Scottish devolution is currently dominating headlines, with Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP fighting for a more representative and democratic Scotland. Yesterday, Sturgeon announced that SNP MPs will vote on English laws, essentially confirming that she is prepared to have coalition talks following the general election.
The news has received mixed reactions with some stating their support, whilst others condemn the actions as being undemocratic. Whilst it may be a flaw in the system, SNP MPs actually have the legitimacy to vote on English matters; despite English MPs being unable to vote in the Scottish parliament. This is a fundamental flaw in the current system, and reform must take place.
The so called West Lothian question dates back to 1977, when Tam Dalyell, MP for West Lothian asked parliament: “For how long will English constituencies and English Honourable members tolerate… at least 119 Honourable Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on English politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?”
The debate has been going on for years, however with further devolution taking place, the time for change is now. Students in Scotland don’t have to pay tuition fees because their parliament voted for it. English MPs were unable to have their say, yet many Scottish MPs were able to vote to raise fees to £9000 for English students. Countless other examples can be used, one rule simply cannot apply to one and not all, it has to be universal.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all recognised as political and constitutional entities. Yet England is not. Whilst Sturgeon’s statement is certainly motivated by the possibility of forming a coalition, she is bracing the road for further reforms, and the possibility for the creation of a federalist Britain.
The creation of an English Parliament would allow for English-only issues to be debated and decided by English MPs. It would ensure an equal vote in Westminster, help support and protect English culture, and would rebalance the current issues facing the Union. If the current government is determined on devolving more powers to Scotland, they should seriously consider the likelihood of a federal Britain.
It is highly undemocratic that England doesn’t have it’s own parliament. English people are denied the rights which Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish people all have; the right to express concern through their own parliament and elected parliamentary representatives.
The system would be similar to that of Germany, the US and other countries who have a federal state system. Each British country would vote on issues solely affecting them, whilst the current parliament in Westminster would focus on matters concerned with the entire Union.
There is also the possibility of not having this newly created parliament located in London, but rather the North, which could help in eradicating the North/South divide.
The creation of an English Parliament would face considerable issues and political hardship; given the size of England in relation to the rest of the Union. However taking into account the current path we are on, I believe that the creation of a federal Britain is the only viable route we can take. This will help to create a more democratic society, paving the way for another 300 years of political union.
Published on The Huffington Post on 23rd January 2015 –http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/lewis-parker/english-laws-evel_b_6531620.html