Journal Column – 25th April 2012

Last week I had the pleasure of appearing on the weekly Radio 4 programme ‘Westminster Hour’. Among the topics discussed was reform of the upper chamber in Westminster – the House of Lords.

The stimulus for debate was yesterday’s joint committee report on options for reform and the growing rebellion in Tory ranks demanding a referendum before any changes are introduced.

My view on this issue is guided by a very simple principle. Anyone able to introduce or change the laws that govern our lives should be elected.

The calls for a referendum are also a smokescreen by those opposed to change. Every party stood on a platform of reform of the Lords at the last Westminster election. The mandate for change is in those election manifestoes.

However, once again we see a missed opportunity by the ruling British elite to really change the way in which we are governed. At the same time the Mackay commission is looking into the so called West Loathian question as a response to the outcry in England whereby Welsh and Scottish MPs can vote on English only matters.

It would be far better to look at the two processes together. England is clearly in need of its own Parliament. The obvious solution would be to designate the Commons a chamber for English MPs and the Lords be reformed to a Federal Parliament in recognition of the changing relations between the nations and regions of the British state.

These changes would need to be complemented with reform of the Exchequer, as Welsh and Scottish budgets are currently determined by spending priorities for English services. Wales loses out particularly badly in the current arrangements.

The pressing need for reform will be even greater following Scottish independence in 2014, otherwise Wales will find itself completely marginalised in the successor state that we find ourselves in.

5 Responses to “Journal Column – 25th April 2012” [latest first]

  1. That’s twice this week the Welsh have spoken up for an English Parliament.
    I thank you for your support. I only wish our own MP’s and political parties would face the facts and support an EP too.
    Your solution to our lack of democracy, is my favoured solution also……….

  2. I am glad that Plaid are taking such a strong led on this. Any arrangement other than and English parliament cannot work in the long tern. Limiting devolved matters in Westminster to English MPs brings up the problem of the very real possibility of a majority of one party (Labour probably)being elected in the wider UK, while England has a majority from a different party(almost certainly Tory). Which party would be called on to form a government? Either way, the Prime minister would have a majority in one context but not the other, and government would become impossible.

    And English parliament would also remove an anomaly of the current system that works the other way to the West Lothian question – the fact that ministers whose portfolios only affect England (like Gove, Lansley and Pickles) also sit in the UK cabinet, taking decisions that affect all of us.

  3. Equally an English Parliament (EP) would allow me as part of the English electorate, two votes one for an EP and one for the UK Govt such as the Welsh, Scots and NI electorate have, so well done Plaid, pile on the pressure

  4. Does this mean you are pressing for a proper Welsh Government, rather than the Assembly currently in place? As an Englishman living in Wales, that seems logical, although I hope it wouldn’t mean passport controls on my weekly visits to London!

    Regarding the House of Lords, are you in favour of the present proposals?

  5. We have a legislative Parliament following last year’s referendum. even in an independent Wales there wont be passport control – the nations of these Isles will always work in partnership just on an equal basis.

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