Michael Knowles of the Campaign for an English Parliament and Head of its Media Unit has criticised Gordon Brown, author of the Queen's Speech, for failing even to mention the biggest constitutional issue in the UK today, namely the English Question, and three of Brown's senior government ministers for opposing anything being done about it.
The English Question is the situation the UK is now in in which Scotland, Wales and NI each have formal constitutional and political recognition as distinct nations and self-rule, which they did not have before devolution, while England has neither. As a consequence Scotland, Wales and NI can grant themselves such benefits as free prescriptions and free university education, denied to the people of England. In addition Scottish, Welsh and NI MPs have kept their right to make laws for England's internal affairs like health and education while English MPs have no say at all in the internal affairs of Scotland, NI and Wales.
In the Queen's Speech the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, MP for Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath in Scotland, excluded all mention from the Queen's Speech of the discrimination England is being subjected to. In the Common's debates that followed, both the Lord Chancellor/Justice Minister Jack Straw and the Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain have expressed total opposition to England having its own parliament like Scotland has and even to English MPs alone being able to make laws which affect England only. Mr Straw claimed that either solution 'would wrench the UK apart' even though he and his party were the MPs who gave Scotland its own parliament and Wales its own assembly.
Mr Straw and Mr Hain, both Labour party ministers, oppose devolution for England because they fear that it would be the Conservatives who would hold a majority in an English Parliament. They also oppose English MPs alone having the right to make laws for England's internal affairs because they calculate that without Scottish and Welsh MPs Labour would not be able to rule in England. In other words they regard the issue of England purely from the perspective of party advantage.
Mr Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Edinburgh South West, has called for an end to any discussion of the English Question. As a Scottish MP he looks at the English Question from the perspective of what is of advantage to Scotland. His worry is that devolution for England, particularly in the form of an English Parliament with the same powers and responsibilities as the Scottish Parliament, will reduce Scottish influence over English matters and the number of Scottish MPs in the Union parliament. The Campaign for an English Parliament has written to Mr Brown and his colleagues demanding that England is treated in the Union equally with Scotland.