Friday, March 10, 2006

English Devolution?

The recent parliamentary skirmish over whether England-only legislation should be voted through by English MPs alone has brought a surprisingly new dimension to the devolution debate, and raises interesting questions on English identity.

As it stands now, most if not all legislation uniquely concerning Scotland or Wales is debated and passed exclusively via the Scottish Parliament or National Assembly for Wales, respectively. However, Scottish and Welsh MPs at Westminster still retain the right to vote through bills that will only affect people living in England. There is now a group which wants to create a separate English Parliament, and a growing number of MPs are apparently now in favour. Not so Lord Falconer, however, who has rejected the idea out of hand.

I am far from an expert on the subject, and I find myself wishing now that I had paid more attention in Structure of Government during the halcyon days of City University. But given the history of English warfare and pillaging and interference in Scotland, Wales and Ireland over the past 800 years or so, my first reaction is to say, Suck it up, people. You have to be able to take what you dish out. This what a truly "united" kingdom is meant to be like, after all. But of course, the devolution reforms of the 1990s have thankfully changed all that. As such, should the progressive devolutionary stance be at the very least to allow English MPs to be the ones who decide what's best for England? Even if the English make up some 80% of the UK, thereby making largely redundant the need for the same protection afforded to Scotland and Wales via their independent parliaments?

And isn't it a bit rich to be talking of English devolution when another - often ignored - part of the UK has been making a far more pressing case for a devolved government for the past 30 years?


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