As people doubtless know, the West Lothian Question is that posed by Tam Dalyell, then MP for West Lothian:
“For how long will English constituencies and English Honourable members tolerate… at least 119 Honourable Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on British politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?”
It’s a question that’s never really received a satisfactory answer; it seems most odd that, for example, Gordon Brown, the Hon Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, can vote on matters like top-up tuition fees for students from England at English universities but not for students from his his own constituency who attend St Andrew’s University or on smoking in public places in England but not in Scotland.
Among the answers proposed, of course, include having only English MPs vote on matters that affect only England, either by changing the rules of the House of Commons so that only MPs for English constituencies may vote on matters that only affect England or by setting up a completely separate English Parliament, with similar powers to those of the Scottish Parliament, and leaving Westminster to get on with reserved matters such as defence, national security, foreign affairs and monetary and economic issues.
Such arrangements do not go down well with the Hon Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, who warns in today’s Telegraph against
“English votes for English laws” – a Trojan horse for separation.
As it happens, I agree with him. That’s precisely why I thought devolution for Scotland was a bad idea, since I thought it would inevitably lead to similar demands for England, to the detriment of the Union.
Since apparently Lord Irvine of Lairg thinks the best answer to the West Lothian question is to stop asking it, let’s have a new question, similarly named after the constituency of the MP who first raised it, the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Question:
Why, since “English votes for English laws” is a Trojan horse for separation, is not “Scottish votes for Scottish laws” not a similar Trojan horse? And why did the hon member not foresee this when he helped introduce this Trojan horse north of the border?
Technorati: Gordon Brown
, Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath
, West Lothian Question