Clarke to propose curbing power of Welsh, Scottish MPs
Quite a conundrum now affects the United Kingdgdom, ten years after devolution first gave constituent countries their own parliaments. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all now have their own seperate parliaments, legislating on matters that affect only their territory. But England, the constituent country where the vast majority of British people live, doesn't have such a local legislative body.
The result is that the national parliament in Westminster still makes the decisions that affect only England, but doesn't make decisions that affect only Scotland or Wales. And since the national parliament has elected representatives from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, this means that in theory the people in those areas have more representational power. Scots get a say in local decisions in England, but the English don't get a say in local decisions in Scotland.
It might seem that the natural solution would be to give England a local government. But there is very little support for this among the population. There have been attempts to start local elected assembleys for different regions of England, but after the first one attempted was voted down in a local referendum in the North East in 2004, all the other plans were abandoned. The only area in England with a local government now remains London.
Today the Conservatives have unveiled a plan that will attempt to fix the problem in a different way. They will propose a new policy that will prevent Welsh and Scottish MPs from completely voting on matters that affect only England. David Cameron, who may be the next prime minister of the UK, is said to be receptive to the idea.
THE Conservatives will today unveil a new policy of a partial ban on Welsh MPs voting on matters that only affect England.
Ken Clarke, the former Chancellor, has drawn up the plans in a bid to address English concerns in the post-devolution age.
Although the proposals are not binding on David Cameron, the Tory leader is known to be keen to find a workable solution to a vexed constitutional question, and the Clarke report has already been discussed by the Shadow Cabinet.
Under Mr Clarke’s system, all MPs could vote on a piece of English legislation when it has its second reading in the Commons.
But only English MPs would then take part in the detailed committee stage of the process, where substantial changes are often introduced.
At the third and final reading, all MPs could once again vote, but a new convention would prevent any party using Welsh or Scottish votes to block amendments made by English MPs.