Is there a need for Devolution in English Politics

Calum Hutchinson

Calum Hutchinson

With it being suggested that there will be pressure put on the winner of the next General Election to devolve power once again, we must ask if this is necessary for British politics.

In 1998, powers of the British parliament were devolved so that regional parliaments were set up in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to have control over their individual legislation instead of it being dictated by London-based parliament.

However, purely English issues are still being deliberated on by the entire British parliament. This means that English legislation is still open to be discussed by all MPs of the Union. The current situation seems a little one-sided considering that English MPs cannot deliberate on Scottish legislation.

It is paramount for us to bear in mind, that prior to the referendum regarding Scottish independence, David Cameron promised more political power to Scotland. This gave the impression of giving Scotland more autonomy, without open the way for a fully-fledge breakaway from British politics. However, recently Cameron has been advocating a move to give more power to English MPs in legislative decision-making that affects the English peoples.

Some proposals have been put forward by William Hague which would essentially give only English MPs the ability to veto legislation relating to the English. Furthermore, English MPs would be the only MPs allowed to make proposals on matters such as the education of the English peoples.

This stance has reaped severe criticism as it leaves a grey area blanketing what we consider to be ‘English’ legislation, and perhaps distances English politics from the rest of the Union. These criticisms alone may prove to be a central point of contention in pushing forward this proposal.

A possible alternative is to introduce a solely English parliament. In Scotland, this has already been introduced, whilst assemblies have been established in both Wales and Northern Ireland which have the power to introduce legislation for those individual nations.

Nevertheless, ideas for an English parliament are lacking support. Only fringe political groups are pushing for the establishment of one. The English Democrats, the main advocates for this only received 0.3% of the vote in the last General election in 2010.

Questions revolving around this apparently systematic need to devolve power, are salient ones considering that members of the UN mostly share the same language, religion and to a large degree, the same culture.

So, is there any need to have devolved power in the first place?

As it is the case that power has already been devolved, it seems like a natural progression to let English MPs control English legislation.

The likelihood of further devolution depends greatly on the outcome of the General Election. The Conservatives are the only party to be advocating this degree of political change. Therefore, the only circumstance in which this seems like a realistic possibility would be if the Conservatives were to win an outright majority in the upcoming election, which has been tipped to be the closest one in many years.

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