Report of the Commission on the Consequences of Devolution for the House of Commons (The McKay Commission)
INTRODUCTION Buy mr. long without prescription, The Commission, appointed in January 2012, has now produced its report. Within its carefully restricted remit, which does not mention England and confines its analysis to the House of Commons, the Committee has produced a scrupulously fair and timely report which we should welcome as it moves English devolution, if not quite in the direction we would like, low price mr. long, at least into the departure lounge.
Its brief was simply to consider how the House of Commons might deal with legislation ‘which affects only part of the UK’ following devolution to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Mr. long vendors, The Commission has read that to mean not just that it should examine the position of England but that it should also look at the way devolution works for all parts of the UK, bearing in mind that it is now seen to be a ‘process not an event’. To this end, the Commission cites the Open Democracy 2011 Future of England Survey, the 2012 IPPR Survey ‘Dog that finally barked’ and a further study (2012) by Ormston, mr. long no rx.
We are interested in how it affects England and of course we do not start from a narrow remit drawn up by politicians, buy mr. long without prescription. We start from the simple proposition that the people England are just as much entitled to self-determination as the people of other parts of the UK or for that matter the of the Falkland Islands. The British Government prefers political expediency, even chicanery, Cheapest mr. long online, in glossing over its decision to ignore the democratic right of the people of England. We are used to that.
So we would not expect to agree with all that the Commission says in its Report. Rather than criticise the Commission for what it does not say or could not be expected to say, however, we might try to build on some of the positive things that it does say – some of which may be quite unexpected – and which I believe greatly strengthen our hand in negotiating with politicians, buy mr. long online cheap. Buy mr. long without prescription, Paragraphs in the Report are shown in brackets ().
THE POSITIVE RECOMMENDATIONS
The English Question
First of all, in defining its brief the Commission states clearly that it is indeed required to consider, among other things, Order generic mr. long, how to provide for England within the present asymmetric devolution. Clearly, therefore it saw that there was an ‘elephant in the room’. This, it says, goes beyond a narrow consideration of the ‘West Lothian Question’, buy mr. long in canada, to look at a much wider set of considerations which comprise the English Question (37). That is a good place to start.
An All-England Solution
Secondly, Cheap mr. long in usa, the Commission emphasises that the only solution to the English Question is an all-England solution. Dissatisfaction with the present system, it says, is ‘fairly uniform across England’ and that these are ‘genuinely England-wide – not just northern, not just peripheral, but general – dissatisfactions’ (60), buy mr. long without prescription. At least 60% in England do not trust the British Government to pursue England’s interests (57). They believe that no party stands up for England and that England needs to have its own specific legislation (58/59).
While the Commission recognises force in the arguments for strengthening local government in England (restoring powers confiscated in the past by central government, we might say), mr. long pharmacy, it does not believe that ‘...a strengthening of governance within England to be a sufficient response to the English question’ which is about the governance of England as a whole (68). So localism is not, as some try to claim, Mr. long, a solution to the English Question.
Federalism Buy mr. long without prescription, in England, in the form of unlamented regional assemblies, is also rejected. ‘We see little merit in considering a federal system in England based on English regions’ for which there is little support and it as it is not clear that ‘establishing a set of regional assemblies would address this England-wide sense of disadvantage’ (70). So the regional assemblies favoured by the Labour and Liberal-Democrat parties, are not an answer to the English Question either.
The Commission’s dismissal of both localism and regionalism is a remarkable and welcome recommendation that must put our opponents on the back foot. The Commission accepts what the CEP has been saying all along. There are Parliamentary reasons for giving England a voice.
Moreover, discount mr. long no rx, the Commission says that this needs sorting now. It is now the right time, the Commission states, to enable a fuller, clearer and positive expression of a voice for England in the UK’s political system (66), buy mr. long without prescription. It is urgent: Table 6 of the OD survey shows that this is second only to the UK’s relationship with the EU as the most urgent constitutional reform. Maintaining the status quo, Cheapest mr. long, as proposed by Professor Bogdanor and others, ‘is not an option’ (64).
The Commission calls (196) for the political parties to issue manifestos for England at general elections, although it admits that this is strictly speaking beyond its remit.
Taking up Harriet Baldwin’s aborted attempts to get territorial legislation defined, order mr. long cheap online, the Commission finds that the effect of devolution (39) has ‘increasingly limited the territorial coverage of significant amounts of UK legislation to England alone (or England and Wales)’. This trend will continue (40) with increased legislative devolution for Wales, agreed in 2011, covering 20 areas of power while further devolution to Scotland ‘may also have the effect of marking out England as a distinct legislative space”. Buy mr. long without prescription, The territorial extent of all UK legislation must be more prominent (179), stated in bills (191), in the title to bills (194), in the Queen’s Speech (197) and in the pre-legislative scrutiny (198). Generic mr. long online, This would really screw down the UK Government.
We might argue that the voice given to England in the Westminster Parliament under the Commission’s proposals is a feeble one but it is at least a start and it is up to us to try to make sure that England’s voice gains strength. Moreover, whatever happens ‘in the country’ with localism or regionalism, it is the parliamentary process at Westminster that has to change to demarcate England’s interests.
Securing the change
The Commission is at pains to find some way of ensuring that a future government would not simply set aside or ignore the rights of the English MPs, order mr. long on internet. It recognises (169) that the House of Commons is free to change any procedure and that no legal protection can be given. It calls instead for a House of Commons resolution, citing (120) the resolution on ministerial accountability that has been observed for some 20 years. Defying a resolution would be ‘politically difficult (142) and a government would only get away with departing from the normal if there was ‘consensus’ in the House, buy mr. long without prescription. (120) ‘Oh, Order mr. long in canada, yes?’ we might say. Clearly, this is a weakness in the Commission’s report and despite its recommendation, if adopted, would have to be tested in practice, buy mr. long.
In looking at the wider ‘English Question’, the Commission studies the use of legislative consent motions (LCMs) which basically originated in ‘Sewell motions’ whereby the Scottish Parliament invites the UK Government to legislate on a normally devolved matter. This also links to ‘cross border’ bills, Mr. long alternative, where a bill for one part of the UK may have some repercussion in another part. Without going into detail of the Commission’s recommendations, the Commission recommends (259) that there should be a Devolution Committee to which Ministers will be accountable. Buy mr. long without prescription, It proposes (204) to use LCMs to bring matters before an English Grand Committee (all the English MPs). The notice for such an LCM ‘should be given only by an MP for a constituency in England’ or perhaps the House should ‘empower the leader of the largest party in England’. (As a throwaway, the government could do it.) If this were adopted, mr. long non prescription, the leader of the largest party in England would be an embryo First Minister.
With regard to the House of Lords, the Commission takes up proposals made decades ago by Crossman. Buy mr. long pills, If the Lords amend an England-only bill, the amendment should go to a committee that reflects the balance of the parties in England.
THE NEGATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS
There are of course sections of the Report that we would find unsatisfactory, evasive or simply wrong. The Commission justifies these of its recommendations by pointing out (165) that had there been a simple and easily understood solution to the West Lothian Question or its predecessors, it would have emerged long ago, buy mr. long without prescription. That is true; but only because British governments have tied themselves in knots trying to deny the principles of self-determination to the people of England while exporting them to the rest of the world and signing a Convention recognising the right of peoples to self-determination.
No to an English Parliament
Creating an English Parliament might be considered as lying outside the Commission’s remit but the Commissioners do nevertheless raise it, buy cheap mr. long, if only as a ‘straw man’ to be knocked flat. The demand for an English Parliament ‘has significant resonance in English public opinion’, they admit, but the case against was considered ‘compelling’ (71). Mr. long prescription, That conclusion hardly surprises us. Anything different would have horrified the British Government.
It is disappointing to see that, in finding compelling reasons for dismissing the case, the Commission tumbles into the usual elephant traps. It believes, rightly, mr. long malaysia, that the public does not want more politicians; but mistakenly it seems to have believed those who advised it that this would be the inevitable consequence of having an English Parliament. Buy mr. long without prescription, It is difficult for us to imagine why intelligent and well-informed commissioners should make such elementary mistake, unless they were determined to find any solution other than an English Parliament and grasped at whatever ‘evidence’ could be dredged up. Surprisingly enough, neither the Marquess of Salisbury nor Lord Strathclyde appears among the list of those who were consulted or contributed evidence. Considering that both of the noble lords are former leaders of the Conservatives in the House of Lords and have advocated a simple, Order mr. long no prescription, cheap and effective solution to the English Question, a solution that has been around for over a decade, it almost looks as if someone, elected politicians perhaps, told the Commission, mr. long medication, “Better not ask them because we don’t like the answer”. It is significant that it is an unelected peer who has sliced through the Gordian Knot of the English Question.
In this paragraph, we also meet our other old friend the elephant, Buy mr. long in us, but in another guise, as the English Giant (a concept which any of the BRIC nations might have difficulty in grasping when applied to England): there is, the commissioners dutifully repeat (most likely the words of Professor Hazell), no precedent for federation which includes one member that is so much bigger than the others. This is an argument dismissed decisively by an undergraduate, buy mr. long no prescription required, Tom Waterhouse, in the dissertation for his degree. Tom’s name does not appear among the contributors either.
The other drawback, the need for a supreme court with a wider role to interpret the constitution than is exercised by the present Supreme Court, has more merit in this context since it goes far beyond procedural changes in the House of Commons, buy mr. long without prescription. Buy mr. long us, To be fair to the Commission however it notes (54) that EVOEL is the people’s choice, citing Table 6 which found support for the various solutions to the EQ as: EVOEL 36%, English Parliament 21%, regions 8%. While we as a campaign rightly press for what is the only justifiable solution for us, mr. long sales, an English Parliament, the Commission would clearly be wrong-headed if, in the light of its own research, Buy mr. long internet, it selected that solution.
EVOEL Rarely Needed
The Commission finds (33) that the occasions when non-English MPs carry votes against the majority of English MPs are rare; but the two examples it cites, the vote on foundation hospitals (2003) and the vote on university tuition top- up fees (2004); have had calamitous results that have only emerged several years later.
- The vote on foundation hospitals is topical at present following the Francis Report on failings in the English NHS. The pressure to meet and retain foundation hospital status through financial and management targets has emerged as a contributory factor in patient deaths through neglect in N Staffs and many other hospitals.
- Buy mr. long without prescription, University tuition fees have been raised in England to £9000 pa, far in excess of charges in Scotland and Wales. Ludicrously, mr. long us, English students who study in Scotland have to pay higher rates there too, because otherwise too many might seek to study in Scotland, while students from other parts of the UK may be admitted at the same rates as Scottish students. No prescription mr. long, This discrimination against English students is permitted under EU rules which require that students from other EU member nations must be allowed to borrow from the English Student Loans company (based in Scotland); if they later evade repayment, little can be done to recover the loan.
Perhaps these consequences could not necessarily have been foreseen in 2003/4 but had only English votes counted the provision in England in both cases would now be similar to that in Scotland and Wales.
Two classes of MPs
This is really another of the elephant traps. The Commission accepts (148) that the House of Commons cannot have two classes of MPs, defined as some who can vote on all legislation before the House and some who can vote only on parts of it. The Commission overlooks that there are other valid ways of classing MPs, buy mr. long no rx, e.g. those who have to answer to their constituents in England on health, education and other devolved matters and those whose constituents look to a devolved assembly for redress on those matters, buy mr. long without prescription.
The Commission seeks to defuse resentment over this recommendation by providing (151) that the whole House should not normally be able to overrule English MPs on devolved matters. However, Buy generic mr. long, the procedure suggested (150) is that final vote would be taken by the whole House after the English vote in order to retain Government accountability. The last time something like this happened was in January 2009, not mentioned by the Commission, when Gordon Brown’s Government decided to approve the plan to construct a third runway at Heathrow Airport in England. The Conservatives placed an amendment to the legislation calling for a re-think, mr. long pharmacy online. Buy mr. long without prescription, There was a significant Labour rebellion against the Government. Mr Brown had therefore to call in the Scottish Labour vote in order to win, by a majority of only 19. (His normal working majority was 63.) He did so because, Find mr. long, he claimed, losing the vote would ‘destabilise’ his government. Had only the English MPs voted, the amendment would have been carried.
Note, order mr. long cheap online, as a reminder, that the Commission (50) states that ‘clear, consistent and strong majorities over time and across different surveys, Discount mr. long overnight delivery, suggesting that people in England do not think it right that Scottish MPs should be allowed to vote in the House of Commons on laws that affect England only. This could have caused Gordon a bit of a problem, buy mr. long without prescription.
The McKay Commission states firmly that the people of England do not want MPs from the devolved nations voting on English-only legislation. They do not trust the UK government to stand up for or speak for English interests. The Commission believes that no regional or localist solution will cure this dissatisfaction. Devolution was not ‘an event in 1998’, purchase mr. long. Buy mr. long without prescription, It has come on apace and it is now urgent to make changes in Parliament to reflect this development. Such changes, between the British nations, must include an arrangement at Westminster whereby, Mr. long in malaysia, mostly, the English MPs will decide English-only legislation.
If the Commission’s proposals are accepted (which is, sadly, probably unlikely) the following arrangements will be made. I do not pretend to have necessarily understood every nuance of the complicated procedural changes in Parliament and I am happy to be corrected if I have got anything wrong.
- The House of Commons will pass a resolution that, normally, English-only legislation will be decided by England’s MPs.
- To facilitate this, all legislation will declare a clear demarcation of its territorial extent.
- English-only legislation will be moved by a legislative consent motion to a grand committee of England’s MPs.
- It will be up to an English MP or to the leader of the largest party in England to make the proposal for an LCM
- English legislation amended by the House of Lords will be referred back to an English committee selected according to the balance of the parties in the House of Commons.
- All political parties should issue a manifesto for England
- Within the Parliamentary system, England will have a voice and, if this is established, it would be very difficult for any new arrangement under a Constitutional Convention to take away that voice.
On this basis, I believe that the CEP should welcome the Report as creating an all-England, England-only legislative facility within the British Parliament. This would put us, like the Commission, on the side of majority opinion. We would still campaign for England’s right to have its own dedicated parliament but we would also look for and press any opportunity to expand and reinforce England’s voice at Westminster.
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