Friday, 20 January 2012
'ENGLISH' UNREPRESENTED ON THE GOVERNMENT’S W.L.Q. COMMISSION!
It now appears that, after months of delay, that the English are to be snubbed and unrepresented on the Government's West Lothian Question Commission. The West Lothian Question ("WLQ") is that, deliberately opaque, phrase used by the British Establishment to talk about the 'English Question' without mentioning the "E" word.
As the Daily Telegraph's Philip Johnston explains it:-
"It was in 1977, during the devolution debates in the Commons, that Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP for West Lothian, asked: “For how long will English constituencies and English honourable members tolerate honourable members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on British politics, while they have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?” Enoch Powell, in the same debate, gave Mr Dalyell’s puzzle the status it now enjoys: “We have finally grasped what the Honourable Member for West Lothian is getting at,” he said. “Let us call it the West Lothian Question.”
To call something a “question” conjured up those great issues that once preoccupied parliamentarians, like Schleswig-Holstein or, more pertinently, the Irish Question. But this was never really the West Lothian Question – it is the English Question. How does England fit into the post-devolutionary settlement? This has been ignored,"http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/scottish-politics/9017866/Amid-the-talk-of-Scottish-independence-its-now-time-to-answer-the-English-Question.html
So after many months of procrastination the Government has now announced the membership of its West Lothian Question Commission (or McKay Commission as it may come to be called). There are six Commissioners. Here are potted biographies of them:-
Sir William McKay KCB (Chairman)
Sir William entered the service of the House of Commons in 1961 and was Clerk of the House from 1998 to 2002. Since retirement, he has served on a large number of bodies that consider complex legal and constitutional matters, including the Legal Questions Committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and as an observer on the Law Society of Scotland's ruling Council.
Sir Geoffrey Bowman KCB QC
Sir Geoffrey Bowman was called to the bar in 1968 by Lincoln's Inn, of which he is now a bencher. From 1971 to 2006 he was a member of the Parliamentary Counsel Office, which is responsible for drafting government Bills and facilitating their passage through the Westminster Parliament. He was First Parliamentary Counsel (head of the Office) from 2002 to 2006. He has considerable experience of legislative drafting, Parliamentary procedure and constitutional matters generally.
Sir Emyr Jones Parry GCMG
Sir Emyr is the President of Aberystwyth University. He is the former British Permanent Representative to the United Nations and former UK permanent representative on the North Atlantic Council (NATO). From 2007-2009 he chaired the All Wales Convention.
Professor Charlie Jeffery
Professor Jeffery has held a Chair in Politics at the University of Edinburgh since October 2004 and is currently Head of School of Social and Political Science and Vice Principal for Public Policy at the University. He directed the Economic and Social Research Council's research programme on Devolution and Constitutional Change from 2000-7. He was a member of Council of the Economic and Social Research Council from 2005-11. He has been advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the EU Committee of the Regions, the Commission on Scottish Devolution and the Scotland Bill Committee of the Scottish Parliament. He is a member of the Politics and International Studies sub-panel for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework and chairs the Political Studies Association of the UK.
Professor Yvonne Galligan
Professor Galligan is the Director of Research on Governance and Public Policy at Queen's University, Belfast. She is also the Director of the University's Gender Initiative and of the Centre for the Advancement of Women in Politics. Professor Galligan has written extensively on questions of political and parliamentary representation.
Sir Stephen Laws KCB QC
Sir Stephen Laws was called to the Bar in 1973. He joined the Civil Service in 1975 and transferred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel in 1976. Sir Stephen was First Parliamentary Counsel from 2006 to 2012. Sir Stephen's career in the Civil Service has involved being an adviser to different Governments on Parliamentary and constitutional matters, as well as responsibility for the drafting and procedural handling of Government Bills at Westminster.
You will notice that only two of these six are arguably English. Both of these are as British and as Establishment as it is possible to be! They are both retired “First Parliamentary Counsel” i.e. top ranking civil servants whose legal work is both the drafting of government bills and advising Whitehall Ministers etc., and the Committees of the Houses of Commons and Lords as the Bills progress through Westminster’s legislative process.
Also consider the Commission's government-imposed Terms of Reference:
"To consider how the House of Commons might deal with legislation which affects only part of the United Kingdom, following the devolution of certain legislative powers to the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales."
NB no mention of the word "England"
We can therefore be absolutely confident that none of the Commissioners will have any interest whatsoever in the English Nation, English Nationalism or even in democratic fairness for England.
The Government’s approach is now self evidently to delay any recommendations until at least 2015 and even then they are seeking recommendations that will have the minimum impact on the way Westminster currently operates.
However I have a message for Ministers and for their West Lothian Commission – the English are awakening and when fully roused they will not be happy with Westminster or Whitehall which have betrayed the trust placed in them to be fair to England and to the English Nation! And this McKay Commission will not appease us one bit!