Published:

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

Amid
all the bother about immigration and Boris and Cyprus, it’s worth keeping an
eye out for the report being released
by the McKay Commission
today. This independent commission was set up last
year, with Government backing, to look into the question of…

“How the House of
Commons might deal with legislation which affects only part of the United
Kingdom, following the devolution of certain legislative powers to the Scottish
Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales.”

…and it appears to have reached
some significant conclusions about – and for – England. Among them is a
recommendation that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs have their influence
over English laws curtailed. The report will say that this can be done in
a number of ways
, including separate votes on legislative clauses that
relate only to England.

The Cabinet Office assures us that
it will reply to the Commission’s proposals in due course. Here’s hoping it
doesn’t dismiss them out of hand. As the best report on this subject – the IPPR’s
The
dog that finally barked: England as an emerging political community

has already shown, English disgruntlement has spread alongside devolution. One
poll in that report found that 34 per cent of English people want a settlement
much like that one the McKay Commission will recommend, against 24 per cent who
prefer the status quo and 20 per cent who would prefer a straight-up English
Parliament. This sentiment could well intensify as the vote on Scottish independence
nears.


Besides, it’s not just a case of
quelling dissatisfaction, but also of righting an unfairness. This is something
that Harriet Baldwin – who, in her written
submission
to the McKay Commission, referred to the “unfair devolution
settlement” – understands well. We included her battle for “Justice for England”
in ConservativeHome’s
recent series on Little Guy Conservatism
not because, by itself, it’s a
massive vote-winner, but because the current set-up fuels the idea that
politics is constructed without sense and wired against normal folk. This is an
idea that the Tories should, at all times, be happy to dispel.  

If the Tories don’t do it, Labour
might. Yes, it’s true that Ed Miliband’s party stood aloof from the McKay
Commission – declining to submit evidence, allegedly because they don’t want to
help strengthen Tory control over English legislation – but I wouldn’t be
surprised if they trammelled across this territory still. Jon Cruddas, who’s in
charge of the party’s policy output, has previously called for a “truly
English Labour Party”.
And he’s also been
campaigning
for an English national anthem. At the very least, Labour
figures will probably start dropping the E-word into more speeches –
particularly after Scotland’s vote, when there’s no risk of upsetting Alistair
Darling’s unifying efforts.

In the meantime, how about re-reading
some of ConHome’s writing about England, the West Lothian Question and all
that? Here are Tim
Montgomerie
, Paul
Goodman
and Roger
Scruton
.

Comments are closed.