In the light of Ken Clarke’s English Pauses for English Clauses and Malcolm Rifkind’s East Lothian Answer, I thought I would reflect on some other Conservative plans that would try and answer the West Lothian Question.
This time the proposal comes from Roger Gale, a Conservative MP for North Thanet in Kent.
As both Ken Clarke’s and Malcolm Rifkind proposals have memorable names, I feel I should give Roger Gale’s proposal such a name too.
Judging by its hitherto unfavourable reception I think it should be named the Kent Invent. Even Roger Gale himself admitted: “When I first put forward my proposals, … I was regarded as at best eccentric and more probably as plain bonkers.”
Roger Gale wants to abolish the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Then an English Parliament set up, and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies given more powers to become Parliaments similiar to the Scottish model.
Each parliament would elect a First Minister and send two representatives to a UK senate. From these 8 senators a Prime Minister would be picked.
The UK senate would have control over macro-economic taxation, foreign and defence matters. All other matters would be devolved to their respective parliaments.
Personally I don’t see the English in particular buying this. In a UK population of around 60 million they have around 50 million people or 5/6. To reduce their UK representation to 1/4 might suit the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish but is hardly fair.
I don’t actually see the Scots buying it either. Scots – and the current Scottish Parliament – has diverged from Westminster on Trident and the War on Iraq, for example. One of the benefits that independence would bring Scotland is that we could decide on all those issues ourselves. Of course the same would be true for Wales, Northern Ireland and England.
The Kent Invent may have its drawbacks but it fully answers the West Lothian Question but its UK senate idea may prove unworkable.
At best I feel it will just be sticking plaster trying to save the Union. It would only be a temporary measure. Once the parliaments knit in, we’ve always better ripping the plaster off for full independence.