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West Lothian Question
Balgove
tobyaw
Education funding is devolved to Holyrood. Was it appropriate for Scottish MPs to vote on tuition fees at Westminster today, in legislation that will only apply in England and Wales?

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There was so much about this whole affair that wasn't even remotely appropriate, that the West Lothian question is one of the less egregious aspects.

The SNP usually abstain from "England-only" votes on the sort of voluntary moral grounds that you seem to be suggesting. They voted against tuition fees today; here's their reasoning.

I think that seems reasonable; and I probably give their reasoning more credence precisely because they don't usually do it. I dunno what the other parties' excuse is.

Interesting link. Of course it smacks of political opportunism, but Wishart’s quote ““The Tories introduced loans, Labour brought in fees and the LibDems have now helped the Tories increase them. Only the SNP is left as the party for students in Scotland offering them the opportunity to be part of something better.” will resonate with voters.

Yes, I think that the idea of “English votes on English laws” would be a pragmatic short-term solution, and would easily scale for issues that affect England and Wales together. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, and the democratic legitimacy of Westminster legislation would be improved. I recall it was a Tory suggestion shortly after devolution; I don’t know whether it is still on the cards.

It would leave odd situations where ministers introduce legislation that they shouldn’t vote on, though.

The 2010 Tory manifesto said, “Labour have refused to address the so-called ‘West Lothian Question’: the unfair situation of Scottish MPs voting on matters which are devolved. A Conservative government will introduce new rules so that legislation referring specifically to England, or to England and Wales, cannot be enacted without the consent of MPs representing constituencies of those countries.”

And the coalition agreement said, “We have agreed to establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question’.”

So I hope a solution is on the way!

I note that doesn't appear to rule out Scottish MPs voting, only that they can't carry the day. I'm not quite sure what the point of voting would be, under those circumstances, but I'm sure it would be possible to come up with some wizard wheeze.

I think:


  1. England should have its own Parliament/assembly but

  2. that's a matter for them and

  3. English votes on English laws is probably second best.



I don't mind much in principle whether separate English and Scottish parliaments occur within a UK framework or through independence, but in practice I think the imbalance in population size will always cause tensions that make independence the better and more stable choice.

If their constituents or their family plan to go and study in England and Wales then, yes I think it's appropriate

Of course it means English and Welsh MPs should vote in the decisions made by the Scottish Parliament.

What really should happen is maybe have MEnPs which vote in decisions which are relevant to England alone. This whole having separate parliaments thing is great but it's quite confusing when some issues are relevant for one country but not another...

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