Former Chancellor Ken Clarke, Chairman of David Cameron’s Democracy task force, gave evidence to the Commons’ Justice Select Committee yesterday. The Committee is taking evidence on the impact of devolution. Within his evidence he said that…
- The Conservatives had been mistaken to oppose devolution in 1997;
- That an English Parliament was unnecessary;
- He would be very surprised if the Tories did not propose an answer to the West Lothian Question in their next manifesto;
- That his task force would recommend a solution to the WLQ but that it would probably be different from that recommended by Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
In his evidence Mr Clarke cited the fact that it was the votes of Scottish MPs that ensured that English students would have to pay top-up fees. If laws kept being imposed on English voters by Scottish MPs there was, he said, a real risk of damaging the Union.
He briefly explained why he was against an English Parliament:
"The average Englishman thinks that they have got a Parliament which is the Westminster Parliament and I think resentment could perfectly well be sorted out so long as we could tackle what I regard as this niggle that sometimes English matters are setlled against the majority of votes of the English MPs. This English Parliament would be quite a dangerous remedy to that because it will just take a little step further this sense of separate identity."