West Lothian Question

Nick responds to a recent article by Professor Archie Brown on the West Lothian Question in this morning's Financial Times

Even Scots agree the system is unfair

From Nick Herbert MP.

Sir, Archie Brown ("Cameron's tactics threaten to break up Britain", August 3) claims that in raising the West Lothian question the Conservative party is "playing the English card". It was, of course, a Scottish Labour MP, Tam Dalyell, who first posed the question, and polls show that most Scots agree the present situation is unfair.

Prof Brown fails even to mention the increasing grievance of English voters about the imbalances created by Scottish devolution, let alone suggest remedies. Most recently Scottish Labour MPs have marched through the lobbies to support the downgrading of English hospitals. We English MPs have no equivalent right to vote on Scottish hospitals, nor do we seek one, but had that decision been secured only by the votes of Scottish MPs, English resentment would escalate.

The only effective way to solve the problem is to give MPs in English constituencies the decisive say in the Commons on issues that affect only England. It is nonsense to suggest that this would confer "second-class citizenship" on the Scots, whose people would be unaffected by the change. The current situation is not only unfair, but makes for bad government. The right principle is to ensure that those who exercise power are accountable to the people whom they serve.

Nick Herbert,

Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

Document type



16 August 2007

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