The only solution to the English democratic deficit
The political class in England needs finally to accept that the process of further tweaks to the present Westminster system to accommodate devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as proposed by William Hague (Leader of the House of Commons), has reached the end of the road. Only a fundamental move to a “Union of Five Parliaments” will meet the democratic need for an efficient, transparent parliamentary system fit for the 21st century.
The English parliament would sit in the present House of Commons Chamber, the UK parliament in the present Upper Chamber. That is: one single-chamber parliament for the home affairs of each of the four nations of the UK, and one for the United Kingdom, which would be responsible for foreign affairs, defence, the pound sterling, and borrowing. Judged by newspaper correspondence many people have reached this conclusion, as we have on this website (see Scotland and the United Kingdom, January 23rd 2012) and the British Constitution page.
To avoid having another set of politicians in England, those elected for English constituencies would form the English members of the UK parliament. Scotland, if it wished, could do the same by selecting one out of every two MSPs to be the Scottish members of the UK parliament, or carry on having two separate elections. It would be entirely up to them. There would be an English First Minister, who by Law could not be the UK Prime Minister.
The change need not be complicated or long-winded. HM Treasury would be formally split between an English Treasury managing the English budget and the UK Treasury managing the UK budget and the national debt as present, plus oversight of expenditure by the four home parliaments. Tax-raising would be split between the five parliaments.
The real question is why, with a simple solution to the so-called West Lothian question (of undemocratic anti-English discrimination in the UK constitution, and much else) do not all democrats spring to adopt it? The answer, one suspects, is that the LibLabCon parties fear the whole tenor of British politics would swing sharply away from the egalo-liberal consensus which has ruled Britain for the last 50 years.