English votes for English laws please
I was encouraged by the Scottish Referendum result recently.
The people of Scotland spoke and our United Kingdom remains united.
It was a triumph for democracy and now is a time for our country to come together, and to move forward.
The No vote, however, does not mean no change, as a major programme of devolution of powers is now proposed for Scotland.
But this moment must not just be about securing Scotland’s future in the UK, but about settling other questions regarding our union.
We need to make sure the UK works for all nations. As I have spoken to Pendle residents over recent weeks, the mood has hardened.
While most support our union, they also feel England gets a raw deal and have been asking why we can’t have the same powers as Scotland?
Why should Scottish MPs be able to vote on what is taught in English schools, on English hospitals, or even vary English or Welsh income taxes, when under the new settlement English or Welsh MPs would have no say in such matters in Scotland?
It is fundamentally wrong to have the views of the people of England overridden in this way.
Put simply, we should have English votes for English laws.
I am not a proponent of a separate English Parliament – I doubt another tier of politicians is the answer – but at the same time as handing major new powers to Scotland, then the status quo for England cannot be satisfactory.
There are solutions that can be implemented in Westminster, or more local solutions such as devolving more power to councils and regions.
During the referendum campaign, the three main parties worked together to keep Scotland in the UK.
Let’s hope we can now work together to empower England and secure a truly fair settlement for the whole of the UK.