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Chamber of Debate

DEMOCRACY - West Lothian Question


A row has broken out over a Conservative plan to ensure English votes on English issues in the House of Commons.

Former Tory Scotland secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has proposed an English grand committee at Westminster as the answer to the West Lothian question.

The idea, which would see Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs barred from voting on policy areas which are devolved to their own national parliament or assembly, is being considered by the Conservatives' democracy task force.

However SNP leader and Scottish first minister Alex Salmond said it would be an insufficient answer to devolution, while Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said it could lead to the break-up of Britain.

Sir Malcolm, now a London MP, told the BBC on Sunday: "When the House of Commons is purely discussing English housing or English health... then why should that not just be left to the English members of Parliament to decide upon?

"When these matters are being discussed in Northern Ireland or in Scotland, it's the Scots and the Northern Irish who decide these matters - that's what devolution's all about."

But Salmond said a grand committee would have insufficient authority. He pointed out that the former Scottish grand committee of the Commons failed to stop Sir Malcolm pushing through the poll tax in Scotland in the 1980s.

"I would like to see people in England to have the same rights and entitlements as those in Scotland," the nationalist leader said.

"I think the right solution is to have a Scottish Parliament and an English Parliament."

Harman, leader of the House of Commons, rejected both ideas, saying the Commons should remain a UK-wide legislature but that there should be more "regional accountability" for England to balance out devolution.

"I think this is a very, very dangerous line of argument that the Conservatives are pushing," she said.

"They used to be the Conservative and Unionist Party and now they are making proposals which wouldn't help strengthen regional accountability in England but would actually, I think, threaten the Union."

Instead she said the government was considering regional select committees in the Commons, to scrutinise policies on the public services in local areas.

Published: Sun, 28 Oct 2007 23:36:00 GMT+00
Vote: Should Scottish MPs be barred from voting on English affairs as the Conservative Party proposes?

Our Unique Parallel Polling System

OMOV (One Member One Vote)
Yes 87% No 13%
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OMMV (One Member Multiple Votes)
Yes 50% No 50%
Yes No         AAA Awarded members only.

Members Comments

Pericles 25-Mar-2009 13:38
I voted no, the West Lothian question is absurd. The English elected not to have their own parliament or Assembly. 'English issues' therefore do not exist per s as they are UK issues, even though localised in England!
politeexcuse 8-Mar-2009 23:50
As long as Scotland can run it's own affairs it would be fair, anything less means Parliament not represented in Scotland,the Scottish MPs have been reduced already.
dignitas 29-Jun-2008 19:23
To bar scottish MPs from voting in affairs that are or seem purely of English concern would, to be honest, have little if any merit to the democratic process or the any benefit to English-specific policies. What does Mr Rifkind actually think would happen? that Scottish MPs will try to scuttle England? I wonder how many Scottish MPs would actually make the journey to vote on affairs that have no relevance or interest to them? a great many policies and legislation that is intoduced into this country are merely Trojan horse in nature, something at first glance seeming small and irrelevent but allows the introduction of something a lot bigger in scope, such as the London congestion charge, a mere token of a payment to ease congestion, then. BINGO that small token is raised to ridiculous sums with the aim to spread further out into greater London!) Banning Scottish MPs would not allow ALL MPs of this country the right to due diligence. To act on behalf of the interest of their constituents.

It is just an excuse for further centralisation and as such should be unacceptable.
timgbull 20-Nov-2007 19:3
Our current politicians have no interest in any matter that would make this country more democratic ... unless it suits them.
Herb 12-Nov-2007 21:49
"All people in the United Kingdom are equal, but some are more equal than others".

(With acknowledgements to George Orwell.)
StephenPhillips 7-Nov-2007 13:1
Many in UKIP have actually been saying this for quite a while. When will the Tories find their own policies?
CarlWilliams 2-Nov-2007 20:17
Because the majority of those in charge are Scottish and the rest are dependent on Scottish votes to stay where they are.
mwykeham 1-Nov-2007 16:14
How have the complacent and self serving inhabitants of Westminster Village allowed this situation to continue for nearly 10 years?
All comments are subject to approval.

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