Speaking for England


Some of you have noticed I have dropped the Speaking for England phrase from this website. I did so after  careful consideration. When I thought through and set out my promises to electors for the late 2019 General Election I decided that the forthcoming Parliament had enough to do to see Brexit through, develop the wins from Brexit, and drive through a levelling up economic agenda. I doubted the Prime Minister’s interest in constitutional reform for England, so thought it better not to arouse expectations. I did in the past promise a referendum on EU membership before it was party policy, and helped bring that about, and promised to speak for England and helped bring about English votes for English issues before that was  party policy.

I was torn over the speaking for England issue, as it is clearly unfinished work. When I helped  persuade David Cameron to take the issue of the unfair devolution settlement seriously I both argued for an English  veto on laws affecting England and a right to initiate England only laws for English MPs. We secured the new procedure that any law affecting  just England requires a majority of English MPs voting to vote for it. I did not secure the other half, the right of a majority of England’s MPs to initiate and pass a law for England  which MPs from other parts of the UK do not approve. William Hague led a successful attempt to block us. England therefore remains way  behind Scotland in our devolved powers, as the Scottish Parliament can initiate and veto legislation for Scotland over a wide range of devolved matters.

Some of you argue England needs its own Parliament, like Scotland, away from  Westminster. I disagree. I do not want to spend more taxpayer money on more politicians and another layer of government. I do want England to have a better voice in government, and control over its own laws. This can be done by having a Cabinet member leading for England and representing England, working closely with the Secretaries of State for Local Government, Transport, Health and Education who are mainly England only Ministers. It can be done by an English Grand Committee of all UK MPs elected for English constituencies forming the English  legislature at Westminster. If I were an English nationalist then of course I would argue for a separate Parliament with as much power as possible. I would prefer the UK to survive as my country, but do want a fairer deal and a better say for England within our devolution settlement.

One comment on “Speaking for England

  1. You describe UK as a country but how can one country have 2 parliaments and 2 assemblies? A country is a single political entity and for that to be the case there would have to be one single governmental voice. The COVID-19 crisis has ably demonstrated that there is no single governmental voice in UK.

    It is completely incorrect to describe UK as a country, it is a state composed of 4 distinct countries. 3 of those countries have, to varying degrees, the ability to control their own destiny via their own elected representatives.

    As you well know ENGLAND is alone among those 4 countries in that it does not have a separate political voice. ENGLAND may be the largest country in UK and in the Westminster Parliament but very few MPs elected in ENGLAND actually describe themselves as English. Most subscribe to the amorphous identity of British.

    Westminster is a British parliament were the voice for ENGLAND is consciously suppressed by a majority of MPs, who at best dislike the English identity. Westminster will never be a voice for ENGLAND, while it remains a British Parliament.

    I suspect that Westminster can never be reformed for ENGLAND’s benefit. ENGLAND will have to go directly to independence if it wants its own voice. This at least would allay your concerns about too many layers of government and too many politicians.

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