Monday, October 29, 2007

Tory English proposal poses more questions than it answers

Nick Robinson asks some very pithy questions about the Tory proposal for an English "Grand Committee" within the House of Commons:

Wouldn't this proposal (if it were in operation now) mean that Gordon Brown had no Commons majority for Labour's key priorities "schoolsnhospitals"?

• If I am right, would the new English “grand committee” with its Tory majority be able to impose Tory measures on Labour ministers?

• If so, wouldn't Labour ministers refuse to implement what was passed or, in practice, seek to bypass MPs and make more and more changes by administrative fiat (more possible than you might think)?

• Is Sir Malcolm foreseeing a culture change in British politics whereby a Labour government could only pass those measures for which they could get Tory consent or build a coalition a little as Alex Salmond now has to do at Holyrood?

In fact, these questions highlight the absurdity of the current situation and suggest, to me, that it may be worth putting forward, for consideration by the populace, the idea of a proper English Assembly or Parliament, or proper directly elected English regional assemblies, as desired by the voters.

Once again, this debate highlights the stupidity of piecemeal tinkering with constitutional arrangements (although I acknowledge that the Rifkind proposal is part of a larger package). The only answer is to have a proper constitutional convention to tie up all the loose ends of the British constitution, not least our ridiculous First Past the Post system for Westminster. (LibDem Fave Rave #1 still available on 45 rpm disc).

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