Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Tories consider blocking Welsh, Scottish votes

Quite a conundrum now affects the United Kingdom, ten years after devolution first gave constituent countries their own parliaments. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all now have their own separate governments, legislating on matters that affect only their territory. But England, the constituent country where the vast majority of British people live, doesn't have such a local legislative body.

The result is that the national parliament in Westminster still makes the decisions that affect only England, but doesn't make decisions that affect only Scotland or Wales. And since the national parliament has elected representatives from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, this means that in theory the people in those areas have more representational power. Scots get a say in local decisions in England, but the English don't get a say in local decisions in Scotland.

It might seem that the natural solution would be to give England a local government. But there is very little support for this amongst the English population. There have been attempts to start local elected assemblies for different regions of England, but after the first one attempted was voted down in a local referendum in the North East in 2004, all the other plans were abandoned. The only area in England with a local government now remains London.

Today the Conservatives will unveil a plan that will attempt to fix the problem in a different way. They will propose a new policy that will prevent Welsh and Scottish MPs from completely voting on matters that affect only England. David Cameron, who may be the next prime minister of the UK, is said to be receptive to the idea.


Jane said...

England should absolutely get its own parliament. The way it exists now is just plain nuts!

Anonymous said...

I agree, and I'm Welsh! My MPs should be deciding local England issues if England MPs can't decide my local issues.