Friday, 27 July 2012
A constitutional anomaly
The admission by Kim Howells that the Labour government steered away from difficult questions on devolution is stating the bleeding obvious.
Devolution policy with regards to Wales was a case of as little as possible. And as slowly as possible.
The West Lothian question has always been a side show. With the sheer size of the English House of Commons can anyone really think that MPs from English constituencies wouldn’t get their way if it mattered
Politicians whose collective noses were put out of joint by the new settlements, were those representing Welsh and Scottish seats. They found themselves in Westminster unable to take decisions on those issues that mattered to their constituents, health education, housing etc.
To them a real issue. If they worked anywhere else with such a large part of the job vanishing they would be made redundant. But politicians look after their own, so they were kept on.
Now here’s the rub they can’t vote on Welsh and Scottish issues so they make mischief by voting on English-only matters. As most of these are not conservative MPs their voting record has got the Shire Tories up in arms. Hence Cameron agreeing to the McKay Commission.
The truth of the matter is that adjustments were made in Scottish representation in Westminster when the Scottish parliament was established. The same will be true of Wales if the new constituency structure comes into place and the number of MPs are reduced from 40 to 30. So in voting terms the West Lothian issue is really not worthy of the attention it's given.
Constitutional scholars used to praise the British constitution for its flexibility. It was unwritten. Full of anomalies. Of which the West Lothian issue was an example.
The McKay commission would by better occupied in taking a look at the UK constitution in the light of devolution. It should stop wasting its time on looking at who in parliament has a say on what.
Attention should be given to how the countries of these isles relate to one another and how they consent to be ruled in future. Real subjects for a Commission