Tuesday, March 14, 2006
An English Parliament - It's Part of the Solution, Not the Problem
Peter Riddell's article in The Times this morning on English devolution criticises the Conservatives for their English Votes for English measures policy, criticises proponents of an English Parliament for being unrealistic in propising something that no one really wants, and criticises Labour for making a horlicks of regional devolution. What he doesn't do is come up with an alternative. Riddell rehashes the Robert Hazel line that an English Parliament is out of the question because England is too big. This is an argument I have never really bought. If you think of other countries which are federal unions, California dominates the USA population-wise, yet no one thinks of it calling the shots, and I suspect that New South Wales plays a similar role in Australia. If the role of an English Parliament is clearly defined right from the beginning - after a cross party English Constitutional Convention - then surely it is not beyond the wit of man to create something which is workable and does not undermine the Union? Isn't that what we pay constitutional lawyers for? Excepting Lord Falconer, of course. I think it is time to move on. We all recognise that there is a problem. We don't need to keep harping on about that. What we need to do is find a workable solution. An English Parliament would not need to reflect exactly the role and powers of its Scottish counterpart. The important thing is to make sure that it works, so that people in all parts of the United Kingdom feel that their voice is equal to the others. Surely that's not asking too much?