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Answering the West Lothian question

Responding to the publication of the McKay report into the West Lothian question, IPPR Associate Director Guy Lodge, said:

“Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has been a major success. But as IPPR survey research show it has, over time, created a sense among the English electorate that England is being treated unfairly and that English interests are not sufficiently recognised in our constitutional arrangements. This sentiment will only grow stronger as parties contemplate further strengthening the powers of the devolved institutions but refuse to address English concerns. In this context the status quo for England is no longer tenable and it is right that England be given a stronger voice at Westminster. A fairer and more resilient union depends on it.

“McKay’s proposals are sufficiently flexible to work politically, since they rightly reject the idea of giving English MPs a formal veto, which would provoke constitutional chaos in a scenario when a UK government lacked a majority in England. Dealing with the West Lothian question on its own, however, will not be enough to address broader debates about the future direction of English governance. England needs its own devolutionary agenda, where real power is devolved from Westminster to its towns, cities and localities.

“There are those that fear that an engagement with a debate about England and Englishness will weaken the union, but the truth is the opposite. The longer this debate is ignored, or worse, denied, the more likely we will see a backlash within England against the UK.”

IPPR polling shows that 79% of English voters say that Scottish MPs should be barred from voting on English matters.

When broken down by party affiliation it is clear that supporters of the three main parties all back reform. When asked if Scottish MPs should be barred from voting on English matters:

    93% of Conservative voters agreed
    75% of Labour voters agreed
    81% of Lib Dem voters agreed

Notes to Editors

For more on the McKay Commission, see: http://tmc.independent.gov.uk/

For more on IPPR’s work on the West Lothian question and the issue of Englishness post-devolution, see:

http://ippr.org/publication/55/8954/england-and-the-union-how-and-why-to-answer-the-west-lothian-question

&

http://ippr.org/publication/55/8542/the-dog-that-finally-barked-england-as-an-emerging-political-community

Contacts

Richard Darlington, 07525 481 602, r.darlington@ippr.org

Tessa Evans, 07875 727 298, t.evans@ippr.org

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