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"Why, he asked, should Scottish MPs be able to vote on English laws when English MPs do not have the same rights in Scotland?" No, that's just half the West Lothian question: the extension is that NOR DO SCOTTISH MPs have the right to vote on such issues in Scotland. In other words, Scottish MPs can vote on many issues only when their own constituents are NOT affected. Surreal! (P.S better make clear to readers that "Scottish MPs" is shorthand for "MPs for Scottish constituencies": the point is political, not racial.)

Third Avenue

You're right that this was indeed part of Dalyell's point. But it doesn't change the rest of my argument - UK MPs of whatever constituency explicitly RETAIN their full rights under the Scotland Act. Howard's proposals would be the first to formally DEPRIVE MPs of voting rights.


Surely the point is that Blair's bungled reform left England as the must populous country in Europe without a Parliament of its own? It has this strange spatchcocked combination of UK parliament and English parliament. The convention that the UK Parliament does not legislate on Scottish affairs is central to devolution: it needs to be joined by a new convention that the Speaker should decide what legislation applies only to England - and ensure Scots MPs do not debate or vote on such issues. Or, we could go for a federation although, as you say, God knows what to do about Ulster. Alternatively, see my brilliant suggestion at the Freedom and Whisky blog.

Third Avenue

There is a strong case to be made that Blair's reforms have been seriously bungled - but Howard's proposals, which you appear to endorse, would compound that bungle a hundred times and effectively deprive the UK of a government.

The only real logical solution would be a federation - but this brings with it huge problems, not just NI, but the disparate sizes of the components, the different legal system in Scotland, the lop-sided nature of any settlement, etc, etc. I don't pretend I have the solution, but I'm quite convinced that, whatever it is, it doesn't bear Michael Howard's name.


"Scottish MPs can vote on many issues only when their own constituents are NOT affected."

That's not quite accurate - they can vote on issues that affect their constituents if they are issues that are retained by Westminster.

the Tories have a point; Scottish MPs shouldn't really vote on issues that *only* affect English constituencies, especially if it's Scots MPs that give the government their majority - as was the case with Foundation hospitals...



There's another version of the West Lothian question: "why's it always raining in Harthill?" (A joke that doesn't really travel well) :)

Third Avenue

Shuggy - you're right that the Tories have a point. But what they are proposing is not the answer. If you deprive Scots MPs of the right to vote on non-Scottish issues, without setting up full scale federalism, I can't see how you can avoid making the UK ungovernable.


No, I'm happy as ever to agree that Tory plans are no solution.

Personally, I don't think it's such a big problem - but it'll become one if this government continues to impose controversial legislation on England with Scottish votes.

It'd be simpler if Labour followed the convention adopted by the Tories and the SNP - avoid voting on purely English concerns.


There is also another issue here. The Scottish parliament can legislate in Scotland for the benefit of the Scottish. Indeed, that is their ultimate purpose. There is no parliament in England that does the same for the English and for England. Indeed England is the only country in the whole of Europe that does not have a parliament (I think...Wales having an Assembly instead).


"It'd be simpler if Labour followed the convention adopted by the Tories and the SNP - avoid voting on purely English concerns."

But that's only a convention for the SNP when Scotland is unaffected by legislation for England. Invariably, due to the Barnett Formula, legislation for England (and Wales) has a beneficial or detrimental affect on Scotland's block grant. In detrimental cases the SNP cast aside their principled convention, as they should for they are elected to get the best deal for Scotland.

Mr Third Avenue is correct. We need a federation of British nations, or we need to abolish the devolved administrations and hand the baton to Scottish and Welsh separatists.


Who is to divine as to what is an English motion as opposed to a British motion ?

Answer - the Speaker - at present none other than Mr Speaker Martin who has never made even the slightest attempt to be impartial and is happy to be the Labour creature he is.

Come on - EVOEI is just going to be an exetension of the the present illogical and divisive arrangement and would be yet another target for English resentment .

I had expected better of Mr Howard than this . On the other hand perhaps he is being subtle - offering up a proposal knowing it to be unsatisfactory withe expectation that it will be demolished by reasoned debate and then leave the field open to a proposal for what IS logical - an English parliament.

Dissaffected Youth

Despite living in England I have more faith in the Scottish Parliament, than that of Westminster..
On the original point of the West Lothian Question and the Conservative Manifesto-I completely agree-its more evidence of tory policies resting more on the fears of the minority than any of their own beliefs. The same can be said for their stance on the European Constitution(which they now oppose) when just 8 years ago, their "2020 vision", claimed that they "would push for the completion of the European Single Market".
I could respect(though not agree with) them were they at least to hold to their own principles. As soon as the public realise that the only candidates with the sense to govern a country, and a union are the Liberal Democrats the sooner, we'll be taken seriously as Democracy.

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