Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Is this West West Lothian?

I was interested to listen to Lord Baker talking about the West Lothian question on the Today Programme this morning (the realplayer file is here). I have to say that I'm somewhat sympathetic, on the face of it at least, to the idea that there something amiss when Scottish MPs can vote on some issues that affect English people but that English MPs can't vote on the same issues as they affect the Scots. That said, I think the problem arises from an incoherent devolution strategy for the UK, not from a devolution per se.

Anyway, from a NI-narcissism point of view, I was intrigued (and mildly concerned) to hear Lord Baker proposing that the solution was for the Speaker to ringfence some bills or section of bills as being territorially specific and that, therefore, only MPs from that territory could debate them.

Does this imply that only MPs elected to Northern Ireland constituencies would debate and vote on NI-specific legislation? Surely the Westminster asylum is getting along fine on its own without our particular brand of lunatic taking over...

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