The Union

Three hundred years ago this week the Scottish Parliament ratified the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland.

Robert Burns famously complained that Scotland's leaders had allowed the Scottish nation to be "bought and sold for English gold". But the Union has endured to the benefit of both countries. I believe it should be celebrated - perhaps with something slightly more substantial than a £2 coin.

This week a BBC Newsnight poll found nearly 60 per cent of Scots still favouring the Union. But another recent poll has showed more Scots backing independence than not, and clearly both Scottish and English nationalism are on the rise.

The problem is that the creation of the Scottish Assembly without answering the famous "West Lothian Question" has given rise to resentment in both countries. I object to the fact that Scottish MPs can vote on the future of West Sussex hospitals, but I have no reciprocal right to vote on Scottish healthcare. I don't want to dictate to the Scots - I just want the arrangements to be fair.

I have always been a strong supporter of the Union - apart from when it comes to England versus Scotland in the Six Nations. So I share the concern of the constituents who visited one of my surgeries recently and were worried about the growth of separatism. They were a Scots couple who now live in West Sussex and think of themselves as British.

They don't need to be told to fly a Union Jack in their garden, least of all by Gordon Brown, whose government exacerbated this problem and who plainly has a career interest in promoting the concept of "Britishness".

Above all, I hope that solutions will be advanced with the aim of strengthening the Union, not fuelling separation, which would, I believe be a tragedy for both nations.

Michelle Taylor