Friday, March 10, 2006

No English Parliament

So says the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer. Hmm well I don't feel too strongly one way or another about whether or not we get an english parliament. However, if we are not to get an english parliament then we clearly need to address the current situation where issues which only affect England are voted upon by politicians from Scotland. Simon Hughes comments were spot on as far as I am concerned and I hope that we will continue to address this issue.

Tag Politics


James said...

We certainly do need to address this issue but an English Parliament would be a disaster. We would have an asymetrical federation and end up going the same way as Yugoslavia (hopefully less bloodily), and worse, it would slow down the pace for devolution to a local level, which should be a much higher priority. A centralised state of 50 million people is just as unsatisfactory as a centralised state of 60 million people.

There should be a four point plan:
1. Sort out the Barnet Formula. Until you do, you cannot make the case that Scots vote on issues that only effect England as every vote DOES effect Scotland in terms of its block grant due to the overly simplistic Formula.
2. A flexible system allowing MPs to vote on issues depending on what nation(s) it effects. There needs to be some kind of system to allow Scots to object if they feel they are being excluded on a matter that affects their constituents.
3. Radical devolution to the county and metropolitan level.
4. Proportional representation which would take a large amount of the sting out of the English Question. FPTP massively exaggerates the number of Welsh and Scottish MPs and PR would ensure that real scandals such as the vote on top up fees in 2004 would not happen.

Tony Ferguson said...

I would agrree with virtually all you say ( I certainly have no strong feelings pro or anti an English parliament) and if we can get devolution to a lower level then so much the better.

Just one question. What is the Barnet formula? How does it work?

James said...

The Barnett formula is the mechanism the government uses to decide how much money Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are entitled to. It was originally set at the formula of 85% for the English, 10% for the Scots and 5% for the Welsh (I know it has been revised since but I don't know what to), meaning that if Westminster commits to spending £Xm more on, say education in England, Scotland and Wales will automatically receive more money. Since all bills have spending implications in one way or another, it can thus be argued that the Scots and Welsh have a vested interest in voting.

Tony Ferguson said...

Thanks for that and I can now see your point. I guess there may be the exceptional bill where this does not apply but it clearly is a problem which needs to be resolved if this mess is to be disentangled.

Paul Griffiths said...

James, if I understand you correctly, the flexible system you mention above is the one known (somewhat misleadingly) as "English Votes on English Matters" and was the subject of a Bill recently tabled by the Conservative peer, Lord Baker. You probably also know that many constitutional experts think EVoEM is unworkable, the traditional objection being that the Government of the day might not have enough English MPs to enact (bits of) the manifesto on which it was elected. Are such criticisms valid, or do they underestimate the consensual nature of post-PR politics?

Toque said...

English votes on English matters would be disasterous.

For a start why should a Scottish MP be allowed to preside over an English departmental portfolio - lets say minister for Health - and not be allowed to vote on legislation pertaining to that department?

If you say that the MP should not be allowed to have an English ministerial position - as any commonsensical person would - then you take the first step to excluding Scottish and Welsh ministers from UK Cabinet Government.

Hughes has it wrong, but good on him for at least sticking his oar in.

Tony Ferguson said...

Well I can see your point but that leads me to conclude that either we need an english parliament or regional government or as James suggest more radical devolution to counties and unitaries etc. This would leave Parliament and ministers to deal with true national issues such as foreign affairs, defence etc.