Devolution: A Decade On - Justice Committee Contents

Further supplementary memorandum submitted by the Campaign for an English Parliament

  I am a member of the CEP and they have asked their members to write to you on the subject of an English Parliament, As the Chairman of the Justice Committee, your brief, I assume, will be to consider the fairness of the existing situation, i.e. that England is the only one of the four countries of the United Kingdom not to have an assembly or a Parliament and must, apparently, simply consider the overall UK Parliament sufficient even though English only issues are not debated.

  I believe that it is absolutely necessary in the interests of fair play that the English have some kind of individual assembly or Parliament. It is not enough to say, oh well, England is represented enough, it is the chief country in the Union and the richest of the four nations and it doesn't matter if we are not separately represented or have anywhere to discuss English only issues. It does matter.

  The arguments dismissing England's case are long overdue for revision. Devolution in Scotland and Wales is proceeding apace and the English position is invidious, particularly when Scottish MPs can vote on matters affecting England and it has become unjust. The other three countries are being allowed free rein to discuss and improve the quality of life of their populations and we are dropping back. Why is this freedom to improve our lot being curtailed? Presumably, the question is what to do about the stable door now the horse has bolted.

  The situation is so obviously unjust that I am surprised that MPs can live with it and let it go by the board month after month. It is absolutely necessary for this situation to be debated by Parliament and a decision made to balance the books. What other solutions are there? The problem appears to be that there is no will to do this and this is another question which needs to be answered. Why is there no will to do this or to have a debate in Parliament especially when the polls would indicate that 60% plus of the population want an English Parliament?

  I believe that this situation has come about inadvertently in the sense that the Government did not expect a campaign for a English Parliament to arise and it has arisen because of a deliberate advantage given to Scotland by Tony Blair in the early days of New Labour in order to win votes. it is very apparent that the possible effects of Scottish devolution were not adequately thought out at the time and we have the horror story approaching of the possible break up of the Union. What happens when this catastrophic point is reached? What need will we have of a UK constitution then?

  History will not thank New Labour for breaking up the Union. Presumably, judging by the lack of action going on, most MPs who do not want to see Scotland lost in Europe think that it may just be a matter of letting sleeping dogs lie long enough for the whole problem to resolve itself but it may not work out that way and the Union needs protecting now.

  The solution to the silliness which has prevailed and produced this devolutionary mess is to have an English Parliament in order to rectify the situation. As things currently stand, the English are beginning to wonder about the fact that they seem to be doing most of the funding of devolution whilst losing their own place in the scheme of things. They could be forgiven for feeling rather used. There is a constant downgrading of Englishness and the question of why this is happening is also beginning to press for an answer.

  English history is heroic and its achievements something to be proud of but we now have the situation where the next battle for, English freedom, justice, democracy and sheer decency is being ignored by the UK Parliament itself. Why is it so many people are unable to countenance an English Parliament? They haven't read their history and it's time some of them did.

  An English Parliament is the only way to put matters right. Scottish devolution cannot now be taken away even if it is felt to have gone too far. This would now be a political impossibility. However, the situation cannot just be left to drift. Justice must be seen to be done and, hopefully, this will strengthen the Union and its future evolution. Let us hope no political party ever makes such a mess again.

Mrs A C Smith

January 2008

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