Reply about The West Lothian Question

I've received a reply from my letter regarding the West Lothian Question

Thank you for your letter dated 9 July 2006, regarding the establishment of an English Parliament. Your letter has been passed to the Constitution Directorate as the lead area on devolution matters.

In relation to your first question, the Government's devolution policies were designed to strengthen the Union at a time where the people of Scotland and Wales felt removed from the decision making process. This placed a strain upon the Union and saw a rise in the support of Nationalist parties.

The establishment of the Devolved Administrations has ensured the people of Scotland and Wales have benefited from policy initiatives that have tackled the specific problems within those countries. This has helped the people of Scotland and Wales feel closer to the decision making process and support for Nationalist parties as flat lined. Both these illustrate the success of devolution.

With regard to your second point, the Government does not agree with your assertion that there is a groundswell of opinion for the establishment of an English Parliament. In June 2006, a YouGov opinion poll commissioned by the Campaign for an English Parliament and the English Democrats, showed that over 75% of those surveyed did not support the establishment of an English Parliament.

A subsequent MORI poll in July 2006, commissioned by the English Constitutional Convention, bore out a similar view.

In addition, the establishment of an English Parliament would threaten the Union - a Union that has enabled Britain to play a leading role on the world stage. An English Parliament, with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament, and running alongside the existing UK Parliament would lead to the creation of two parliaments and governments within one. This would mean that a UK Government, elected on a UK mandate, might find itself unable to deliver key policies on which it had been elected. This would not provide a sound basis for effective government in the United Kingdom.

Such a situation would be unsustainable, and will lead to the creation of a separate English Parliament and Government - and the break up of the Union.

I hope this answers your query.

Yours sincerely,

James Copeland

Quite apart from the point that 25% not favouring an English Parliament not implying that 75% favour the status-quo, or the last bit about English parliament -> Bad, Scottish Parliament -> Not Bad (even if they had identical powers, this seems illogical) - is there anything else I can come back with here. It's such a whitewash! Perhaps, the details of the other options in the polls quoted, or the exact phrasing of the questions - there is a world of difference between 'would you support the creation of another layer of government with all the costs that entails?' and 'Scottish MPs can vote on matters that affect only England, but not vice versa - is this sustainable?'

Comments appreciated.

Further reading: Toque's latest post, the CEP's latest post, and a post about Cancer treatments in Scotland being unavailable in England