Feasible plan for English devolution is not one for the tidy-minded (FT)

Andrew Tyrie MP and Roger Gough, authors of CPS pamphet “Voice and Veto: answering the West Lothian Question“, wrote to the Financial Times about the government’s plans, Tuesday 10 February 2015. 

“Sir, Your editorial “Cameron’s flawed plan for English devolution” (February 4) appears to rest on the assumption that the so-called West Lothian Question is best dealt with by ignoring it. If that was ever a tenable view, it is not now.

The Scottish referendum debate greatly increased awareness of the unfairness of the devolution settlement; with further devolution, that can only increase. Some form of English votes for English laws is an essential remedy. Polling evidence supports both assertions. You are entirely wrong in arguing that addressing the consequences of asymmetrical devolution is driven by partisan advantage. It is essential to buttress the union.

For many years, and most recently in a publication for the Centre for Policy Studies, we have argued for an approach very similar to that recently adopted by the government. Neat symmetrical plans for an English parliament, or for a purist version of English Votes for English Laws that would rapidly approximate to the same thing, could jeopardise the union. However, English voters need to know that their MP can veto a measure affecting only them, and through a straightforward, highly visible vote in the Commons. The government’s proposals will provide this.

A workable solution must also give incentives for negotiation and accommodation between a UK government and a differently constituted English majority. The combination of an English Grand Committee with continued voting rights for all MPs at second and third reading does just that.

Such solutions are not for the tidy-minded. But one pundit’s “inept fudge” may be a practitioner’s sensible solution.”

Date Added: Tuesday 10th February 2015