Who speaks for England?

I recently tabled a question asking the government “Who speaks for England?” At least I thought I had. Then just as Parliament broke for the Easter recess my written question found its way back to my office. The Table Office had decided it was a question that could not be asked.

Before you all fly off the handle, there is something you should know about our democracy. A good number of potential written questions are blocked. Some are blocked for good reason. If they are about matters for which the government has no responsibility, for example, or where the government has no knowledge, there is no point in allowing them. If the same or very similar question has just been answered, then why not look up the answer instead of going through it all again.

When we had a Labour government I was regularly blocked from asking written questions on the grounds that the Table Office knew the government would not answer them. Sometimes after a long argument it was possible to put the question into a shape where it could at least be asked, though the answers were often disappointing. I daresay if I try I can find a way of changing this question to ask something related that the Table Office would regard as being in order.

Instead I think it is better to highlight this extraordinary fact that an English MP sitting for an English constituency in the UK Parliament is not allowed to pose the simple written question of the UK government, “Who in government speaks for England?” By writing about this the question may get more attention than if I had been allowed to table the original version.

Englishmen and women should be concerned at this insouciance towards our cause. Many of us think England has had a poor settlement from the UK, and a lousy one from the EU. I would expect the government to answer the Who speaks for England? question with an account of the English Cabinet Ministers who handle just English affairs – Education, Health, Local Government – and the Cabinet Ministers like the Home Secretary who do not deal with Scottish matters.

I want them to reconsider the issue of English votes for English issues in the Commons. I want them to work up an agenda of how England’s interests and views can be properly reflected by the Union government as there is no separate English Parliament to parallel the Scottish one and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies. Surely England needs to have a voice from inside the Westminster government, as it lacks one from its own separate body?

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70 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Indeed, but then even the English MPs, that we do get, largely look after their own person interests or just toe the partly line and keep in with their party. This as our system makes this the logical course of action for them if they want to keep their jobs.

    Parties after all determine who is selected for the safer consituencies and thus who gets elected. It is not democratic in any real sence other than that in extremis you can kick the lot out and get some new faces (but with largely the same state sector think agenda).

    We thus end up with mainly career politicians (even dynasties). The main parties line has been to push for more EU, uncontrolled immigration, more greencrap energy, more government everywhere, higher taxes, more regulation everywhere and a diminution. powerless (and ultimate a break up of) England. That surely is the quite deliberate agenda, even the words England and English seems to be banned in state sector talk.

    • arschloch
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Yes you could not make this one up, following on from Coulson, Miller and Co, we now have Caplin. Despite working for the family stockbroking firm, Dave reckons he never knew he had gone bankrupt with debts of more than three million quid. How on earth can Miliband be worse than this?

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2608597/PM-hired-bankrupt-crony-run-60billion-quango-Tycoon-charge-vast-Treasury-budget-Tory-friends-sacked-MoS-probe.html

      Mind you one can only pity those Labour Party members in Aberavon who will be going out into the rain to deliver leaflets and knock on doors on behalf of (young ed) Kinnock. I bet some of them even prostrate themselves in his presence.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        Indeed perhaps the most important jobs at the top of anything is to select good people. Do those overpaid endless bureaucrats not run proper checks and references before taking people on? Still it is not their money being wasted I suppose!

        Of course legislation now make it very hard to gid of people who do not perform (thus making UK businesses far less well run and far less world competitive than they could be). This make such check even more important.

      • libertarian
        Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        Arschloch

        Agree totally on both counts

        We no longer have a democracy or parliamentary system worth a candle. Its all based on patronage and buying influence. Mostly using tax payers money.

        In the 21st century it is unbelievable that we don’t get to vote for who runs our country ( the Queen gets to choose that) its unbelievable that despite the far too many layers of government already as well as unaccountable quango’s the largest country in our union has no representation. Its unbelievable that we go to war to introduce democracy into other countries when the only choice we have is STILL a rotten boroughs system of party selected apparatchiks and that our entire system of government at every level tends to be run by people that have NEVER had a majority of eligible voters vote for them.

        What I find even more depressing is that no one in the field of politics seems to really want to change anything. They all want to stay in their parties hoping without evidence that it will all magically improve somehow. If British industry ran like our political parties we would still be making cannon balls and buggy whips.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 20, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        It was suggested on several occasions that I should stand for parliament, mainly by eurosceptic MPs. After a few tentative enquiries, I realised that I stood no chance because I wasn’t quite what they were looking for. I’d have been too much of a maverick who would openly challenge the party line on England, on law and order, and most of all, on the EU. That convinced me more than anything that the Tories were blue on the surface, but pink underneath. A sheep in wolf’s clothing with a hidden pro-EU agenda. They wouldn’t want anyone rocking the boat you see, yet it is the pro-EU federalists that have done the most to try to sink it. That Cameron couldn’t even beat outright, a damaged and highly unpopular incumbent in the shape of one Gordon Brown, must surely tell the europhiles something, but alas no. Their solution is yet more of it.

        I believe there isn’t much of a future for the Tories under the present leadership. They represent a time that has passed. The EU is a dismal failure, and anyone who associates themselves with it will be seen as lacking in direction and of poor judgement. I wish no disrespect to other members of the United Kingdom, but I feel our Prime Minister should at least try to give England and English MPs parity with others within the union. I’m sick of the disparity. Why should we be the rubbing rags, but clearly therefore, by not standing up for England when they should, the government is being divicive, and building up resentment, at a time when we should be showcasing the strengths of the union.

        Tad

        • Arschloch
          Posted April 20, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          Another superb article from the ever perceptive Liam Halligan on George “Flash Harry” Osborne’s stewardship of the economy. Presumably he hopes he can keep the plates spinning until 2015?Anyone around my manor can see we are in a property bubble with an absolute dash for trash and I do not live in the SE either. Stuff that would have been unsold literally for years is now getting more than the asking price. Meanwhile down in the smoke garages are being sold on Peckham Rd (not Knightsbridge) for more than half a
          million. JR it’s different this time no more return to boom and bust eh? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/10776571/Raise-rates-now-or-risk-far-more-pain-later-on.html

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 20, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

          Exactly.

        • Mark B
          Posted April 21, 2014 at 5:04 am | Permalink

          I want the Conservative Party, as it stands, and the Lib Dems to be utterly destroyed. Now that might sound harsh, particularly on our kind host but, as someone on this very ‘Diary’ mentioned some time ago, about the theory of ‘creative destruction.’

          I think that is what is needed for them to come to their senses. They need to feel the pain and fear the electorate once more.

          • Anonymous
            Posted April 22, 2014 at 1:43 am | Permalink

            Mark B – Judging by the comments at the foot of the Daily Mail article about the UKIP poster campaign lots of people are expressing this view.

            They are sick to death of being ignored, patronised and (sometimes) insulted.

  2. Old Albion
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Just part of the tactics of the British to continue their denial of England’s existence.

    • Timaction
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      I think its much more sinister and all roads lead to Brussels and our unelected dictators orders not to mention or deal with the English issue as they want to regionalise us after mass migration has reduced feelings of a nation state. The legacy parties have connived to remove us from the political map so we must remove the legacy parties from Westminster and return sovereignty and democracy to these shores. Lets make a start by telling everyone what has been going on and we know how they should vote at the elections this and next year!

  3. stred
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    What would happen if an MP tabled a boring question with an easy answer that the office would accept, then stood up and asked the question that everyone wanted an answer to?

    Reply You have more scope with oral questions than with written.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      I do not imagine a sensible answer would be forthcoming even if asked. We know what the real agenda is, it is to disempower England as much as they can, to abolish the words England and English and to make the population as internationally mixed as they can and quickly, to help with this end.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply:

      John,

      You’d probably get further than I do when I ask the local Lib Dem MP questions about the EU. He just doesn’t go there!

      If I were in his position, I would want to make the case for our membership, but he knows be can’t do that with me, because I can furnish him with the facts and counter anything he says.

      Any person, or government, or department thereof, that places obstacles in the way of openness and explanation, has to be treated with utmost suspicion if not contempt. We certainly shouldn’t even consider voting for them.

      Tad

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        “Any person, or government, or department thereof, that places obstacles in the way of openness and explanation, has to be treated with utmost suspicion if not contempt. We certainly shouldn’t even consider voting for them.”

        Well that is a rather large number of MPs, MEPs, and bureaucrats who wanted to keep the whole expenses scandal under raps. Cameron, Maria Miller, Bercow all the Libdems and about half of the rest of them.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    John many thanks for giving us once again some insight as to the inner workings of Westminster.

    I can understand why some questions may be blocked on the grounds of excessive requests, because of the time taken to answer all of them, on the grounds of National security perhaps as well, but not because they may find it difficult or embarrassing to answer.

    Perhaps if enough like minded Mp’s all asked the same question in turn, enough times, the Government may eventually get the message that the topic is going toxic and they need to do something about it.
    But then I suppose you may eventually get a complete nonsense of an answer that covers everything but the one point you actually want an answer to.

    Weird how our so called democracy works, when it always seems to favour the Government (whoever is in power) and not the people through their own MP.

    Rest assured this subject will not be going away, especially after Cameron gives ever more power to Scotland should they vote to stay in.

    Devolution and separate Parliaments started the break up of the UK , in a few years time it will be confirmed unless some measure of fairness and equality is made for all four Nations with regards to voting and spending limits.

  5. JoolsB
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    What an absolute insult to every man, woman and child in England. No doubt if your question had been “who speaks for Scotland, Wales or NI”, it would have gone through without a hitch. Who speaks for England is one of the most important constitutional questions facing the UK today and every man, woman and child in England has a right to have it asked and answered and until we do, we are anything but a democracy. This question must be tabled over and over again until the whole rotten anti-English British Establishment gets the message that this question will not go away no matter how much they choose to ignore it.

    Will you tell us the reason given for this question coming back John? We have a right to know otherwise you have just confirmed what we already know which is that the Con/Lab/Lib parties are all as anti-English as one another and the whole rotten lot of them couldn’t give a toss about the rotten deal England is getting from this so called union.

    Doesn’t your idiot leader realise that to shamefully carry on ignoring the English Question is a big vote loser for the Tories? Not only does the present set-up see the majority of their constituents treated with utter and blatant contempt and discrimination but in effect they are sticking two fingers up at us, the one part of this dis-United Kingdom they could once have depended on for their support. By doing so, not only are they signing their own death warrant but they are also sanctioning the eventual break-up of their precious union when England, not Scotland, decides it has had enough of a ‘union’ which it gets nothing out of except the bill.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      The xxxxxic leader as you put it could not win the last election, nor even could be get fair boundaries past the Libdems. So what chance has he got at the next election. He will shortly come third in the MEP elections.

      Surely he has just given up, his Heart and Soul are clearly in love with the EU. No doubt, like other failed politicians, such as Kinock and Patten he will move on there in some capacity or other.

      Lord Patton, one assumes, was appointed by Cameron to keep the BBC suitably biased on the EU, big government, high tax and greencrap issues. This certainly seems to have been done.

    • JoolsB
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Will you give us the reason John?

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    JR: “The Table Office had decided it was a question that could not be asked. ”
    What reason was given? You seem to imply that it was ruled as ‘out of order’. On what conceivable grounds could that be the case? If you had inserted the words ” in Government” in your question would it have been accepted? You have further illustrated the impotence of MPs within Westminster. Not only dragooned through the lobbies by the party Whips, told what to legislate by your EU masters you cannot even ask pertinent questions of their Whitehall puppets.

    • JoolsB
      Posted April 21, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      John, For the third time of asking, will you please do us the courtesy of telling us the official explanation for refusing to allow this question to go through?

      Reply I don’t think they could work out who in government was responsible – I was seeking to table it to the Leader of the House as it was a cross government question.

  7. Andyvan
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    As soon as you give any group power over another it will be abused. In our “democracy” who has power is decided on the margins. If an election result was based on purely English voting the Labour party would never win. Scotland holds the key to victory for either party so it gets bribed and pandered to by our alleged representatives. The English are tax cattle useful for paying for the bribes but only expected to vote in a predictable manner to support the usual party. Our only hope is that Scotland will vote to leave the union. Then there may be a slight change in politicians attitudes, although it won’t be to the extreme of actually reflecting their constituents views on anything but local matters.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      “If an election result was based on purely English voting the Labour party would never win.”

      That is simply not true. There have been 18 general elections since the war but only 4 cases where the outcome was decided, at the margin, by how the Scots had voted. In 14 cases the same party would have formed the government whether or not the MPs elected in Scotland had been taken into account.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

        It might be more frequent in the future. What was different in the past was that the Conservative Party used to be the Conservative and Unionist Party, and that it ‘played the Orange card’. Ever since Edward Heath’s time, this stand has been progressively abandoned.

  8. Bert Young
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I have been away for a few days enjoying the sunshine in Malta . One very noticeable thing was the loyalty and pride the Maltese have for their present and previous relationship with this country , and , from what I could discern , their lack of regard for the EU . On return one of my interests was to see what Dr. JR was highlighting ; this morning’s post was alarming ! I find it inconceivable that an English MP can produce a written question and for it to be disregarded ; it smacks of irresponsibility and lack of Magna Carta . The creation of Regional Government was a great mistake marginalising England and this matter ought to be addressed urgently . It has led to many discrepancies in the management of the country particularly in the way the economy is overviewed and the revenue is distributed ; it has contributed more to the break up of the Union more than any other factor . The Maltese would be horrified that we are encouraging through the back door the disintegration of our nationhood – the very thing they admired the most .

  9. The PrangWizard
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    It is indeed clear that the British Establishment is absolutely determined to stifle the voice of the people of England, and to embarrass and seriously annoy a respected and honest MP from England in the process. As I mentioned yesterday the House of Lords Constitution Committee is refusing to accept oral evidence on Scottish independence from groups who speak for the 60% of the population of England who, from census returns, regard themselves as ‘English Only’. Only recently has it been possible to do this. The significance of this refusal should not be underestimated. It falls into the same category as the Table Office refusing Mr Redwood’s question.

    The UK must be ended, and its smug and arrogant Elites removed; it attempts to make fools of England and the English as with the example here, and only a true English parliament, with directly elected MPs for the purpose of representing England, will suffice to replace it; the sooner this anti-democratic British Ruling Elite is removed from positions of power and influence over the people of England the better. And frankly, I am no longer caring how.

    On St George’s Day next week fly the flag of St George, the flag of England, and support those who do, if you are not ready for this year, prepare for next. Ask your Council if they are flying the flag, and if not why not? Don’t be timid, and don’t stay at home. Go to the rally at West Bromwich, or any other, where there may be 20,000 English parading, proud of their identity and determined to show it. Its existence has been kept much hidden so far by those in the media who don’t want people to know about it.

  10. David Murfin
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    The answer to your question may be that the English Parliament in Westminster was thought to be deciding for the whole of the UK – hence the rise of SNP and Plaid Cymru?

    • Old Albion
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      I think you’re slightly confused David, let me explain. There is no such thing as an English parliament. Despite it standing in Westminster, the parliament to which you refer is the (dis)UK parliament. Within it are MP’s representing Scottish, Welsh, N.Irish and English constituencies.
      I hope that helps you understand.

  11. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    All this seems terribly up in the air. It does not seem to be a vote winner. Being represented properly? Leave that to the constitutional nerds!

    Until you see it like this: parliament is bypassed by the EU Commissioners who work in secret in cahoots with our secret civil service. No discussion. How much does this happen? Sorry, that is secret too. You have to guess.
    Meanwhile local initiatives (our two local schools, for instance) are carefully controlled – and banned -from London.

    We are faced by a barrage of things which we neither like nor ask for. Gay/Equal marriage is the classic. So is the Climate Change “debate” with the more and more unpopular windmills and the hypocritical blaming of the oil industry when we all know who is really to blame. The secret family courts and the secret Social Services desperately need looking at. Every now and then a new scandal erupts there.Then HS2 is being discussed although it is a done deal. The fishing scandal is rumbling on. Ukraine is maybe going to need some sort of military action and we Brits are not even invited to attend the planning meetings. The disrespect of our laws and our immigration and repatriation system hurts too.

    Every single one of these things has been down to the EU/the civil service/the BBC over which we have absolutely no control at all. Quite often they are not even allowed to be discussed. So, of course, we get our own back by neglecting the politicians. We do not vote.

  12. Alan
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I suppose the problem is that England is such a dominant part of the UK, in terms of wealth and population, that almost all decisions made by an English parliament would affect all parts of the UK, so the other parts should have a voice. If people are starting to feel that this is no longer the case then the argument for an English parliament becomes stronger, but I suspect it might cause the other parts of the UK to re-think what they get out of it. They might leave the UK but stay in the EU.

    I wonder if we could get to a situation where all parts of the current UK except England are part of the EU? Probably they are commercially so closely linked to England that they are forced to follow whatever decision England takes.

    • Jennifer A
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      We live in a country which could easily fit into a single US state. Are we saying that we can’t hang this tiny island together ?

      Probably not since there has been much mischief making and outside interference going on.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      “I wonder if we could get to a situation where all parts of the current UK except England are part of the EU?”

      I think that would only happen over the dead body of Cameron and/or any likely successor to Cameron.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted April 21, 2014 at 1:56 am | Permalink

        Denis–We could always leave without consulting his dead body

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          You’ve missed the bit about “and/or any likely successor”.

          I sometimes wonder what goes on instead the heads of some of my fellow Englishmen, they seem to have an inverted view of reality. If there was a Commons vote on whether to leave the EU and the MPs elected outside Scotland were evenly split then the MPs elected in Scotland would have the casting votes and would decide the result one way or another. But the MPs elected outside Scotland would not be evenly split, far from it; in particular among the 533 MPs elected in England by the English you would be lucky to find even a dozen who would vote to leave the EU, and while that remains the case the votes of the MPs elected elsewhere in the UK are basically irrelevant to whether or not England stays in the EU. There would be no magic liberation of England from the EU as a consequence of the disintegration of the UK, that can only come about when the English finally wake up and start electing MPs who are committed to getting us out of the EU, and those MPs will not have been the official candidates of any of the three old parties.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      “I suppose the problem is that England is such a dominant part of the UK”

      No its not a problem, the Scots, Welsh, and NI wanted their devolution , it was never part of their devolution terms that England should be denied theirs. From what I can gather, not that it is of any interest, the Scots are in favour of England getting its own Parliament.

      What this is really about is the British establishment trying to put up spurious arguments to protect their interests, nobody else’s.

      PS I gather there is equally massive disparity in US states, but they get along fine.

  13. Iain Moore
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    To say I have mixed emotions reading your piece would be an understatement, outraged ? Yes. Depressed? Yes. Gob-smacked? Yes.

    I have accused British politicians squatting in English constituency seats from failing in their duty to English people. I thought they weren’t bothering to care about English people, I hadn’t realised that part of the story was that British establishment were blocking and censoring any attempt to raise English peoples concerns. I thought that it was an cultural thing where the likes of the BBC refused to raise English peoples because it didn’t rate in their centre left metropolitan group think, I hadn’t realised that the problem wasn’t indifference from the British establishment. but proactive discrimination .

    If Parliament wan’t even allow a question to be asked on behalf of English people, then Parliament is of no use to us and we are left with the only option to take (stronger democratic measures ed).

  14. Mark B
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I think the answer to you conundrum lies withing this piece. You mention that the Tables Committee will filter out any questions that the Government cannot answer. Clearly they cannot answer it, because their is no one, and that’s not a particularly good answer.

    Might I suggest you re-frame the question.

    You could ask; “Since we have a Minister for Scotland, Wales, N.Ireland and even Europe, when is HMG going to create a Minister for England, bearing in mind, that all the aforementioned departments have their own elected Parliaments and Assembly Government, and England currently has neither ?”

    All the English ask for, is parity with the other Home Nations, nothing more.

  15. alan Wheatley
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    A fair question, but only one of many such questions that might be asked.

    For instance the highlander may well ask who speaks for them, especially remembering the role of many a lowlander in the Highland Clearances.

    A Cornishman may well ask who speaks for them; for example with regard to the forecast losses expected in the far South-West as evidenced in the KPMG report on HS2.

    And so on and on…..

    Everyone wants their voice to be heard. But how can governance be by blending voices?

    I would have hoped that after 300 years of trying the UK identity would rise to prominence at the expense of other identities. But no. Are we heading back to the rule of the tribe?

  16. Richard1
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    This seems to be very low hanging fruit indeed for the Conservatives. The Conservatives should make it a manifesto commitment to introduce an English Grand committee comprising only English MPs who will speak and vote on issues affecting only England. If as is likely Scotland votes to stay but wants ‘devo max’ then even more issues,perhaps even including tax, will be decided by English MPs. This could be a very derisable outcome and might prevent much of the damage a UK Labour Govt might do.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Cameron put something like that in the 2010 Conservative manifesto, I gather it was in the Libdem manifesto, and even in the coalition agreement. They just couldn’t be bothered to honour their promises, too busy worrying about homosexuals marriage equality than English peoples equality.

      Personally I think a grand committee is a rotten idea, why should English people accept this tokenism when we deserve a Parliament every bit as others?

      • Richard1
        Posted April 21, 2014 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        No reason it should be tokenism. Why do we need another Parliament full of paid politicians, another set of civil servants etc? Haven’t we got enough?!

        • JoolsB
          Posted April 21, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          Richard. an English Parliament would not require more politicians. Just replace a large proportion of the UK politicians with English politicians. An EP would mean nowhere near 650 UK MPs sitting sitting in the UK Parliament would be required for the few remaining reserved matters, 100 should be more than enough. But isn’t that the nub of the matter, how do you get our self serving MPs to give up their cosy little set-up in the name of democracy?

  17. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I often hear that this has been blocked and that has been blocked and indeed sometimes a whole persons input in life has actually been blocked.
    Orally is OK as long as it is not over a telephone , then it can be blocked and the blockers rebound their own slant which is usually the antithesis of what is asked or said. I remember phoning RCN Direct last year and the helpful lady on the other side of the phone demonstrated that she had listened to every word and put my point forward, however when it was filtered through to local level , the powers that be tried to make a fool of my hunt for justice.

  18. Martin
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    The Home Secretary does have some responsibilities for Scotland. Terrorism, illegal drugs, immigration and passports are in Mrs May’s in tray. Even more oddly the Culture Minister also has similar responsibilities.

  19. Oscar De Ville
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Interesting article – and fairly representing the increasing concern of your respondents. But in asking this type of question are we not simply encouraging the fragmentation which inevitably led to the likes of Salmond ? Are we not still “upside-down”. And why so passive before the God of “devolution” ?
    It is not long since the splendid Douglas-Hume pleaded for at least one Scot to be a member of each Cabinet of this united “realm”. Blairite disdain for our constitution has since given rise to fancy buildings, more bureaucracies and quite unnecessary power-seeking even when there is no need (eg the Welsh EU-type re-vote).
    And now, with Scotland perhaps to be shed altogether, WE “English” seem to be pleading for an EU-type regional recognition such as Wales and Northern Ireland !
    Such timidity ! What would Churchill or Thatcher say ?

  20. behindthefrogs
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    If Scotland votes for independence that will mean more of Westminster will speak for England. If they don’t we must ensure that any moves towards devomax include the provision of someone to speak for England. I am in favour of periods in Westminster, say every Friday, when only English MPs attend and English matters are discussed.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      “If Scotland votes for independence that will mean more of Westminster will speak for England.”

      553 MPs elected in England divided by the total of 650 MPs = 82%

      Just take away the 59 MPs elected in Scotland without any other change:

      533 MPs elected in England divided by the total of 591 MPs = 90%.

      If the English can’t get fair treatment when they elect 82% of the MPs I’m not convinced that it make any difference if they elected 90% of the MPs.

      • Andrew
        Posted April 21, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        Oh I can. Take this present Parliament. Scotland returns 41 Labour, 11 LibDems, 6 SNP & 1 Tory. As Health and Education, for example, are devolved matters why are all these MPs allowed to vote on English Health and Education ? And why is there a deputy Education minster who is a Libdem when the Tories have a majority in England and should have full control of these areas ? Why do the LibDems think they have a right to block policy or inflict policy on England for which they have no mandate ? And that in a nutshell is the problem. And that is why devolution was so grossly unfair on the English, but it was all about Labour Party politics.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

          All of which could easily be stopped if the MPs elected in England decided that it was wrong and it had to stop; 82% would outvote 18% just as effectively and almost as comprehensively as 90% would outvote 10%. So why hasn’t it been stopped? Because the English keep electing MPs who aren’t that bothered about it and are prepared to allow it to carry on, that’s why. And then some of the English start blaming the Scots for the consequences of their own poor electoral choices, it’s quite grotesque.

  21. CharlieTheChump
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Forget scots independence – which I support, even though they will cock it up – what about English local democracy. We already have the council infrastructure, all that is required is legislation regarding local funding.

  22. James Matthews
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Quite gobsmacked that you were not allowed even to pose the question, not just because of what it says about the position of England in this unequal and disunited union but also because of the implications as to the limits of parliamentary democracy. Are you able to ask for an explanation? If not, perhaps a question on who speaks for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland might be an interesting for the purpose of comparison.

  23. Raddiy
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Who speaks for England?

    Well certainly not the Lib/Lab/Con, who even as we speak are trying yet again to destroy the integrity of England as a nation with another attempt to divide and rule through regional flim flammery.

    Who speaks for England?

    We do the people, and through our chosen vehicle UKIP we will be listened to. We will have our English parliament in a democratic federal sytem either with the political establishment or without them, they should be warned we will politically destroy those who stand in our way.

  24. bluedog
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    A wonderful question JR, sadly of an embarrassing and unanswerable simplicity, or so it would seem. The UK itself stands on the cusp of two events that will open the way for an answer, the Scottish independence vote this year and Cameron’s EU vote, next year, sometime, never. If Scotland goes the question is answered. If Scotland stays a great opportunity for true political entrepreneurship and leadership beckons. After Blair’s botched partial devolution of the UK, only an English parliament can meet the political needs of England. There is nothing wrong with British identity, and it will still be necessary to have a UK Parliament, but the English need to be on equal terms with other members of the Union in all regards. Currently they are not. The mechanism for delivery of political equality is a federal constitution, of which there are a number of excellent examples around the world. If we could turn the clock back and abolish the devolved parliaments there would be no need for a federal constitution with all the risks it entails to a number of inter-locking settlements that comprise the current British Constitution. The principle danger would be that the transition to a federal constitution could trigger an uncontrollable wave of republicanism. But the highly successful tour of Australia and NZ by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shows how these sentiments can be managed.

    One final point. Where is the political leader to heal the wounds and lead Britain forward as a united nation if Scotland stays?

  25. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I agree with all of this. One of the ways of asserting English rights is to say ‘No’ to the outrageous Devo Max ideas of the Celtic countries, particularly Scotland. If you throw scraps of meat to a carnivore, it merely encourages its appetite.

    We’ve been here many times with sovereignty vs the power of unelected supra national institutions. I heard the siren voice of Lord Heseltine on the radio this morning arguing (as he has many times before) that supra national organisations are necessary, that they will become more and more dominant and that we had better get used to it.

    We need the power of rational argument and propaganda to deal with the most dangerous supra national institution of the lot, the EU. Fact and fiction must be put into their proper place:
    – It is NOT true that millions of jobs are threatened if we leave the EU
    – It IS true that, because we would be free to do other trade deals, we might actually create more jobs outside the EU.
    – It is NOT true that we need freedom of movement within Europe. The effects vary from Member State to Member State. Germany’s population is not increasing and is the same today as it was 20 years ago. The UK’s has increased dramatically with effects that are, on balance, NOT beneficial.
    – It IS true that, because of freedom of movement within the EU, UK immigration decisions are in practice often taken by the Governments of Italy and Malta.
    – It IS true that a European Super State, with a permanent President, a Foreign Secretary and a military capability has been authorised by the Lisbon ‘Treaty’ and is in the process of being formed.
    – It IS true that the Lisbon ‘Treaty’ is in reality a European Constitution and that the slide towards a European Superstate can continue without further treaty changes (Messrs Clegg and Miliband, please note). Angela Merkel has often boasted of this publicly (always listen to the enemy).

    It is also true that Mr Cameron’s shopping list of 7 points for renegotiation with the EU is thin and that he has specified no ‘red lines’. It is also true in negotiations that if you don’t ask you don’t get, and that Mr Cameron is likely to recommend a YES vote in the referendum (if it passes the Lords) regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.

    The Conservatives are likely to come 3rd in the European elections, and so far UK opinion polls for the General Election have not moved towards the Conservatives. Between May and this Autumn, the 100+ Eurosceptic backbenchers are going to have to decide whether the Prime Minister can be persuaded to harden his negotiation stance or whether a change of leader is necessary.

  26. ian wragg
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    And still you wonder why UKIP is in the ascendancy. Every paper I pick up is trying to rubbish Farage, The public are not fooled. Yesterday I was talking to a very strong Labour supporter/Methodist Minister. She was appalled at the MSM trying to rubbish Farage about his allowances (as opposed to expenses) especially after CMD’s debacle re Miller.
    The legacy partie4sd are in for a shock over the next few years. I just hope we can get our country back peacefully as I dread to think of the alternative. Get it back we will, rest assured.

  27. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Of course you wouldn’t be allowed to ask that Question, JR, because however much you and the other 532 MPs elected in England were concerned about properly representing your English constituents you could always be easily outvoted by the 59 MPs elected in Scotland. Obvious, it’s all the fault of the Scots.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      lol

  28. Robert Taggart
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Because Westminster be the British Parliament – mefears ALL business be ‘British’ business – even when it only concerns England !
    Devolution be ‘done and dusted’ – time to ‘move on’ – to the ‘F’ word. The equalising of devolved competences – for the Celtic whinge – would bring about the opportunity to obviously devolve the same competences to newly created English Ministries within Westminster. Ergo…
    English Education Ministry.
    English Healthcare Ministry.
    English Interior Ministry (local government +)
    English Welfare Ministry.
    The challenge then would be to have only English constituency MP’s as the relevant Ministers – not to mention English ‘nationals’ – not Celtic carpet baggers !

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 20, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Just think, an English Welfare ministry. We in England could exclude foreign welfare claimants who have paid nothing in (provided we got out of the EU), and if Mr Salmond gets his divorce from the rest of the UK, he could indulge himself and have just as many of them as he wanted.

      At last! An end to the English housing crisis is in sight!

      Tad

  29. Richard Hobbs
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    John, many thanks for letting us know about this.
    I am appalled and very worried about what is happening to our country. Just where are we going?
    Devolution for Scotland, Wales and N.I. is one thing but some have an agenda to break up the country I know and love. Others just want to crush the English. It is time for even quiet people like me to stand up and be counted.
    If, God forbid, Scotland goes then we need leaders who will really stand up for the English and our interests. We have been ‘understanding’ for too long.
    If, DV, Scotland stays with us then a proper Federal system for all of us seems the right thing, with equal treatment for England.
    I am trying hard to contain my rant – but, we, English, seem to be at the butt end of everything these days and we need more people like you running the place.
    I am amazed that all has come to this. Perhaps I am too naïve!
    Richard

  30. NickW
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I think Mr Redwood has successfully and succinctly answered the question;

    “Why are the English, (and only the English), deserting the Conservative party in large numbers to join UKIP?”

  31. Simon Lawrence
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    It’s such a shame we’re not a valid race.

    We could counter-ATTACK with discrimination laws, if we were one, just like all the proper human races do.

    Oh well… never mind… mustn’t grumble.

    I know my place…

    Write back and threaten prosecution.

  32. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    According CH 4 the polls are looking very close.

  33. Martin Ryder
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    The elephant in the room where the governance of the UK is concerned is that England is an elephant harnessed together with a horse, a pony and a big dog. England has 85% of the population and an overwhelming number of MPs and so the elephant could lead the way, whatever the horse, pony and dog might want.

    The English could insist that the Prime Minister is always English but we do not and often the cabinet seems to be dominated by Scots, who always organise affairs to suit Scotland. This is fair enough as all UK MPs are equal, regardless of where they come from, how many people each MP represents, and how many people voted for each MP.

    It would be difficult to have a British Government, with a British Prime Minister, working in Parliament alongside an English Government, with an English First Minister. This would apply even if both ministers were from the same party, as both would be fighting each other (Dave and Boris?) for the best MPs for their ministries; and then there would be the turf wars. It would be even more difficult if they were from different parties. It would be permanent civil war.

    We could have separate Parliaments (one in the Lords and one in the Commons) but would we really want to vote and pay for even more MPs? I wouldn’t.

    I would suggest that we continue as we are but that the Deputy Prime Minister should always represent an English constituency and should be in charge of all the English Secretaries of State (Health, Education, Welfare, etc). The Prime Minister, who could represent any constituency in the UK, would be in charge of the DPM and all the British Secretaries of State (Exchequer, Foreign, Home and Defence, etc).

    It could be, as now, that the majority of the British electorate will sometimes vote for a different party than the majority of the English electorate. This will prevent the permanent dominance of the English over the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish, which I, an Englishman, consider to be a good thing if the United Kingdom is to continue.

    One week in every month could be given to British matters in Parliament and three to English matters; which means that the MPs representing Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish constituencies could go back to their own parliaments when English matters are being debated.

  34. Aunty Estab
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    What a revelation, that a question like this can be blocked,good thing we have your diary to inform us of what really goes on behind our backs. I`m no republican but would rather the press spent more time on this kind of thing and less on baby George or which pair of shoes the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing. Everyone needs to know how these arrogant people carry on, whilst having their wages paid by those they hold in contempt. Lets have a massive vote for UKIP to show LibLabCon what we think of them.

  35. Iain Gill
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Good luck on this one John.
    You are correct of course.
    I don’t see much hope though with our current version of supposed democracy in place.

  36. David Price
    Posted April 21, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Was no reason given, or even the name of the people who decided the question should not be raised? Are the Table Office decisions minuted or documented?

    I can see why such a discussion at this point might possibly be seen as a spark at the wrong time given the impending Scottish referendum and the so far vapourous EU referendum. But do TPTB really hope the issue will simply go away if no one is allowed to mention it? Salmond’s and his activists tribal view of everyone else in the UK is quite a large hint that the game is up.

    Reply. Their decisions are not minuted or recorded. The written question is returned to the MP, who can then pursue a negotiation with the Table Office if he or she wishes.

  37. David Price
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the reply. I looked a bit further and discovered “Factsheet P1″ covering “Parliamentary Questions” – http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-information-office/p01.pdf‎ . This lays out the rules for questions but has been archived and defers to the About Parliament website where there is no obvious current replacement.

    The last paragraph of the archived document reads …

    Devolved Matters
    The rules governing Parliamentary Questions require that questions should relate to matters for which Ministers are responsible. In July 1999, following the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales, various matters became the responsibility of Ministers answerable to those bodies. The Commons Procedure Committee recommended that the rules on questions should be revised to take account of devolution, and on 25 October 1999 the House approved a motion on this subject. The effect of the resolution is that, in general, Parliamentary Questions may not be tabled at Westminster on matters that have been devolved to Scotland and Wales. This has been taken as also applying to Northern Ireland whenever the Assembly is sitting.”

    This suggests the only proper place to raise questions relating to England is the UK Parliament – since no questions can be raised concerning the devolved regions then logically only questions about England can be raised, so all Ministers are responsible..

    Maybe re-phrase the question to “Who will be accountable for representing England’s interests following the Scottish referendum”?

  38. Alan Wheatley
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I have just heard that on Classic FM that tomorrow, being St. George’s Day, the Hall of Fame Hour will be exclusively English music. So, with The Lark Ascending displacing Rachmaninov from the No.1 position in the 2014 Chart the news is bright, the news is Classic FM!!!!!

  39. penelope pitstop
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    John Redwood should go out in ablaze of glory and do the decent thing.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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