The West Lothian question – that is, the problem that lots of areas are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but the Scottish MPs can still vote on these issues when they concern England – seems to have found two bad solutions:
- The Tories seem to prefer excluding Scottish MPs for voting on issues affecting only England. While this sounds really attractive at first, it leads to problems with laws that contain parts that apply to Scotland, and even more importantly, if there was a situation where Labour was the largest party when the Scottish MPs were included, but not when they weren’t, what would happen to the areas that are devolved? In other words, would there be a Labour prime minister but a Tory health secretary? Or would the Labour health secretary be unable to pass legislation?
- Labour seems to prefer devolving power to the English regions. Apart from the problem that the people of England don’t seem to have any appetite for this at all, I fail to see how this would solve the West Lothian question. As far as I know, only fairly limited powers would be devolved to them. The Scottish Parliament, on the other hand, has far-reaching law-making powers, so there would still be many areas that were devolved to Scotland but handled by Westminster for England.
The only real solution would be creating an English Parliament, and letting the UK Parliament deal only with UK issues. There would still be a problem with Wales, though, because fewer areas are devolved to the Welsh Assembly than to the Scottish Parliament – perhaps joint sessions of the English Parliament and the Welsh Assembly would be needed.
Of course the remaining UK Parliament could be cut down in size a lot, and perhaps it would be best to let the Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments/assemblies send delegates to it, rather than electing it directly.