Call to address 'English question'

England needs to come to the devolution party too, a committee of MPs has said

England needs to come to the devolution party too, a committee of MPs has said

First published in National News © by

The "English question" must be resolved to allow the United Kingdom's rapidly changing constitutional settlement to settle in a satisfactory form, a committee of MPs have said.

The political and constitutional reform select committee (PCRSC) said it was anomalous that England was the only part of the United Kingdom without its own decision-making body.

Against a backdrop of 15 years of rapid change in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London, this must be addressed, the MPs said. A wider constitutional convention or commission should be considered to take a broad view of the sweeping changes, the MPs said - but not until the result of the Scottish independence referendum is known.

The PCRSC failed to reach a unanimous view on all of its findings, the report said, reflecting the wide range of views on the situation.

Committee chairman Graham Allen said: "A little well-intentioned tinkering with Westminster Parliamentary procedure (McKay) is not enough.

"England needs to come to the devolution party too and as we approach the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015 there couldn't be a better time to generate public interest throughout the Union not just in our constitutional heritage but in settling the democratic future of the United Kingdom."

The report said the "twin complimentary principles" of devolution and union were vital to a settled United Kingdom as the country moves further into the 21st century.

It added: "Failure to respond in a timely way to the natural desires of people to run their own affairs has been a contributory factor to antagonism towards Whitehall and Westminster.

"Devolution has, and must continue to tackle that problem. The failure to answer the English question, and the reality that the largest nation in the Union is still micromanaged from Whitehall, has and will continue to cause tension with the rest of the union."

And the report said: "The Government should now with all urgency create a forum for the people of England to discuss if, and how, they wish to follow in the footsteps of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and access substantial devolved powers, clearly defined in statute, for their local communities."

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