Tuesday, October 24, 2006

West Lothian Answer Revisited

Looks like I published rather than saved as draft earlier than I intended and a number of people have already read only a disjointed opening paragraph. So here is the full version for your consumption.

Iain Dale has thrown his hat into the ring over the West Lothian Question or more to the point the answer to the question. Following the backing of Canon Kenyon Wright for an English Constitutional Convention (ECC), similar to the one he chaired for Scotland it looks like a serious attempt to seek the West Lothian Answer.

The West Lothian Question is not a simple one to answer otherwise there would have been a definitive answer a long time ago. So the ECC may well be a way of finding the enigma that has been circulating since Tam Daylell first raised the issue. The ramifications are far reaching ie there should not be two levels of MPs at Westminster, we already have seen some friction about the two types of MSPs in Holyrood. The issue of who can vote on what issues is largely impacting on plitics both North and South of the border. Also the issue of funding and the Barnett formula is well overdue revisting.

So I would say now is probably a good time to ask for an ECC. Rather than glibbling throwing out policies like banning Scottish MPs for voting on English only matters at Westminster an ECC would look at all the ramifications in detail. It should have a remit to look at the issues that devolution has raised for England and have dialogue between the parties to reach the solutions.

I hope that if Iain Dale and other signatories of today's letter go into an ECC they will do so with open minds seeking the best answers rahter than merely rubberstamping of their own ideas. The letter already rules out options for regional assemblies for England which the ECC would have to look into to meet the fullest remit to see if it is beneficial for local accountability, responsibility over issues or not.


tristan said...

It makes my head hurt to think about this.
Its a very important topic which needs to be sorted out for the sake of all parties in the union (and the union itself).

Superficially a federal system is attractive, but having a federal system in which one party is far bigger than the others seems unlikely to work.

There are also many other issues with the whole devolution setup - not least the fact that the Scottish Parliament can be abolished by Westminster and of course the whole funding question...

Stephen Glenn said...

Well obviously an English Constiututional Convention would be the ideal situation to sort out how best to acheive a fair and proportionate system to acheive its goals.

The fact is that the Tories are jumping on the bandwagon looking to simply transfer their majority of English MPs from less than 50% of the votes is disconcerting. They cite the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly as reason for them to get a parliament but appear to not want the elctoral conditions attached to these. That is why a convention is a good idea as these things need to be addressed.

Anxious of West Lothian

Anonymous said...

could the lib/dems please stop promoting regional assemblies in England?. If they're that great you could have had them in Scotland instead of a national parliament.
I detest the term nations and regions,and is an insult to all English people.

Stephen Glenn said...

OK anonymous the region that regions are mentioned is that population wise and as far as European elections go there are regions of England plus the nations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Also the Liberal Democrats are organised on a National level and also in England further on a regional level.

The reason is that the regions themselves have different requirements, needs etc which are often unique to the region or typew of region that exists. Once English regional assmebly already exists London. But if you want to go back to co-ordinating London wide Transport etc from an English government I'm sure Ken will not put up as strong a fit as last time.

Anonymous said...

The North East of England gave a resounding NO to regional assemblies. The government cancelled all other referenda on regional assemblies in England because they knew what the answer would be.If the lib/dems think it is a good idea that RA's should be imposed, will you please stop describing yourselves as liberals and democrats. This argument that an English Parliament will break up the uk is probrably correct, the break up of the uk was always the long term goal, but with England as a sovereign nation taken out of the equation.
The pro eu brigade must keep up the pretence of britain in europe at all costs,an English Parliament is a threat to british involvement in europe.


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