EDINBURGH, 14 August (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – One of Britain’s most senior political figures has told RIA Novosti the only solution to the problem of Scottish elected MPs voting on English only matters in the House of Commons is to abolish the devolved Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
Sir Tam Dalyell, a Labour MP for 43 years, was the first politician to raise the issue of the democratic unfairness following devolution of having Scottish MPs continuing to vote on English only matters, whilst English MPs are not allowed a vote on Scottish only issues, such as health and education. The dilemma became known as “the West Lothian question,” named after Dalyell’s former constituency.
“The only solution to the West Lothian question is the ending of the Scottish Parliament,” Dalyell told RIA Novosti.
Dalyell was responding after a former Conservative leadership candidate, John Redwood MP, publically called for elected Scottish MPs to be banned from holding official positions within the British Government over areas that were devolved to the Scottish Parliament. During a speech in London Redwood said a “new voice” was needed for England.
Asked by RIA Novosti whether Redwood’s decision to raise the issue just before the Scottish independence referendum was right, Dalyell said, “The answer is yes. I think John Redwood is speaking for a great many people who might not agree with him on other things.”
But the former MP added that Redwood’s solution, of establishing a First Minister of England and restricting Scottish MPs from voting on what would be determined “English only matters”, would not be practical.
“I think it is impossible to administer it within the current constitutional set up. My solution is the abolition of the Scottish Parliament. That would have very little support within the political class or within the media, but it would have a lot of support among a growing number of people, particularly elected councilors,” Dalyell told RIA Novosti.
“I think MSPs are generally hard working people, but what you can’t have is a subordinate Parliament in part of the kingdom which you wish to keep united,” Dalyell added.
“The difficulty is that they will ask for more and more and more. This is the nature of Parliaments,” Dalyell said.
Dalyell drew comparisons with criticism he and other Labour MPs experienced in the 1970s when the late Barbara Castle, a senior Labour figure and the longest serving female MP, accused Dalyell and other colleagues of being “traitors” for voting with the Conservatives to support Britain’s entry into the Common Market, which later became the European Union.
“Five years later when James Callaghan decided that he no longer wanted Barbara Castle in his Cabinet she had to be found as consolation prize and this was to be the leadership of the first directly elected Labour delegation to the European Parliament,” Dalyell told RIA Novosti.
“Not within months, but within weeks, what was she doing but saying the European Parliament must have more powers. Why? Because she was there. That is the nature of Parliaments,” Dalyell added.
All three anti-independence political parties, who have come together under the umbrella organization known as “Better Together” have promised additional powers, including some tax powers, if Scotland votes No when the referendum is held next month, something Dalyell strongly opposes.
“I think they’re out of their mind,” Dalyell told RIA Novosti. “This is why I am not a member of the Better Together campaign.
“If they were saying you can have more control over firearms or whatever, well I am relaxed about it. But once you start devolving powers over different forms of tax that is a different matter,” Dalyell added.
Dalyell also warned there was growing anger in England at the perceived injustice of Scots voting on English matters at the same time calls are being made for even more powers for the Scottish Parliament and claimed a Yes vote would lead to a run on the UK currency, Sterling.
“One of the elephants in the room is that if there is a Yes vote there would then be a run on Sterling on the international markets,” Dalyell told RIA Novosti. “This would make the English extremely angry.”
The Scottish independence referendum will be held on the 18th September and Scots voters will be asked one question, “Should Scotland become an independent country?”