England needs its own polity too, argue reformers

By staff writers
25 Mar 2013

The report by the McKay Commission says that English-only laws should normally need backing by a majority of MPs representing English constituencies.

The commission was established to examine how MPs should deal with English legislation in the wake of devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The UK government issued a short statement saying it would give the report "serious consideration".

Commenting just ahead of the report, which was published on 25 March 2013, Peter Facey the director of political reform group Unlock Democracy, said: “The McKay Commission looks like it will propose a classic Westminster fudge."

He continued: "To be fair, given the complexities involved, it is unlikely that it could have come up with anything more concrete. Even where legislation only directly affects England, it will typically have significant spending implications for the whole of the UK.

“Regardless of the findings by the Commission, the fact remains that far too many decisions that affect the daily lives of English people are taken at a UK level.

"It is time the English were given a say about how they were governed and the right to demand greater autonomy, be it at an English, regional or cities and counties level,” said Mr Facey.

Correspondingly, many reformers is Scotland and Wales feel both that England needs its own polity, and also that English issues and English MPs over-dominate Westminster and skew the UK towards English concerns and perspectives.

Campaigners for Scottish independence and substantial self-government for Wales believe that greater English autonomy is a natural complement to the process of re-engineering the countries of Britain into a confederal rather than unionist structure.

But opponents of self-government for Scotland and Wales - including those campaigning for a 'No' vote in the Scottish 2014 referendum - are wary of any moves that would increase the decision-making capability of the nations, preferring devolution to be overshadowed by a Westminster parliament dominated by London and the south.

The independent commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons, now known as The McKay Commission, was first announced by the UK government on 17 January 2012.

Its terms of reference were to consider 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.

* McKay Commission: http://tmc.independent.gov.uk/

* Unlock Democracy: http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/

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