by Stephen Tall on October 30, 2007
The ‘West Lothian Question’ raised its head again this week, following the pre-announcement that the Tories want a ‘grand committee’ of English MPs to determine legislation which will affect only England.
Under the current constitutional arrangements, MPs representing Scottish and Welsh constituencies can vote on English matters, but MPs representing English constituencies cannot vote on those issues for which the devolved Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly have responsibility.
Chris Huhne, Lib Dem leadership candidate, has lent his support to the proposal – but only if the ‘grand committee’ is part of a much wider constitutional shake-up, which will also see the introduction of proportional representation. This from The Scotsman:
“It is an anomaly that Scots MPs vote on matters that affect England, but English MPs do not have similar influence over Scots law because it has been devolved.”
He added: “But we must not replace this anomaly with another by building in undemocratic Conservative majorities in England. You cannot reform the UK constitution piecemeal. We need a constitutional convention reflecting not just the political class but civil society to come up with proposals fit for a modern, decentralised state.”
He continued: “The Conservatives are being self-serving by arguing for English votes for English laws in isolation, as the electoral system has often given them a majority of English MPs on a minority of English votes.”
Last night, an aide to Mr Huhne stressed he was speaking about a reformed House of Commons, elected by single transferable vote, to deny the Tories a majority in England based on first-past-the-post elections. The aide added: “That is the best way to save the Union, which Chris believes in.”