In a new report Voice and Veto: answering the West Lothian Question, published by the Centre for Policy Studies on Friday 23 January, Roger Gough and Andrew Tyrie MP have put ideology aside to develop a practical plan that both answers the West Lothian Question and buttresses the Union.
Roger Gough says:
“As new devolution proposals are brought forward for Scotland, the West Lothian Question must be answered. There has to be a stronger voice for England in the political process as well as a mechanism to protect England’s interests.
The status quo is untenable. However, an English Parliament or other similar proposals would risk jeopardising the Union rather than bolstering it. We should build on existing institutions rather than create new ones.
Two of the proposals in the December 2014 White Paper meet these criteria (see Note 4 below for details). The preferable option is for an English Grand Committee deciding whether or not to grant a Legislative Consent Motion; this has a simplicity and clarity to a wider public that could help secure consent. It would also be a strong and very visible demonstration that Parliament was giving English concerns and interests their proper place in its work. “
Andrew Tyrie explains:
“The recommendations of the 2013 McKay Commission offer inadequate protection for English interests. They fail to deliver English votes for English laws. They will therefore also fail to buttress the Union.
To achieve those objectives, English votes in Parliament must be capable, and be seen to be capable, of preventing laws largely or exclusively affecting the English to be being imposed on them by a UK wide majority.
All the options in the Government’s White Paper are a great step forward on McKay. Unlike those proposals each would deliver English Votes for English Laws. But some entrench the Union; others may not. In choosing between them, neat and symmetrical solutions are unnecessary – England’s size has always been an obstacle for symmetry.
Instead, what is needed is a proposal that, as well as providing the English with the protection they need, maximises the incentive for negotiation between a UK government and English MPs, is fair to all the constituent parts of the UK and, as a result, is able to secure the widest possible consent across the Union. Albeit by a short head, the White Paper Option providing for a Legislative Consent Motion at the end of the legislative process – together with an English Grand Committee – best delivers these objectives.”
To read the full report click here.