An exchange of views with the BBC on speaking for England

Hi John

I am writing piece about where a potential English Parliament could be located if one was established.

I know you have proposed that the House of Commons could double up as an English Parliament, but I wanted to ask why you thought that would be the best location? Is cost a consideration? Why elese? Do you think any other locations should be considered, and if so, which ones? I have heard York, Birmingham and Manchester discussed. Is there an argument for locating it further north?

etc  from a named person at the BBC

 

Dear (X)

I want to find a good value  and easy solution to the problem of England which we can do quickly. We have capacity at Westminster in the building, and we have all the back up and resource we need to handle all the English devolved issues  with UK MPs from England doing both jobs. It would be a lot dearer to establish a new building and move all of us to and from it and Westminster to undertake our respective UK and devolved duties. It would be even dearer to have another set of MPs doing the English job.

Westminster is also the home of the English Parliament, and the English and Welsh Parliament, from the days before the union with Scotland and later with Ireland.  History, tradition, cost and practicality all combine to mean we should meet at Westminster.

I also look forward to the day when the BBC recognises England. I want BBC England to broadcast alongside BBC Scotland and BBC Wales. The overwhelming majority of people in England do not want to be broken up into regions for government as the North East referendum showed under Labour. Isn’t it time the BBC gave us  an English voice with BBC England?

Is the BBC also doing a feature on splitting Scotland into regions and moving the Scottish Parliament to Aberdeen or Dundee? If not why not? Why do you always have to seek to balkanise and split up England?

Regards

John Redwood

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98 Comments

  1. Peter
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Excellent response John. I look forward to seeing you misquoted on numerous BBC programmes today.

  2. Alte Fritz
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Hi John (sorry)

    I think you are pulling your readers’ collective leg. Not even the BBC could send that, surely?

  3. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    We already have NHS England. Sometimes it seems as though the script has already been written and we are simply following old arguments which have been initially been decided.

    • Margaret Brandreth-J
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      grammar mistake…2 ‘beens’ ironically

      • Margaret Brandreth-J
        Posted October 7, 2014 at 12:42 am | Permalink

        The act of attempting to radically change to an English parliament may also bring many problems thereby creating the reverse goal of a cohesive England ruled by England. As an example I cite the NHS. To maintain its ‘broken’ image it has to be frequently changed . When staff have become experienced at their jobs and procedures are ticking along nicely, higher management are put to grass and need to get a job . What happens then is that staff who are experienced have their roles taken from them under the supposition that they are now, after practising for many years and perfecting their input, not fit for purpose; so another qualification is conjured up and written on paper as the only acceptable alternative. In fact experiencing individuality and dealing with problems cannot be put into a protocol.The alternative qualification with new matriculated personnel is also less complex as the Universities cannot conceive the amounts of responsibility the staff take; it is easier to say senior management are the responsible beings.

        The experienced staff are now not allowed to practice and the new qualifications take over,then.. yes, you have guessed. the goal posts are moved again when the new qualifications become the old and the staff are becoming experienced . Management step in and spoil it again.

  4. Martyn G
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    “Why do you always have to seek to balkanise and split up England?” Because, I suspect, they are paid to do so by the substantial financial grant provided by the EU for that very purpose. After all, one does not bite the hands that feed you!
    More questions than answers it seems – like is it not quite wrong for our government to, in effect, allow the EU to use UK taxpayers’ money to bribe the BBC to promote the EU cause; is it not shameful that no one seems able or willing to challenge the obvious BBC partiality in that cause – let alone or even consider it in the light of apparent non-compliance of its Charter?

    • sjb
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Martyn G wrote:is it not shameful that no one seems able or willing to challenge the obvious BBC partiality in that cause – let alone or even consider it in the light of apparent non-compliance of its Charter?

      Remove that shame, then. The BBC is a public body. If you are a licence-payer you have locus standi. Once you have exhausted alternative remedies (BBC complaints procedure & regulator) and gone through the pre-action protocol it will only cost you a modest amount[1] to get a High Court judge to hold whether your claim has any merit to proceed to a full hearing. Why not let us know how you get on?

      [1] http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/rcj-rolls-building/administrative-court/applying-for-judicial-review

  5. Richard1
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Interesting. It is clear that the left – which obviously includes the BBC – will adopt stalling tactics on this issue rather than attack the concept head on, since its clear Justice for England has overwhelming public support. The left seem to have focused on 2 tactical routes for opposition – balkanization of England with attempts to revive the silly Labour idea of parliaments for regions of England. Meanwhile Mr Clegg will say he agrees English MPs can vote on English issues but a group of English MPs should be selected under proportional representation, in order to avoid a Conservative majority in England. Mr Clegg obviously knows the only just way for English votes for English issues to work is for all English MPs to be able to vote. Now we have another silly stalling tactic – should the English parliament sit eg in Manchester as above? The leftists proposing this know it will take years to agree and people will have in mind the absurd European Parliament arrangement of 2 parliaments. So years will go by and it just won’t happen.

    There will be no agreement on this before the election. I think the Conservatives should link any agreement on more devolution to Scotland to Justice for England. Why do we have to rush to accommodate the wishes of 5m Scots whilst ignoring the interested of 57m other UK citizens? This needs to be a very clear battleground for the election.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      “Meanwhile Mr Clegg will say he agrees English MPs can vote on English issues but a group of English MPs should be selected under proportional representation, in order to avoid a Conservative majority in England.”

      Yes, and the Conservatives will fight to stop anything like that happening; but instead of openly arguing on that basis they will try to stop it indirectly by finding excuses to deny the English what the Scots have had for fifteen years.

      Although they have benefited from the use of PR to elect members of the Scottish Parliament – their leader in Scotland did not get elected by First Past The Post in a constituency election, but was given her seat as an additional member through the regional party list – as a major party in England the Tories still cling to the idea that First Past The Post can give them a dominant overall majority in the Commons on just a shrinking plurality of the votes cast, and they want that potential dominance to still cover all the matters which by rights should be devolved to a separate and separately elected English Parliament.

      • Richard1
        Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        In the UK we have a first past the post voting system. At the AV referendum the public showed no desire to change it. Unless and until the voting system is changed, the fair and proper way to achieve justice for England is English votes for English issues. An appointed committee of MPs wont do. If the LibDems or anyone else want PR they will have to achieve it through the normal democratic process.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 7, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          You’re living in the past. In the UK we now have at least six voting systems, and each party including the Tory party is happy with all of them when it suits.

          • Richard1
            Posted October 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            Not for Parliament we don’t

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted October 8, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

            If you reduce your comment to “In the UK we have a first past the post voting system for the UK Parliament” then that would self-evidently be correct. But so what? Are you saying that because that has always been FPTP it should always be FPTP? Even though it’s a deeply flawed system?

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Exactly:- history, tradition, cost and practicality.

    When is the BBC, with its fake greenery, lefty ever bigger government, ever higher taxes, magic money tree economics, pro ever more EU and the balkanisation of England actually going to be tackled? Oh I forget the Tories threw the last election and largely hold these damaging BBC views – under this leadership anyway.

  7. Mike Stallard
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Love it! Well written!

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 7, 2014 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Mike.

      seconded.

      Guarantee John you will not get a sensible reply, or even some air time to explain your views more fully.

  8. Old Albion
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Well said JR !
    I have always understood the desire of some to create a new building for an English parliament. The reality however is those who seek to denigrate and dismiss the need for an English parliament were always quick to point out the monetary cost of doing so. Though, oddly enough, money was not a consideration for the Scottish Parliament nor the Welsh assembly building.
    For us in England who can see justice can only be served by the creation of an E.P. We need to produce the most attractive option to the (dis)UK Parliament.
    My own desired resolution would be to turn Westminster into a wholly English parliament and create a Federal chamber in the current House of Lords.
    Clearly your suggestion falls short of that, but i do support it as a first step in the right direction.
    You are also correct to remind the BBC of their responsibilities toward England. Though i suspect they won’t listen.
    There is another area where England is regularly ignored. It may seem trivial, but is all part of the England is Britain agenda.
    Supermarkets regularly mark their goods with a flag or country name. You can be sure if you buy some Salmon or Mussels, they will be described as ‘Scottish produce’ and adorned with a Saltire.
    Try finding anything marked with ‘English produce’ or a Cross of St George. You’ll be lucky !! Even apples, that well known fruit, grown throughout Southern England but not in Scotland. Like everything English gets called ‘British’ and sports the Union flag.
    Welsh lamb, Scottish Beef and British pork. The list goes on…………………
    The truth, rarely admitted, is anything marked English or with a Cross of St George just doesn’t sell in Scotland. I wonder why ?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Old Albion–Do you imagine that the Scots are going to accept what you call a Federal Chamber in the House of Lords (in London)? I rather think not and I repeat if as is very possible though I hope not Scotland does become independent down the track (before the oil runs out) an English Parliament plus whatever then governs Wales and Northern Ireland is going to be unbalanced to the point of embarrassment. The best that can be done is as little as can be done. A bare minimum EVEL though not perfect would go a long way.

  9. Ian wragg
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    While the BBC gets funding from the EU it is bound to follow the party line. England doesn’t exist according to Brussels and is 9 regions. The BBC hates England and the English people because we are not naturally left wing socialist. The sooner it becomes a subscription service the better.
    Let’s see who wants to pay for the climate change propaganda and the other politically motivated drivel that emanates from Bush House.

    • know-dice
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      I thought that BBC World Service funding came from the Foreign Office to the general BBC who then supplied the service.

      The World Service is no longer in Bush House…

      • ian wragg
        Posted October 7, 2014 at 7:15 am | Permalink

        Who mentioned World Service. Check the EU website and I think you may be surprised.

  10. Martin
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Are you saying that the BBC should cease to do local news bulletins in Yorkshire?

    Can you give us evidence that the BBC want to break up England?

    Didn’t the Conservatives Government (of which you were a part) balkanise England into regional private water companies? (ditto electricity ) You also split England into two for bus privatisation with the successful London Bus system and the declining service elsewhere.

    There is also the very patchy local government system in England with single tier and dual tier authorities. Not at all uniform.

    Incidentally I’m impressed you get signed letters from the BBC. When I complain about their programs I get told that they don’t agree and that the matter has been logged. (I think logged is BBC speak for binned)

    • Oli
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      “Can you give us evidence that the BBC want to break up England?”

      The BBC already regionalises England – take a look at the BBC Politics Page; go to ‘Around England’ (no such thing as English politics as we have no parliament or assembly unlike the pages for Sctland and Wales), then look at the list you get for ‘politics around England’. Lots of made-up ‘regions’. It is right that the BBC makes use of English licence fees to fund ‘England-only’ content in just the same way Scotland and Wales has its own nation-specific programming including for minority languages. It should also be right that when i go to the BBC website i have an option to look at ‘English Politics’ and see the news relating to decisions being made in an English Parliament representing England! Is that such a big ask?!

      I don’t suppose many object to ‘breaking’ England into bitesize pieces for business administration – and even to some extent media coverage. In the Westcountry we have many services and media which refer to the broader peninsula (Devon & Cornwall Police, BBC Spotlight etc). But that’s where it ends – don’t tell a Cornishman they will be governed by a local administration in Devon; and don’t pretend to anyone in rural Devon, Cornwall or Somerset that a local ‘regional’ administration in say, Bristol, would have their needs at heart. A political carve-up of England, with new administrative boundaries that do not reflect the current county structure and allegiances, would be an unpopular disaster and a miscarriage of democracy. An English Parliament (or as a minimum English Votes for English Laws) is not another tier of governance but it brings the top tier closer to current local government at a local level. Surely that has to be a step in the right direction.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      No I don’t believe so, but while Yorkshire will have issues local to Yorkshire, there will also be issues that English people living in Yorkshire will have with English people living in my home country of Wiltshire. The young in Yorkshire have to pay the same tuition fees as the youngsters here. The English sick are financially short changed where ever you are in England. The pensioners here will be driven to penury here just as they are in Yorkshire. The English Common Law is common to us all…. and so on.

      We need a broadcaster who when they challenge British politicians, does so on the perspective of English people when there are English issues. It is farcical to have Kirtsy Wark, who you might say is Labour Scottish broadcasting royalty, announce half way through the program that the Scots are going off for their Scottish version of Newsnight, then she hangs around as inquisitor of the politicians on behalf of the English, which she struggles to do.

      Another one is Dublin Born Martha Kearney. Who when faced with the embodiment of the West Lothian Question, Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, decided that despite what people had requested of her, pursuing Gordon Brown over the English Question was not important, and to quote her she said ‘lets move on to more important matters’ !

  11. Mondeo Man
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    GREAT exchange. Thank you, Dr Redwood.

  12. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I thought it was in Brussels?

    Just mischief on the part of the BBC and they need to be severely curtailed.

  13. Alan Wheatley
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Re “…with UK MPs from England doing both jobs…”

    I would have though as for England, so it should be for Scotland, Wales and NI.

    I do not know how the Member’s of the Scottish Parliament, etc, are funded, but it seems to me that if they want to double up then the additional cost should be born by the devolved country.

  14. Douglas Carter
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    John, for reasons of qualification of the discourse, it’s fair you won’t name the BBC individual, but in terms, do you recognise that person’s area of programme interest as political? If that person was from the Political department of research, it’s a fairly eccentric concept to fixate on ‘where’ an English Parliament might situate rather than cover the actual political matter of the subjective debate.

    I ask since it’s possible that a researcher whose departmental output is non-Political, aimed more generally at historical or social matters then the geographical location might be deemed to be a more legitimate area for the interest.

    But just to labour the point, if indeed that departmental individual was linked to reporting on ‘Politics’, it’s just one more example of the exasperating instances of reporting on important subjects in a manner which seems to intentionally evade the subjective meat of the real debate.

  15. Michael
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I agree with all your points in the reply to the BBC.

  16. David Price
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I would rather you find a proper, appropriate and sustainable solution.

    I think you are making a mistake pressing for the a low cost English Parliament when the largest issue is liekly to be the civil service element and from one perspective the additional costs should actually apply to the UK elements.

    This is an opportunity to transfer the appropriate amount of civil service associated with devolved responsibilities to an English CS and abolish what is left that is not transfered to the UK. You should be even more agressive in what happens to quangos.

    As to premises why shouldn’t either the English or UK paliaments be housed in modern office buildings or campuses?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Modern buildings are ghastly: carbuncular in what passes for style; made from concrete, plastic and glass without even an attempt at anything attractive; and as such would garner no respect and make us look idiots in the eyes of the rest of the world, plus they do not age well. I reject the idea that we should be thrown in to a panic because of what less than half of 8% up North think. And what happens if as is very possible, though I hope not, Scotland does become independent down the track (before the oil runs out because they won’t do it after), won’t the remaining presumably federal UK be unbalanced to the point of embarrassment? Forget Schleswig-Holstein complexity because there is no really satisfactory solution. Keep it simple. EVEL may not be perfect but it is easy enough and would go a long way.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted October 6, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Postscript–Apologies for repetition–PC played up and I thought I had lost the first effort. Remember “Perfection spells paralysis”

      • David Price
        Posted October 7, 2014 at 5:54 am | Permalink

        I do not believe this is about panic, more a dawning awareness of a very uneven treatment of England and the stupidity of the Scottish politicians in both parliaments that have forced the issue through anti-English rhetoric and greed for power.

        EVEL is not enough because it says that the needs and aspirations of the vast majority are outweighed by those of less than 4%. The current crop of senior politicians have form in this, for example where they placed same sex marriage at a higher priority than almost everything else. Their attitude is completely wrong headed in a purported democracy.

        Policitics is clearly more about gestures than actual achievement, so how should the majority of English people view a cheapest option approach compared to what has been lavished on the Scots? We are not creating such a divisive environment, that has already been done by the occupants of those grand buildings despite what they are supposed to do.

        The conundrum of an imbalanced UK has not been solved by having 92% being subservient to the needs of 8% and our masters are unable to deal with the reverse situation with the EU. Clearly a major attitude adjustment is needed, tweaking/nudging is not enough and I don’t believe a cheap EVEL is a sustainable solution.

  17. Bert Young
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I thought the BBC stood for the “British Broadcasting Corporation” and offered services to the “Union” ; regional variations allow local differences to be catered for . Splitting it up would be another bureaucratic blunder adding further costs and goodness knows what else to its already cumbersome operations . I am all in favour of pushing for a fairer deal for England but I am also in favour of a United Kingdom .

  18. Know-Dice
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    The BBC certainly know how to spend other peoples money, London West One £1.2 Billion…
    Salford ???, Pacific Quay Glasgow ???, Cardiff ???.

    How much did Hollyrood cost £480 million.

    How many ELEV laws each year?

    Save the money and fully utilize Westminster please.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      “How many ELEV laws each year?”

      No primary legislation, Acts, at all in 2012 and 2013; if such laws exist they are rare, and will remain so until the Welsh Assembly is given much more power to pass laws for Wales separately from those for England.

  19. Iain Moore
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Good try Mr Redwood, but I think your point will go right over the BBC’s corporate head , it has when I have tackled them on the issue.

    As I believe I have said before, my first attempt to get them to give England broadcast representation was met with them sending me a copy of their corporate view on devolution….’Devolution ,The BBC’s program response, 1998′ , reading it rather than easing my concerns , confirmed them, for in 20 pages they mentioned Scotland 83 times, England, and only in a regional context , 3 times. I responded by pointing this out to them which disappeared in a corporate black hole and indifference.

    A further attempt to get them to recognise England in their internet service also failed miserably , for while they offered Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a national identity and platform to debate matters, England got a rag bag collection of regional internet pages, and no debating forum, which considering this was over an election was a rather big omission. In contacting them about it I was referred to their New Media department. Here , a disarmingly honest person given the job of constructing a BBC internet presence for England , said to me…… ‘Look I am Welsh, if you have any good ideas about what it constitutes to be English I would be happy to receive them’ , so it seems where England is concerned , the BBC’s much fabled ethnic sensitivities had a malfunction.

    In pressing matters I was referred up the chain of command to the….’ Diversity Editor , BBC English Regions ‘… the irony of them having someone with a title ‘ BBC English Regions’ respond to someone one making the point about English broadcast representation didn’t seem to have sunk in with them, and further confirmed by their email to me, a passage which I quote…’ Please feel free to to email me with your specific queries regarding English Regions’ …..at which point I was reduced to a hair pulling Aghhhhhhh. Here I was making the specific point about English broadcast representation , and got back their willingness to entertain ideas about English regions. If there was a corporate way of saying ‘Get lost’, well they said it to me.

  20. English Pensioner
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Yes, I agree with your position. If the existing parliament at Westminster didn’t exist, there might be an argument for having it elsewhere, but to spend money on establishing a new English parliament when the existing buildings will be available would be a stupid waste of money. What did the buildings for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly cost? One for an English Parliament would be bigger as presumably there would be more members because the population of England is so much greater.
    As for splitting England into regions, why? We already have our traditional Counties. Would the regions (which would presumably be groups of existing counties) be instead of the County Councils or in addition? We have too many levels of government as it is, we certainly don’t want more and we would need to take care that the English Parliament does not become yet another level; it must take over entirely from Westminster in all devolved matters.
    Incidentally, why the emphasis on moving things up north? My friends in Cornwall tell me that the feel isolated from the rest of England as things are, moving north would make them feel even more isolated. If other places were to be considered why not Bristol or Exeter?

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    “We have capacity at Westminster in the building”

    That doesn’t really square with complaints about shortage of office space, especially for the Lords, and haven’t some MPs been shunted off to separate buildings?

    http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/building/other-buildings/

    “Other buildings on the Parliamentary Estate”

    “Demand for space has meant the Parliamentary Estate now extends well beyond the Palace of Westminster.”

    Well, in that case, with a smaller federal UK Parliament dealing only with the UK-wide matters reserved to it couldn’t those buildings in prime locations outside the Palace of Westminster be sold off or rented out, to help pay for the buildings for a separate and separately elected devolved English Parliament and government located in some less expensive area near the centre of England?

    Really it should be down to the people to decide how many representatives they think they need in each assembly, which they could do through referendums, but here is one possible scenario in round numbers:

    House of Commons: 650 members cut to 350 elected by FPTP across the UK.
    House of Lords: 760 members cut to 350 elected by SPTP to give fairer Parliamentary representation without increasing the incidence of coalition governments.

    Unicameral devolved English Parliament: 300 members.

    The 700 at Westminster could perhaps be accommodated entirely within Westminster, with the 300 accommodated in buildings somewhere in the Midlands with the initial costs met by the proceeds from the disposal of the buildings outside the Palace.

  22. Roy Grainger
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    In the mind of corporate BBC relocating the Parliament northwards is by definition a good thing because they themselves relocated some offices to Salford and they are infallible. The fact the relocation involved vast on-going expense is irrelevant to them.

  23. Sean
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I agree that the English parliament should be in Westminster,would hate to be like the idiots in the Eu always moving from one place to the other costing the tax payer more.
    On the subject of The BBC, isn’t it time to ditch the License fee and let them be a subscription service. Why on earth should I have to pay for something I can live without. I would guess making me pay for the beeb is against my Human rights.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    “with UK MPs from England doing both jobs”

    Why?

    Since 1998 there has been a new distinction made between matters which are “reserved” to the UK-wide governmental institutions and those which are “devolved” to separate governmental institutions in parts of the UK other than England, so why do you think that people in England would prefer to still have the same set of elected representatives dealing with both?

    Quite apart from the compelling need to have entrenched governmental institutions for the whole of England to put a stop to the constant attempts to break up England, do you not think that a division of labour might itself be fruitful?

    Give the English what the Scots have already been given, and the Welsh and Northern Irish are increasingly being given, and hive off most English domestic matters to new separate governmental institutions for the whole of England while leaving the UK-wide domestic and the foreign matters with the UK-wide institutions based in London.

    Because we’re worth it!

  25. Chris S
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Spot On !

    I do not understand the argument that England is simply too large to have its own Parliament and must be broken up. It makes no more sense than the argument over creating 2nd class Scottish MPs.

    We ( the electorate ) will simply not accept the cost of a new Parliament building and will rightly deride any decision for MPs to sit in two separate buildings hundreds of miles apart ( Does that somehow sound familiar ? ).

    However, if the English Parliament is to be at Westminster there will have to be firm and realistic provision for the interests of the Regions of England to be better represented.

    I would suggest a Grand Committee for each region, meeting four times a year and consisting of MPs, local council leaders and members representing industry and commerce in the area. Each Region would also have an English Cabinet Minister designated to look after its interests who would attend the four meetings in addition to their other duties.

    The PM and Chancellor would have to undertake to attend at least one of these meetings every year in each Region and other Ministers with responsibility for English issues would be required to attend as and when necessary.

    This could all be accomplished very quickly and at minimum cost.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Well, we (the electorate) didn’t rise up to stop the building of Portcullis House to house 213 Westminster MPs and their staff at a cost of £235 million:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portcullis_House

      Which £235 million could doubtless now be more than recovered by reducing the number of Westminster MPs by 300, from 650 to 350, and selling off that high quality property in a prime London location; which would probably go a very long way to financing more economic accommodation for 300 members of a separate English Parliament located in a cheaper area near the centre of England.

      • sm
        Posted October 6, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Do you recall that the current Conservative team wanted to significantly reduce the number of HoC MPs, and were ratted on by the LibDems?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          I do recall that, and I mention it in a reply further down the thread; but as I point out there the Tories were not planning to reduce the total workload of the Westminster MPs, whereas in contrast hiving off devolved matters to a separate English Parliament would reduce their workload and arguably permit an even greater reduction in their numbers. Once JR was no longer dealing with such matters as a Westminster MP then, yes, he could no doubt easily cope with his reduced legislative and scrutiny workload while also serving many more constituents, quite possibly twice as many as now.

      • Chris S
        Posted October 6, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        MPs need offices and they need to be close : within range to get the house when a Division is called.

        We could easily reduce the number of MPs to the proposed 600 but to go a lot further would mean we would need MEngPs to do the same job as MSP in Scotland and AMs in Wales.

        You must be the only person in England that wants to foist on us a whole additional layer of Politicians !

        With proper devolution, being a United Kingdom MP would then become a 2 day a week job at most.

  26. oldtimer
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I think we may safely conclude that this is part of the BBC/Labour party/EU plan to balkanise England uder the guise of the cause for a separate English parliament. The first step is to block or delay the EVEL solution you propose by pursuing the alternatives. The next step will be to advocate the Labour party idea of a constitutional talking shop which punts the idea into the long grass. The third step will be to seek to reintroduce the idea of regional assemblies – decisively rejected when put to the vote in the North-East.

    We should not be surprised. The former Labour minister, Mr Purnell, is Director of Strategy of the BBC. This seems to be the promotion of a BBC strategy for the election of a Labour government and its pet policies – not how to make the BBC a more efficient organisation.

  27. Sandra Cox
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    John, once again, I must say that I am extremely grateful for your involvement in this issue, and I’m sorry to go over the same ground, but I have to ask: Are the English on a hiding to nothing?

    In the first place, it is disgraceful that you even need to publish an article that has to question the British Broadcasting Company’s role in the bias that exists against England.

    It’s a disgrace that there is even a whisper of which political party will benefit or lose in this well overdue, excruciatingly slow process of addressing democracy for England.

    It is a disgrace that we might have trouble getting the first stage, EVEL, through parliament – the only chance being that “Devo Minimum” for England might just get through in order to get “Devo Max” for Scotland.

    It is a disgrace that for months, even years, we have had many of the usual “Players” lining up to do the EU’s dirty work – breaking England into regions – Prescott, Clegg, Heseltine, the EU-funded BBC, various other individuals and talking shops – all softening us up to regionalisation as if it is a given. We have Clegg and Heseltine throwing taxpayers’ money at a ‘divide and conquer’ bribe that would make us even more vulnerable to EU manipulation, and now we have the likes of Scottish MPs like Rory Stewart in on the act!

    My uttermost contempt in all this comes for the BBC’s reporting following the Chequers meeting – we had Andrew Lansley telling the BBC that there was a consensus that English MPs should have a decisive say on matters affecting England only. But he said there was “little appetite” for a separate English Parliament, due to all the additional bureaucracy and cost it would entail.

    “Little appetite”? Says who? The English? The “Players”? Or just another skewed poll we’re all supposed to take as gospel?

    John, as I have said before – if this process gets through the first hurdle, let alone gets within spitting distance of an English parliament, we really cannot leave it in the hands of those with “little appetite” or those who feel that a price can be put on democracy.

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Which is another reason why those currently sitting as UK MPs cannot double up as English MPs also. The present lot of UK MPs squatting in English seats have done bugger all to demand fairness for their English constituents, they can’t even bring themselves to say the word. They have sat idly by for the past 15 years and not uttered one word of protest at the blatant discrimination their constituents, England’s young, England’s sick and England’s elderly continue to receive from successive anti-English UK Governments.

      With the exception of a handful of MPs such as Mr. Redwood and Frank Field, the present bunch of MPs have proved they are totally unfit to represent England.

      • Sandra Cox
        Posted October 6, 2014 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for your comments – William Hague reckons he’s been talking about English democracy for 15 years. No action! I’ve been haranguing my MP since 2010 when Danny Alexander and Jo Swinson were happy to vote on university fees for our kids, safe in the knowledge their constituents’ kids wouldn’t be paying. No action! And don’t get me started on health care for our elderly! No action!

        By the way, I just started to read about this on another blog and I thought of John’s efforts.

        “THE SCOTS HAVE HAD THEIR PATRIOTIC MOMENT IN THE SUN. NOW IT’S TIME FOR AN ENGLISH NATIONAL ANTHEM”

        I know this is a more serious, upmarket blog, but at some stage, there would need to be an official anthem for England. At least we wouldn’t have to get England-hating MPs on board to get it through parliament. Or would we?

        Anyway, PC or not, my vote would go to ‘Jerusalem’, which I believe is a metaphor for ‘Heaven’.

        • Chris S
          Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

          I would prefer Rule Britannia but look at the state of our Navy !!

          Jerusalem it is then !

  28. They Work for Us?
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I don’t think there will be any sensible answers from the BBC on this.

    Off topic I listened to Nick Clegg on the Today programme and he did not put up a good performance.
    Fundamental questions are never put viz.
    Do you regard peoples money as theirs or yours to take as you feel like?
    Do you see your electors as your employers or just as an endorsement to your wisdom and right to govern such that it gives you the right to not do what they want you to do . Viz Europe, immigration etc.

    • Will H
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Yes , excellent questions, if only there were interviewers with the guts to ask them of all the Westminster cabal, not just Clegg.

  29. Robert Taggart
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Well said Johnny.

    Indeed – an English Parliament within the Westminster ‘gas works’ would make most sense, but, since when did sense make sense in politics ? !

    Indeed – the BBC should recognise England as a whole (excepting Kernow perhaps ?), but, is ‘Auntie’ not a little lefty ? – in which case her wish to ‘Balkanise’ England explains it all !

    Regarding ‘home rule’ – for England – as one has intimated previously – without a directly elected English Parliament any EV4EL ‘settlement’ within the current set-up could be all too easily kyboshed by any future British Government.
    Ergo – while not ideal – a ‘proper’ English Parliament would at least be secure in its tenure.

  30. DaveK
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    At least this situation exposes England’s “enemies”, including your coalition partners “stirring up” Cornwall.

    I do vaguely remember reading that the HOP is in need of renovation, so some move/change may be required in due course.

    Dave in Kernow

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      To be fair – even to the LieDims !…
      This Englishman with no known links to Kernow – supports Cornubian ‘home rule’ – if only to get them of our backs !!
      They (the true born Cornubians) be very much a part of the Celtic whinge – they even have their own lingo !

  31. ian
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Internet john. that would be good modernize.

  32. Sue Doughty
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    It isn’t just a debating chamber – each member has a desk and often and office to put it in. And offices staff also need restrooms and a place to eat, all surrounded by a fully staffed high security shield. By sheer coincidence of history England already has all of this together up and working at Westminster.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Not in the Palace of Westminster; about half of the MPs have their offices in extra buildings outside the Palace. Which outside buildings could be sold off when the number of MPs was reduced from 650 to 350, which could be feasible if they were dealing only with UK-wide matters. Bear in mind that the Conservative plan was to arbitrarily reduce the number of MPs to about 500 without any reduction in their total workload, and JR said at the time that this was OK because he could easily deal with more than his present 76,000 plus constituents. And that would be even easier when he was no longer the port of call for inquiries and complaints about all the matters which had been devolved to a separately elected English Parliament; instead of ca 100,000 constituents JR could cope with ca 140,000 just for the UK-wide matters reserved to the UK Parliament, while the member of the English Parliament could deal with devolved matters for them.

      • ChrisS
        Posted October 6, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        I can see no advantage whatsoever in splitting the job current English MPs are doing in two just to create a new breed of MEng.P.

        All you would achieve is less local representation and confusion as to which member the citizen would have to go to in order to raise concerns on a particular issue. Some issues would require the intervention of both representatives.

        We need a simple, economic solution and having our current English MPs continuing to fulfil both roles fits the bill perfectly.

        It would be best for Scotland and Wales to be given the option of sending some of their assembly members to Westminster two days a week as MPs or keep their current MPs but serving on a part time basis and on an appropriately reduced salary.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          I disagree.

          Why don’t we ask what everybody else thinks, in a referendum?

  33. Emlyn Uwch Cych
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I agree 100% with your idea for a devolved English Parliament. What are your ideas for an English Government?

    If devolution means anything, there should also be an English executive making decisions on behalf of England. In my opinion, this ought not to be the UK Government, for the simple reason that the Ministers there are responsible for UK matters, and may well be drawn from MPs representing seats elsewhere in the UK.

    Furthermore, I feel it is also wrong that Ministers whose brief is related solely to England should decide on pan-UK issues such as foreign affairs and defence, whereas their counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have no say and no vote in those matters.

    Perhaps we should have a slimmed down UK Cabinet led by a UK Prime Minister, with some sort of First Minister/Cabinet system for England dealing with those matters devolved to England.

    This doesn’t wholly address the West Lothian Question, as there are some issues which are still E&W or E,W&NI or even E,S&W, but not whole UK issues. Those things could easily be tidied up by Parliamentary standing orders and Cabinet committees, couldn’t they?

    I still want Welsh or Scottish MPs to be able to occupy the great offices of state, but if they are to be part of an English Executive, ex officio, that becomes increasingly unlikely, if not impossible.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      There is only one clean solution, and that is to hive off to separate English institutions all the activities which already are/will be hived off to separate Scottish institutions.

  34. Mactheknife
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    a good response and I agree that parliament itself should remain in Westminster even though I’m in the midlands. Just because the BBC frog marched everyone to Salford for some PC reason at huge cost to the license payer, it doesn’t mean everyone has to do the same.

    However with one caveat. With modern instentaneous communications, some of the govermental department administration type roles could be out in the regions, and not necessarily in large cities as there are large and small towns which need regeneration also.

    Lets share the love across England not just London.

  35. Tony Watts
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    The English Parliament should be housed in the existing House of Common. All other devolved governments housed in their respective capitals. An elected senate of all constituent countries housed in the The House of Lords. No financial outlay for new buildings and no more house of Lords. Senators will have a five year term and could meet regularly in all countries to discuss things like defence, immigration and international fiscal affairs.

  36. Janet Willoughby
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Thank you for standing up for the English. The current constitutional set-up is outrageously unfair to us. Some years ago, I watched the House of Lords debate on the Barnett Formula on TV – their conclusion was that the Scots get far too much, it is not fair and must be addressed. A [Labour] government spokesman was produced to respond to their concerns – he agreed with their findings but said that reducing the amount that the Scots get was impossible because it would upset them, his only suggestion was to give the Welsh more. Though the Welsh did not get any more as far as I know.

  37. Eddie Hill
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Well said, Mr Redwood!

    That is so typical of the anti-English, anti-Home Counties bias that emanates from every pore of the BBC.

    Listening to its “factual” output, and even to a lot of its drama, you’d be hard-pressed to believe it was Britain’s Public Service Broadcaster, since it seems to do nothing but foster overseas or minority causes.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      “That is so typical of the anti-English, anti-Home Counties bias that emanates from every pore of the BBC”.

      Correct, and ironically it emanates most from the BBC upper-echelons who are predominantly English and live in the Home Counties – it is the same peculiar type of guilt that afflicts senior wealthy middle-class Labour and Liberal politicians on topics such as private education.

  38. Janet Willoughby
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Yesterday I saw Nick Clegg on TV actually say that he was in favour of EVEL but ‘I do not want majority rule’. He wants to include MPs from the other nations in the EVEL committee. He doesn’t want majority rule but clearly has no problem with minority rule.

  39. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I agree Westminster is the place. It ebbs and flows emotionally but regionality has been just that in the north of England. We in the north have never thought of ourselves as a nation like Scots or Welsh.
    Moving House as it were from London to say York would perhaps have made more sense when road and rail travel were even more time-consuming, before smart-phones and video cameras.
    Still we English feel rather than know we live in a huge, great, enormous land, therefore the feeling of a 3 to 4 hour drive south is psychologically displaced from our conscious mind replaced by the collective folk memory of long horse-drawn drudges over miry farm tracks twixt village and city market; hence,London and Westminster are thought to be politically distant and remote but DH Lawrence’s “The North Country” is now in reality poem-historic.
    Besides, the knee-breeches and accompanying stockings worn by certain Parliamentary officials in Westminster could not be worn with stylishness by many northern men some of whose calves and the overall shape of their legs because of hard labour resemble more the Victorian shaped bulky table leg than those sleeker of southern climes.

  40. Janet Willoughby
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    As for having an English parliament but moving it to Lichfield or wherever, you are quite right to say that it should be in Westminster, where it always was. It won’t be expensive or difficult to organise, as you rightly say, the only difficulty is creating the will to provide it. Cameron says he wants hard EVEL but, even if he means it, he can’t achieve it without support from the other parties. It suits Labour and the LibDems to leave things as they are. Difficult to see the way forward.

  41. Terry
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I await the Beebs response with bated breath!

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      The BBC’s response is always along the lines “We have considered your complaint that the BBC wants to Balkanise England but after extensive investigation we have found no evidence to support this view and so we do not agree that this complaint is valid. This closes this issue. Thank you for your interest in the BBC”.

  42. Pauline Jorgensen
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Next the BBC will be suggesting replicating the nonsense of Europe with its parliament sessions in Strasbourg and Brussels. Whats wrong with making best use of the buildings of the parliament of the UK?

    I am not are why we need regional BBC news at all however. As you travel up the country I have noticed the accents on the radio main news programme change but its word for word content being broadcast at the same time. What a waste of taxpayers money, regional news fine, paying multiple people to broadcast identical material – pointless tokenism.

  43. JoolsB
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    John,

    We’ve got the Lib Dums up in Scotland yet again for their party conference talking about their plans for education, the NHS, crime, housing, planning for ‘our country’ just as we had the spectacle of Cleggie announcing his free school meals policy last year in a primary school in Scotland. Yet not one mention of the word England from the Lib Dums or the BBC on the fact that none of these policies apply to anyone outside of England.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      And Scottish elected Danny Alexander, announcing that the NHS ( I believe he meant the English NHS) under the Libdems would get an additional £1 billion if they get elected. Of course this ‘largesse’ he seeks to bestow on the English wouldn’t get anywhere near to the money lavished on his Scottish NHS.

  44. Peter Stroud
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Well argued. The Palace of Westminster would be ideal for an English parliament. Also a change of Speaker might be worth considering.

  45. The PrangWizard
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    When are we to get any change at the BBC? We have scandal after scandal, investigation after investigation, proof of partiality and bias, misinformation, disinformation, but all goes on without change. And deliberate secrecy. Where is the Balen report? What about Savile etc.. Will anyone be brought to book?

    They seem, in the face of criticism, to step up their agenda and carry on with their plans to be everywhere in the world with their internationalist agenda, instead of correcting their many faults. There is no meaningful audit of the money they spend. It is virtually a state within a state.

    The BBC is incapable of internal reform. The management of the BBC and the management of the Trust do not want change; they see themselves as untouchable and a law unto themselves. If there were to be a mood for putting wrongs right we would have seen something by now. There may be some tinkering and lots of spin around it at some point, but the BBC is like a worm, cut a piece off and it simply grows back to its original shape. We were promised were we not that BBC3 would be ended but months later it is still with us.

    Change must be imposed – the BBC must be broken up. The peripheral ‘brands’ should be closed or sold if they have any value, and then parliament if it decides it needs a public service broadcaster at all, can decide how it funds what’s left, by prior referendum maybe, nation by nation. I object to needing the State’s permission via a compulsory licence to receive television broadcasts in my own home.

    Rarely does the BBC mention England; in their local TV news output – I am in their ‘the south’, where they constantly mention ‘the country’ but it is never clear if this is Britain, UK, or England. I have tried to get clarity in certain cases but they never reply. They subsume England under Britain or British or the UK endlessly and this can only be as deliberate as it is routine.

    As for where a proper English parliament should be located, the trouble with moving it outside London is that wherever it goes some will be aggrieved and resent it. Its home now is London, it should stay in London, it is England’s capital city. Everything is in place there. We don’t want parochialism in such an important issue, it will cause unnecessary division when we are seeking a unity of outlook. Some small minded MPs should be ashamed that they name their own localities simply in the hope of getting a few more votes.

  46. DaveM
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    OK. I get where you’re coming from using MPs in a ‘double hatted’ role, and, whereas it is not the choice I would necessarily favour, it is a start. I also appreciate that, the fact that everyone has different ideas on how to do it means the arguments would eventually lead to an unsatisfactory compromise after years of debate.

    So, I (like many others) would support your proposal, but in the absence of an actual EP, the symbolism and the recognition of England as a country – like Scotland or Wales – means that a First Minister is imperative. Would it be too much for said First Minister to have a new office, say, somewhere like Trafalgar Square, and for the English flag to be flown there? TS is in the City of London, the Capital of England (as opposed to Westminster or Greater London which are NOT the capital of England). There has to be a focal point other than a Committee Room in Westminster Hall, even if that committee room is where the majority of parliamentary business is conducted, or the people of England will feel totally short-changed.

    I think Old Albion’s future vision of the Lords being used as a Federal chamber with Westminster becoming wholly English is the most likely eventual course of action.

    Good reply to the BBC – maybe they’ve realised that refusal to recognise England could lead to mass disobedience with regards to paying the licence tax/fee!!!

  47. @pperrin
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    John,

    It is nonsense to suggest an MP can serve in and English and UK parliament.

    Wales, Scotland and NI vote differently in their national and their UK elections – there is no reason to prevent the English having this option, except to pack the English parliament with the existing UK parties…

    With an English parliament, the size of the UK parliament can be cut to a small fraction of its current size.

    It would also be undesirable for the English parliament to be seen to have ‘special access’ to the UK parliament.

    I would suggest that the English parlaiament continues at Westminster, while the UK parliament can sit around the country on a rolling basis. Modern technology makes the need to move physical items almost unnecessary.

    You demonstrate why UK MP’s cannot be trusted to setup an English parliament – you are so tied up wiht the way things are, you cannont even conceive of a real change…

  48. CGR99
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    York would be good. Nice and traditional.

    Manchester and Birmingham are 19th century upstarts.

  49. REPay
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Q: “Why do you always have to seek to balkanise and split up England?”

    A: Because that way Labour would control all the major centres of population and have its own fiefdoms. This was part of the original hope for devolution to Scotland and Wales. Somewhere where the “effing Tories” would always be in a minority.

    Of course, a new parliament in the north (near Salford) might be handy for the BBC. A separate parliament would create lots of new jobs…the flip side of your desire for logic and financial prudence.

    This debate will be a microcosm of the Big State vs. Small(er) State. I warrant we will see assemblies mooted for regional Labour and Lib Dem strongholds (west country).

  50. DaveM
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    PS. Whatever happens, please let it be done properly, not just a rushed-through solution which pleases no-one!!!!!

  51. DAVID NEWTON
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps if the BBC recognises England then we could have English-only commentators on England rugby matches instead of a melange of commentators mangling the English language. SC4 has Welsh only, Scots have their own but us English have to suffer the insufferable Welshman Butler and sometimes the Scot Cotter. A further irritation not accorded to England is the lack of bias in commentary that the ‘own language’ broadcasts enjoy.

    • DaveM
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha. Getting Butler off the commentary would be better than leaving the EU. My only hope is that one day Brian Moore will finally lose it with him!!

  52. Vanessa
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Westminster was the English Parliament long before it was made into a “very muddy puddle” of all the regions and kingdoms. Surely there should be no debate about where the English Parliament should be but in the English Capital – London.

    Scotland already has its parliament in their capital, Edinburgh and Ireland and Wales have their Assemblies.

    I am at a loss to understand why an English Parliament should be located in a minor city like Manchester etc. England is the financial driver of the UK and therefore should be in the Capital. The BBC can go the h…….!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Actually it clearly ceased to be a purely English Parliament in 1542 when Welsh members were admitted, but even before that change which is still with us there had been representatives from Calais at one time.

    • Wiliam Gruff
      Posted October 6, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Arguments in favour of moving the capital to one or another of the provincial cities are founded on nothing more substantial than a petty dislike of ‘southerners’ and a demonstrably unfounded belief that ‘southerners’ are stealing northern ‘brass’. I once heard a man say angrily, at a Labour Party constituency meeting in Northumberland, ‘we pay for the south and it’s time we got something back for it’, and he was roundly applauded. I swear that’s true. I live in the north west now, although I am from the south east, and similar sentiments are expressed here frequently. There is a widespread belief that the south always get the best of everything and the north gets the left-overs.

      The truth is that like the rest of the ‘Uited’ Kingdom the north lives on wealth generated in the south east, and government, far from being ‘London centric’, spends far more, per capita and relative to tax revenues, in the north and the little nations of the ‘union’ than in London and the south east, as the relative proportion of the regional economies vested in the public sector suggests. In the north east the proportion is greater than 67% and the figure for the north west is not much lower.

      There is, as you say, no argument for removing an English Parliament from Westminster and to site it in any other English city would make as much sense as making Bonn the capital of Germany or Avignon the seat of the papacy. London has been the capital of England for nearly nine hundred and fifty years and moving it simply to pander to the insular prejudices of the minority in England would be absurd, particularly since there can never be any agreement on where it should go.

  53. Rhys Jaggar
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Your arguments make one assumption which is perhaps fallacious: in the event of a newly sited English Parliament, the UK Parliament may become a very different animal, since its powers will be very different and representatives differently qualified. Hence your assumption that ‘English MPs’ will also be ‘UK MPs’ may no longer be suitable.

    It is one solution of course but I do look forward to you submitting the absolutely humungous costs of refurbishment of Westminster, the upkeep of Whitehall, the salaries required for London-based civil servants etc etc and to provide an indication as to the net cost of building a new Parliament vs selling much of the current London-based infrastructure (as the capital costs of a relocation) allied to the cost savings likely on an ongoing basis from locating an English Executive in a much cheaper part of the Country, the ability to build a 21st century Parliament with 21st century technology (eliminating for example the ridiculous anachronism that is the Westminster division bell at 10pm with digital voting mechanisms) etc etc.

    I’m very open to the status quo eventually emerging as the ‘cheapest option’, but it isn’t acceptable to assert that without having independent auditors validating a cost model for a 2025 relocation, allied to a new UK Parliament of perhaps 100 members and the rump civil service (FCO, Defence, some representation of a National Infrastructure commissioning group and maybe a few other bits and pieces) remaining in London (although they could host sessions around the UK if such a format was consistent with frugal and competent governance).

    I must say for a Conservative party supposedly driven by self-reliance, you do have a bee in your bonnets about retaining iron central control from London over government, which makes all the English regions entirely dependent on patronage from London in a way which you despise amongst the unemployed.

  54. A different Simon
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Get the MP’s out of the cesspit which is London and they might start thinking about the well being of the rest of the country .

    A competition could then be held to come up with an idea for what to do with the Palace of Westminster .

  55. DaveM
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    John,

    A genuine question – no cynicism intended – if the solution you suggest is adopted, what would you do about those govt depts that are currently nearly all England-oriented but which have reserved powers? Would you devolve the reserved powers or would those depts remain essentially UK depts and therefore still open to influence from non-English MPs in spite of the fact that England has no, say DCMS of its own?

    Reply I want to have some English departments – e.g. health, education, local government. Any residual Union powers these departments currently have would be transferred to a Union department.

  56. Stevie
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Well said Sir.

    BBC-Labour will fight tooth and nail against justice for the English. Cameron will also try and sell us out as part of yet another back room deal.

    You and your fellow travellers must hold the line.

  57. bluedog
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Clever but naughty, Dr JR, to conflate your particular recommendation for an English Parliament in a Socratic dialog with the BBC regarding a putative regionalisation of England. Mentioning the BBC seems to have brought forth a predictably Pavlovian response that has largely obscured the main issue.

    Surely the correct procedure is to focus on the English parliament rather than the non-issue of English regionalisation which we know would never win a mandate.

    But therein lies a useful precedent. If the good folk of North-Eastern England were given the opportunity to reject regionalism, why not persuade the UK that your proscription for an English Parliament is correct and offer the electorate the chance to vote on it in May 2015?

    Don’t be surprised if a change to the powers of Westminster through the medium of altering Standing Orders is roundly rejected, particularly in devolved UK.

    Reply I reproduced an actual dialogue. I hope this Parliament will resolve the English votes issue, but if it does not then it will be settled in the General Election.

  58. William Grant
    Posted October 6, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Your colleagues, in cabinet and parliament, some of whom want the BBC to be a subscription service, obviously do not want there to be a BBC England or much of a BBC anything. Looking at the US where, apparently, a combination of government funding and private donations finances the single public TV station network and single public radio station network, if they, with five times the UK population can only produce such a meagre amount of public broadcasting, then a voluntary, subscription-only BBC could only expect to do much less than that eventually leaving it very limited programming options.

  59. Max Dunbar
    Posted October 7, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Scottish Parliament in Dundee? How appropriate. I like it, and the Dundonians can pay for it as they voted to break up Britain.
    As for regionalising Scotland; not a bad idea as there are four distinct zones divided by natural geographic boundaries as well as differences in the attitude of the people between these areas.

  60. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 8, 2014 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    And the English don’t want devolution – ‘No’ to regional government, ‘No’ to elected city mayors (Boris apart), ‘No’ to elected Police Commissioners.

    etc ed

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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