Andrew Allison

Rifkind proposes an English Parliament

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Sir Malcolm Rifkind has suggested that an English Grand Committee should be set up to legislate on purely English matters. As much as I agree with the suggestion, it is hardly an original suggestion. Many of us have been arguing for the same for quite some time. The West Lothian question still hangs in the air and Labour are not going to resolve it. It is in their own self-interest to keep the votes of Scottish MPs to drive through unpopular legislation that will not affect their constituents.

The Leader of he Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, has also spoke out in favour of an English Parliament. He told Andrew Marr on BBC1 that “I think the right solution is to have a Scottish Parliament and an English Parliament – I believe independent parliaments – and to do the job properly, as opposed to having some sort of spatchcock solution to appeal for votes in middle England.”

“I would like to see people in England have the same rights and entitlements as those in Scotland.”


He is – of course – absolutely right. He is consistent in his views and does not want something different for England. Brown of course is a different proposition altogether. Disingenuous doesn’t begin to tell the story.

Quote from BBC News

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  1. But an English Grand Committee doesn’t give the English the same rights and entitlements as those in Scotland.

    The people of Scotland were consulted as to the form of government best suited to their needs – then they got a referendum. They had ‘the sovereign right’ to decide.

    Where is that in these plans.

    The reasons why this is an ridiculous plan that will fail are here

  2. I know it is not the same as an English Parliament, but like Iain Dale, I think it is the best we can hope for.

    I will read the link you have kindly provided when I have more time and respond fully.

    At the moment dog walking and then dinner are the priorities of the day.

  3. An english parliament would be another wedge to prize apart the union, just what the SNP ordered.

    To allow things to continue as they are, with Scottish politicians, who are not answerable to those they rule, able to vote on matters that they are politically immune to the fall out on is indefensible.

  4. If this is the best we can hope for then we may as well stop hoping.
    Just, for one moment, imagine this as a possible outcome of the Grand Committee (EC). 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 EC is different from that of the UK government, the EC 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 EC ? 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.

  5. Andrew

    This proposal is not to be seen as the Tories engaging in some long-term political strategy, they are playing a tactical game and attempting to make mischief over Gordon Brown’s Scottishness. The ‘English’ question deserves a more considered appraisal than this.

  6. Mike – with the greatest respect, the Labour Party are never going to solve the West Lothian question. They knew devolution for Scotland would leave a huge problem for England. They also knew they could ram through any English legislation with the help of Scottish MPs.

    If you think the ‘English’ question deserves a more considered appraisal than this, then give me one. To me this is a stepping stone towards an English Parliament.

  7. Where would it stop Andrew? Rural MPs voting on rural issues, Yorkshire MPs voting on Yorkshire issues?

    More seriously though, it seems to me to be an attempt by the Tories to make an issue out of Brown and others’ “Scottshness” without having the bottle to say they want to break up the union.

  8. jrd: Let’s get things sraight here, before we go off on a tangent. The Conservative Party argued at the time the Scottish Devolution Bill was going through parliament, that the issue of an English Parliament would not go away once a Scottish Parliament had been created.

    The Conservative Party has since then argued that it is wrong for Scottish MPs to vote on purely English matters. To accuse us of making an issue out of Brown’s and others’ “Scottishness”, is untrue.

    As far as the union is concerned: it was always in danger of breaking up since Scottish devolution; which was a bad idea at the time and still remains so.

    As far as rural MPs and Yorkshire MPs, etc.; I assume you were just joking.

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