The people of England deserve a referendum of their own

An English Parliament

Share
Related Topics
Those members of Parliament at Westminster who are committed to preserving the United Kingdom have to face a ferociously difficult question. Now that the Scots and Welsh have decided on devolution, how do we deliver a fair deal for England?

William Hague has quite rightly announced than an incoming Conservative government would respect the outcome of the referendums. But Labour's compromise proposals are a constitutional mess. They do not solve the so-called West Lothian question, the problem of Scottish MPs voting on matters that solely affect the English, whilst the English MPs cannot vote on similar matters that solely affect the Scots.

Nobody should doubt that the English feel as passionately about their country as the Scots or the Welsh. The best demonstration of this is the extent to which the English have been willing to make sacrifices in the interests of the Union: for example, on the basis of population, Scotland has 14 more MPs than it would have with the English size of constituencies. In terms of public expenditure, Wales receives one-sixth more money than England, Scotland a fifth more, and Northern Ireland a third more.

There are, of course, reasons for these differences, and the English have accepted them because most people place enormous value on the Union. They recognise the energy that the United Kingdom has gained from the amalgamation of the talents of all parts of the Kingdom.

Which is why Labour's proposals are potentially so disastrous. The Government is meddling with a finely balanced structure which has historically worked to everybody's advantage. It is taking the risk of starting a process that will unravel the tightly woven fabric of our country.

Those Welsh people who want an assembly will resent the stronger Scottish institution. As for the English, Labour's attempt to provide supposed fairness with regional councils is, of course, nonsense. It will not solve the West Lothian question. It will simply create soulless regional bureaucracies, bleak outstations of Brussels.

Nobody could with any serious constitutional sense equate, say, a Yorkshire and Humberside regional council with the Scottish Parliament. The constitutional mess of pottage that we are being offered in exchange for our heritage and history is not going to satisfy anyone.

It is no accident that Labour's proposals fit well with the wishes of the European Commission. In the federalist lexicon, the nation state is seen as the source of many evils, from unemployment to war.

The nation state is the strongest manifestation of the democratic will of the people. It is a moral concept, indissolubly tied to the emotional identity of the people; it is not an administrative convenience to suit Labour's apparent urge to bypass Westminster by every means possible.

The people of England deserve nothing less than equal treatment. And the people of Britain deserve a constitutional settlement that is at least logical. If each of the other nations of the United Kingdom is going to have its own parliament, then England's choice should be no less. If Labour truly believes that this is the proper future for the people of Scotland and Wales, their logic must mean the same for England. This means equal treatment in all respects, not just financial - although we should have funding equality for England, Scotland and Wales.

The people of England deserve a referendum on whether they want a Parliament of their own. In their own words, Labour should trust the people - in this case the people of England. Anything less will lead to disaffection and discontent; to a belief that the English are being treated as second- class citizens in their own land.

The writer is Conservative MP for Boothferry.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering