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Strengthening the Union

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posted on Jan, 16 2007 @ 03:46 AM
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Before the New Year I emailed the Department for Constitutional Affairs asking what the official stance was on the issue of an English Parliament, below is the reply I received:



Dear Mr ######
Thank you for your email of 21 December addressed to the Department's general queries mailbox about the establishment of a separate parliament for England.
The four component countries of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) have their own histories and distinct national identities, as well as different administrative structures, size and population. As a result, the Government believes that different approaches and solutions are appropriate to address the differences that exist between the countries of the United Kingdom. Thus the starting point for England is not the same as it was for Scotland and Wales.

The Government believes that the establishment of an English Parliament would not be of real benefit to the people of England. As the population of England accounts for 84% of the UK population, this would mean that an English Parliament would only be slightly smaller than the current UK Parliament. Such a move would not therefore contribute significantly towards bringing people in England closer to the decision making process, which is one of the cornerstones of devolution. In addition, the establishment of an English Parliament would threaten the Union - a Union that has enabled Britain to play a leading role on the world stage.

An English Parliament, with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament, and running alongside the existing UK Parliament would lead to the creation of two parliaments and governments within one. This would mean that a UK Government, elected on a UK mandate, might find itself unable to deliver key policies on which it had been elected. This would not provide a sound basis for effective government in the United Kingdom. Such a situation would be unsustainable, and could lead to the break up of the Union. The Government has no plans therefore to introduce legislation establishing an English parliament.

Finally, you ask whether it is possible to post this response on an internet discussion board. I am content for you to do so.

Yours sincerely,
Richard Miles
Constitutional Settlement Division
Department for Constitutional Affairs
6th Floor Selborne House
54 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QW
Tel: 020 7210 1344, fax: 020 7210 8598



A good reply, and though I don't agree with them completely I can see why they hold the stance on the issue that they do.
They mention that the creation of an English Parliament could destabilise the Union, but that makes me think, surely the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly (to a lesser extent) have already done this and the forming of an English Parliament is merely correcting the balance, or even stabilising it.
After all there is support for the forming of an English Parliament, its not just a bunch of crazies waving a flag wanting to get drunk on St. Georges day.



'Most' support English parliament
Most people, including those in Scotland, think England should have its own parliament, a BBC poll suggests.
Newsnight found 61% in England, 51% in Scotland and 48% in Wales agreed with the idea.

The poll, carried out to mark 300 years since the Act of Union, was of 883 adults in England, 543 in Scotland and 527 in Wales.


I believe it'd make the union stronger rather than break it up, England would loose its anger over not having a Parliament the same as Scotland and see themselves as equals, I envision a day when for example our soldiers bear the Union Flag on their arm with the flag of their home nation beneath it.


Related Links

Above Politics: Welsh nod for English Parliament

Above Politics: Britain wants UK break up, poll shows



[edit on 16-1-2007 by UK Wizard]




posted on Jan, 16 2007 @ 04:56 AM
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I'm on the fence with this one. On the one hand it would address the imbalance brought about by the lack of an English Parliament despite similar bodies in the other Home Nations.

On the other hand, I'm not the world's biggest fan of devolution so part of me thinks that it would weaken the Union, as the gentlemen who emailed UK Wizard seems to think.

These polls really do seem to be all over the place. Some show that the Union is about to break up whereas others show it's still going strong. Very confusing. I suppose the only way to tell for sure is to hold a referendum, but is that a good idea? I have this awful feeling that a lot of the people who vote in favour of breaking up would do so for narrow-minded nationalistic pride as opposed to any other reasons. And this pride seems to be at the heard of the problem (in England and Scotland particularly).

Hence, I maintain my stance that the United Kingdom does far better together than it ever will apart.

I seem to recall there not being much support for an English Parliament in the past, hence why there wasn't one introduced when the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly were set up. Now that the issue of the Union is flying around, though, support for such a body has (predictably) risen.



posted on Jan, 16 2007 @ 08:51 AM
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Hmmmm, well that's a change (in stated policy) since I last looked.

Frankly there's a small part of me saying call the tory party's bluff and go for it (and it is a bluff).

This is afterall only an anti-Scottish (and they hope by extension anti-Labour) tactic.

But if they think it's the back-door way back into some sort of power they are sadly deluded, an English Parliament would not mean a tory English Gov.
An English Parliament (like the devolved Parliaments everywhere else) would have to operate through a PR voting system.

The last time the tories got more than 50% in of the vote in England was IIRC in 1955.



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 09:15 AM
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Originally posted by Ste2652
These polls really do seem to be all over the place. Some show that the Union is about to break up whereas others show it's still going strong. Very confusing. I suppose the only way to tell for sure is to hold a referendum, but is that a good idea? I have this awful feeling that a lot of the people who vote in favour of breaking up would do so for narrow-minded nationalistic pride as opposed to any other reasons. And this pride seems to be at the heard of the problem (in England and Scotland particularly).


Its always the way with polls, ask 100 people a question nip a few miles down the road and ask another 100 people and the results can be completely different.

I can see the "narrow-minded nationalistic" element who claim to be patriots using the cause to attempt to further promote the break up of the Union, but I don't believe its possible, the nations of the UK are too intergrated to ever break up they're too used to being together and if a vote were put to the entire UK population today I personally believe the Union would stand strong.

A general question I have is why do people think an English Parliament will break up the UK, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly didn't so why would an English one do so?

We've had Blair saying an English Parliament is "unworkable" and "unnecessary", it is both fully workable and wanted devolution helps make politics closer to the voters.


[edit on 17-1-2007 by UK Wizard]



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 02:14 PM
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The reason Blair opposes an English Parliament is that it means Scottish, Welsh and Irish constituencies aren't represented - meaning Labour lose their majority to deal with English issues (Labour's UK-wide majority is based on Scottish seats, which obviously wouldn't be represented in an English Parliament). The case is the same if only English MPs are allowed to vote on English issues in the House of Commons without an English Parliament - they'd probably have to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats to keep a majority over English issues in the House of Commons if such an event were to occur.

The Tories want English-only issues in the UK Parliament because they have the majority on in constituencies in England. Hence, England becomes Conservative-dominated. However, the Conservatives don't want an English Parliament (Cameron was on BBC News 24 answering questions from viewers regarding this - if you check the BBC News site you can probably find the clip). If Labour lose the Holyrood elections in May (and the SNP could do well, potentially usurping the Labour-Lib Dem coalition) , it puts the Labour Party in a bad position.

Ideally, Labour wouldn't have gone ahead with devolution at all. This is one of the areas where I differ with Mr. Blair, and generally I do tend to agree with him on many issues.

Now, the question remains... will the SNP get the most votes? If it has to form a coalition with the Lib Dems then it can probably kiss goodbye to its policy of a referendum on Scottish independece - the Liberal Democrats wouldn't support it. So if they do get the majority, it's still not certain they'll be in a position to put forward the referendum (let alone carry it out... I'm not sure devolved assemblies have the power to issue legally binding referendums on issues such as independence since it's a UK-wide issue).

[edit on 17-1-2007 by Ste2652]



posted on Jan, 17 2007 @ 02:26 PM
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Originally posted by UK Wizard
I don't believe its possible, the nations of the UK are too intergrated to ever break up they're too used to being together and if a vote were put to the entire UK population today I personally believe the Union would stand strong.


- Generally I'd agree with this view we are indeed very well integrated and have been so for centuries.


A general question I have is why do people think an English Parliament will break up the UK, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly didn't so why would an English one do so?


- I think as the Dept for Constitutional Affairs indicates the Gov's view is that because England is such a disproportionately large part of the equation then devolution wouldn't make the same practical sense as it has for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and that it could give rise to wholly avoidable and unnecessary tensions and damaging disputes.


it is both fully workable and wanted devolution helps make politics closer to the voters.


- Well in fairness we don't know if devolving such a large entity within the UK is workable. It hasn't happened before so we just know.

As for wanted?
Well it seems it's wanted by those, in the opposition, who find it opportune right now.
Few of those in the opposition who are demanding this seem to have believed this so vital before.

It remains to be seen just how strongly the public desire this - or even how strongly those saying they'd prefer it want it.

I'm all for politics and power being brought closer to the voter, the problem I can see in this 'debate' is that generally that is not really what it is about.

Instead, it looks to me to be far more of a party-political and thoroughly opportunist attempt to claim 'the English are missing out' or are being denied something (the Scots, Welsh and Irish are getting).

Wrapped up in this too is an insinuation that England is at heart (they believe) tory and would revert to being tory if only the Scot and Welsh influence could be jettisoned.
(which IMO is a complete fantasy, but like I said before, I'd have a mind to call their bluff on this one)

The BBC's Newsnight poll (carried out to mark 300 years since the Act of Union) makes for interesting reading for those interested.

news.bbc.co.uk...



[edit on 17-1-2007 by sminkeypinkey]




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