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Upper West Lothian Question

The historic vote in favour of a 100% elected House of Lords raises the prospect of the West Lothian Question being replicated in the upper chamber.

As you will know Westminster is a bicameral parliament which means that legislation is scrutinised by a secondary revising chamber. Due to our skewed constitution this set up results in English-only domestic legislation being scrutinised by Scottish and Welsh Lords - people like Neil Kinnock and Lord Falconer for example. Scotland, by contrast, has a unicameral system, meaning English Lords do not get to subject Scottish legislation to scrutiny.

In the past this glaring constitutional anomaly unfairness has been dismissed by Government ministers and the Department for Constitutional Affairs. They tell us that although the lower chamber is elected on a territorial basis the upper chamber is appointed and full of individuals rather than representatives of particular nations, regions or territories. By this logic there is no comparison with the West Lothian Question that occasionally bedevils the House of Commons because the House of Lords has no territorial basis and their Lordships are not territorial beasts. Complete bollocks of course, but that's their logic.

However, this logic could fall down with an elected House of Lords. Why should Lords elected by Scots get to vote on English legislation? That's the question that I will be asking.

In all probability the Government won't care what I say, but the Conservative Party just might. If the Tories are proposing English Votes on English Matters for the House of Commons then it stands to reason that the same principle should apply to a directly elected House of Lords.

If a geographical factor is introduced into the Lords, as proposed by Hazel Blears, then things could get very ugly indeed. But it really doesn't matter whether the Lords is directly elected or indirectly elected, or elected proportionately, because somewhere, at sometime, Scots will be electing yet more Scots to vote on English legislation.

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Mark Harper talks bollocks

I'm the proud owner of a letter from Mark Harper, in which he states "There is no link between the Barnett Formula and the West Lothian question".

Yesterday he wasn't daft enough to put such a view on the Hansard record:

Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed,

Blogosphere leads the way

Having now actually read Clarke's report (pdf), instead of just the accompanying press reports and interviews, I just thought I'd congratulate myself for being the first to raise the Upper West Lothian Question which was addressed in Clarke's paper:


The Bow Group on Lords Reform

I have a slightly disingenuous attitude towards House of Lords reform. I fully support the proposal to elect the Lords by proportional representation on a regional [territorial] basis precisely because such a system would undermine the House of Commons a

Boggy on the Coalition's Constitution

Simon Heffer has written an interesting piece in the Telegraph outlining Vernon Bognador's concerns over the Coalition Government's constitutional reforms. Prof Bognador is 'alarmed' by the changes that are afoot and believes that 'they would shut the Br

Is an elected House of Lords the slippery slope towards federali

"Could a future Prime Minister sit in an elected House of Lords?", asked Norman Lamont on Monday.

The answer that came back was "No".

Concern was expressed that proportional representation could confer upon the Lords greater democractic legitimacy than

Coalition Government Defeated in the Lords

The Coalition Government has suffered its first defeat.

In an obscure procedural move, peers backed a motion that blocked the second reading of the Local Government Bill....

Peers backed Lord Howarth's motion by 154 to 150.

Yes, that's Baron Howarth of

Jack Straw's Lord Reform Proposals Published

The Guardian has published in full the Government's proposed Lords Reforms.

Jack Straw's new Lords would be elected on a regional basis.

The Government proposes 12 electoral regions which will act as multimember electoral constituencies. England will be

Electing the House of Lords

In May 2005 I wrote to Oliver Heald MP, the then Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, to suggest that the Conservative policy of English Votes on English Laws was a crock of shit that hadn't been thought through.

Many thanks for your mes

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4IM (4 independence

4IM (4 independence movements):

Perhaps this small new UK political party offers opportunities for moderate and left of centre English nationalists and English regionalists to work alongside fellow Celtic nationalists.

4IM have ditched the English Democrats for being too hostile towards Cornwall and Wales (see Monmouthshire), and for being against English regionalism a la England Devolve.

Perhaps you would be interested in England Devolve as well,Devolve! is a radical English devolution movement. We aim to encourage the peoples of England to achieve greater control over their own lives. Tolerance is central to our beliefs. Devolve! is non-party political:

Then there is the Talk Democracy website which is crying out from input from left of centre English nationalists:

Finally why not pop in and say hello to me and other Cornish nationalists on Cornwall 24:

I'm well aware of Unlock

I'm well aware of Unlock Democracy, I have been to some of their meetings, and I interviewed Peter Facey.

Devolve have been around for ages - they seem pretty pointless. As for 4IM, I'm just a blogger, not a political party.

The Cornish Constitutional

The Cornish Constitutional Convention:

"We, the People of Cornwall, must have a greater say in how we are governed. We need a Cornish Assembly that can set the right democratic priorities for Cornwall and provide a stronger voice for our communities in Britain, in Europe and throughout the wider world."

Cornish Assembly Campaign Declaration,
endorsed by 50,000 signatories

The Cornish Constitutional Convention was formed in November 2000 with the objective of establishing a devolved Assembly for Cornwall (Senedh Kernow).

The Convention is a cross-party, cross-sector association with a strong consensus of support both in Cornwall and elsewhere. It is not campaigning for any form of separatism or independence.

The aim of the Convention is to establish a form of modern governance which strengthens Cornwall, her role in the affairs of the country, and positively addresses the problems that have arisen from more than a century of growing isolation and loss of confidence.

Which Britain? Which England? Which North?
State, Nations, Regions, Cities ... and Globalization
This Research Bulletin has been published in D Morley and K Robins (eds) (2001) British Cultural Studies: Geography, Nationality, and Identity Oxford: Oxford University Press, 127-44:

Two pdf's on devolution in the UK.

MORGAN, K. (2002), The English Question.
Regional Perspectives on a Fractured Nation,
Regional Studies, 36, Number 7, October 2002

Tee hee - "Celtic"? Perhaps

Tee hee - "Celtic"? Perhaps Channel Four could do a show called "100% Celtic" - aimed at showing these people that a few family surnames do not make them ethnically pure members of some ancient tribe!

"They tell us that although

"They tell us that although the lower chamber is elected on a territorial basis the upper chamber is appointed and full of individuals rather than representatives of particular nations, regions or territories. By this logic there is no comparison ~~~~~"

typical rubbish from the anti English British great and good as they try every means to deprive England of logical democracy .

Cornuibian is surely taking

Cornuibian is surely taking the micky? Cornwall does not have the infrastucture, indusrty, popuation or indeed the desire to have devolution. I've just come off the phone to my brother, who lives in Padstow, he tells me the whole "Nationalist " movement in Cornwall is a running joke. The fact that the nationalist party gets less than 1% of the votes there is surely the best indication of that.

Talk Democracy is crying out

Talk Democracy is crying out from input from left of centre English nationalists.

Ha! ha! Crying out for input from left of centre English nationalists. You mean, they only want the viewpoint of lefty English nationalists. They often refuse to post what i've sent them! They make out it has something to do with bandwidth!

Left English nationalists? A oxymoron if ever there was one!

Westminster is a bicameral parliament which means that legislation is scrutinised by a secondary revising chamber. This, in my opinion, is democracy in action.
This however also leads to wonderfully unbaised people like welshman Neil Kinnock and new labour appointed scottish Lard Falconer being able to have a say on English-only domestic legislation.

Scotland has a unicameral system, meaning equivilent English Lords do not get to subject Scottish legislation to scrutiny.

Unicameralism has no double checks or balances that a bicameral system affords, forcing a greater level of consensus on legislative issues.

A feature of unicameralism is that urban areas with large populations have more influence than sparsely populated rural ones. In many cases the only way to get sparsely populated regions on board a unified government is to implement a bicameral system.

Well, isnt that amazing. How many times have various scots come out with the line regional govt would be good for England? And all the time they've been running their own unicameral system of govt! Well I never.
It is absolute hypocrisy for new labour scottish folks to try and force regional so-called govt on the English when they themselves run a unicameral system. Unicarmeralism often leads to urban areas with large populations having more influence (yes, more influence) than sparsely populated rural ones. We are told, by various meddling scots, that it would not be fair for a English parliament to "dominate". Not that they explain why. We often hear "what about the north of England" and how it would lose out to the south. Not that anyone actually goes on to prove this assertion of course.
In general, the opinion put about is that it's not cricket to base the English parliament in the south of England because all the power would be in the south. They also say we are to have regional government because it would not be fair for one parliament to dominate! So, according to scot new labour they dont like the fact that some English folks might not be treated nice. So, why do they have a unicameral system in scotland?
Well, let me ask these scottish experts what they think of their own unicameral system. A system that means urban areas with large populations can have more influence than sparsely populated rural ones. Does that mean Edinburgh and Glasgow dominate? This is the reason they use for wanting to force EU rope inspired so-called regional assemblies on the English! They say they do not like the idea of certain parts of England dominating other parts. So, why do they operate a unicameral system in scotland then?
It seems that the new labour scottish hypocrites who would tell us that our own English parliament AND executive would not be fair/right/okay/correct etc for everyone in England are operating just such a system in scotland.

In summary:
unicameral systems offer governments a chance to act freely to pursue their aims, yet this can be a bad thing; governments without brakes are liable to get out on control; supporters will also say that they avoid unnecessary duplication and bureaucracy, while a criticism is that they over-represent populous urban areas at the expense of the rural. Bicameral systems, on the other hand, can provide a much-needed check on government powers, while at the same time being prone to stalemates and getting in the way of political reform when needed; they are also predisposed to democratic deadlock if both chambers have equal legitimacy through popular mandate, (which is why new labour constantly slagged off the house of lords for decades, i.e. so they would not have equal legitimacy).

Another feature common to unicameral systems is

Unicameral legislatures are common in Communist states, i.e. People's Republic of Poland, People's Republic of China and Cuba. They were common in former Communist states like Ukraine, Moldova and Serbia.
Since under the Socialist point of view the institution of Senate was seen as conservative, elitist and pro-bourgeoise by nature.

No wonder the pseudo-socialist state, i.e. scotland, has a unicameral system.

Couple of things: a)The old

Couple of things:
a)The old Parliament of the Kingdom of Scotland (yes - not 'scottish parliament') was unicameral, so this would presumably be the gov't's 'justification'. The house itself, however, sadly does not follow any traditions of either the old Parliament or even just Westminster. They don't have opposing benches as in all other Westminster parliaments (not continental ones), they call the speaker with the technical term 'presiding officer instead of the proper Lord Chancellor he should be, and even simple parliamentary practice of not speaking to other members directly or voting by divisions (the lobbies of the commons)! I think THIS is also part of Mr. Brown's 'Britishness', since most of these things exist in the parliaments of the DARKEST AFRICA where they've inherited our institutions (but sometimes not even democracy).

2)The house of Lords is as powerless than the queen, as of now, and NOT ONE of our enlightened leaders (in their infinite wisdom, course) is proposing to change this, even if it's going to be more representative than the commons (w/popular mandate and, importantly, Proportional elections!). In countries where checks and balances between the chambers truly exist (USA, France, Australia, to name but a few) the chambers have to discuss and put aside their differences to get to a compromise, and maybe there's a deadlock - breaking mechanism biased towards the lower house, if the upper house only desires to fully obstruct rather than improve bills. The only deadlock breaking mechanism we have now (1949 Parliament act) is that the commons can have its way if it passes it again a year later, which means the gov't can always have its way with a majority (made on 35% popular vote)and the three-line whip. in a HoL elected by PR, no party will have a majority and the house will more often disagree with the commons. To MPs who realise this and propose a power upgrade to an elected lords, our wise leaders say that the Lords will then obstruct the commons' primacy (something which is less than a 100 years old) and will cause deadlock (something which, if it was as bad as they say it is (it ain't), would be properly solved with a deadlock-breaking mechanism biased, but much less than today, towards the commons). Lastly, what the gov't (and the libdems) seem to care most about is actually to stealthily make us into a republic and simply make the lords more egalitarian, further demonstrated by their intent to change its name to a more egalitarian sounding 'senate'. They couldn't be bothered to ask the peaople, which the bbc however did, with the response being a resounding voice for the house' present name and gainst 'Senate', even from some americans who answered the question on the website. There were some more outlandish suggestions (from House of [jack] straw to Witengamot), which all went to demonstrate and convince that
1)the house' name is a part of our culture and heritage
2)its name was part of our constitution, and that
3) the real house to be reformed is the Commons, either through PR or more independence from the gov't.
Let's make a written constitution to sort out all this bollox, and make the only mandate for anyone to change it to be through referenda, so to stop tyranny for perpetuity.
Liberty! Equality! Cauppa'tea!

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