Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Ladies & Gentlemen, we are gathered here this evening in a celebration of St George and many thanks indeed are due to our hosts the Leeds branch and Joanne and Chris Beverley in particular for organising such a superb event.
Now I know that we English are traditionally known as being a bit stand-offish and for sometimes being a bit kill-joy and not keen on celebrations.
But ladies and gentlemen I think this is a celebration worth making something of. Let me explain.
The fact is that St George as the patron saint of England is a reflection of the history of our country, but I think he is a good patron saint for England, not least because of his visually striking red cross on a white background, an emblem which for 700 years has adorned our English flags.
In history St George seems to have been a Roman soldier, indeed it has been said that he was of the rank of Legate in the Emperor Diocletian’s Pretorian Guard. If so, that makes him not only a career soldier, but roughly equivalent in status to the Lieutenant Colonel in Command of my old regiment of the Coldstream Guards.
The Roman Empire had been going through a terrible period in the run up to Diocletian’s seizure of power in which Emperors came and went kaleidoscopically in bloody civil war. The Empire seemed to be tearing itself apart whilst it was also under almost constant attack from the barbarian hordes outside of the Empire. By this stage the Roman Empire was less heavily populated than the barbarian lands on the other side of the Rhine in what is now Germany.
The General who was to become the Emperor Diocletian had commanded the Roman armies in the Roman province of Britain, a province which then was made up of most of England and Wales but not that part north of Hadrian’s Wall. The Roman province of Britain was frequently the source of rebellious and ambitious Generals seeking to become Emperor. The usual pattern would be that he would get the army in Britain to acclaim as Emperor and he would then march on to wherever the then current Emperor was and seek to defeat him in battle. If he succeeded in doing so, or succeeded in getting the current Emperor murdered, he was then in a good position to have himself accepted as Emperor, at least until the next rebellious General came along.
Usually the legion that had been most supportive of the new Emperor became his Pretorian Guard and, accordingly, if the story about St George being the Legate of Diocletian’s Pretorian Guard is true, then St George probably did do a considerable period of time serving in Roman Britain and therefore in what is now England.
St George appears to have come from what is now either Turkey, Lebanon or Israel. He would appear to have been a Hellenistic Greek. Some oddball commentators have talked about his being Turkish, but the Turks did not actually arrive in that part of the world for another 500 years because it appears that St George was martyred in 303. 303 is a number with other associations.
Those with an army background will recognise 303 as being the calibre of the British army rifle bullet from late Victorian times until the 1950’s. British soldiers sometimes referred to applying Rule 303 when they were talking about shooting the enemy, such as shoot to kill policy against Boer guerrillas in the Boer War or indeed the shooting of British deserters.
The lawyers amongst us will recognise Rule 303 as being a rule in company law which allows for shareholders to fire the directors of companies.
As I say it is also the year of St George’s martyrdom and the anniversary date is of course the 23rd April.
The story goes that St George had either always been or had became a practising Christian. Diocletian was the last of the successful pagan emperors and introduced a new system of rule which is known in history as the Dominate in which the Emperors became much more like oriental despots and the last vestiges of the old republic were shed. Diocletian also sought to support the established pagan religions and issued an edict of persecution against the religion which was increasingly challenging paganism within the Roman Empire, that is Christianity. It appears that St George sought to personally argue with Diocletian about this. If he was the Legate of the Pretorian Guard then St George may have thought that Diocletian would listen to him. In the event it appears that St George was tortured to death.
Ladies & Gentlemen you should remember that the Romans were probably the most accomplished torturers ever and indeed Latin is the language that has the most words of all languages in human history for executioner and torturer because they had so many specialisms.
There is a lurid tale from Roman history of a Carnifex, a maker of meat, who received a standing ovation in that most impressive Roman public building the Amphitheatre for removing every last piece of meat from his still conscious victim over the course of an hour or so.
St George’s tomb is in what is now Israel in Lydda (Lod) is approximately 25 miles from Jerusalem. His tomb is in the Christian church and next door is a mosque and the Palestinian Christians and Muslims of Lydda jointly venerate him and maintain his tomb. In Islamic tradition he is thought to be Al-Khidr, a white knight.
The legend of the dragon and the knight is a medieval morality story. St George who is the classic military saint is here depicted as fighting against Evil and the classic image of the dragon is the emblem of Evil. The image of Goodness is dramatically represented as the virgin princess whom he saves. This story has all the elements of such a visual story that it has remained fixed as the myth of St George ever since but it was a moral allegory rather than ever intended to be a description of history.
St George has a long history in England and indeed the original Anglo Saxon Church in Doncaster was dedicated to St George. So it is particularly appropriate that we are holding our dinner not that far from Doncaster and also during our campaign to win back the Mayoralty of Doncaster.
It is also interesting that there is such a hatred of St George and all he stands for in the ranks of our opponents and in a way it is symbolic that the Welsh born, leftist, milksop, Marxist Curate of St George’s Minster Doncaster is trying to strip out all reference to St George from the church and that David Allen, our candidate, is determined to reverse this. So here we are ladies and gentlemen gathered – despite our English reserve - to celebrate a brave soldier and Christian martyr who through history has become an emblem of our English Nation.
St George became increasingly popular as a saint during the Crusades and its said to have fought for them when the crusaders were attacked outside Antioch and helped to bring the crusaders to the sensational victory of taking back Jerusalem from the Muslims who had then occupied it.
After this the Genoese adopted St George as their patron saint and as they regularly transported crusaders to the Holy Land, his red cross on its white background became increasing associated with crusading.
Richard the Lion Heart adopted him and then eventually he was formally adopted as England’s patron saint in 1325 and his feast day as the 23rd April.
Edward III’s armies in his three famous victories against the Scots at Halidon Hill and the French at Crecy and Poitiers were emblazoned with the Cross of St George and English armies ever afterwards until the Act of Union in 1707 always carried the Cross of St George which then became incorporated into the new Union Jack.
Ladies and gentlemen, England has three patron saints, the traditional patron saint of the English monarchy being Edward the Confessor, the last King of the Saxon Royal Family and St Edmund, who was the much earlier King of East Anglia, who was shot to death with arrows by Vikings. St Edmund is traditionally the patron saint of the English as a Nation, folk, or people. Some people say that St Edmund should be treated as England’s patron saint, others St Albans and various others like St Cuthbert but I think that somewhat misses the point and is really a diversion from what needs to be done politically in England.
The issue isn’t which patron saint we support, or what the emblem of England is, but to try and concentrate on what we can do to celebrate our English Nationhood.
Our history has given us St George and his visually striking red cross on a white background as the patron saint and the emblem of England.
It would appear that he actually has more connection with England and English history than St Andrew, who after all certainly never visited Scotland and one of Jesus’ Galilean and Disciples.
St David was actually Welsh. It is unusual for a patron saint of a country to be of the same national origin as the country he is the patron saint of.
St Patrick came from somewhere near Bristol but was captured by slavers and taken to Ireland.
All in all I think England is fortunate to have St George as our patron saint but there is certainly no reason why other days should not be celebrated, some want to celebrate St Edmund and I would encourage that. I would also encourage the celebration of the anniversary of the Union of England into a single united nation state when King Athelstan became King of all England on the 12th July 927.
So here we are ladies and gentlemen at a feast organised by our Leeds hosts to celebrate St George and so ladies and gentlemen I give you the toast:- England and St George!
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
A few days ago I set out the first part of Sir William Mckay's Commission's report on the English Question. Here is the remainder, I have been able to enlist the necessary help to make Blogger reproduce the tables set out in his report. His conclusions are striking and are mostly highly satisfactory, from an English Nationalist perspective (albeit much less so from a British or EUish Establishment/Elite perspective!).
Here is the text of the report:-
1. Some witnesses were sceptical, however, that the issues raised by the West Lothian Question and other concerns about the balance of interests between England and the devolved nations were especially salient for people in England. That is, while these concerns may in principle be felt to prompt a sense of grievance, there was doubt that people in England felt that it was much of a priority, in practice, to address them. The 2012 FoES survey offered a new perspective on the question of salience by asking respondents to identify those constitutional issues that in their view needed “urgent action” (Table 5). It will surprise few that the UK’s relationship with the EU was the most popular choice, at 59%. However, 42% felt that “urgent action” was also needed on “how England is governed now Scotland has a Parliament and Wales an Assembly”. This was a strong second preference for action and suggests that the complex of fiscal, economic and representational issues that produce a broad English Question does indeed have salience.
2. People in England appear less able to envision more concretely the set of governing arrangements that would better suit them than those they have currently. The BSA has a stock question asking whether respondents want England to be “governed as it is now, with laws made by the UK Parliament”, or through the alternative options of elected regional assemblies or an English parliament. The “as now” option has been fairly stable at 50–55% since 2000 – with support for regional assemblies, which peaked at 26% in 2003 and stood at just 12% in 2011, ebbing in favour of an English parliament (17% in 2003 and 25% in 2011).
3. But the BSA question does not offer insight into attitudes towards the possibility of introducing procedures within the UK Parliament for dealing with England-specific laws. The FoES, however, provides a different menu of options, including that of “England to be governed with laws made by English MPs in the UK Parliament”, alongside the more conventional options of the status quo, an English parliament and regional assemblies (Table 6). The lead preference in both 2011 and 2012 was for “England to be governed with laws made by English MPs in the UK Parliament”, with a little over one-third of respondents in favour. Next, and only just edging out the option of an English parliament, was the status quo option of England governed “with laws made by all MPs in the UK Parliament”.
4. A further question in the 2012 FoES offers an alternative wording: “Thinking about possible arrangements for making laws for England, two options are often mentioned. If you had to choose, which one would you prefer?” In fact, three options were offered; top was for England to be governed with laws made solely by English MPs in the UK Parliament, at 30%, just ahead of an English parliament, at 29%, and keeping “things as they are at present” at 25%.
5. These are extremely significant findings. In neither variant of the FoES questions does more than a quarter of the respondents favour the status quo. And, if support for law- making by English MPs in the UK Parliament and support for an English parliament are added together, support for some form of England-specific procedure for making laws for England has the support of over half of the survey respondents.
6. This lack of support for the status quo, combined with an openness to England- specific institutional change, can usefully be read together with two other findings in the FoES. Table 7 reveals a remarkably low level of trust in the UK Government at Westminster to “work in the best long-term interests of England”. Around six in ten respondents do not, it seems, trust the UK Government “very much” or “at all” to pursue the interests of England.
7. This finding may, of course, reflect to some extent the mid-term unpopularity of the incumbent government at a time of economic difficulty and/or amid a sense of disillusionment with politics. But the figures in Table 8 suggest that, beyond just short- term dissatisfaction with the government of the day, people in England think their interests are not currently being met. Asked which political party best stands up for the interests of England, the top preference in both 2011 and 2012 was that stands up for those interests. Strikingly, only 45% in 2011 and 38% in 2012 felt that any of the established parties – Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – stand up for the interests of England. Even more strikingly, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) overtook the Conservatives and was pressing Labour as the leading defender of the interests of England in 2012. And, taking “none of the above”, UKIP, and the other non-establishment parties of right and left together, the “non-establishment” total clearly exceeded that of the established parties in 2012. (Isn't it bizarre that an anti-English, British Nationalist Party, like UKIP should get this entirely erroneous English nationalist credit? It shows that the English Democrats have some work to do on breaking that down!)
8. These survey findings suggest a potent combination of dissatisfactions in England. There is a clear and enduring sense that England is materially disadvantaged relative to the other parts of the UK, especially Scotland. There is a clear sense in recent surveys (and more enduringly around the West Lothian Question of Scottish MPs voting on English legislation) that the current institutional arrangements for making laws for England are wanting and need to be modified to establish some form of England-specific legislative process. And there is a growing sense that people in England feel that they lack effective advocates for their interests in government or (conventional) opposition.
9. These dissatisfactions exist in a fairly uniform way across England. Table 9 sets out region-by-region findings on some of the indicators explored above which suggest that people in England feel that they are being unfairly treated. These findings are not skewed by unusually high responses in particular parts of England, but are strikingly similar in all parts of England. Variations around the mean are limited, and – with the exception of a sample of Londoners generally a little less dissatisfied than the average – are patternless. These are genuinely England- wide – not just northern, not just peripheral, but general – dissatisfactions.
10. Survey findings are of course a snapshot, and can be read in different ways. On balance, though, the findings set out above provide compelling evidence that there are distinct concerns, felt across England, that lack sufficient opportunity to be expressed through current institutional arrangements. We have heard evidence from a range of sources16 that reinforces this conclusion and suggests a need for a significant response to enable those distinct concerns to be – and to be seen to be – addressed, and for them to be addressed in a way that takes into account the measures taken since 1997 to give voice to the distinct concerns of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. As Professor Arthur Aughey put it, the English feel that “if we are going to construct a union that is open and fair and genuinely democratic, then our voice must be heard”.
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
£863,000.00 / £25 (membership subscription) = 34,520 fully paid up 'Standard' members!!!!
Statement of accounts (2011 - Conservative and Unionist Party - Great Britain - Central Party)
Please prepare your annual statement of accounts by entering the figures for each category. The total will be calculated automatically when saving.
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|Ref No. ST0000839|
Income and expenditure account
|Membership £.pp||Affiliations £.pp|
|Donations £.pp||Branch income £.pp|
|Fundraising income £.pp||Investment income £.pp|
|Transfers in £.pp||Property and rental income/office services £.pp|
|Commercial activities £.pp|
|Grant income £.pp||Conference income £.pp|
|Unrealised gains/(losses) £.pp||Miscellaneous income £.pp|
|Miscellaneous income notes|
|Total income £.pp||23,660,000.00|
|Premises costs £.pp||Office costs £.pp|
|Branch expenditure £.pp||Staff costs £.pp|
|Transfers out £.pp||Campaigning costs £.pp|
|Fundraising costs £.pp||Financing charges and taxation £.pp|
|Depreciation £.pp||Cost of commercial activities £.pp|
|Conference expenditure £.pp||Miscellaneous £.pp|
|(Profit)/loss on disposal of assets £.pp|
|Total expenditure £.pp||22,971,000.00|
|Property £.pp||Fixtures and fittings £.pp|
|Office equipment £.pp||Investment property £.pp|
|Other investments £.pp|
|Notes on other investments|
|Total fixed assets £.pp||1,641,000.00|
|Cash in hand and at bank £.pp||Stock £.pp|
|Debtors and prepayments £.pp||Other current investments £.pp|
|Notes on other current investments £.pp|
|Total current assets £.pp||7,554,000.00|
|Creditors and accruals £.pp||Loans outstanding £.pp|
|Total liabilities £.pp||17,913,000.00|
|Total net assets/(liabilities) £.pp||-8,718,000.00|
|Accumulated fund brought forward £.pp||Surplus/(deficit) £.pp|
|Accumulated fund carried forward £.pp||-9,890,000.00|
|Revaluation reserve £.pp|
|Other funds £.pp|
|Notes on other funds £.pp|
|Total reserves £.pp||-8,718,000.00|
Cash flow statement
|Net cash inflow/outflow from operating surplus before returns on investment + servicing of investment + tax £.pp||Servicing of investment £.pp|
|Returns on investment £.pp||Tax £.pp|
|Capital expenditure + other activities £.pp||Increase/decrease in cash £.pp|
Gains and losses
|Surplus/deficit for the year £.pp||Re-evaluation £.pp|
|Actuarial gain/loss £.pp|
|Total gains and losses||564,000.00|
Sir William McKay, as I was commenting in one of my recent previous posts, has helped the English nationalist Cause by going perhaps somewhat "off Piste" in his Commission's Report and has really explored what is now to be officially called:-
"The English Question"
1. The UK’s territorial constitution comprises those sets of governing arrangements which give voice to the distinctive concerns of the UK and its different parts while maintaining an overall balance between them and maintaining the stability of the UK state as a whole.
2. Our analysis is that the governing arrangements for England in the post- devolution era are emerging more or less by default, as a residual category created by the decision to establish distinct governing arrangements in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The result has been increasingly to limit the territorial coverage of significant amounts of UK Parliament legislation to England alone (or to England-and-Wales).
3. This increasing focus of the UK Parliament on England is set to continue. The new variant of legislative devolution endorsed in the March 2011 referendum in Wales has established full legislative powers for the National Assembly for Wales in 20 policy fields and will likely lead to a clearer demarcation between Welsh and English legislation. The debates on yet further devolution that are unfolding in Wales (as the Silk Commission deliberates) and in Scotland in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum may also have the effect of further marking out England as a distinct legislative space.
4. Yet this process of demarcation of legislation for England is occurring within a Parliament that has not in any systematic way adapted its approach to making law for England (or, indeed, for England-and-Wales) from that which applied before devolution. The House of Commons does not differentiate its mode of operation for English as compared with UK-wide matters. It lacks a capacity to focus directly on England just at the point when more of its work deals with English matters. In the absence of change in the way the House of Commons works, the consequence – clearly unintended, but nonetheless important – may be to impede the voicing of any distinctively English concerns, or perceived concerns, that exist on wholly or mainly English matters. One of our most important considerations, therefore, was to discover what evidence there is that distinct, English concerns exist which lack procedures for their expression.
5. For this reason, we have given careful consideration to the findings of survey research on public attitudes in England that was presented to us by the National Centre for Social Research using data from the British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey over the past decade and more,6 and by the team from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh that conducted the Future of England Survey (FoES) in 20117 and 2012.
6. We are aware of the different survey methods used by the BSA and the FoES and note that in some fields – notably national identity – similar, or even the same, survey questions can produce different findings. The FoES, for example, detected a strengthening of English, as distinct from British, national identity in 2011 (though this was less in evidence in the 2012 survey, perhaps as a consequence of the Diamond Jubilee and/ or the Olympic Games) and an association of stronger Englishness with preferences for England-specific political institutions.9 However, the longer time series of the BSA, extending back to the late 1990s, suggests a broad stability (and balance) of English and British identities among the English since 1999, and finds a weaker relationship between stronger English identity and preferences for England-specific institutions.
7. The most comprehensive survey of national identities in England ever undertaken was in the 2011 census, which asked about national identities in each part of the UK for the first time. Of the 50.3 million respondents in England, some 60.4% claimed an “English- only” identity, while only 19.2% claimed a “British-only” identity.11 There is no time series to enable us to tell whether these figures have changed over time. It is striking that they reveal a significantly higher proportion of English respondents claiming an exclusively English identity (and a significantly smaller proportion claiming an exclusively British identity) than in any other surveys of which we are aware.
8. We are mindful, though, of the very extensive academic literature that contests both the definition and the political significance of “national identity”, and are wary of exploring options for considering English matters differently in the House of Commons simply by reference to data on national identity. Our focus lies more in indicators in survey findings of differences of interest that those in England perceive as distinct from, or relative to, the interests of other parts of the UK. There is evidence across the BSA and FoES surveys that suggests a significant level of grievance among the those in England sparked in particular by the advantages that Scotland is perceived to enjoy, relative to England, under current governing arrangements.
9. Asked, for example, whether Scotland receives its fair share of public spending, more than its fair share, or less than its fair share, those respondents from England who expressed a view felt strongly that Scotland gets more than it should, and there is evidence that that view has strengthened significantly over time (Table 1). Strikingly, in the 2012 FoES over half of the survey respondents in England felt that Scotland received more than its fair share of public spending.
10. The 2011 FoES found that Northern Ireland and Wales were also felt by respondents in England to get more than their fair shares, though less so than Scotland, and that England was significantly disadvantaged. In both 2011 and 2012, the FoES found that 40% of respondents felt that England received less than its fair share and fewer than 10% felt that it received more than its fair share (Table 2). There is a clear perception in opinion in England that Scotland is strongly advantaged and England strongly disadvantaged in the distribution of public spending.
11. Similarly, when asked in the FoES “whether England’s economy benefits from having Scotland in the UK, whether Scotland benefits more from being part of the UK, or whether the benefits are about equal”, some 52% felt in 2011 (49% in 2012) that Scotland’s economy benefits more and just 7% the English economy (8% in 2012), while 23% identified equal benefit in 2011 (and 19% in 2012).
12. Alongside a clear perception of unfairness to England, especially in relation to Scotland, in the distribution of public spending and economic benefit there is a very strong view that the Scottish Parliament should be responsible through its own taxes for raising the money it spends (rather, though this is implicit in the survey question, than through general UK taxation revenues allocated to the Scottish Parliament by HM Treasury) (Table 3). It is striking that, consistently, across surveys and over time, 75–80% of respondents agree or strongly agree that the Scottish Parliament should levy its own taxes. There is a powerful sense that Scotland should be more self-reliant, and less reliant on the UK taxpayer (and, it may be inferred, on the taxpayer in England in particular).
13. The preference for a clearer demarcation of England from Scotland extends beyond fiscal policy into representation in the legislative process. The broad issue of principle raised in the West Lothian Question – that it is anomalous if non-English MPs vote on England-specific legislation, whatever the majority relationships in the House of Commons – has a very strong resonance in English public opinion. There are clear, consistent and strong majorities over time and across different surveys suggesting that people in England do not think it right that Scottish MPs should be allowed to vote in the House of Commons on laws that affect England only. The BSA time series shows a marked growth in those strongly agreeing that Scottish MPs should not vote on English laws, and the FoES findings indicate an even higher level of strong agreement (Table 4).
14. These figures suggest that the West Lothian Question has a strong negative resonance. Respondents from England are strongly of the view that it is wrong, in the context of devolution, that MPs from Scotland should still be playing a role in shaping laws that affect England only.
Thursday, 4 April 2013
UKIP's Nigel Farage is a great performer but he is not a sincere English patriot as is clearly shown by his evasive answer to the question as reported here:-
"7:54pm (Farage) answers a question about an English parliament by saying "Westminster has always got the devolution question wrong, any sense of the English wanting its own identity has been sneered at by the main three parties." "http://www.malverngazette.co.uk/news/10331170.Live__UKIP_leader_Nigel_Farage_in_Worcester/
In fact UKIP's real policy position on Englishness is stated in their policy document "Restoring Britishness" in which they claim that English nationalism is "increasingly resentful" and "arguably the most serious threat to Britishness."!
Here is a link to that UKIP policy >>> http://www.castles99.ukprint.com/UKIP/Britishness.pdf
And here is a good discussion on the 'lunacy' of their policy on an English Parliament (by a member of UKIP!) >>> http://toque.co.uk/node/1929
Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Sir William McKay KCB has chaired the snappily named 'Commission on the Consequences of Devolution for the House of Commons' which has just reported.
One of the potentially most significant legacies of this report is that it has officially rebadged the "West Lothian Question" or "WLQ". Henceforth the WLQ is to be known as the "English Question"!
This is an important restatement and also offers a significant widening of the official recognition of our core party issue - the future of our English Nation and of England! As such, this aspect of Sir William's report should be welcomed by all English Nationalists. No more will we be met with official claims such as John Prescott's "There is no such nationality as English"!
Sir William had this to say:-
"PART 1 - Identifying the issue25. This inquiry has a clear and specific focus: to examine how the House of Commons "can deal most effectively with business that affects England wholly or primarily, when at the same time similar matters" are the responsibility of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
26. Following approval in referendums in September 1997 (in Scotland and Wales) and in April 1998 (in Northern Ireland), Acts of Parliament establishing the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly were passed in 1998, with all three institutions in full operation following inaugural elections by the end of 1999 (though the operation
of the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended on a number of occasions in the period 2000-07).
27. Acts of Parliament amending the initial devolution Acts have subsequently been passed for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and debates on the further development of devolution continue. While the particular set of powers and institutional form of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales vary substantially, each now has wide-ranging legislative and executive responsibilities
28. While the UK Parliament retains the authority, in principle, to make laws on any issue, whether devolved or not, there is a common understanding (in UK constitutional terms a convention) recognised in a Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and the devolved governments that "the UK Parliament would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters except with the agreement of the devolved legislature".
29. No equivalent devolution arrangements to those in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been established in England, either for England as a whole or for any of its component parts, though in Greater London and in other cities reforms have established new institutions of city government.
30. The question before the Commission is whether, and if so how, to adapt or augment procedures of the House of Commons for making laws that have effect mainly or wholly in England, now that there are distinct legislative procedures for devolved matters, based on distinct representative processes, in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.We understand this question to cover the procedures of the House of Commons for both primary and secondary legislation.
The West Lothian Question31. One aspect of this question that is often discussed is the "West Lothian Question". This is named after the interventions of the then MP for West Lothian in central Scotland, Tam Dalyell, in the devolution debates of the late 1970s, though the same issue was raised in the Irish Home Rule debates of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mr Dalyell pointed, as did earlier opponents of Irish Home Rule, to the situation that could arise following devolution whereby MPs from outside England could help determine laws that apply in England, while MPs from England would have no reciprocal influence on laws outside England in policy fields for which the devolved institutions would now be responsible. For some observers this is an anomaly that is unfair to the voters of England and requires remedial action to give MPs from England a fuller, or even decisive, role in making laws for England in policy fields that are devolved outside England (this is often described as "English votes for English laws").
32. The West Lothian Question is a consequence of the introduction of "asymmetrical" devolution arrangements that extend to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but not to England. The issues it raises are a constant presence in post-devolution UK politics as MPs from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales routinely vote on legislation that wholly or mainly affects England alone. But the political resonance of the West Lothian Question is at its greatest when it is possible for the majority opinion among MPs from England on a piece of England-specific legislation to be overruled by a majority of all UK MPs, including those from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
33. It is clear from evidence put to the Commission that instances when a majority of MPs from England is in fact overruled by the UK-wide majority are extremely rare.
Since the First World War, the party or coalition forming the UK Government has almost always had a majority in England, as well as in the UK as a whole. Only in the short-lived parliaments of 1964-66 and February-October 1974 was the party with a majority of MPs from England (the Conservatives) in opposition.
34. Another situation in which the majority of MPs from England can be overruled is when a government with a majority of MPs both from England and across the UK as a whole suffers a parliamentary rebellion among its MPs from England. In such circumstances it may be that only a minority of MPs from England votes for a particular measure, but the government nonetheless maintains its overall majority by ensuring sufficient support from its MPs from outside England. Again, such instances are extremely rare.
It is difficult to find examples beyond the frequently cited votes on the introduction of foundation hospitals in England (in 2003) and the introduction of university top-up fees in England (in 2004), when a substantial number of Labour MPs from England rebelled against the party whip, but Labour MPs from Scotland and Wales ensured that the Labour Government's proposals maintained majority support in Parliament.
35. A further scenario in which the majority in England could be overruled is where a party with a clear majority in England does not have a majority in the UK but forms a minority government. In that situation, the opposition could frustrate the UK Government's legislative intentions for England by mobilising the votes of members from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. No government has so far been formed on this basis.
36. These scenarios in which a majority in England could be overruled are, in other
words, rare or hypothetical. Should proposals to reduce the number, and equalise the size, of House of Commons constituencies come to fruition, the effect would be to decrease the number of constituencies outside England relative to those in England. This would diminish the likelihood of a majority in England being overruled by a UK-wide majority yet further. Any decision on these proposals is now not expected until after the next UK election in 2015.