CEP: English parliament is only answer to West Lothian question
On Wednesday November 14th the the House of Commons Justice Committee of MPs taking evidence from invited experts on constitutional matters was informed by Professor Robert Hazell, the Director of the Constitution Committee, that ‘the closest to a complete answer to the West Lothian Question was a separate English Parliament’.’ It was a statement with immense political significance. moment. The Constitutional Unit, located within University College London, had been set up with Professor Hazell as its Director in 2000 with full government backing to address the complex constitutional issues arising out of the 1998 Devolution legislation which had set up the Scottish Parliament and he Welsh Assembly but which had granted no devolution to the English nation whatsoever.
The so-called West Lothian Question has become the most difficult issue of all caused by that legislation. The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have created a totally unfair and undemocratic situation for the English. Scottish MPs in the Union Parliament in Westminster are still entitled to vote on such very important matters as health, education and transport for England, even to be cabinet ministers of health, education and transport for England, while no English MPs can do the same on the same issues for Scotland. It has enabled Scotland to vote for free prescriptions for all Scottish people, free personal care for the elderly, no university fees for Scottish students and free bus travel throughout Scotland for all its pensioners. The Scots each get £1500 more spent on their health and education than people in England. Nothing has created more disunity in the United Kingdom and friction between England and Scotland than the West Lothian Question since the Act of Union of 1707, three hundred years ago.
When the Constitution Unit was set up in the year 2000 its Director Professor Hazell, in his ‘State of the Union’ lecture at its inauguration stated that an English Parliament was not the way to resolve the West Lothian Question. He declared that an English Parliament would mean the end of the United Kingdom. Now, after seven years of investigation, his influential Unit has informed the House of Commons that an English Parliament physically separate from the United Kingdom Parliament is the best way to resolve the very question that is creating tension and break-up within the Union. It is a political conversion of Road-to-Damascus proportions, and all the more significant and reliable for that reason.