‘Dizzying moves’ to devolution


Published: Sunday 29th March 2015 by The News Editor

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The “dizzying” pace of proposals for devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has meant that not enough consideration has been given to the future of the Union, MPs have warned.

The “rushed” process to implement the Smith Commission’s recommendations on further powers to Scotland “cannot substitute for a full deliberation on the constitutional future of all elements of the United Kingdom”, a cross-party Commons committee said.

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee called for greater devolution within England and said the Commons needed to properly consider any move towards English votes for English laws (Evel).

The committee said: “Proposals for devolutionary change in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England have been made at what appears to be dizzying speed since the Scottish referendum result in September 2014.

“We have considered what these developments mean for the future of devolution across the United Kingdom, and have found that the settlements have been approached in a bilateral fashion and without much consideration of what each means for the future of the Union as a whole.”

Commons Leader William Hague has set out Tory plans for English MPs to be given an effective veto over legislation in Parliament which does not affect Scottish constituencies.

U nder the proposals, policies affecting England alone would be scrutinised by a panel made up only of MPs representing English seats.

A ”grand committee” of all English MPs would then have to approve the legislation.

Welsh MPs would be included on matters not devolved to Cardiff Bay.

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said: “A ny such proposals would have wide-ranging implications for many aspects of the House’s business, and the procedural and practical implications would require detailed examination before implementation.”

The MPs added that the next parliament should ” consider the potential impact on the United Kingdom of a situation where an administration, in order to govern effectively, must demonstrate it has the confidence not only of the whole House but also of English members”.

The committee said options for further devolution within England “lack clarity and urgency”, adding: “There is a clear risk that without further impetus early in the new parliament the programme of devolution may remain at the level of deals with cities, city regions and local economic partnerships, without the genuine transfer of power from the centre to localities which many are seeking.”

The MPs called for a commission to review proposals for further devolution within England, with legislation introduced within 12 months of the election.

The committee also recommended establishing a constitutional convention for England over the next five years, with “broad popular representation from the public and civil society” to examine the relationship between England and the rest of the UK.

Published: Sunday 29th March 2015 by The News Editor

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