Sunday, October 28, 2007

An English Grand Committee: I Hope It's True

The Observer will report tomorrow that David Cameron is being urged to support far reaching plans to strip Scottish MPs of the the right to vote on English matters at Westminster. The proposal, drafted by Sir Malcolm Rifkind has been put forward to the Democracy Task Force led by Ken Clarke. According to PA...
Under the plan, a new English Grand Committee - open only to English MPs - would be established to deal with matters, such as schools and hospitals, relating solely to England. MPs from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would continue to sit together in the Commons to vote on UK wide matters such as taxation, foreign policy and defence. A Conservative Party spokesman confirmed that the plan was being considered, but said that no decision had yet been taken on whether it would be adopted as party policy. "Ken Clarke's democracy taskforce is looking at the issue and will report back on it, but nothing has been decided yet," the spokesman said... Sir Malcolm told The Observer: "Since devolution there has been a growing English consciousness and that has given credence to the unfinished business of devolution. The issue is not an English Parliament. It is how you reform the way in which the House of Commons operates so that on purely English business, as opposed to United Kingdom business, the wishes of English members cannot be denied." However the plan was denounced as "utterly unworkable" by Scotland Office Minister David Cairns. "Once you breach the principle that all MPs should vote on matters before them in Westminster you get constitutional anarchy," he told the paper.

I'm very excited by this. It's radical thinking and deserves full consideration. It's not quite an English Parliament but it's as close as we're going to get. So I hope those who believe in an English Parliament will back it, at least as an interim measure.

UPDATE: read The Observer story HERE.


Alex said...

How does the Minister for [Devolved Matter] handle the fact that he may not be able to get his policies voted through the English Grand Committee?

In theory that issue doesn't arise withe the devolved ministries in Wales and Scotland.

Anonymous said...

they'll probrably stuff it full of scotsmen sitting in English seats.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this similar to what was in the Conservative Party's Norton Commission Report in 2000?

Old BE said...

It's actually preferable to an English parliament because we don't have to pay yet more politicians.

Anonymous said...

The McMafia, aka McLabour arent gonna like this!.

Brace yourself for many ridiculous, pathetic, feeble and desperate slurs accusing the Conservatives of "wanting to break up the Union".

This from the party that already HAS broken up the Union as of 1998.

McLabours policy is:

"Don't break up the Union".

"Break up England instead!" (into EU regions).

Anonymous said...

Salmond is planning for Independence within 3 years.
will this Grand Committee have the powers to negotiate terms with the Scottish Government or will Gordon Brown do the negotiating for England?
I bring this up because in 1999 a Scottish MP masqurading as a UK minister altered the maritime boundary between England and Scotland and as a result England lost 30% of her oil fields.

'I am reasonably confident that the line might have been drawn on the right principles, and that they were not deviously trying to work out some way of nabbing oilfields and gas fields from one country rather than another.'
Alan Beith

'People should know, because there seems to be some cynicism and concern about the shape of the boundary as it veers from a north-east to an easterly direction, giving more seas defined as Scottish territorial waters.'
Michael Fabricant

'We have before us a sterling example--if I may still use the word sterling--of a Scottish Minister who falls entirely within my definition of a United Kingdom Minister, which is, of course, what I should have said.'
Oliver Letwin

'Another key issue that was raised is that of the boundary. As I said, the boundary is not a precedent for other matters, which are reserved, especially oil and gas.'
Henry McLeish (Yes, on record)

'When the point from which the line is drawn becomes the Grampian coast, why does the Durham coast not become relevant? If it does there will be a different effect on the line.'
Alan Beith

'Let us take oil and gas as an example. My concern there is that increasingly, even though matters remain reserved and are conducted on a United Kingdom basis, there develops a habit of attributing notional revenues to justify particular levels of public expenditure in England and Scotland. That is just one way in which the boundary line can be used for practical purposes in everyday political life and public discussion. So we need to be sure that the line is established on the right principles.'

Alan Beith

On Tuesday 23 March 1999, England gave away an estimated 30% of attributable oil revenue to the Scottish Parliament on the orders of a former First Minister of the Scottish Parliament.

Henry McLeish was First Minister of Scotland from 2000 to November 8, 2001.
Henry McLeish also signed the Scottish claim of right
"We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount".

Thanks to

Anonymous said...

It really is unworkable. Just for starters, the Speaker of the House is a Scottish MP and he's always shown favouritism to the Labour Party. He's unqualified before he even opens his mouth.
And everything to do with England is linked to the barnett formula, which means that every decision about English policy, affects the neighbours.
Then there's a small matter called devolution. Nothing whatsoever is devolved to England.
Even if it got off the ground, which it won't; it would require new departments to scrutinise policy and everything would be slowed down to a halt. Perhaps deliberately by the Scottish speaker, just to screw up the tory policy and make them look like fools.
English Grand Committee? Its short changing the English and the Tories must surely know it.
This, at a time when the Scots are now moving towards 2010 for a referendum on Independence?
How can we have Scots negotitating with other Scots over English money, assets and territory? That's what this half way house is doing to us.
After 10 years, we expect better than this and will never settle for less than an English Parliament with equal powers to Scotland.

Tapestry said...

Rifkind and Clarke are keen to press ahead with the termination of the Union, and the creation of chaos at Westminster.

It should be a case of one or the other. Either we go for full separation, or we stay together, rebuilding the Sovereignty of Parliament, not undermining it yet further.

This would be a middle way mess.

I wonder how much Constitutional Law has been studied by the writer of this blog. Once Parliament is dismantled, there is no source of Law in the UK. That is the aim of the Eurocasts.

Anonymous said...

I would not trust commisar Clarke if he told me I was on fire! An EU stooge and one of the ring of traitors that did for Maggie? If Clarke had his way we would be a minor French speaking region by now so forgive me if I am not impressed!
The very last thing England needs is to be run by a "commitee"! It sounds like some Minor Soviet region being lorded over by some faceless commisars.
What England needs is for England to run her OWN affairs! Its called Independence NOT dependence!
Please dont be dragged down the same EUSSR road that others are happy to walk down Iain, you are better than that!

Anonymous said...

About time too as an Englishman I often feel we have been invaded and a government imposed from a foriegn power.I know scotland is part of the UK but they are over represented and are not governing in the national interest.Devolution was a mistake it should be full independance or the status quo we got the worst of all worlds.

wonkotsane said...

I'll support it because it won't work. Once you've stopped foreign MPs from interfering in English matters there's no going back and there will be no choice but to create an English Parliament.

If only you could make David Camoron realise that Scotland will never vote Conswervative and that pissing us English off by telling us over and again that we need to change our attitude to the English-hating master race because they're great and we're scum.

Johnny Norfolk said...

What a mess, The Union has come to this. I dont find anything exciting about it at all, Just that Labour has destroyed Great Britain and I find nothing worthy in it at all. All Britons will be the poorer fo it in the long term. What a narrow view you have Iain.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Ian nothing less than an English Parliament will do, under this Grand Committee scheme I as part of the English electorate will still have only one vote which is for the UK Govt, whereas in Scotland and Wales the electorate have two bights of the political cherry one for thier own administration and the other for the UK Govt. I refuse to be treated as a second class citizen in my own country.

Barry (The Elder)

Roger Evans said...

David Cairns warns of 'constitutional anarchy'. Nulab have already created that with their half baked reforms.

Anonymous said...

The Observer, is that the same 'Observer' that has a poll giving Labour a 1% lead: just in case you missed it Iain?

Anonymous said...

Andrew (poodle) Marr said on New 24 this morning - this was about "English MPs right to vote on English only matters" - WELL IT'S NOT.

This is about SCOTTISH MPs NOT having the RIGHT to vote on English only matters.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for it. Either that or an English Assembly based in, say, Birmingham. Cameron is on another winner here. So many voters are getting hot under the collar on this subject and rightly so.

Also could I just mention here on another subject, PMQs, I do hope Cameron says to Brown this week (before Brown says it to him) 'The PM does not appear to have been listening to what I'm saying!'

Anonymous said...

English independence would be better.

wonkotsane said...

English Common Law predates the union. There's nothing to stop England taking on whatever laws we want when we sack the master race off.

An English Parliament doesn't mean more politicians either, why would you keep 650 British MPs after it was created? Fear of losing their jobs, that's why British MPs oppose equal rights for England.

Anonymous said...

Two things I want to see before I pop my clogs is to see England free from the EUSSR and the Union finished,Labour has helped to destroy the Union but the Scots have been wanting it destroyed for years,the EUSSR is just for politicians getting their noses in the trough and has nothing in it for ordinary people.

The Huntsman said...

This might be of interest for you to pick up

Ken Follett (on Andrew Marr), on the subject of his wife Barbara Follett’s Parliamentary Office, say he subsidises it by a hundred thousand pounds a year. With the issue of MPs expenses very much to the fore, I looked to see if this squares with Mrs. Follet’s entry in the Register of Interests. And a fascinating exercise it was.

It raises questions about the accuracy of her entry in the Member’s Register of Interests:


Anonymous said...


'The logical solution to this problem would be the creation of an English Parliament'

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, 19 June, 1998

He proposed this Grand Council thingy in 1998, in Edinburgh, to a Scottish policy group.


The Independent article 'Scotland 10: England 0' now has the real subsidy per Scottish citizen relative to English citizen at 27%.

Arnie said...

It is a rubbish plan, devolution is about executive power, as well as legislative power, but this plan seems to ignore that.

However, I suppose a rubbish plan with it's heart in the right place is better than no plan at all.

Anonymous said...

Yep- just watched Harman on Marr- England is officially a range of regions- NOT a country! F*ck Off Harman!Regionalism is a dud. Just take the 'Witney' area. It's on the edge of the Midlands, South West, South East, & the South!!! Well, if this 'regionalism' does take place and if the people of England are stupid enough to vote in another Labour govt- i shan't bother voting ever again.

Anonymous said...

Whatever one's views on independence or the Union, isn't this sad state of warfare between the Scots and the English yet another terrible Labour legacy?

What appalling incompetence this Government has shown since Day 1 - like unruly toddlers, they know how to destroy (see also schools, hospitals, Iraq) but are incapable of construction. They have fostered hatred and distrust and a criminal underclass.

What a legacy!

Anonymous said...

I agree - an excellent idea. With a separate English, Scottish, Welsh and N Ireland Parliament for each member country of the UK and then a full Parliament to vote on truely UK matters.

In my view, that would strengthen the Union because it would remove the internal sources of conflict that threaten to drive us apart.

A Tory, SNP, Plaid Cymru alliance sitting in the next Westminster Parliament to drive it through - now who would have thunk that!

Geezer said...

Anonymous said...
The Observer, is that the same 'Observer' that has a poll giving Labour a 1% lead: just in case you missed it Iain?
October 28, 2007 8:26 AM

A Bob Worcester special from MORI!
Labour are nowhere near that level.
Brown getting helped out by his friends with some bogus polling, as they did at conferece season.

Barnacle Bill said...

Something needs to be done about the West Lothian question, but is this really the answer to this?
ZaNuLab have used Scottish and Welsh MPs to force measures upon us English that will not apply in their own constituencies.
This is manifestly unfair, and has resulted in the growing tensions within the Union.
But we do not need an English Grand Committee.
All it requires is that MPs should be barred upon voting in debates that do not have an actual effect upon their constituencies.
Plain and simple - if you are either a Scottish or Welsh MP, and the bill/measure/law being voted upon only effects England - stay in the bar and have another on us taxpayers!

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea as a starter. Personally I would not think it unreasonable to expect all English MPs to have a close connection with err ... England. Whilst expecting them to be third generation might be a bit draconian, they should at least have been born here.

Anonymous said...

I would willingly pay more money to have English elected MPs, sitting in an English Parliament, looking after the needs of the English People, They would also have to sign the English Constitutional Convention in the same way that all Scottish elected Ministers have signed the Scottish Claim of Right. Sorry Iain, the only solution is democratic parity which means an English Parliament. There is also talk of Wales sitting on the "Grand Committee" as a "transitional" measure which begs the question transitional to what??? Patrick Harris, Portsmouth, England. English Democrat.

Anonymous said...

Of course if this Committee were to be established, it would remove even more duties from those (mainly Labour and Liberal) MPs for Scottish constituencies who at present vote on English only matters. Since they don't vote on matters devolved to Holyrood either this will leave them with suspiciously little to do. Logically therefore their salaries,pension entitlements, expenses, etc should be reduced. I love the idea!!!

Mulligan said...

About bloody time.

No doubt this will receive popular feedback and therefore a watered down version will shortly be announced as another key component of Gordon's "vision" thingy.

Anonymous said...

Mr Cains can be contacted at

Anonymous said...

It's another case of Cameron's salami tactics, getting things done slice by slice. He's doing it on Europe but people can't see it. Now he's doing it on an English parliament.

The Tories are a unionist party but deep down they want an English parliament because they would control it. Cameron knows a Grand Committee would struggle and it would end up with demands for a full parliament.

After blowing his cheeks and a sly wink to those in the know he'll say it is time to have an English parliament to make things work properly. It would also be the time to say the EU won't negotiate a return of sovereignty so we may have to pull out.

He's got more smarts about him than people realise.

Peter from Putney said...

Will this mean that, like the Scots, we can look forward to:

Free nursing care for the elderly

Free university fees

Free medical prescriptions for all

Free school dinners

....all paid for, predominantly, by the English taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Iain , you really a dozy dupe at times .
So a Scottish MP (Rifkind) sees the English getting restless and proposes throwing a little bone to them to keep them quiet and old Iain comes over all cuddly and laps it up .








Anonymous said...

I agree with Tapestry, Yorkie and the majority who say this Grand Committee would be a middle way mess.

It will do little or nothing to address the West Lothian question and would be sabotaged by the Scots Speaker. The fact that EU crazy Clarke is behind this has me shuddering about the underlying agenda and small print.

The people of England, the overwhelming majority of the Union,have been effectively enslaved - ethnically cleansed, stripped of our culture and disenfranchised,the government of England signed away to the the EU by nulab's Scots cabal - while devolved power was handed to the small minorties of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

The union is too far down the road to break up now to stop it now and the Scots and English far too distrusting of the political status quo.

Under the Grand Committee proposal, England would yet again be treated as the mongrel in the yard, thrown the bones of a phoney settlement.

Auntie Flo'

Unknown said...

It isn't a radical idea, it's half baked and the fudging of the issue will only generate more resentment, this time from Scots who'll wonder why on earth they send MPs to Westminster at all. If anything, it will precipitate a vote for independence.

The best solution is surely a federal one. I say this not as an English nationalist, but a committed Unionist. English people are fed up of paying for Scotland and Scottish people are fed up of being lectured on being worthless. We should establish clear lines of authority so education, local taxation etc becomes the preserve of the nations, whilst all defence, foreign affairs, macroeconomic policy resides in a federal parliament. This is actually the best way for the UK to stay together in the long run

Unknown said...

It isn't a radical idea, it's half baked and the fudging of the issue will only generate more resentment, this time from Scots who'll wonder why on earth they send MPs to Westminster at all. If anything, it will precipitate a vote for independence.

The best solution is surely a federal one. I say this not as an English nationalist, but a committed Unionist. English people are fed up of paying for Scotland and Scottish people are fed up of being lectured on being worthless. We should establish clear lines of authority so education, local taxation etc becomes the preserve of the nations, whilst all defence, foreign affairs, macroeconomic policy resides in a federal parliament. This is actually the best way for the UK to stay together in the long run

Unsworth said...

Iain: "It's radical thinking and deserves full consideration. It's not quite an English Parliament but it's as close as we're going to get. So I hope those who believe in an English Parliament will back it, at least as an interim measure."

It's not particularly radical, although welcome. And, you're slightly contradicting yourself if you say that 'we're not going to get it' and then suggest that it ought to be backed as 'an interim measure'

Personally I'd prefer to see the full Monty. Go for an English Parliament with exactly the same devolved powers as those of the Scots. And, while we're at it, do precisely the same for (to?)the Welsh...

Anonymous said...

Sadly agree that complete independence is the only way forward. This half-baked devolution has been the death knell for the Union. Clearly it was never thought through. A bit like Iraq ...

Ned said...

Whoppee!! "The West Lothian Question" is being addressed by the Conservatives at long last. The Labour Ministers, running scared as usual!,are rubbishing the proposed announcement declaring that this Tory policy would see them as the Party For England!...pure music to many millions of English's either this or an English Parliament..Bloody marvellous News..Bring it on Dave.

Anonymous said...

Why do English Tories hate Scotland so much?

Anonymous said...

If they play it right, this could be an area of clear blue water for the Tories, and New Labour could be floundering.

Anonymous said...

I've always admired you, Iain. Not least because you never waver in your support for a leader who is once again letting you and the rest of down with a half backed policy supposedly drawn up by a Scotsman who refuses to acknwledge equal treatment for the English.
But surely you know this is unworkable and will never pass as policy?
Why are we being fobbed off yet again?
Why aren't our MPs standing together and defending our right to a democracy? Why?
Are they really that weak? Can they so self absorbed and closed off from the rest of the country?
No doubt Rifkind will want to call it something or other that mentions Scotland, as well.
We're so fed up. After 10 years, the Tories just repackage the same policy and let a Scotsman announce it.
We've been let down again in a back stabbing fashion. The poor English can't think of anything for themselves, can they? They need a Scot to do it for them!
Sicking display by the weakling "British" yet again. And therein lies the problem. British. Through and through, even when its no longer fashionable and never will be again. Must we be forced to wait for the next generation to settle this once and for all?

Yak40 said...

Simon "just watched Harman on Marr- England is officially a range of regions"

Like this ?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that I read that regionalism as proposed by Labour is a ploy to qualify deprived areas for funding under the EU.

Anonymous said...

Lets chuck out Scotland, it does return lots of Labour MPs. I'm absolutely sick of them!

Merseymike said...

It would lead to the breakup of the UK, as it would mean that a nationally elected government may not be able to enact its policies in the overwhelmingly largest part of the UK.

So much for Tory commitment to the United Kingdom.

Its partially the Governments fault for not introducing regional devolution at the same time as those for the smaller countries of the UK. But England cannot be trreated in the same way because it is numerically so dominant in the UK, and because it doesn't share similar interest. Ours here in Merseyside are generally the opposite to those of the south-east. Still, such a suggestion would lead to much greater support for regional devolution!

Anonymous said...

I have long predicted that Blair's ultimate legacy would be the death of the national Labour Party. And it is coming to pass. The strain between Scotland and England - with the latter taking the mass of immigration and raising more taxes - will eventually lead to a split.
The Tories have put their finger on a very sore point here and Labour will squeal like pigs.
Eventually, Scotland will semi-separate and Labour will be forced to merge with the Liberals south of the border.
What the antis on this site don't realise is that the antics of the Brown government is introducing the English to the fettid, backstabbing world of local Scottish politics and it doesn't look very good.
Douglas Alexander is the definitive tribal Scottish pillock and the planned relaxation of the 30 years rule another Brown stunt to try and embarass the Tories.
As for Harriet Harpie and her regions, well a couple of weeks ago I attended the opening of BMW Welt in Munich. We were x-rayed before being allowed in and I thought, ah, Merkel must be coming.
In the event a grey man popped up and announced himself as The Prime Minister of the Free State of Bavaria. Just the sort of thing Harpie had in mind for England.
You might note that Scotland will remain a single region under EU plans, while England is broken up into tiny pieces....

Anonymous said...

Peter from Putney

Scotland does NOT have free nursing care for the elderly (it has free personal care, a vastly different thing.
Nor does Scotland have free prescriptions, although it is hoped to do so by 2011.
Nor does Scotland have free school dinners, only in a few schools on a pilot basis
If you want to have these in England all you have to do is vote for a party or parties that will provide them.

Anonymous said...

Know wonder the NuCons will still be in the wilderness even at the next general election,having generic's like Rifkind and Clarke still around,as soon as I saw Rifkind on tv at the last GE,I didn't bother voting,if he is around at the next GE then I will do the same,I hate NuLab and the damage they have done to this country,but I hate the generics even more,they had their chance and wrecked it when they were in,give them both zimmer frames and put them in rest homes where they belong.

Mostly Ordinary said...

I saw Ruth 'the hair' Kelly on the news saying it was too difficult to manage. Not bothering to do something right because it's too difficult isn't really the message you want to hear from your Government.

Anonymous said...

I screwed the bastards once and I can do it again.You've only got to give me a call.

Anonymous said...

BBC Radio 2 news report this afternoon - I paraphrase as I was driving at the time:
"Government ministers claim Tory proposals for an English grand committee is unworkable" followed by about a minute of the blessed Ruth Kelly explaining why. No conservatives quoted, as usual.

Iain - You might want to do another survey of how the BBC is presenting this across the network

Anonymous said...

It's a sad day for the UK.

It breaks my heart to think that the UK will become England, Scotland & Wales (who knows what will happen to NI).

How will anyone form a government? If one party has a majority of English MP's whilst another one has a majority of UK MP's, who will run the country?

It's absolute madness within the current system.

If you want something along the lines envisaged, you will need to tear up the Westminster Consitution, and start again.

And frankly, looking at hte mess we have in the Lords and in Scotland, I dont have much comfort in any replacement for our ancient constitution.

If you really do have a smidgen of pride in this country's history, of the sacrifices made in both world wars, of the contributions made to the world on behalf of democracy and freedom. Then i don't know how you can entertain such a ridiculous and dangerous idea.

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to see so many people frothing at the mouth at once. Keep it up.

James Higham said...

It's a great thing but it's only until the regionalization starts though, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Labour has made a complete pigs' ear of the Union, haven't they? It all began with these socialist ratchets of devolution in Scotland and Wales. Never in its 300-year-history has the Union been so shaky.

We had nothing like this before they came into office did we? And they have the gall to say the Conservatives are threatening the Union!

Anonymous said...

'I'm very excited by this. It's radical thinking and deserves full consideration. It's not quite an English Parliament but it's as close as we're going to get. So I hope those who believe in an English Parliament will back it, at least as an interim measure.'


I'm disappointed by you. You seem to be easily pleased.

Is this not the same proposal this Scot made 10 years ago? - er yes

Does this address all the issues relating to English democratic equality? - er no

Is it effectively the same as EVEL? - er yes

Will it shut Salmond and Labour up?
- er obviously not.

Will it address fears in Scotland and Wales?- er I doubt it

Does it address fiscal inequalities (e.g. Barnett Formula)? - er no

Does it address the under representation of the English based voters? - er no

Does it address issues around the English having a national identity? - er no

Will it raise as many UK Parliament constitutional issues as devolution raised English equality issues? - er yes

David Cameron said that Brown was treating the country like fools over the EU. Well the Conservatives should not treat the English like fools because if they do they are finished!

Anonymous said...

Here is the Campaign For An English Parliament's response to you thread.

I will say I told you so!

Anonymous said...

80% of the population and of the wealth of the UK resides in England. A federal solution will not address this disparity and it is why we cannot emulate other federal systems where there is greater equity between the component parts of the state.

The only way to ensure greater equity would be to have regional governmnent in England, but that would be difficult to achieve (no regional identity in parts of the country) and would strengthen the European Union. Strong nation states remain the most important constraint on the powers (and ambitions) of the EU.

Madasafish said...

Of course it's unworkable: Majority (say) for one party in Scotland, t'other in England = chaos.

BUT the current system is unfair.. and manifestly so.

So rather than Labour criticise, it is THEIR JOB as the Government to offer up a solution.

I wait with interest, but not holding my breath as the world record for holding breath is about 14 minutes,,, and I expect years..

Alex said...

So let the Scots have independence, then withdraw the UK armed forces, declare war on Scotland to secure our baoundaries, and force reparations on them.

Newmania said...

There are some very unreasonable comments throughout here . The Conservative Party is recently the Unionist Party and harbours understandable regret about the vandalism done to the Union by the Labour Party over devolution . 200 Conservatives revolted aver the bill and reflected Conservative Party thought . It has been this log jam that Labour have been exploiting since .The pictish horde will whine whatever happens and we can be doubly sure that the Labour Party will act with selfish lack of principle. Even George Galloway complained on Question time and only the BBC are taken in by Browns Union Jack underpants

Here the legislative programme may be entirely supported by MPs from a country with its own parliament to which Salmon replies, well the English foisted poll tax on us . This is no more true of Scotland than the many areas of England who did not support it . . England ,they say , is too big for English votes as every decision will have an impact across the UK. This is no more true than visa versa per person

Another red herring thrown in the air is the position of N Ireland . This is instructive . In fact N Ireland had less MPs per-capita and a small enough amount that they were never likely to define an administration . This is exactly the position we are not in with Scotland whose seats will certainly be vital in supporting any future labour Government . Additionally they are over represented


. Why not follow the N Ireland example and simply cut the number of Scottish MPs. God know we do not need more parasite politicians infesting the land and an English Parliament is entirely unnecessary . Scottish MP`s have almost nothing to do now all the business is carried on at Hollywood .It is easy cheap and and provides a simple interim stage before either the Scots grasp independence or run out of Oil….when all their Constitutional ire will fade like Scotch mist. It covers the possible complaint that English votes affect Scotland prior to full independence and provides neither help nor hindrance to the independence cause. The total number of Scottish Mps at Westminster should be calculated by a proportion of the law making vested in Holy rood. If we say 50% of the law of Scotland is governed from Holyrood then we halve the seats . It is a vastly easier thing to decide than which is an English vote . Those who wish the union to survive can support it and those who primarily ant English rights and Concretive equality will also be served . It prevents the unfortunate situation of two Parliaments sitting in the same house and in every way seems tome much the best solution. The over represntation of the Scots per head head might be addressed at the same time .

The result of this currently would be a clear Conservative Majority but with severely constrained powers over Scotland . It would , in fact be a fair reflection of the wishes of the British. The same formula might be applied to Wales which would finish the \labour party as a national force . That is a cross we would have to bear with fortitude .


They will fling both PR and regional representation into the mix before they allow fair votes so be prepared

Anonymous said...

Do any of your readers really have strong attatchments to any of the English regions? Perhaps it is time for a poll.

The whole concept of English regional government is in the words of Prince Philip, bollocks.

Newmania said...

I also think that if the Scots leave there should be a new clause in England telling them that if they ever want to come back they will be called " Crappy little bit next to England " .

Furthermore that Scottish MPs will preface any remark with " I am sorry for I am mean thin lipped glassy eyed pictish baby eating sheep thief and I am less good than English people . Nonethless I beseech you to hear my scrawny arsed excuse for an opinion , if you can understand my vile phlegmy cough which we call a dilalect..and Burns is a useless novelty act we don`t read.... and we can`t play football...(further codicls to added )"

My other idea may be more workable and was actually covered in the Spectator this week.


Anonymous said...

Yawn. No way am I voting conservative while Dave is leader.

Anonymous said...

Where is this anti-Scottish bigotry coming from?

It just goes to show how out of touch most tories are, even with Conservative leaning voters.

Much of what Great Britain achieved, the Empire, the world wars, the NHS, was achieved in unison with Scots and Welsh (and Irish).

To claim Britain#s heritage for England is patently ridiculous.

Most people in britain, and England, understand this. A quick look at any war memorial, or the names of those who ventured from these isles to support the empire and commonwealth, shows you that the non-english contingent of these islands contributed more than their fare share.

If you want to tear up 300 years of shared history, then good luck.

It would make me, and the majority, deeply sad.

Iain Dale said...

Big Andy, there is nothing anti-Scottish in this at all. No one has yet successfully explained why Scottish MPs should have a say on English health or transport issues yet English MPs cannot have a say on those issues in Scotland. Please do explain.

pxcentric said...

This debate caused me to re-read Portillo's article in The Times from January entitled "Brown and Cameron could wipe out the other’s party."

If Cameron dissolved the Union, Labour would be deprived of so many seats, they would find it hard to form a government again.

If Brown introduced proportional representation, on the other hand, the Tories would struggle as they are rarely second choice and rarely win more than 40% of the vote.

Brown has the upper hand in this. If the Tories seriously want Scottish independence (and why not, with one seat up there?), why would Stalin McSporran not retaliate with PR?

Anonymous said...

Big Andy....

Much of what was achieved involved a lot of Scots. Quite right.

Trouble is, that was all a long time ago. And as for oil, well it was allocated on the basis of length of coastline fronting the North Sea.

Because of the Union, much of the oil was allocated to the UK, rather than Norway. However, had England and Scotland been separate, the oil would have been split a bit more evenly between three countries.

Why do you lot think that all the oil in the North Sea belongs to s
Scotland? Ever looked at a map?

That's right, the English North Sea Coast starts at Berwick and runs for hundreds of miles southwards.

Now bugger off, and think of ways of extracting handouts directly from Brussels rather from the south east of England.

Newmania said...

If you want to tear up 300 years of shared history, then good luck.

WE do not but the Labour party and the Scottish nationalists already have . The reduced seats for Scotland plan is less divisive another advantage preserving a connection at the level the Scots seemt to want it.
England is the patient husband in the dress shop . The Celtic girls keep chnging their minds.We just want to retain our democratic rights in the meantime.

Madasafish said...

Big Andy asked: "Where is this anti-Scottish bigotry coming from?"

I'm an exiled Scot. When England are playing all I hear from Scots in Scotland is anti-English bigotry.
Scots supporting the opposing team.

I was in Scotland in a pub during the England qualifying matches for the last world cup. There was booing every time England scored (not very often I regret .. scoring that is:-(

I suggest the Scots should look at their own bigotry first... heaven knows there used to be lots of it:-(

Anonymous said...

I hope they approve this policy. It's very good.

Anonymous said...

rdI am, and I believe many English people feel the same,getting sick and tired of the Scots. By that I mean the Scots politicians. For a country our size we have very few English Politicians of note and the Labour Party especially have none!

Therefore I, for one, would welcome a fully fledged absolute, the earlier the better,Independant Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland. Let them all go and run their own affairs without any interference from the English.

BUT we must not allow any scot, welsh or Irish politician who happen to live in England to stand for any English seat.

England for the English. Now wouldn't that be loverly?

As for PR..didn't Blair promise a Referendum on such a change if they backed it? That could open the door (if my memory is right) for Brown to be labelled another promise breaker!

Frankly in any PR exercise the Labour Party would fare very badly in England and Scotland and would have a small representation.

Politics is changing rapidly. Brown is killing the Labour Party (Thankfully) and the main problem facing the Tories will be from the ultra right!

old and angry said...

The momentum is gathering!.......

strapworld said...

I find it almost hilarious that Rifkind of the Isles is the author of this report.

Do we not have any English politician with any intellectual capabilities anymore?

Enoch. Please come back!

Anonymous said...

I think it's a great idea.
Have you noticed that all through the day, the BBC has headed their news reports with: "The Government has condemned Conservative proposals for..."
Slimey biased bastards.

Ted Foan said...

If Harriet Harman thinks it's a bad idea then I am all in favour of it.

Anonymous said...

Frankly I'm fed up with this. What self-respecting country would want to be ruled by a blasted Grand Committee? I'm particualarly resentful that it is a Scot who was parachuted in to a safe English constituency because the Scots kicked him out because the Scottish Grand Committee introduced the poll tax into Scotland and set the devolution debacle going.
The English have made their wishes known - an English Parliament and no regions.
I think we have been far too polite and tolerant for far too long.

AloneMan said...

If this is the best we can hope for then we may as well stop hoping.

Quite apart from the abject failure of this proposal to deal with the injustice of the Barnett Formula, it is a recipe for constitional chaos.

Just, for one moment, imagine this as a possible outcome of the Grand Committee (GC). After months of argument and prevarication, we finally find a bill that the EC is allowed to vote on. Because the political make-up of the GC is different from that of the UK government, the GC passes a bill that the UK government does not care for. So the UK government takes every opportunity to delay, amend and scupper the implementation of the bill. Each side blames the other for the ensuing chaos, and the English people are used as pawns in a political game.

Not possible ? Very probable, I'd say. The Conservatives got more votes than Labour at the last election (although admittedly they got fewer seats because of the electoral system). But if we had an election now we may well have a Labour government with the Conservatives winning more seats in England. A Labour-run government implementing the decisions of a Conservative-dominated GC ? The mind boggles.

We need an English Parliament, backed up by an English Cabinet committed to making it work. We do not need this, which is a a gimmick, a sell-out and a sop.

Anonymous said...

Iain, this idea is completely unworkable.

What happens if the majority parties in the UK and England are different? Would we have two separate governments running at the same time, or would we still have one British government who will find it incredibly difficult to push forward their agenda on English laws?

Also since a British PM would also effectively double up as an English First Minister, we could never have a Scottish, Welsh or NI Prime Minister again - effectively ending the United Kingdom.

If you want to fully address the West Lothian question, then an English Parliament separate from Westminster seems to be the only answer. Either that or stay as we are now.

Anonymous said...


For Anonymous suggesting I 'buggger off', you might be surprised to learn that I am English.

And as for the Oil; the most short-sighted thing anyone can do when discussing Anglo-Scotch relations is to bring it up (admittedly the Scots tend to be more guilty of this). Its a periphal issue for those who cant see the big picture.

Apart from the fact that as of now, the UK fields are unlikely to be worth much due to the increased cost of extracting the remaining oil, and that they are 'peaked' fields (i.e. past production and irrevocably declining - fast).

The fact is, we have managed to build a great nation together and the alternative is like turning England into some State like Austria, rich but boring and unimportant.

As an ex-student of the pre and post soviet russia, i am always reminded when people discuss English federalism with the arguments put forward by Boris Yeltsin and his supporters for Russian Independence. Most Russians now regret going their own way, and the citizens of Belarus (albeit not the Ukraine) certainly seem a little regretful. Whilst not seeking to compare the two directly, i think analysis of nationalism within Europe shows how adept it is at taking advantage of immediate crises and leaving irrevocable damage behind.

In this vein, the greater scope the nationalist forces of England and Scotland have to express themselves, the greater they will be able to exploit any future crises (such as a hung parliament).

And if we were to ever go our seperate ways, the resulting constitutional mess, and the need for a new constitutional settlement, will put far too much power into the hands of those in power at that date.

Things might never get that far, but by going down the route supported here, the likelihood grows.

Before advocating greater English independence, please sit down and THINK through all the implications. Also think of whether Britain or England will have greater say in the (no doubt increasingly powerful) EU of the future.

The whole thing stinks of an absolute mess. And for anyone who truly values their heritage, i cant believe that short term dislike of Gordon Brown and Douglas Alexander is enough to throw it all away.

Anonymous said...

Another 'useful idiot' policy from the political establishment that will simply open the pandoras box of devolution wider than ever. UKIP have had a 'West Lothian policy' for yonks that addresses this issue but starts to reverse the break-up of the Union. No doubt the Tories if they ever see sense will then claim it as their own..........

Anonymous said...


Just realised that you also replied.

I was not referring to your post as being 'anti scottish' but rather the readers comments that follow.

I do though think that what you propose is very short termist, and that if employed, would lead very quickly to the unravelling of the UK.

I don't think there is an easy solution to the West Lothian question. And I dont suggest that I am any closer to an answer than Malcolm Rifkind. It might be, terribly, that the current system is the least worse solution.

Regardless, until i see a solution that does not make things worse, I think I would sensibly stick with the status quo. It sounds terrible, but has a rather grim logic behind it.

The problem was devolution and the incredibly ill-thought out and short term constitutional agenda proposed by Blair ten years ago.

Anonymous said...

Some of you Tories might (or might not) want to read my piece on entitled "Is the United Kingdom breaking up?".

It's all a bit of fun, but it might give you lot a few nightmares of what the future has in store!

Yak40 said...

UK should stay the UK and the first thing to do is send "new" Labour to the wilderness for a few generations, then sit down and resolve the West Lothian Question and address the Barnett formula, in other words address the concerns of the majority of the populace.
Novel concept, eh ?

Newmania said...

Big Andy

You resolutely fail to address the fact that none of this is the fault of the English and especially the Conservative Party .
Scotland has a Parliament and its MPs can also support an entire government of England .
There are corrolary questions go do with the inevitable preferential treatment given to Scotland . For example we have an endless debate about inheritance tax but in England there will be nothing to inherit because it will all be spent on care. Move North of the border and its free.

The West Lothian question is not a fly in the ointmenmt it is a hairy Scottish Cow in the ointment that in effect disenfranchises the English.

Furthermore , the English taken as a country are nothing like as keen on Europe at all as the Scotds who seem keen to be an insignificant patch of scrub ruled from France and Germany.

The questions you raise should have been raised at devolution. I don`t think there is much real anti Scottish feeling if any at all. We do , on the other hand require ou democrtatic rights to be maintained

If thats alright.

Persoanlly I will not be sorry to see England rediscover some cultural independence as well. Less Scots in the media , law , politics and so on willl leave some space for the English in their own country

Anonymous said...

Iain, I'm wondering if the Conservatives are finally giving up on the "Unionist" part of their name, perhaps in recognition that their chances of electing more than a handful of MPs in Scotland are vanishingly small.

Indeed, could it be that Dave and Alex Salmond are actually in cahoots over the matter? The only possible outcome of what Rifkind has proposed is independence for Scotland sooner rather than later, and an English parliament with an inbuilt Tory majority - and perhaps Dave will be happy to settle for that.

Ambitious politicians will then look to Europe as the political forum in which to make their careers, and the countries of the UK will become European regions, with their parliaments rather like County Councils, with minimal powers and impact.

If you don't like this prospect, then you should vote UKIP if you want to waste your vote, or vote Labour, who will be trying to row back from some of the (unseen by them) consequences of the devolution they introduced.

Anonymous said...

by: Miss J.E. Clarke of Eynsham

Plans for seperation grew worse than those before,
Then they asked for two Parliaments, now 'tis three or four.
Only just imagine if Home Rulers had their way,
And this is something like the tale
the world might hear one day.

"One United Kingdom they fancied wouldn't do.
To please some grumbling Irish they split it into two.
Two little kingdoms, but then the Scots, you see,
Claimed their ancient throne and rights, and then there were three.
Three little Kingdoms, and after that one more,
For Welshmen claimed a parliament, and then there were four.
Four little Kingdoms wouldn't do at all!
One of them was far too big; the others far too small.

All throughout Great Britain ancient hates revived.
Cornwall wants to rule herself, and then there were five.
Five little Kingdoms, but London in a fix,
Raised the 'Southern English' flag, and then there were six.
Six little Kingdoms, alas! the 'Home Rule' heaven,
Caused a rising in the West, and then there were seven.

Seven little Kingdoms; Northmen wouldn't wait,
But to start with called for the North Umbrian Parliamentary State,
So now it was inevitable so now there were eight.
And the towns that one may visit by the Eastern Counties line,
Held their own East Anglian Parliament and then there were nine.

Nine little Kingdoms; the Midlands people then
Called a parliament themselves, and then there were ten.
Ten little Kingdoms never could agree
How to work together, and so they went free.

Ten little Kingdoms with constitutions new,
Ten little Kingdoms always in a stew,
Ten little Kingdoms too weak to stand alone,
A foreign nation conquered them,
And so then there were none.

Anonymous said...

With the Scottish Conservative MP Malcolm Rifkin, re-branding "English Votes for English Maters" as the "English Grand Committee", it is worth noting that the reason we have a Scottish Parliament is because Scottish politicians were unhappy with the working of the Scottish Grand Committee.

They abolished it ! and replaced it with a Scottish Parliament.

Let's not waste time with an English Grand Committee, let us go straight to an English Parliament within a Federal UK.

(Thats English Demcorats policy!)

Anonymous said...

even if it were a radical idea, which it's not, you're a Tory. You don't do radical.

No wonder people don't know who to vote for any more!

hatfield girl said...

The break up of the United Kingdom is entwined with the end of the Labour party. And the ending of the Labour party is essential for the development of a democratic, reasonable, non state-authoritarian, non socialist centre left party. Labour without Scotland and Wales is a dying minority party unless it retains power by undemocratic means (and the current leader and executive are unelected, so this is no far-fetched notion).
Recasting the relations between the constituent countries of the federal United Kingdom is perfectly possible, there are a number of models - Commonwealth, the Two Crowns etc.,)and would enable the constituent countries to determine their own relations with the rest of the world and, most particularly , the European Union. There is no certainty that Scotland would seek membership of the EU for instance, and might greatly resent being dragged further into the EU maw by Westminster. In any case, their governing party has decided on a referendum, while England is denied any expression of popular view either by general election or non-binding referendum.
So a Grand Committee really isn't the answer because it avoids the questions What does England Want? What does Scotland Want? We know completely their peoples want very different things, other than their being united in their desire for separation.
Pity about the Labour party, but do we care?

Anonymous said...

The "West Lothian Question" is a classic example of a leading question. The very act of addressing it should commit us to a complete review of how our Government system works. The Crown, the second chamber, the number of MP's,the "borders", the member-countries of the UK, membership of international organisations, and so on. Everything. A blank sheet of paper.

The reason why this proposal hasn't got legs lies therein. A leading question should either be answered in conjunction with all of the questions that it "leads" to, or not answered at all. So far, the status quo has looked easier than the alternative to all the parties at Westminster.

Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant first move by Cameron.

It has utterly paniced Labour who have no answer to the English question bar a few posters with English flags on them. They really think people are fools.

The Tories are addressing the issue and Labour is trying to ignore it.

The fact they resort to scare tactics about break ups shows how scared they are and how few answers they have to the English question.

I for one want an English Parliament but see an English Grand Committee as the natural first step just as the Scottish Grand Committee was.

If Labour can't accept the realities of where we are going then they will lose and lose big.

Newmania said...

Anon . There mnay well be ten little kingdoms however England is one entire and whole depsite the attempts of labour and the EU to attack it.

Newmania said...

The Tories are addressing the issue and Labour is trying to ignore it.

They are not ignoring it why do you think Brown says British every other word and 'change' every third word .

If you want to know what Brown is worried about listen to what he emphsises. I think he`s doing Liberty now ...uho ..

Anonymous said...

Only real solution is an English Parliament.Why are the Tories postponing the inevitable?

Anonymous said...

This saga runs and runs. Why the tories don't just support an English Parliament is beyond me.Anything else will sell us short.

Anonymous said...


I resolutely fail to behold a chimera!

It is self evident that past acts have led to the current problem.

These are of course the resulf of Labour policy (and more pertinently a desire to appease the followers/memory of John Smith who was a 'real' devolutionist), it is debatable whether Tony Blair ever considered beyound a few opinion polls the consequences.

HOWEVER, this is the current status quo. And i feel that the proposed idea is worse than the status quo.

You obviously feel it is better.

I personally - if pushed - would see MANY fewer scottish MP's as a solution.

But it's a pandora's box.

Another problem that will occur - and is occuring - will be that the SNP makes the current system unworkable and wins de-facto powers to itself fairly rapidly.

There was quite a good article on thsi point in this week's Economist if anyone is interested.

To emphasise, I dont suppose i have the answer, but I dont for a mintue like the question.

Anonymous said...


All this talk of how the Scots hate the English - it may well be true, but then why should the Scots be different from every other country on the face of the planet?

What a pathetic, spiteful, xenophobic bunch you English Tories are - those in Scotland (indeed, in most countries) who advocate independence for their nation do so in the belief that their country will be a better place for it. You lot seem to want a parliament for your country because of some perceived potential slight and because of a frankly racist dislike of your neighbours - not exactly the most positive reasons for rewriting a constitution.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous -
I resent your sexist address.

"pathetic, spiteful, xenophobic bunch you English Tories are

I'll have you know we ladies are most offended to be addressed as "chaps". We are all of us proud to hate our neighbours (good fences, etc. pace Frost), proud to be British, and if needs be, proud to be ashamed of being British.

If only you nasty socialist one-worlders would get away back to China where you belong, we'd all get along nicely thank-you

Anonymous said...

My proposal: Abolish all Scots, MPs. Off you go and run your own country. You obviously think you can do it better than Whitehall and you may well be right. (It wouldn't be difficult.)

You will need lots of money of course. Suggest you take the oil revenues which the English politicians will only squander.

wonkotsane said...

Dear brave anonymous commenter, I'm not a Tory so am I still a racist and a xenophobe?

We don't want an English Parliament because of some percieved slight, we want one because the system of government the Scottish Raj have imposed on us is unfair, racist and divisive. Iain has asked several times in the comments for someone to explain why an MP elected in Scotland should have a say on something that only affects England and over which they have no say in their own constituency? Nobody has offered a defence because there isn't one.

Why should English people be prepared to put up with a system of government where MPs elected in another country on a limited mandate of non-devolved affairs has a say on every piece of legislation affecting England? Why should they put up with a system that sees Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish people recieve over £1,000 more in public expenditure (more like £2,000 in NI) allowing them access to better services? Why shou;ld English people put up with a system that allows the Scots to give away free prescriptions, free school meals, free care for the elderly, free cancer treatments, free treatments for blindness, free arthritis treatments, etc. whilst English people have to do without?

Why should my nan go blind from ARMD (which she is) because there is no money in the English NHS for a treatment but someone living in Scotland gets treated free of charge for the same condition? Why should I pay for inhalers for my asthma, without which I could have an asthma attack and die? Why did my mum have to pay for medication when she had finished chemotherapy a few years ago?

An English Parliament could put all of the above right. Why shouldn't England gets its own budget to spend according to the needs and priorities of its citizens just like Scotland, Wales and NI does? Why shouldn't England get a devolved government of its own - nothing more than what the other three home nations already have - to work for the benefit of its own citizens?

Come on, instead of telling us this and that proposal doesn't work like the good little socialist drones you are, tell us what will work - how would all you Liebour faux-unionists end the apartheid and give English people equal rights in their own country?

Anonymous said...

Wonkotsane - how brave of you to identify yourself! Some of us don't have time.
The West Lothian Question has a very simple answer : Stop bleating about it and grow up. The "solution" is not required, and it's a silly matter that Cameron will drop before manifestos are written. He's just using it to fuel the "it's not FAIR under Labour" squealing that's going on.