silly. Are you saying the four million people of Norway can expoit their oil but not the five million of Scotland?

As for immigration, the whole of the North of Britain would be totally outwith England's control. If you think you struggle now just wait when Scotland asks for thousands of new immigrants and a large percentage suddenly turn up every year in England.

The nuclear weapons issue is a good point. I can assure you they would be the first thing thrown out of an independent Scotland only to go where? There is no waters in England deep enough for the nuclear submarines.

I have said before England AND Scotland would benefit financially from a break-up. However, we will bring up situations not faced for hundreds of years, when the Scots and English were literally killing each other. Something the union stopped.

Who knows where it would lead if the two sides of this island were at political cross-purposes? These are only a few issues but there would be a thousand more - all outwith the direct control of England.

Joint Russian-Scottish army exercises on the border? Only joshing everyone!!!

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be ... or at least, we shall defend the English part of it, and hope that it doesn't occur to the Germans that they could cross from Norway into Scotland, and then come south ..."

Sorry, just getting a bit nostalgic there. Let's stick with the bottom line.

What about Wales, Jon, do you think England gets any benefit from Wales?

Can I just add something?

Can we not just live on this island in peace, realising that for as much as we are very different, we are also more similar than other nations on earth.

Scotland, England, Wales (and Ireland for that matter) share an intertwined thousand year history and we are still here living in peace.

Let us stay away from the stereotypes and "us" and "them" mentality - it does no-one any good. Does it not tell us something that the evil fate of Yugoslavia is totally unthinkable even to the Scottish and English nationalist fanatic?

Maybe it is because we have no real enemies that we forget that when we have real enemies we also have no greater friends than each other. This is not an ideal - it is a fact that has proven itself from Afghanistan to the Falklands and from the trenches of Belgium to the deserts of North Africa.

I see the sense in English only votes. I worry it may further muddy the already dark waters of devolution. If there needed to be proof the current settlement doesn't work it was the smoking ban, when Welsh AMs supported a ban but had to wait for their UK counterparts to support it before it could become legislation in Wales.

I don't oppose English only votes, but I feel we should now be looking at a federal UK with equality of devolution. If done intelligently I would have thought this could be achieved without a whole new tier of government being brought in.

As for the question of the future of the Welsh and Scottish branches of the party, I think they'd do well with more independence and then the English party could focus far more on those ex-Tory's in the heartlands who feel forgotten.

There is a slight sense of re-arranging deckchairs about EVOEL. But with a Scot in charge of the Libs & set to lead Lab it was always going to be a good card to play for the Tories.

>Can we not just live on this island in >peace, realising that for as much as we >are very different, we are also more >similar than other nations on earth.

Absolutly a very good point, whether federal or independent, common sense says that the home nations will and should be each others closest political allies.

Tory Bunny,

I think some English people fail to realise that at present England totally dominates this union and that a federal or broken union would mean less control of the island of Britain, rather than less.

Independence speaks for itself, but an English Parliament officially says that Scotland and England are nations within the UK rather than one nation-state (even if slightly skewed towards Scotland AND England on different matters) and that the sheer population advantage that England has on nearly every matter in the UK would count as only one body with the others.

In other words there would have to be a body ABOVE a Scottish and English Parliament so that on UK matters they agreed giving Scotland an equality they do NOT have in the union that is (understandably) massively in favour of its biggest member.

PS. On a slightly tongue-in-cheek matter I am watching BBC News 24 showing the England team arrive from Germany and talking about about how "we" the England fans are looking forward to "us" reaching Euro 2008.

Imagine your OWN "national" television news every single day since you were born talking about "us" the Scots and then tell me about imbalance?

I see no serious objection to an MP for a Scottish constituency becoming the Prime Minister of the UK. There would be no problem at all for the many very important matters which are still reserved to the UK government and Parliament. For matters which for Scotland are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, he would take a back seat and allow one of his Cabinet colleagues elected in England to take the lead with proposals which would be put to the Commons without the involvement of the MPs elected in Scotland, including himself. Considering how rarely Blair turns up in the Commons I don't see that it would make much odds!

Similarly if it was a matter which for Wales is devolved to the Welsh Assembly, the MPs elected in Wales would not take part in the decision for England.

Actually it's a lot more complex than some people may realise, because there's primary and secondary legislation, reserved and devolved matters - which are not the same for Scotland, Wales and NI - measures for Scotland which parallel those for England and Wales but adjusted to the Scottish system, measures for England and Wales and others for England alone, and Wales alone, and so on.

This is one reason why I think it would be easier to start with the UK Parliament, and exclude whichever MPs should not in all fairness be involved on a particular measure, rather than setting up a separate English Parliament which would be a 82% duplication of the UK Parliament.

None of this would be a problem if the government didn't tax us so heavily and run so many services. Unfortunately Nozickian libertarianism (Government should fund the army, police and courts only) is not electorally popular. As long as we have a government that "taxes and spends", transferring wealth from one section of the country to another, we will never have a perfect solution. Spare a thought for those of us in the South-East!

"Let us stay away from the stereotypes and "us" and "them" mentality - it does no-one any good."

Sorry but until we have a decent justification for Scottish MPs (representatives of "them") voting on, for example, education, that only affects "us" then people are going to become increasingly fed up.


Firstly, if you had read my posts you will see that EVERY poll taken in Scotland agrees that only English MP's should vote on only English matters.

The problem, as your post suggests, is that it is Scotland as "them" who are holding things back - it is clearly not. However, it is hard for certain people to acknowledge this as narrow-minds always look to blame "them".

What puzzles me though - is that clear demarcations of what England can and cannot do will only benefit Scotland as it will in fact decrease the amount of control England has over Scotland.

Either through independence or a federal UK - which now seems inevitable - England's sheer weight of numbers will not be an advantage as the nation-state will have clear boundaries.

From immigration to nuclear weapons England will no longer control these things north of the border - as you do now - and so will have less power than the present union, which only a fanatic would say England does not completely dominate.

Do you not realise it is BECAUSE England dominates the union that it does not officially have it's own Parliament. This is because the English Parliament in effect is already there - it just politely calls itself the UK Parliament so that it can control the other 17% of the population. For example, if England decides then Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have no control over even the basic right to decide if it goes to war.

As soon as it stops this politeness (which works in its own favour), the cat is out of the bag and it loses the control of the northern part of Britain, and all the problems that lack of control of a third of the territory of this island will rear its head.

The great intelligence of the English was to pretend that the "them" were really also the "us" under the title 'British'. England could do as it pleased without upsetting "them" and gained total control of the island.

If this is given up - which it seems will now happen - then do not be surprised when England cannot even control all of the island it is part of. Scotland is a strategically important point in Europe and will not be short of friends.

I think that Scilla Cullen, Secretary of the Campaign for an English Parliament, set out the argument for an English parliament comprehensively in a previous article on this site.
To me it is the only logical way forward out of this mess.
Make all the nations of the UK democratically equal and this would make the union stronger.

Actually the name "Great Britain" was invented by James, when he proclaimed himself as "King of Great Britain" on October 20th 1604, in recognition of "the blessed Union, or rather Reuniting of these two mightie, famous, and ancient Kingdomes of England and Scotland, under one Imperiall Crowne".


I believe that it was, and still is, a blessed Union, unlike that other cursed Union, and it would be madness to endanger it for the sake of swinging a few votes from English nationalists who haven't properly thought through where the true interests of England lie.

This proposal is UNWORKABLE. How can you possibly have clear lines of accountability and governability, especially in a Westminster system, with different parties having majorities on different issues. It is not just legislation, it is also the issue of exectuive power. If the Tories have an English majority but Labour a UK one then who would the education secretary be? Either a Labour MP without power over the education legislation that is passed and being questioned in the House by an opposition who are really a majority where education is concerned, or a Conservative MP who would then be part of a Cabinet with Labour ministers for non-devolved matters? It is completely ludicrous. The government of the UK is decided by the leader who can carry a majority of the HoC. I cannot believe people believe that this idea is practical or democratic. I see the political benefits to raising it to attack Brown (though whether we should be weakening the union for party gain is doubtful) but I hope that we do not ever introduce what could be termed "xenephobic and legal nonesense."

Others have already pointed out the issues regarding the logical extension of this to Wales, NI and, I would suggest, London eg should only London MPs have voted to abolish the GLC?

A much better solution, if there is felt to be a problem (and I can see strong arguments to say there are) is to introduce a 'devolution discount.' Scotland's previous overrepresentation has been corrected, though Wales' has not (it has 40 rather 32 MPs). However, these could be discounted further, following the example of NI 1922-83 (when Powell's successful campaign saw their MPs increase as the suspension of Stormont changed the arguments) which had one third of it's representation taken away. So Scotland would have about 40 MPs and Wales 27. Other course this isn't ideal and particularly creates further anomalies - Labour could still govern England without a majority there but it would also mean the Conservatives would have a better chance of governing the UK even if we didn't get most votes. But over time I think it would be fair. At the least it has the prerequisite merit of being workable.

Of course this very issue shows the danger of devolution. We should not compound Blair's constitutional reform with ill thought out ones of our own that run the risk of heightening animosity and taking us further towards the break of the union. Anyone who questions the importance of the union should think very carefully. As Ming Campbell said today once you take one brick out of the wall the whole structure weakens. That's why he wants a constitutional convention to review the whole constitution, and presumably introduce the horrors of a written one. On devolution, rights and the Lords, perhaps even the Royal Prerogative, Cameron is opening up a whole can of worms. Once you do that why not change it all eg the electoral system. It's dangerous.

"The problem, as your post suggests, is that it is Scotland as "them" who are holding things back - it is clearly not."

I am aware it isn't. I was merely explaining why many people are so keen on the idea of English Votes for English Laws i.e. they don't like the idea of MPs voting on legislation that doesn't affect their constituents.

The best cure for this mess would be to reverse devolution. That isn't politically possible though.


If you, and the others, are aware that the vast majority of Scots think it is only fair for English MP's only to vote on English matters, why is it that the Scottish people are made into the scapegoat? It is in fact the Labour Party who are holding this back for obvious reasons and it is strange that people know this yet blame the people of Scotland who are on your side.

A union is about compromise. Scots get to run some of Scotland but all foreign policy, economics and defence are still run by England in their own, and not British, interests. I am sure you have never been "fed up" with this - it probably has never crossed your mind - so please don't lecture Scotland on pretending that matters that affect Scottish constituencies are somehow all in the hands of Scottish MP's or MSP's.

The union has always been unbalanced, but now a touch of power has been taken out of England's hands all hell breaks loose, while completely forgetting how absolutely one-sided it still is.

As I have said above, if England wants independence or a federal UK it will actually lose power and control of a third of this island rather than gain from it, as well as in many other areas it has not considered.

If Scotland was not a political and strategic asset politicians over the last three hundred years would be falling over themselves to get rid of it. It was England who forced the union and the reasons for doing so are still there.

It’s perhaps worth reminding ourselves (I’m as remiss as anyone in this regard) that it would take a Conservative government to implement EVoEL, in which situation there is also likely to be a Conservative majority among English MPs, so some of the anomalous scenarios being discussed here would not, at least initially, arise. (I think I’m right in saying that the reason they arise now is mostly due to rebellious Labour backbenchers. Governments that do not also have English majorities are pretty rare.)

But I’m not sure that thought gives much comfort. Assuming Conservative performance in Scotland and Wales remains on a par with its current level, we’d have a newly-elected government undertaking, as one of its first acts, to disbar significant numbers of predominantly opposition MPs from voting on much of the business of the House. In such circumstances, to say that the territorial applicability of legislation would be hotly disputed would be something of an understatement. Riotous assembly, would be my prognosis.

Consider also that this is a significant constitutional change. Would a mere manifesto pledge grant sufficient legitimacy, or would a referendum be warranted? In England only? If so, expect vociferous calls for the ballot to include an English Parliament as an alternative option.

So how many times has the present government had to rely upon Labour MPs elected in Scotland to force through a measure which doesn't apply in Scotland, against the wishes of the majority of the MPs elected in the parts of the UK where it does apply? It can't be more than three or four times, surely?

An anomaly which has become a problem and therefore needs to be addressed, as most people on both sides of the border agree, but hardly enough to warrant the amount of fervour which the Tory party is trying to whip up about it.

And now this nonsense that an MP elected in Scotland (or does that really mean any Scot, wherever he's been elected?) shouldn't be Prime Minister of the UK.

Whichever party forms a government, they will never be short of MPs elected in England. So one of those is appointed as Minister of Health for England, in a government headed by an MP elected in Scotland - what's wrong with that?

It was more of a problem when a certain party which had made itself unelectable in Scotland could no longer find an MP elected in Scotland to serve as Secretary of State for Scotland, or even an MP elected in Wales to be Welsh Secretary.

Some points .

The present parliament is the British Parliament specifically set up as such by Article 111 of the Act of Union 1707.

That Act inaugurated a common tax area , a common trade area and a common taxation area . Also a common parliamentary area which prevails to this day ( with the minor exception of Stormont - now gone . )

The inception of the Scottish Parliament inflicted a serious blow to the above arrangemnt but not a terminal one . The balance is quite easily reasserted by there being an English Parliament with the same rights as the Scottish . Also Wales and Ulster . I find this to be appealingly logical . The difference in size of Scotland , England etc is not a problem .
The Union is preserved and England regains self rule . The British Parliament confines its attentions to "British " affairs and hands over the governance of England to the English Parliament .

What WOULD be a problem is English Votes On English Matters in the British Parliament . This would - apart from being insulting to the English because it fobs us off with less than the Scots have - drive a coach and horses through the basic principle of a common parliamentary area . Multi tierism starts ( already there I know with Sottish MP's not being able to vote on Scottish matters ) and rapidly becomes poisonous .The location of an MP's seat becomes crucial to advancement . Voting calculations on English/British affairs become very complicated . The people of England are going to think it all totally stupid and incomprehensible . etc etc

I speak as a Unionist who wants to defuse the present worsening situation and maintain the best of the Union . Only the simple structure of an effectively federal UK with country parliaments will do this .
EVOEM will finish the Union for sure .

Mark Clarke's analysis merely points out that EVOEL is isomorphic with a loose federal system with English and federal parliaments sharing space and members. It's quite normal in eg: the USA for some states to be solidly Democrat while the president and congress are Republican. The world does not end.

Penultimate guy,is it really only party advantage that you're concerned with?Doesn't the current situation which is neither fair nor right bother you at all?

Malcolm: Sorry for the delay. On the possibility that you, like me, like to revisit old threads to marvel at your incisiveness or damn your stupidity, here is your answer: No, not much.

Since 1945, there have been only three occasions when the government of the day did not also have a majority of English MPs. The practical impact of the WLQ is therefore, in my view, greatly exaggerated.

I think the English Question is also over-hyped, but I am willing to concede that a tipping point in public opinion may soon be reached. The trouble is that I find most of the proposed cures to be worse than the disease. As you may have gathered from my posts, I regard EVoEL as a constitutional nightmare which would be inherently unstable. An English Parliament strikes me as scarcely more attractive. Besides being a sledgehammer to crack a nut, it does almost nothing to decentralise government, yet in the process raises extremely difficult questions for the size and shape of the UK federal government – indeed, for the continuance of the Union itself. The introduction of an EP would precipitate a constitutional revolution, and I use the term deliberately.

Politics is about practical governance, not abstract theorising. The current situation may not be fair or right, but on the whole it works. Perhaps you should reconsider the value of that, before advocating revolution.

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