English votes for English issues

I was glad the Prime Minister announced his support for this measure from the doorstep of 10 Downing Street yesterday morning. Mr Hague has a crucial task to pilot this through the political difficulties ahead.

Listening to media voices yesterday, there are still plenty of misunderstandings about this. The first is the question what happens if the majority of English MPs is a different party from the majority of Union MPs? Far from posing a problem the answer to that is the English majority chooses the Ministers, makes the laws and settles the policies in the devolved areas. In this it would be the mirror image of Scotland. They have an SNP government. There will never be a Union SNP government, as they never fight seats outside Scotland. The Union government can still govern in Westminster, even though a rival party is busily making decisions and passing laws about the devolved matters in Scotland. England needs the same arrangement.

Then there is the question how do we define an English issue which Scottish MPs can’t vote on. That too is easy. It is any issue which is defined as a devolved issue for the Scottish Parliament. We just want the same list for England.

They ask how would the Chancellor of the Exchequer still run the economy if England had devolved budgets. In the same way as he does at the moment with devolved Scottish budgets. The Union could still control overall levels of spending and borrowing, and would still control considerable tax revenue.

They ask why don’t we devolve power to cities? Because not every one lives in cities, and we all in England want a fair settlement for us in an age of Scottish devolution. We will want one English Income Tax rate when that is devolved to Scotland, not many. English MPs could of course decide to give more powers to English cities if that is popular and sensible.

Labour still hankers after the break up of England through regional governments. That EU plan was decisively rejected by the voters of the North East when they were offered regional government. I note Labour does not propose splitting Scotland and Wales into regions though that could also be proposed.

So why not agree England wants to make more of her own decisions just like Scotland? The cheapest and easiest way to start down that road is English votes for English issues. If Mr Hague cannot get agreement to that from Labour then we need to shame them into accepting that Scottish MPs voting on English business is simply no longer acceptable. If Labour wishes to win in England as it has in the past it too needs to speak for England on this matter.

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105 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Indeed that is what we need but Cameron/Hague simply cannot deliver it.

    “If Mr Hague cannot get agreement to that from Labour then we need to shame them into accepting that Scottish MPs voting on English business is simply no longer acceptable.”

    Of course Labour will not accept that and they have no shame this is politics. Their approach will be to delay & delay and then stitch it all up after the election.

    I did not hear Cameron say “English votes for English issues” perhaps I missed it. What exactly did he say?

    He certainly needs to get moving. The election can still be won, but real action is very urgently needed. Shifting the party from the current tax borrow and waste, pro EU, anti-English, anti freedom, expensive energy green crap drivel, over taxation, ratting on IHT and endless over regulation back to sensible real Tory government of the complete opposite.

    • Richard1
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Today’s lunchtime news on BBC radio was led with the news that Gordon Brown has reaffirmed the breakneck timetable for more powers to Scotland. Have I missed something and has Gordon Brown joined the coalition? I hope not its bad enough having the LibDems, but one of the main reasons I voted Conservative was to get rid of Gordon Brown after the economic disaster of his chancellorship. Many others voted against Labour for the same reason, so why are we now shoehorned into conceeding yet more powers to Scotland without (if Brown and others have their way) the same devolution for England at the behest of Mr Brown?

      • Peter Stroud
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

        I have to agree. Brown suddenly exploded on to the scene and promised wide ranging concessions to the Scots, in exchange for a NO vote. Who asked him to do this? I assumed it was Miliband; but I am now suspicious that it could have been our esteemed PM. Unfortunately, this is one genie that, once free of the bottle, will fight tooth and nail not to be returned. Oh dear, oh dear!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      So Gordon Brown claims today he will ensure that “The Vow” will be honoured. What authority does this disastrous, private pension robbing PM – and now back bencher, have to honour anything at all or indeed to make such a vow in the first place?

      It is clearly a matter that needs the support and approval of the UK voters.
      Just as the Scottish voters were to given a say the English, Irish and Welsh need to be given one to. It is doubtless the English who will end up paying for these extra state sector workers and cost after all.

      • Kenneth R Moore
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

        ‘That bigoted women’ Brown never had much care or concern for the average man or women in the street so the views of the voters that kicked him out of office don’t count for much.
        He seemed to spend most of his time in office appointing Scottish cronies as ministers, raiding the Boe’s gold reserves and generally taking anything he didn’t like ‘ down a peg or two’ with his incompetent and reckless actions.

        Brown and his cronies won’t accept the removal of Scots Mp’s votes lightly – I think Mr Redwood is in for a tough fight – odds on Cameron and Hague to buckle at the first hurdle.

        A wise Pm could capitalise on the Scots referendum to secure a Conservative victory. But we know that Mr Cameron is not a wise man and is uncomfortable in his Conservative skin enough not to want an outright majority in 2015.
        Dr Redwood and his colleagues must fill the void left by Cameron’s ineptitude!!

    • David Price
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:28 am | Permalink

      As we all know it is important to establish exactly what was said rather than what we think we heard I looked for a transcript of the announcement. As part of his announcement Cameron said;

      “Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs. The rights of these voters need to be respected, preserved and enhanced as well.

      It is absolutely right that a new and fair settlement for Scotland should be accompanied by a new and fair settlement that applies to all parts of our United Kingdom. In Wales, there are proposals to give the Welsh government and Assembly more powers. And I want Wales to be at the heart of the debate on how to make our United Kingdom work for all our nations. In Northern Ireland, we must work to ensure that the devolved institutions function effectively.

      I have long believed that a crucial part missing from this national discussion is England. We have heard the voice of Scotland – and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard. The question of English votes for English laws – the so-called West Lothian question – requires a decisive answer.

      So, just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, should be able to vote on these issues and all this must take place in tandem with, and at the same pace as, the settlement for Scotland.

      I hope that is going to take place on a cross-party basis. I have asked William Hague to draw up these plans. We will set up a Cabinet Committee right away and proposals will also be ready to the same timetable. I hope the Labour Party and other parties will contribute.”

      The transcript of his announcement is on the UK Gov website at;

      https://www.gov.uk/government/news/scottish-independence-referendum-statement-by-the-prime-minister

  2. Mark B
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    What an unnecessarily over complicated and bureaucratic fudge !!!

    We have before us, an opportunity to enact great constitutional a administrative change throughout the whole of the UK. And you people blew it !

    Your desire to hang of to the last vestiges of power (those that have not been given to the EU – Yet !) and keep the charade of democracy going, is lamentable.

    We need radical change. We need to put the HoL on a true democratic footing, by changing in into a full Senate, with equal number of representatives from the four Home Nations.

    We need a TRUE English Parliament, not some halfway house where arguments can be had as to who gets to do and say what. And as Denis Cooper has pointed out, if a Labour Government get into power purely on the back of English votes, which it has in the past, then it will feel it has the mandate to fiddle the system to their advantage, as much of what we have now will still be in place. ie a UK Parliament.

    Further. If a leader of a political party is non-English and he gets elected, and then a points a Cabinet that mostly comprises of non-English Ministers who can whip English MP’s on matters it wishes to put through Parliament, how can that said to be fair ??

    NO !!!! We need an English Parliament, with and English First Minister, Ministers and MP’s. We also need to separate the Executive from the Legislature to doubly ensure that in the event of the aforementioned not being adopted, we have a fullback position to further protect England and the English.

    I also note from the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/19/scotland-constitutional-reform-david-cameron-ed-miliband

    A government-commissioned report by a former clerk to the Commons, Sir William Mackay, had proposed Scottish MPs should still be able to vote on some English issues, a position also adopted on Friday by Clegg.

    It is all about power and who gets to use it, and not about fair, equal and just representation.

    Reply And how do you intend to achieve your radical reform when you have practically no votes in the Commons or Lords to put through any of your proposals?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      By persuading sensible people like yourself to support it!

      • David Price
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        Mr Redwood’s has clearly had a big hand in this move towards improving the English position for which we should be grateful, and continue to attempt rational persuasion.

        I cannot see a democratic country withdrawing previouly devolved democracy from Scotland so a first, necessary step must be to equalise the democratic representation, to establish a distinct English parliamentary process. This could be followed by moves towards a physically separate parliament and perhaps even more radical approaches such as how representation is elected, for example.

        Wouldn’t the second necessery step be to establish a sustainable structure and process for the UK level?

      • Hope
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        Better still a referendum of English people, eligibility to vote defined by their nationality and length of living in the country.

  3. eeyore
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Lord Hennessy on the wireless yday made much of the problem of relative size, ie that England is so much larger and richer than the other UK nations. His point, presumably, was that in a federal system an English parliament could be overbearing, even overwhelming, to other parliaments, including that of the UK as a whole. I could not quite see it but am very willing to concede that that might be because I am too dim (or too English). Your comments would be enlightening, Mr Redwood.

    Reply His comments are silly. The Union Parliament will be the main Parliament and will decide general economic policy, foreign affairs, defence etc. The English parliament will have no override or say on these UK matters.

    .

    • Richard1
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Lord Hennessey is over-rated, constantly wheeled out by the BBC as a constitutional expert. He might be that but he’s also a lefty, so will share the concern of others on the left that devolution to England might hamper a future Labour govts ability impose their policies on England. The Labour Party needs to understand that the UK is a democracy. If they want political power in England then they need to get elected in England, just as they have to in Scotland.

      • Richard1
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Apologies to Lord Hennsey I think I have confused him with someone else. He probably is left wing compared to me. His comments in this case don’t seem sensible even so. Its a very simple thing to have English votes for English issues. To an extent it already happens as SNP MPs voluntarily don’t vote on devolved issues. There is no need for all this fuss.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        Are not all BBC experts “of the left” and rarely experts in much at all other than saying BBC think things?

    • outsider
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Peter Hennessy is not silly, precious perhaps but not silly. England would be like Russia within the USSR. But that issue can be minimized if income tax is not devolved.
      Income tax is the biggest tax. It is the most central to the tax system; for instance Gordon Brown’s disastrous 1997 pension grab, designed to close the then-remaining structuring deficit, was merely a change in income tax regulations. Income tax is also ultimately the main tax variable in economic management.
      Other taxes of equal or similar value could be devolved that would be more relevant to “local” needs. Corporation tax and property stamp duty are examples. It is still unclear what powers are planned to be devolved but I have heard mention of social security. If that is the case, the obvious tax to devolve would be National Insurance Contributions, which raise about three quarters of the revenue that income tax yields.
      As I recall, NICs were until relatively recently fixed, announced and voted on separately from the annual Budget and Finance Bill. If only NICs were devolved, the Chancellor’s annual Union Budget could go on much as before and only NIC revenue would have to be hypothecated as it once theoretically was.

      • bluedog
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        It seems to this observer that granting taxing powers to devolved entities is a fundamental error where the devolved tax competes with a tax at the central government level. Thus the idea that there should be an income tax at both the UK and the devolved level is absurd; which possibly explains its appeal to Cameron.

        Much more sensible is a policy whereby the revenue from a complete tax class, say VAT, is allocated to the funding of the block grants made by the UK to devolved entities.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    One thing for sure is that England does not want to be broken up into regions we want far fewer politician and taxing organisations not far more.

    England will eventually have her say, let us hope Cameron can finally achieve something positive.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Dan Hannan mentions that England being broken up into regions along county lines (rather than an English parliament) would work to keep spending in check, “You vote for socialism, you pay for it.”

      Alas the whole of England would still end up underwriting spendthrift parties. Would we really let regions go bankrupt ?

      • Richard1
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        That’s the point. In the UK if anything goes wrong eg in a school or hospital there are immediate calls for the minister or even the PM to resign. Look at the Scottish referendum. The NHS was a major topic with ‘Westminster’ being blamed for any and all problems. But the NHS has been devolved for 15 years. There is some possibility if we get devolution at the level of the 4 nations there will actually be responsibility and power in the same place. If we just send a whole lot of money to the regions, perhaps even creating a new tier of local govt, we will just have more local politicians making big spending promises at the expense of the rest of us with ‘Westminster’ to blame if the money runs out or anything goes wrong. I don’t see how Dan Hannan’s idea would work in the UK.

      • sjb
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        Interesting point.

        Consider Birmingham City Council. They recently lost an equal pay court case and are obliged to compensate former female employees to the tune of £757 million.

      • forthurst
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        “Dan Hannan mentions that England being broken up into regions along county lines”

        No process of fracture would be required to create county government throughout the UK, other than that of reasserting the prior roles of the counties and revoking the local government reforms commencing with the those of the disastrous Heath administration. In the bad old days, the UK parliament did concern itself with matters affecting the whole nation and its position in the world.

        It is probably as a result of the welfare state with the additional expenditure that it entailed that central government took powers from the counties in return for providing the lion’s share of tax revenue and there has been a steady increase in the meddling in local affairs by central government since.

        If counties had not lost their primacy in local matters, there would almost certainly not have been identifiable democracy deficits in the nations that make up the united kingdom and the ongoing absurdities that are the consequence. There is no doubt that when local matters were decided locally, there was a civic pride reflected in the great buildings both civic and scholastic, with tertiary education facilitated to support local industries, which local people created themselves from their own resources rather than from bounty from central government.

        Would it be possible to recreate local government as it was? What tax and benefit reforms would be required to achieve it?

  5. Philip
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    We already have an English parliament, Westminster, around 85% of MPs are elected from England. A devolved would duplicate Westminster and probably follow Westminster’s one size fits all policy, where the one size fits the S.E but does not fit the North East or South West. For true democracy we need devolved regional parliaments that can respond to local needs.

    • Newmania
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      That is misleading – 85% of MPs are elected representing various political parties , no MPs are elected to safeguard England`s interests, your remark is not wrong but it is irrelevant.
      Either Party might in theory use MPs imported from loosely federated foreign nations on devolved issues .The Conservative Party has also used |N Ireland Unionists for this purpose but the present danger is that Labour might win with a 30 seat majority including 40 Scottish MPs . That is precisely where we are today and it is clear that such a government would be untenable especially now after the experience of the Scottish Referendum.
      Regional layers of government have been rejected 4 to 1 but even if it were not there can be no serious independence for regions ..A because they are non existent and B because we will wish to transfer funds form wealthy areas to poorer ones within the country.
      There may be room for tinkering although I am not convinced but this will not settle the English problem .

      I wish people would understand that it is because a Labour government would have no legitimacy unless it won England ( which it usually has ) , that this problem must be clearly solved . If England is to be governable within the UK it cannot be on the basis of a Mac Raj , A full democratic England would develop a politics that would enable consent with the UK . It is only the strange position we have now that stops this process taking place .

    • Old Albion
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Nonsense, There is no English parliament. 650 MP’s represent the (dis)UK
      Mr Redwood is simply suggesting those MP’s representing English constituencies should act as an English Parliament on some days.
      Regional Devolution will be the death knell for England as a unified country. It would play right into the hands of the EU.

    • wyrdtimes
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      The thing with national parliaments is that they usually work in the interests of the nation involved. Westminster has been working against the English interest since long, long ago. Westminster is the UK parliament, it’s filled with UK MPs. The one’s who “represent” English seats have consistently failed the English on funding, services and virtually all else besides. WM is NOT an English parliament, restricting Scottish, Welsh and NIrish UK MPs will not make it one.

      It also doesn’t matter where you are in England. The English get a raw deal from the UK parliament. If you live in England there’s a good chance your kids will be buried under a mountain of debt for a higher education and your elderly relatives will be ruined by the price of care both free elsewhere in the “UK”.

      Dividing England into regions is divide and conquer. It is the UK parl turning England against itself for no better reason than England is a political inconvenience to an out of touch UK political elite. Why would the English want – why would we allow that? England united is best for England and the English.

    • cosmic
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      We haven’t had an English Parliament since 1707.

      We’ve had a UK Parliament with a majority of English MPs, situated in London, which isn’t the same thing at all.

      This worked well enough until we had the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and NI assemblies.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Common sense put objectively Cosmic. As long as there are Welsh and Scottish assemblies there will be nothing but trouble.

        • cosmic
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

          My preferred solution would be to dismantle the regional assemblies and go back to pre-1998, possibly with EVEL, SVSL etc.

          Realistically, that’s about as likely as persuading a fired bullet to return to a gun and become unfired.

          The next best (and realistic) option is a federal UK with an English Parliament and a balanced devolutionary settlement that’s stable. I don’t particularly like the idea of an English Parliament for a number of reasons, but I like the alternatives far less.

          The worst option, and one that’s bound to create trouble, is a Labour produced unfair codge, not dealing with the WLQ or Barnett, and inflicting some devolutionary mess on England involving cities and entirely to serve their narrow electoral advantage (although considering their judgement in hatching the 1997 settlement, that would probably have unintended consequences and backfire).

  6. Mark W
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    One bit of contemptible nonsense I heard yesterday to diminish this long overdue idea and promote regionislation was that England is much bigger than Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland. Well So?

    California is somewhat bigger than, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, N Dakota, S Dakota combined and no one idiotically suggests regionalisation for its state government.

    Get over it. One England.

    • Mark W
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      In reality this is Labour and LibDems going about the business of diminishing market towns and rural areas.

      Odd as most marginals are the larger towns that they clearly wish to ignore. So it’s quite clear that if you lived in say Kettering, Corby or Northampton, Labour wish to make you an insignificant part of Nottingham.

  7. Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    I remain confused. What happens if the English parliament is controlled by Tories but the ‘Union’ parliament with its 40+ Labour MPs has a Labour majority?

    Who rules?

    Reply Conservatives decide the English matters, and the UK Parliament the Union matters – just as we currently have an SNP government for Scotland and a Coalition government for the UK.

  8. David Price
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Things are getting interesting ..

    I think the first step is that only English voices should be heard on how English government is structured. Scottish MPs, MSP must have no say nor should representatives of Wales or Northern Ireland.

    Whether Labour accept this or not is their problem, they clearly will not like it and try to derail things with demands for a “national” convention and whatever but this is no time to be timid – the English had no say in the Scottish devolution process.

    Secondly, I suspect the biggest argument you will have will be concerning regional government, best assemble many effective arguments against this as part of a strategy that meets the needs of all England and not just London.

    The constitution of the UK is a different matter though.

    Who knows, maybe if the Conservatives win on this bug issue and become the good guys for a change they may like it and be invigorated to take the next small step – leaving the EU.

  9. Mick Anderson
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    JR: That’s nice and simple, and well explained. It is fair and easy to implement.

    Unfortunately there are so many vested interests involved that the final criteria will probably start to rival the tax codes in length and complexity. For a start, the Scots will object if they don’t have massive (and increased) subsidy paid for by the auld enemy.

    • formula57
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Exactly – nice and simple and Alex has shown us the way and Mr Redwood will lead us.

      As for how the money is split, Alex has shown us the way in that respect too. (The SNP may yet conclude it would have been better to keep quiet about devolution and independence! LOL).

  10. Richard1
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    The Labour Party’s contortions and obfuscations on this issue are a disgrace. It was Labour which chose to have a Scottish parliament – not for example devolution to Aberdeenshire, Glasgow, Edinburgh etc. So we need the same thing for England. Now they are trying to push the issue into the long grass by setting up some committee to report in years to come. There should be no question of any further powers for Scotland until it is settled there will be English votes for English issues. If we don’t want to do it in a rush then we can’t make further reforms in Scotland in a rush. For some absurd reason we hear about the ‘timetable laid down by Gordon Brown’. Last time I checked Gordon Brown got the boot by the electorate, by the biggest margin since the start of democracy in the UK. He speaks for no-one but himself, or perhaps the Labour Party. Brown has also denied the need for English votes for English issues.

    If the Labour Party continue with this unprincipled and unfair denial of parallel devolution to England, the Conservatives should say fine, let’s make it an election issue. Under no circs should there be a fudge. Conservative MPs must make it clear to the govt that they will vote and campaign against any devolution settlement which excludes England at a national level.

  11. Alte Fritz
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    David Miliband yesterday urged that further Scottish powers be granted without delay. An English settlement should await a post general election convention.

    I have tried all night to wonder why on earth he would want to do that. Very unworthily, I wondered if electoral advantage came into it. No. Impossible.

    Mr Redwood should send today’s post to Ed to help him along.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Labour’s “Electoral advantage” surely not perish the thought.

    • cosmic
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      This thing was kicked off by calculations of electoral advantage by Labour in 1997.

      The latest instalment was engendered by a collective outbreak of panic. Now the panic is over, there seems to be a collective regret and immediate return to calculations of electoral advantage, especially by Miliband.

  12. JoeSoap
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    All true.
    Now you have to ensure your leader keeps his promise in his speech which is reflected absolutely in what you say here.

    This is Cameron’s last chance saloon. If he ends up invoking the Vow but not the promise, surely even you must see his end as leader is nigh.

  13. Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I agree with much of what you have said, except that I don’t think William Hague is the right person to “pilot this through”, at all.

    Firstly, he’s damaged goods in terms of his “we will not let matters rest there” Lisbon Treaty obfuscation. Nobody who was watching will forget that or trust him. Also, shortly after Hague was (reported ed) sharing a room (etc ed), he went all wobbly on all things EU and appeared to capitulate. It was as if he received a personality transplant, overnight.

    Secondly, as Nigel Farage says, we need a constitutional convention. The constitutional change that accommodation the English question would require is too far-reaching and would have too many knock-on / domino effects for it to be safely handled or adequately considered by one cabinet man and his helpers – hand-picked by the PM – particularly when that man no longer commands respect or trust.

    A constitutional convention would be more accountable. I don’t think the electorate is in the mood to accept yet another political stitch-up.

    Labour’s voters will be much attracted to Farage’s constitutional convention idea. Labour won’t be shamed into conceding – it will have no choice, if it wishes to hold on to the English voters that it has. It needs to decide whether it wants to lose its English voters in order to save its Scottish leverage (i.e., Scottish MPs voting on English issues). It can’t have both, although it will surely try, (like a monkey trying to pull a fist full of nuts out of a bottle with a narrow neck).

    As you’ve no doubt realised, there are so many inter-related issues in this complex area that attempting to have it all resolved by a non-trusted sub-cabinet committee, within the space of a few months, is simply ludicrous. Not at all credible and not at all acceptable.

    The people have been irked about the English question for so long, that to imagine that they will be fobbed off by a sticking plaster type ‘solution’ propounded by the children who run the country is laughable.

    Cameron has no credibility. Therefore any ‘solution’s he proposes will lack credibility. There’s no getting around it.

    Reply Mr Cameron has the credibility of being PM whilst Mr Farage still does not have a single vote in Parliament. The last thing we want is a long winded Constitutional Convention – we know the issues and we know the possible remedies. We just need some decisions.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I disagree entirely with your reply, JR!

      If you can say that Cameron has the credibility of being PM (with a straight face), then surely you can say that Gordon Brown had the credibility of PM. I doubt the public would agree with you there.

      The last thing we want is quick, botched surgery on our precious constitution by people who have attempted to butcher it over the past 4 years – e.g., gay marriage and press regulation, to name but two of many. Firstly, they don’t have a mandate to effect any change. It would be absolutely outrageous were they to change the constitution without first obtaining that mandate.

      The only decisions we need immediately, can be achieved by the simple actions of MPs with principle: Scottish MPs can agree to refrain from voting on English matters until a more permanent settlement is reached.

      The Conservatives could help to shame Labour MPs into being “honourable” – i.e., living up to the titles which many of them have not yet earned.

      Reply Mr Brown is not Prime Minister so he does not have the credibility of the office. Mr Cameron can command a majority in the Commons so he can change things. Mr Brown cannot.

      • David Price
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Cameron and the Conservative Party are chastised so often for not executing their manifesto pledges yet when they try to they get criticised – I found this in their 2010 manifesto;

        “Labour have refused to address the so-called ‘West Lothian Question’: the unfair situation of Scottish MPs voting on matters which are devolved. A Conservative government will introduce new rules so that legislation referring specifically to England, or to England and Wales, cannot be enacted without the consent of MPs representing constituencies of those countries.”

        So while they don’t have a majority mandate, EVEL is not a brand new position and they have a form of mandate, certainly enough to try.

        You should be reserving your ire for the Labour politicians who are the clear and preenmt enemy of England to the point of enlisting mercenary aid from, the Scottish MPs on ENglish issues.

        On a constructive note, perhaps Farage should be invited to the discussion – I believe Cameron did say he hoped all parties would contribute. And this is not intended as a political trap or prejudicial, this issue needs to be addressed in a politically neutral way.

  14. Old Albion
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    What a fantastic piece JR. One MP blowing away the cloud of misinformation that envelopes English Devolution. I hope Cameron listens and follows your lead.
    We must not allow the regionalisation of England, it is an EU trap.
    Start by having English days in Westminster and EvoEl.
    This must all be a process not an end. Ultimately we need an English Parliament in a new UK federation.
    For the Conservative party. If you get this in the manifesto, it may well win the election for you in 2015. (It appears that UKIP will be including something similar)
    If Labour do not offer this to England, they will not win.
    However, this matter should be above party political infighting. MP’s should see Englands future is more important than that. When it looked like Scotland might leave, all parties managed to rally round the cause. Why not for England?
    Again i thank you JR. You have shown real interest and leadership in this issue.

  15. Lifelogic
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Labour (probably with help from the fair boundary blocking LibDems) will just make the right noises to the electorate, delay everything and wait for the election. There is little Cameron can do without a real change of direction and a majority in May. He shows no sign of making any of the real changes needed yet.

    Chances of an overall Tory majority are still stuck at about 11%, despite the uselessness and help of Miliband. Cameron (with his modernising, fake green, big government drivel) could not even beat Gordon Brown.

    The only way to win is pro some serious English democracy at Westminster, some lower taxes, a far smaller state sector, cheap non religious energy, a realistic/serious/honest stance on the EU, de-ratting (indeed abolition) of IHT, fairness between the 50% over remunerated state sector and the private sector who largely carry them.

    Cameron’s real problem is no one will believe a word he says in this election, he will even have to rat on the Scottish cast rubber vows that the leaders had no authority to make without reference to the other UK voters.

  16. Peter
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    He’s been rightly lampooned but the result and morning speech is a marvellous bit of politics from Cameron. Look at the betting; The Scots were never saying Yes, one tiny rogue poll aside. It looked bad for him but by promising indeed pledging so much to Scotland but by forcing the witless Millbund and the awful Clegg to pledge with him he has made the debate about English votes for English law and real power for England unavoidable.

    If he had lost, then his position would’ve been untenable now its Milliband who is in an awful stitch with elections looming. It will be very difficult to deny The English our rights. Brown saved the union and if The Tories act as decisively as Cameroon did on his morning speech then it could spell the end for labour in england. Deliberately Machieavellian? Perhaps not but Cam has swung it well.

    Hague is a dismal choice. We need a real council: Hard hitting, it’s your moment Redwood, stop being so humble and seize the baton. You’ve led the curve on this. Now is the moment for the English, 86% of UK population, to stand up and for socialism, big govt and Labour to be pushed out if England.

    Note of caution.. Labour will now look to push the voting age earlier to people who are intoxicated and starry eyed at promises of fanrastical spending but no understanding of where money comes from.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      The biggest city in Scotland voted YES. If the SNP win the next Scottish elections there will be another referendum by 2020.

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Yes, English votes for English laws, and cast by the representatives of the English people in a proper Parliament for the whole of England analogous to the devolved, separately elected and separately housed Scottish Parliament long ago granted to the Scots. And a separate government for the whole of England, analogous to the devolved government for the whole of Scotland long ago granted to the Scots. Once the UK MPs have finally accepted that simple principle we can start to discuss some of the practical details, and then the English can be asked in a referendum whether that is what they want in the same way that the Scots were asked back in 1998. Let’s not wait another sixteen years before the UK gets round to delivering justice to England and the English.

    • Martin Ryder
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Dennis. I usually agree with your ideas but I cannot agree with your idea that a devolved English Parliament should be housed somewhere else than in the present House of Commons. The last thing that we need is another expensive building and a load more politicians.

      We already have over 500 English MPs in Parliament! They should be more than enough to legislate for England. They already deal with both British and English matters and should be capable of continuing to do so.

      We should continue to elect MPs everywhere in the United Kingdom as we do at present. When the election is over the government of the United Kingdom would be provided by the party that can form a majority of MPs in the United Kingdom Parliament. The leader of that party would be the UK Prime Minister and he or she would form a British government with ministers for Foreign Affairs, Treasury, Defence, etc.

      The English government would be provided by the party that can form a majority of English MPs. The leader of that party would be the First Minister of England and he or she would form an English government with ministers for Health, Welfare, Education, etc. The English government would be totally separate from the British government, as would the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments.

      The English Parliament would meet separately from the UK Parliament. I would go for alternate months, as that would mean that non-English MPs could go home when the English Parliament is in session. It could be that the UK Prime Minister would be the leader of the opposition in the English Parliament. He or she might be a member of the Scottish or the Welsh parliaments.

      The headquarters of the ministries mentioned in the previous paragraphs are located in London and it would make sense for the ministers to also be located in London. I know that Salmond made much of Westminster government being distant from Scotland but it doesn’t matter where a central government is based, it will always be distant from the electorate. I lived in London for many years and I cannot remember that having the UK Parliament a bus ride away made any difference to my life.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        “The English Parliament would meet separately from the UK Parliament. I would go for alternate months, as that would mean that non-English MPs could go home when the English Parliament is in session.”

        I don’t think it would be realistic to try to run the UK Parliament on the basis of a month on and a month off. In fact whatever the pattern of the rotation I don’t think it would be realistic to expect the UK Parliament and the English Parliament to share the same debating chamber and offices and associated facilities.

        If the Victorians had had the same approach we wouldn’t now have the buildings at Westminster, once the old place had burned down in 1834 they would have said that they couldn’t afford to do anything other than leave it as a pile of ashes.

  18. Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    This disparity and desire to correct needs to be raised again and again in public. We always have to consider everyone else except ourselves.

  19. James Matthews
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Up to your final paragraph this post could pretty much have been written by The Campaign for an English Parliament, which has been saying something almost identical since 1998 – with, it has to be said, precious little response from the Conservative Party.

    The problem comes in the final paragraph. English votes on English issues is indeed the cheapest and easiest way to start down the road and, for myself, I would support it as better than nothing ( with a heavy emphasis on the world “start”). However, there are down and dirty electoral politics behind this.

    Labour and the LibDems do not want either an English Votes for English Laws or an English Parliament because either would reduce their chances of governing England by depriving them of the help of their Scottish and Welsh carpetbaggers. That is why they will now push their Regional/ City agenda for greatly more than it is worth, making full use of their formidable array of think tanks., lobby groups and “edemocracy” front organisations like 38 Degrees. By devolution within England they seek to divide and by entrench centre left rule in some areas in the same way that Scottish and Welsh Devolution sought to do this for the UK (with the results that we have all just seen).

    So far, so good. The Conservatives look to hold the moral high ground. However, in favouring EVoEL over a separately elected English Parliament their own, less honourable, electoral interests come into play. The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly are elected by much more proportional systems than Westminster. If we are to have an English national dimension to government it should follow the same model. That would off course be much less favourable to the Conservatives than the Westminster system which would remain operative if English Westminster MPs had a dual mandate.

    If the Conservative really want to answer the West Lothian Question (as I fervently hope they do) and shame Labour and the LibDems into doing likewise, they will have to come clean about this and offer their own sacrifice of electoral advantage.

    I really have no patience with those who think an English Parliament would be “too expensive”. Cost wasn’t a barrier for the other nations of the Union and it shouldn’t be for England. In relation to total government expenditure it would be pretty much peanuts, but in any event we should not economise at the expense of proper national democracy.

  20. Ian wragg
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Labour and the limp dumbs egged on by your boss will continue to press for England of the regions. His EU masters will see to that. It is an open goal for Nigel. I do believe CMD will use this to blow the GE. You will have to be extremely vigilant JJohn. Your dealing with a quisling

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      I fear this may be true where does Cameron really stand on this issue it is far from clear?

  21. Amanda
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Absolutely, and this is only a minimum. We also do not want to pay any more for Scottish welfare that must go as well.

    Cameron should go, he had no mandate for his vow and I cannot see that it should stand on that basis alone. We now have a complete constitutional mess which whilst not all his doing is certainly his fault.

    Yet again, something needs doing about the BBC who have been pushing the EU’s regionas all week. The Tories MUST make it absolutely clear to the English WHY they are doing this. That is quite simple, the EU wants to obliterate England. All you have to do is publish the maps. A great many people have no idea about this -tell them.

  22. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    “… what happens if the majority of English MPs is a different party from the majority of Union MPs? Far from posing a problem the answer to that is the English majority chooses the Ministers, makes the laws and settles the policies in the devolved areas. In this it would be the mirror image of Scotland.”

    No, it wouldn’t be a mirror image of Scotland unless there was a separate and separately elected devolved Parliament for England, the whole of England, with the power to pass laws for England and hold a separate English government to account, AND prevent the UK Parliament breaking up England without the consent of the English.

    Do not listen to the siren voices of those like Hague who say we don’t want the extra cost of another layer of government and more troughing politicians, many of those people are not interested in democracy at any price.

  23. Jonathan
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    This answers some of the questions.

    However, we could have Ed Miliband responsible for taxation; and David Cameron, Nicola Sturgeon, Carwyn Jones and Peter Robinson responsible for spending the money.

    At the moment, the budgets of the devolved parliaments are set with reference to the spending decisions made at Westminster. So for example, when Westminster votes on whether or not to have Crossrail, this does impact on the Hollyrood budget even though Hollyrood is responsible for similar decisions in Scotland. If Scottish MPs vote in favour of it, it means that the Hollyrood government gets more money which it could use for things like the Edinburgh trams.

    It is possible to answer these questions. I’m not using these examples as a way to oppose what you are saying, but it is important that we think about the issues and come up with the answers.

  24. Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I would have preferred to have had a UK-wide parliament. However, we are where we are.

    The simplicity and fairness of MPs voting according to the nation their constituency falls into is overwhelming.

    Yet the Labour Party/BBC continue to promote alternative ideas in order to avoid the simple truth that the English should have the government they vote for.

    Not only that but the alternatives always involve bureaucratic and expensive structures.

    This is a desperate attempt to avoid democracy for the benefit of the Labour Party.

    • Peter Davies
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Kenneth

      its very simple – scrap all AMs and MSPs and stick with one layer of MPs. These MPs then go back to their regional assemblies/parliaemnts to deal with devolved matters, England could do the same and only come together for UK wide business.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Peter, you put it well.

        Yet, all I hear from Labour is how difficult it would be, when, as your couple of sentences show, it would be simplicity itself.

        The only question that, I admit, needs some consideration is who will be PM? My answer, for what it’s worth, is, once a new Parliament begins, the PM (and perhaps deputy PM) is elected by all British MPs.

  25. evad666
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    You are correct that regional Assemblies would enshrine Labour Majorities in Perpetuity and create maximum advantage for the political classes consigning the English to the status of a minority to be robbed and abused as in Rotherham.

  26. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    JR: “Mr Hague has a crucial task to pilot this through the political difficulties ahead.”
    Do you really believe that giving a retiring cabinet minister a sub-committee to look into this is an adequate response to dealing with such a fundamental constitutional issue? Charles Moore in the Telegraph writes: “he is kindly performing a holding operation rather than delivering a programme of reform.”
    Labour supported by their lackeys in the media are dead set against an English Parliament or anything that diminishes their power – hence they talk about devolution to the English cities or regions. To repeat the words of Lord Tebbit I quoted yesterday: “The Balkanisation of this Kingdom has begun. Unless we wish to go the way of the Balkans we had best work out how to reverse, rather that to accelerate it.”

  27. agricola
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    There may never be an SNP member at Westminster, but there could be 40 plus Scottish Labour MPs plus a host of others from Wales combining with the Labour MPs from England. Labour would then dominate the H o C. However they could lose every vote on an English only subject. Not the basis on which to run sound, democratic government, a shambles in fact.

    The election in May 2015 should be for English constituencies only. The winners would form the English parliament. If everything other than Foreign Affaires and Defence is devolved to Scotland, Wales, and NI., then the MPs in their respective parliaments should be invited to Westminster to debate and vote on Foreign Affaires, and Defence. It just needs organising so that these MPs are not running back and forth every week.

    Internal devolution within England is an EU/Labour red herring based on the principal of divide and conquer. Do not fall for it. The EU must hate seeing democracy working in the UK.

    Reply Why would it be more of a shambles if England ran its own education and health, just as Scotland currently does?

    • agricola
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply.

      The shambles is not in England running education, health and a lot more besides. It is in having two sets of Scottish MPs, one lot for their own Parliament and another lot just to come south and talk about Defence, and Foreign Policy at most once a month. It is just stupidly expensive. Why cannot the Scottish MPs from their Parliament visit Westminster when required. To add to the shambles you will end up with two sets for Wales and NI. We want less government not more career politicians.

  28. Richard
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    I agree with your comments and thank you for taking up this issue on England’s behalf.

    The very minimum initial requirement for Scotland to gain increased devolution powers, ahead of symmetrical devolution throughout the UK, would be that Scottish MPs are not allowed to vote on the English issues which match those issues which have been devolved to Scotland.

    But it appears that the Labour party, for their own narrow self interest, are not prepared to accept this.

    If this is the case, then it should be settled by an English referendum on the matter.

    But I suspect that Mr. Cameron will instead use it as a GE 2015 election issue for his party’s own narrow self interest.

    Furthermore, although the Europhile Con/Lib/Lab party are prepared to use referenda (referendums) as a valid way to settle matters for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, they are not prepared to give England a devolution referendum in case England decides it does not want to be split into the separate regions requested by the EU.

  29. Peter
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    He’s been rightly lampooned but the result and morning speech wass a marvellous bit of politics from Cameron. Look at the betting; The Scots were never saying Yes, one tiny rogue poll aside. It looked bad for him but by promising indeed pledging so much to Scotland and by forcing the witless Millbund and the awful Clegg to pledge with him he has made the debate about English votes for English law and real power for England unavoidable.

    If he had lost, then his position would’ve been untenable now its Milliband who is in an awful stitch with elections looming. It will be very difficult to deny The English our rights. Brown saved the union and if The Tories act as decisively as Cameron did on his morning speech then it could spell the end for Labour in England. Deliberately Machieavellian? Perhaps not but Cam has swung it well.

    Hague is a dismal choice. We need a real council: Hard hitting and decisive; it’s your moment Redwood, stop being so humble and seize the baton. You’ve led the curve on this. Now is the moment for the English, 86% of UK population, to stand up and stop bring derided and for socialism, big govt and Labour to be pushed out of England.

    Note of caution.. Labour will now look to lower the voting age to people who are/were easily intoxicated by and starry- eyed at promises of fantastical spending and believed Salmond’s guff about increased spending but had no understanding of money supply.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      All good stuff Peter. Many thanks for that enlightening post. What do you think might be in this for Brown?

      Tad

  30. Caterpillar
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    As I suggested yesterday there are important characteristics of the existing devolved assemblies: A place for Identity, Unicameral, tending to Proportional electoral systems, and arguably important, Size of the constituencies.These characteristics should also be considered; simply English MPs voting on English matters may no be sufficiently symmetrical.

    Currently it feels that the three main parties are playing politics; the Conservatives wanting the simple English votes solution to cut the chances of Labour being able to have a majority on English issues, whilst Labour wants to long grass the decision so that it can achieve a majority.

    On Identity there is a regional vs national question. I identify more as English than a region, but others may not. So my preference is for an English Assembly. I would suggest a Midlands (or possibly Northern) location for an English Assembly with which to identify. I think the assemblies being unicameral is reasonable, committees can fulfil revising/scrutiny roles. The effectiveness of the electoral systems in the three existing assemblies can be assessed and c.f. other systems of a mixed member proportional nature. English resident could then be given the choice on which system they want.

    With four devolved assemblies the question would be how to form the UK Government; whether to draw from these four or directly elect (and of course whether to lose the Lords as a chamber). This decision is much tougher, and so can have a longer timetable.

    I do not like the Labour apparent long grass approach or the Conservative apparent English votes approach, both smack of political short-termism and will increase the disillusionment with Westminster. I would like a timetable towards an English Assembly, with equivalence of power between the four assemblies to be agreed at the same time as the DevoMax/Vow roll-out. Then over an agreed period the UK Westminster Govt can move from FPP with existing constituencies to another (cheaper) form (either made up of members of the assemblies or directly elected).

  31. Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    There is no doubt that a thorny – almost unresolvable constitutional issue now exists and , as Mark D’Arcy has pointed out in his excellent commentary this morning , it will take years of very wise impartial members of a committee to sort it out . England has to achieve its right to decide for itself and the Welsh and Northern Irish must also emerge satisfied that all is equal and proper in the Union . I received an e-mail from 10 Downing Street this morning putting David Cameron forward as the saviour of the Union ; I have replied saying that Salmond has resigned because he did not achieve his goal and that Cameron should do the same for making promises without consultation and the consent of his Party . William Hague cannot possibly draw up a consensus that can be put to the House in March ’15 ; equally it is inconceivable that any such cobbled up consensus would be approved . A fuse has now been lit to set off an enormous explosion and the electorate goes to the vote in its wake .

  32. David Fielden
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    The English have never shown any enthusiasm for regional assemblies or city mayors outside London, and have voted them down when given the opportunity. New layers of politicians are absolute anathema and constitutional changes take years of argument.
    Surely all that is required is that a Bill should be introduced immediately requiring the Clerk of the House to certify all new legislation as either i) England only ii) England and Wales only iii) England Wales and Northern Ireland only, or iv) all UK. Any MP would be free to speak at any time on any issue, and play a full part in Committee deliberations, but voting would be restricted to only those eligible in each of the four categories. This proposal avoids the need for English only days, or having sittings which exclude members, and has the attraction of being simple to understand and crucially, fair to the English electorate whilst always allowing voices from other parts of the UK to be heard. It would also challenge the Lib Dems and Labour to vote the Bill down before the 2015 election, sending them in to the campaign committed to denying the English a fair crack of the devolution whip.

    I hope you can persuade your colleagues to adopt this suggestion as a way to unify the Party whilst discombobulating the other parties who are currently looking for the longest possible distant grass suitable for kicking into.

  33. acorn
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    You are missing the point here JR. WESTMINSTER IS THE PROBLEM, not Scottish MPs voting on English matters. There are a large number of matters that Westminster shouldn’t be dealing with at all; they are, or should be, local government matters.

    It is not difficult to understand why Scotland wanted out and was prepared to do something about it, the spineless English won’t. The UK is the most centrally run country in the EU and possibly Europe! Westminster / Whitehall run everything centrally; 95% of all taxation is collected centrally. The only “local” tax being Council Tax, which will raise only 15% of local government spending. The rest of LG spending comes in “penny packets” attached to diktats from Whitehall.

    At Westminster, the only important district of England is the City of London. It has its own compliance officer in parliament the “Remembrancer” … to protect the City‟s interests in Parliament and to promote and support the City of London in maintaining its status …”. The rest of English Local Government is a complete structural mess; it has been kept that way to discourage political power bases forming in the regions like Manchester and other natural “City Regions” which are being formed by Travel To Work Areas (TTWA). (see: Devo Max – Devo Manc: Place-based public services ResPublica).

    Frankly, the house of commons and its weekly Punch & Judy shows, may as well be on another planet. The grip of the legacy political parties and their “lobby fodder” functionaries we call MPs is the fundamental problem that makes Westminster what it currently is, a self serving society for the political and corporate elite.

    A non-partisan primary election system, where the candidate chooses any particular causes a party / lobby group / think-tank may profess, in whole or in part, if any at all. The MP is his own master and by Oath will answer to nobody else except his constituents. Basically, the legacy and new political parties, have to be reduced to the equivalent of “lobby groups” or “think tanks” and having to influence voters in general rather than command (whip) their tethered (lobby fodder) MPs.

    Reply I do not agree that we should delegate welfare or taxation or defence to Councils. There is nothing stopping people putting up as independents if they wish, but you cannot stop people joining parties. The advantage of the party is we can offer a platform or manifesto of policies with the chance of being able to do it if we win a majority. Individuals with their own manifesto can offer what they like but have no chance of ever delivering it if elected.

    • acorn
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      “Individuals with their own manifesto can offer what they like but have no chance of ever delivering it if elected.”

      Exactly JR. That is the fundamental problem we am trying to overcome. The legacy parties have arranged the system, to make sure they can bury anyone that has an independent idea, particularly if he / she, is not part of the Westminster “continuum”.

      Reply And how do you overcome it? I stay in a party because that way I can achieve something when the others agree with me.

  34. Atlas
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Agreed John, No extra powers to Scotland without the same devolution for England.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Indeed the fair system for England comes first. just to address the current huge unfairness in the existing system. More powers to Scotland can only be given if and when all the UK voters agree to it.

      It is not something for Miliband or Cameron give away in a last minute desperate panic.

  35. Raddiy
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    ‘the best of possible worlds perhaps’ !!

    Your essay and the concept of EVEL is based on the assumption that MP’s elected for English constituencies as British MP’s will act in the interests of England.

    Wherever did you get that idea from, and what evidence do you have to support it, when history has shown that British MP’s will first and foremost always allow themselves to be whipped into line to support party, even when policy is clearly designed to be detrimental to England and the English who elected them.

    With Gordon Brown in power the aircraft carrier alliance building project went to Scotland to appease the Scots, which I suppose is understandable considering the relevance of Scotland to Labour. However what is the excuse of the David Cameron government which at the last minute reprieved an under recruited Scottish infantry battalion destined for disbandment under the defence review, with the well recruited Green Howards from the Yorkshire regiment. the last regiment surviving that recruited from the North East, that is reality of Westminster politics and their disrespect of everything English in glorious technicolour. We should also not forget the recent betrayal of English shipyards allowing BAE to concentrate all of is remaining surface warship building capacity on the Clyde, no doubt with a nod and a wink from this Conservative/LibDem government, trying to win favour with the Scots.

    British MP’s in Westminster cannot be trusted to act in the interests of England, and all the theories of how it might work will not change that reality. For devolution to be completed we need a devolved parliament for England as far away as possible from London, which is committed to England alone, and a small federal parliament in London to act on international and defence matters alone, and London should perhaps be given Washington DC type status in a federal system seperated from England/

    Your idea John is simply a Westminster solution to a Westminster problem aimed at protecting the hegemony of Westminster, and whilst we may understand why this is your preferred option, it is no less a betrayal of England and the English than the decision to ignore the issue and hope it will go away favoured by the establishment since devolution raised its head.

    Reply My proposal has some chance of being implemented if enough people put enough pressure on. I want that crucial first step, recognition of a voice and votes for England. Your idea is nowhere near being adopted by those who could implement it.

    • RADDIY
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      John,

      Why do I get a sense that your plan will be the 21st century equivalent of the Barnett Formula, which was ntended to be short term fix, but has now been carved in the hardest of Scottish granite as a statement of the duplicity of Westminster towards the English.

      Any acceptance of a second rate solution, which will not even be comparable with devolution as it stands, and not remotely comparable with the ‘Home Rule’ proposed for Scotland will give the Westminster parties the opportunity to carve EVEL into stone as the de facto solution, with any possibility of English Home Rule buried.

      Turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas, so the only solution is to keep the pressure on, and not accept any grubby little compromise. My idea may not be anywhere near being adopted by those who could implement it, but it took a campaign from outside Westminster to focus the minds of Conservative MP’s on this matter who sadly with few exceptions have taken the party line of ignoring the English for years.

  36. Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    A plague on all your houses!

    Posters and commentators continue to suggest diverse and complicated solutions to the problems which we continue to inflict on ourselves.

    Fact 1. We live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. A majority of those people allowed to vote in that farce of a referendum, want to remain in that United Kingdom. We and they do not need the expensive extra level of government represented by a separate Scottish Parliament full of those who do not wish to remain in the United Kingdom for ideological reasons. The same applies to The Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Government at Stormont.

    Fact 2. What has led to the formation of these devolved authorities has been a mixture of those ideologically opposed to the United Kingdom and a large number of people who are at the end of their patience with the mismanagement of the United Kingdom carried out by
    selfish, inexperienced, incompetent and treasonous career politicians acting outside their mandate and ignorant of the Constitution which they have broken.

    The result is plain to see. A United Kingdom, disunited in all its parts, which are busy squabbling over their share of the goodies (in fact, share of the debt). And presiding over it, three individuals in a panic, promising to give away other peoples’ money without permission.

    How to deal with this situation?

    Remove from office those treasonous individuals who have acted contrary to our written Constitution and bring them before proper Common Law Courts, bring before the same Courts those who have misbehaved in office, those who have abused children or condoned such behaviour in others, those who break the Common Law.

    We may have to wait until 2015 for the election which can sweep away the wrongdoing, but be sure that it will happen. Too many have now seen through the lies and propaganda.

    John Wrake.

  37. Steve H
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Dear John,
    Thank you for being the first to speak up for England. However, I am deeply concerned at the solution you are offering for English devolution.
    We need an English Parliament with devolved powers and the ability to raise taxes independently from a UK Parliament. With all due respect, a dual English /UK Parliament with Scottish MP’s excluded from English matters can only function as a stop gap until a full UK constitutional settlement is agreed. In the longer term, I do not believe that Westminster can function as easily as you suggest.
    Firstly, there will be too many grey areas arising where the lines between English/UK issues blur – Labour will seek to amplify such areas and there will be constant procedural arguments. Who will arbitrate such disputes and what checks and balances will be placed on the arbiter?
    Secondly, an English Parliament will need to be fully focused on England and the voice of England will need to be projected through the figure of an English First Minister A Conservative UK Prime Minister cannot be a part time English First Minister. A Labour Prime Minister and a Conservative Engish First Minister serving in the same Parliament throws up all sorts of issues and what if there is a Labour majority in England and the leader of the Labour Party is a Scottish MP – where exactly is England’s voice in such a scenario?
    Thirdly, Labour are right that we cannot have 2 classes of MP. What do Scottish MP’s do for half the week? Aren’t MSP’s looking after their consituents? How much will they be paid, what are their pension arrangements, expenses etc?
    Fourthly, this arrangement will be confusing to the electorate.
    Why should English representation and UK representation be decided at the same time?
    This solution is messy, confusing and a typical Westminster fudge.
    In my view, we need a radical reworking of the constitution. The role of the UK and its constituent nations need to be clearly redefined as has been promised/already given to Scotland. My vision would be national parliaments bearing the responsibility for all domestic affairs within their borders to include education, health, welfare, transport etc and to be given full powers over all direct and indirect taxes. The UK government to be responsible for defence, foreign affairs, monetary policy, border controls, EU (or trade agreements in the event that the UK separates from the EU). The UK government would also be responsible for legacy issues such as paying down the National Debt and future pension liabilities (after a certain date, national governments would be responsible for their own pension arrangements. Clearly a method for funding the UK government and an adequate form of accountability to the public and the nation states would be required. Possibly a UK Parliament (located away from Westminster) and elected via PR. The House of Lords should be abolished. All of this should be ratified through appropriate referenda.
    This would allow for all nations and the UK government to have clearly defined responsibilities and be directly accountable to their electorates. Competing tax regimes should drive down tax rates and allow for an environment in which entrepreneurs can flourish. The UK government would have no incentive or ability to shower the electorate with benefits for electoral gain. Tight monetary policy would prevent individual nations from borrowing to fund extravagant welfare programmes . Northern Ireland, for example, could set low Corporation tax to compete with the Irish Republic.
    All this will take time to set in motion. But a clear, coherent, uncomplicated vision needs to be set out to get the people behind it. English people will get behind a separate English Parliament – I don’t think an English Parliament Lite within Westminster will cut it. We need some passion (like Alex Sammond demonstrated) and we need to remember that there are a lot of vested interests against home rule for England. My fear is, if Labour win the election in May, they will implement their version of devolution which will leave England balkanised with whatever power is devolved vested in the Labour urban heartlands and the bulk of power residing at the centre. It will be a total disaster from which we may never recover.
    We have a golden opportunity, please don’t blow it.

  38. wyrdtimes
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Stopping Scottish, Welsh & Northern Irish UK MPs voting on English issues is good for sorting the WLQ. But the WLQ is just one English question.

    Consider the remaining UK MPs, the ones who have supposedly been “representing” English seats. Look at their voting records on English issues. Most have been perfectly happy that their English constituents have been getting the least funding pp.py , the worst most expensive services and zero representation. All are implicated in passing anti-England anti English legislation. Most are over the moon about the scale of mass mass-immigration, multiculture, faith schools and the like in England. While some immigration is good we are so far past that point it is now seriously damaging. Especially with our very limited resources.

    The English deserve what virtually all other nations have – its own parliament. I suggest a small one 100 or 200 EMPs, outside London, backed by direct democracy on the big issues – such as the EU, immigration, how power is devolved within England – which should be nobody’s business but that of the English people.

    No we don’t want more politicians. But a small English parliament handling all English business would make vast swathes of the commons obsolete. England doesn’t need anywhere near 600 MPs. The UK doesn’t need nearly 700 MPs to handle remaining UK business. I suggest that’s the place to lose them.

    What is essential though is that the English start getting a say on England. The Scots have had three referenda, the Welsh three, the Northern Irish two. Only the English have had no say. As far as I can tell the English have never had a referendum on England . It’s time we did.

  39. Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    The only problem I see is that Mr Redwood is not actually describing EVOEL but an English Parliament, Ok it still sits in the HOC but has its own first minister and ministers.

  40. Sam
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I am sure all right thinking people agree. Is it possible to have English devolution, Scottish devolution (“the Vow”), fairness in constituency boundaries and Lords reform all in one package?

    I cannot see how Labour can tell the electorate that it opposes constituencies of equal size, opposes English votes on English laws, and wishes to renege on the Vow. Surely the brazen self interest would be clear to all?

  41. yulwaymartyn
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    What is an English issue?

    Reply A devolved issue. It is the mirror image of a Scottish issue, currently handled by the Edinburgh Parliament!

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Thank you.

      Who decides what is an English issue?

      Reply as defined by the issues that pass to the Scottish Parliament.

  42. Auror
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    John, I have to say that over the past few days that I have had to change my sense of identity. Like you I have come to feel that I’m English first and foremost. I feel sorry now for the likes of Daniel Hannan who wish to preserve the ‘British’ identity. I suspect there are many who will have similar feelings.

    I also came to realise that the ‘No’ vote would bring no end to the troubles that the UK is facing. The Labour establishment is now realising that it is in very deep trouble indeed. It will fight extremely hard to preserve its power, and will push back against EVEL or an English Parliament at every turn. There will be a very hard fight ahead. Best of luck. England expects…

  43. StevenL
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    It sounds simple, as legislation is clear about which parts of the union it extends to. However the last few years have made me question where the blurred boundary between fiscal policy and monetary policy actually is.

    To some extent, setting how much income tax is deducted from folk does have an inflationary / deflationary effect. Likewise QE probably affected the amount of capital gains tax collected.

  44. agricola
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    English MPs in an English Parliament that becomes a UK Parliament only when matters relating to the UK need debating and voting on.

    Tell me why the MPs that serve in the Scottish, Welsh, and NI Parliaments, all elected by their people, cannot serve in the UK Parliament as and when required to do so.

    I see absolutely no need for Scotland, Wales and NI to take part in the General Election of May 2015. Tell me why these three countries need two sets of MPs. If they had to fund both they might soon see the stupidity of it.

    Let Milliband dig himself into a hole over his need for Labour members from Scotland, Wales and NI to vote down English policies for the English in an English Parliament. Ask him if he would like English Conservatives to have voting rights in the Parliaments of Scotland, Wales, and NI. The hypocrisy of what he is proposing to do is mind boggling and stupid. Let any devolution in Scotland be held pending his agreement to the West Lothian question, and make sure Scotland knows that he is the cause. For sure Nigel Farage will put him between a rock and a hard place if CMD fails .

    I would also ask how many peers can be deemed to represent Scotland, Wales and NI. The House of Lords has much to commend it, but it’s sorting out needs to be part of the package of reform. It needs to be reduced and proportionate to all parties in the UK, but based on proven wisdom and ability.

  45. Peter Davies
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    One thing I fear with all this is that we will end up with yet another layer of politicians in the UK when there are more than enough already.

    In my mind the best solution would be to scrap all the current MSPs and Welsh AMs and staff the assemblies and parliament with West Minster MPs from constituencies in those regions when devolved matters are being discussed and voted on – if New Labour had had the foresight to set devolution up this way in 97 we would not be talking about this now.

    This would be simple and cheap and would in one swoop remove the West Lothian question.

    An whilst your at it – find a way of pushing through the boundary review – in an age of better transport and communication links I struggle to understand why so many MPs are needed – lets have less and hope that we retain the best ones.

    With your correct focus on Scotland – its important to remember that Wales has a lot less devolution so many issues Scottish MPs vote on and discuss affect Wales as well.

  46. Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    If, after the 2015 General Election, the Conservative Party has a majority of English MPs but a minority of Westminster MPs, whom does Her Majesty ask to form a Government and on what basis?

    I don’t think that shaming the Labour Party will work. It should be make clear to them that, unless they agree to English votes for English issues, further devolution to Scotland will be cancelled.

    Reply The Queen asks the leader of the majority in the UK Parliament to form the UK government as now.
    English MPs make their own decisions on the English only matters, as the SNP government does on Scottish matters.

    • Thomas E
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      What about the English ministries? There are a number of ministries which either wholly or predominantly deal with English affairs. Why should a UK Prime minister appoint a ministry that only affects England?

      Reply He would if he leads the majority party in England, but wouldn’t if it was a different party.

    • agricola
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply

      If I interpret your reply correctly you want two sets of MPs for Scotland. One for their Parliament and another set for the UK Parliament. The latter having no voting rights on English matters. Expensive and cumbersome, do this second lot enjoy even longer holidays than MPs do at present. Why cannot MPs from the Scottish Parliament attend the UK Parliament when required for UK matters.

      What you appear to advocate is the possibility of a Prime Minister for the UK residing at Westminster with a minority in the English Parliament and therefore no authority or credibility . Sounds like a dogs breakfast.

      Better an English Parliament for England with a First Minister. If we must have a Prime Minister let it be by annual rotation between all the First Ministers. Alternatively, as the First Minister for England represents around 85% of the UK population let him be Prime Minister.

      Reply The UK Prime Minister will still be the most important leader, controlling the economy, foreign affairs, defence, and the union policies. The English First Minister just like the Scottish First Minister, will be responsible for devolved matters.

      • agricola
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Reply.

        Many thanks, your reply makes sense.

  47. JP
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I agree entirely with you on this issue. The only point I’m unclear on is whether you would envisage England having an entirely separate set of ministers from the UK or would you think it would be possible for them to overlap?

    Reply England would have a Health Minister, an Education Minister, a local government Minister. The UK will have a PM, a Chancellor, a Foreign Secretary, a Defence Secretary etc

    • Monty
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      *Reply England would have a Health Minister, an Education Minister, a local government Minister. The UK will have a PM, a Chancellor, a Foreign Secretary, a Defence Secretary etc*

      OK John that gives us a rational basis doesn’t it? We should look at these aspects in a functional way, and use objective criteria to determine whether they should be federal, or devolved. So we would need an Energy Secretary at the federal level, because national grid, and the various interconnectors we share with the continent, serve the entire UK. But their remit should be curtailed to keeping the lights on, in the long, medium and short term.
      Then there are the areas where the UK interfaces with the EU, NATO, and the UN. They need to be federal.
      Then there are the areas in which our conscience propels us to seek a guaranteed minimal standard for all citizens of the UK. For example the criminal codes shouldn’t be allowed to diverge. The fundamentals of the criminal justice process, such as the presumption of innocence, the right to trial by jury, should be enshrined throughout the UK.

      What I’m driving at, is that the split between federal and state competency has to be defined according to rational criteria, and that split has to be the same throughout the UK.

      And there needs to be a written constitution, to ensure that the ambitions of the federal, and the state administrations, are restricted.

      It is no easy task. That;s why I reckon we need a constitutional convention.

      Reply The split has already been decided by Scottish Ministerial responsibilities.

  48. Vanessa
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    On the EUReferendum website there is a piece on what should be done. Richard North is of the opinion that the …….cracy part of democracy is missing is all our government.
    We should keep Westminster which meets once a year and real power to the people is put into local government where the people vote on the budgets and important changes which they have to pay for. No more power to the politicians, we, the people, tell them what they can do and what they can spend. It would be great ! When you have control of the money you have real power.
    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=85205

  49. Gary Calveley
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    It was pleasing to see JRs timely defence of English democracy. I totally support the implementation of an English parliament . However we need a root and branch overhaul of our parliamentary system. The House of Lords must go, a UK parliament would oversee foreign affairs, defence and other areas of agreed UK policy. England ,Scotland , Wales & NI would all have the same powers including tax. All would have a First Minister. The UK parliament would be based in Westminster , the English Parliament somewhere more central ( not necessarily Birmingham). The area that needs a full overhaul is local government . There are too many rotten boroughs run by very amateur councillors who far too often have a public sector background . They feel undemocratic and unaccountable . Similarly party politics gets in the way of true democracy where holding onto power becomes the primary obsession and a blocker to genuine democracy and representation.

  50. John
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Good article John, I am pleased to note that you are one of very few voices that wants to keep England as one entity and not split it into micr-statelets.
    I would say, however, that you are being far too polite, the English MPs and people should be demanding these things, not pleading for them.
    IT IS OUR BIRTHRIGHT.

  51. David Kemball-Cook
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Yes I support the general idea of these reforms. But if the English MPs choose their ministers, then surely we are going to have a whole new layer of government?

    Won’t there be an English copy of every department? So there would be (eg) an English Home Secretary and also a British Home Sec, each with his own department to run? And the same for all the other departments?

    If so, how ridiculous and wasteful. We would have ministers coming out of our ears, and we would be just about doubling the civil service!

    Reply No copies. There will be no Union Education or Health Ministers as all this is devolved.

    • David Kemball-Cook
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Oh I see, thanks
      So it is not just kicking out Scottish MPs when English matters are debated, but full scale devolution, giving England what Scotland has.

      But this is a different kettle of fish, requiring a lot of legislation. You are not just going to change the name plates on the government departments, you have to legislate and re-organise.

  52. The Prangwizard
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Much as I welcome and applaud the change of mood, and the movement towards a fair settlement for England, it is not acceptable that our nation and the people of England are being required to settle for a second-best half-way compromise; this is not good enough. We deserve better.

    The only equitable solution is for a true parliament with members directly elected to it to serve only the interests of England. It may sound very simple as described above but there will inevitably be conflicts of interest in the proposed compromise, and pressures applied to members, and the best interests of England will take second place. People at large will not notice any difference from the present inequitable arrangements.

    England must have a true independent parliament with a distinct identity. There will no renaissance until this is granted and England will still suffer beneath a British identity.

    Unless Cameron and others come out now and start mentioning England and the people of England, we are justified in doubting his sincerity. We cannot have the likes of Gordon Brown being allowed to set the English agenda and dictating terms which seems to me to be the case.

  53. Robert Taggart
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    WOW ! – Cameo comes good – for England !
    Keep up the good pressure Johnny – it may just pay dividends !!

    Oneself would not want the expense / bovver of an all new English Parliament.
    BUT…
    If this is what it takes – to give England parity with the other UK constituent countries – so be it.

  54. Mike
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    As I understand the Scottish offer is for new powers over “tax, spending and welfare”, to be tabled in November and draft legislation to be available in January. From the Scottish referendum campaign the thorniest issues seemed to be around the fairness of the welfare budget and policies, oil revenues, management and direction of the NHS, and job creating powers – budget for attracting inward investment for example.

    There is no news yet on whether these are indeed all going to be addressed in the November paper but, very simply, whatever is offered to Scotland must also be available to NI, Wales and England. They don’t have to accept it but it should be on offer.

    Where I disagree with your proposals is a presumption that the huge population, diversity of cities and shires and geography of England can continue to be managed only from Westminster, albeit by an English Assembly centred there. What happened to “Localism”? I’m all for avoiding extra cost of governance so using Westminster to set the priorities for English-only affairs is fine but there is a crying need to give Local Authorities (or some Cities or regional assemblies?) greater powers to address differentiating issues they face, as with London, particularly as to levels of poverty/hardship, unemployment, transport, NHS under-performance, business investment and job creation. And on the flip side to raise higher revenues from their populations and businesses where the need or opportunity arises. If such powers (funded perhaps by new local taxes or English Assembly grant) resulted in very visible campaigns to address those local challenges it would go a long way to defusing the issue over the perceived elitism and aloofness in Westminster.

    If the Coalition is to be remembered by the Left for anything, it is going to be IDS and McVey and their universal benefits and spare room subsidy. Had local authorities been granted differential budgets or “hardship” funds to tackle the roll-out of these policies, the responsibility – or blame – for any disaffection would have squarely sat with them not Westminster. In any roll-out of a change programme as sensitive as this in a large company, there would be such flexibility, yet Government programmes seem to fail, falter, waste money on undeliverable IT systems and consultants through an absence of proper change planning and funding.

    So it seems to me that you need to start with the problems you’re trying to fix:
    – equivalence on which matters are devolved – the model is Scotland’s new settlement
    – from where those matters are best managed – Country Parliaments/Assemblies, existing Local Authorities and Health Trusts and perhaps selectively (but only after referenda) some new city and/or regional assemblies with the greatest economic challenges
    – how will these structures address the most critical social issues we face that gained so much traction during the Independence campaign – as I’ve said, like welfare, hardship, job creation and business investment, NHS organisation, funding and-performance.

    Reply Local authorities do have hardship funds for the spare room subsidy, and have underspent their budgets on this! The new English Parliament can of course delegate more to Councils where this makes sense, but Councils should not have the power to set different rates of Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax etc, the things that are now going to be devolved. Councils do have large powers in health, personal social services etc as we saw in the Rotherham report.

  55. James
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    English Votes for English Laws.

    Equal Powers for Equal Nations.

  56. Max Dunbar
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    We could go round in circles for years trying to decide who to invite to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. In the meantime we just look increasingly silly and irrelevant to the rest of the world.
    Just close down the ghastly Scottish Parliament. We voted NO. Is there something that the politicians do not understand about NO? It means that the majority of the population resident in Scotland do not want any more devolution because devolution is independence by another name and we voted to reject it. Labour created this mess and they will make it worse with Banquo-Brown’s officious interventions. NO NO NO.

  57. Jago Williams
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    A simple mechanism to rebalance the constitution, without the unintended consequences of an English parliament or English votes for English laws, is for parliamentary representation to be linked to devolution.

    On the basis that 0% devolution = parliamentary seat of 75,000 electors, you could apply the following:

    Scottish seats – 40% devolution = 105,000 electors per parliamentary seat
    Greater London – 10% devolution = 82,500 electors per parliamentary seat

    Obviously an independent body would be required to make these calculations but the end result would be there could never be a danger of English laws being passed without majority English votes.

  58. JM
    Posted September 23, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    It is true that English devolution will throw up problems, but those problems have been present ever since powers were devolved from Westminster to other nations in the United Kingdom.

    It is intolerable that non-English MPs can and do vote on issues affecting England only without any democratic accountability. This is more than an issue of fairness. It is an issue of basic democratic legitimacy.

    Labour’s proposal to hold a constitutional convention is part attempt to kick the can down the road, hoping it will be lost in the long grass of the verge (as they successfully have done to date) and part the equivalent of the child sticking his/her fingers in his/her ears and singing, “La, la, la, la! Can’t hear you!”

    Labour’s proposal that powers should be devolved to the cities of the north, is a proposal to devolve power only to cities they control. It ignores the countryside. It ignores the other part of the England that are not in the north. It is all about maintaining the political power and influence of the Labour party.

    Their proposal to Balkanise the UK by creating a North Eastern region which overwhelmingly and emphatically rejected. It is clear that the English do not want regional assemblies or a separate English Parliament. Indeed, given the present state of the public finances one has to question whether or not we can afford such institutions in any event.

    An immediate and easy step to take is to prepare a list of the powers that are devolved to the different nations of the UK and to ensure that MPs from those nations do not vote on those issues as they affect England. This is a start

    Going further, it will mean that some of the offices of state, e.g. Education Secretary, can only be held by someone who represents an English constituency. So be it. It is the natural corollary of devolution.

    In the more distant future, we should be looking to a situation where all nations of the UK enjoy the same devolved powers. This inevitably means a federal UK. The Westminster Parliament will sit and divide into an English Parliament when English issues are considered and sit as the UK Parliament when national issues are considered. This might well mean that the majority of its time is spent considering English issues. It might well mean that the English Grand Committee is dominated by a party which is not the UK Government. Again, this is a natural result of devolution.

    Frankly, Labour sowed these seeds. It has no one else to blame now that, after a leisurely flight, the pigeons are coming home.

    What is clear is that if democratic legitimacy is to be maintained the situation cannot go on as it is. Otherwise it will be the English who look to separate from the union next time!

  59. Francisco
    Posted September 25, 2014 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    I heard your interview on the BBC World Service and felt the need to comment on this issue.[1]

    As someone who lives in the North East, the strong impression I got was that it was not devolution that was rejected but the form of devolution that was on offer. When the issue came up in conversation the reason that most people I knew were against it was because the new authority would only have the power of a regional development agency. I got the strong impression that the vote would have gone the other way if the new authority had real power.

    [1] In Friday’s Global News podcast. Yes, I know, I’m a little behind on the news.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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