Mr Hague has joined the ranks of people who have tried to solve the West Lothian question and predictable upset quite a few people. As bits of the United Kingdom get more and more devolved powers the question that gets harder to ignore is if English MP’s have less and less say in the regions why do the regions continue to have a say about what happens in England? A fairly reasonable question but one that always seems to cause a huge amount of kerfuffle, mainly because none of the large parties want to lose power and solving the problem inevitably seems to involve that.
Mr Hagues current suggestion is for an English MP veto. This has led to lots of people complaining that this would create a two-tier house with different classes of MPs, or that it wouldn’t work as England isn’t a homogenous entity to be represented by a single house. Daniel Hannan looks at several options for addressing the problem, and considers the pro’s and con’s of them. The problem of a two-tier house could be easily solved by only allowing MP’s from the “regions” that also sit in the devolved parliaments, that way everyone sitting on the national parliament also has a say in the regional parliaments. This would of course result in the big parties having less of a say (particularly Labour) so that’s not going to happen. For those that complain that England isn’t homogenous and the needs of the various areas vary, I can but compare that to the uniformity of needs between the lowlands, highlands and isles in Scotland which so blatantly have no variation in needs or culture which would otherwise prevent Holyrood representing them fairly.
However I don’t want to be negative, so I’d like to propose what I think might be a simple suggestion. We could divide the entire United Kingdom into small roughly equal sized regions which have local representatives that consider everything that doesn’t have a national impact, then we could have a central body that only considered matters that had national or international impact. To avoid problems we could “devolve” as much as possible down to those regional bodies. To avoid confusion between the two decision-making bodies we could maybe call the ones for the smaller areas “councils” or maybe even “county councils” and the people who looked after those local issues could be maybe called “councilors”. The national body is trickier but how about we call it “Parliament” and the people who represent us in this “parliament” we could call “Members of Parliament” and they could represent areas known as “constituencies” to make sure this national body knows what the various areas think. To make the transition easier and cheaper I believe that there may all ready be buildings in place scattered around the country that have been, for some odd reason, already built to hold bodies such as the ones I suggest. Perhaps we could even have some sort of ballot or election on a regular basis to determine who should set in these “councils” and “parliament”?
I know that’s all crazy talk, and radical untested ideas but I’m sure there are people much smarter than me that could work out how we might suitably divide up the country and manage these various bodies. Whilst they’re at it perhaps they could also solve the puzzle as to why we seem to have all these “council chambers” and old “county council” buildings lying around the place already?