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‘The English Question: Why ‘English votes’ are not the answer and the better alternatives lack force’

Wilson, G (2016) ‘The English Question: Why ‘English votes’ are not the answer and the better alternatives lack force’. Liverpool Law Review: a journal of contemporary legal issues, 37 (1). ISSN 1572-8625

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In the short term at least, the outcome of the Scottish Independence referendum has settled the constitutional status of Scotland as part of the United Kingdom. During the referendum campaign, however, the major UK wide parties committed themselves to conferring a package of enhanced devolved powers upon Scotland in the event of a rejection of independence and the exact scope of these powers is in the process of being finalised. Although this ignited calls in Wales and Northern Ireland for an expansion of their own devolved powers, arguably more strongly felt pressures in the aftermath of the referendum have concerned the ‘West Lothian’ question; the fact that decisions on matters which only affect England are taken by a UK Parliament that comprises representatives from all four constituent parts of the UK, whereas the same matters are often legislated upon locally in those other parts of the UK without the involvement of representatives from England. There is much consensus on the need to address this anomaly of the current UK constitutional framework, but less agreement on how this ought to be done. This paper considers the debate over ‘English only votes’ at Westminster and identifies several flaws to such an initiative, which it is argued make it a dangerous mechanism that threatens the integrity of the UK. A new constitutional framework based upon regional or federal mechanisms represents the most logical and workable step forward, but it is doubtful whether sufficient political or public support exists for such a development to take place. The Scottish referendum campaign highlighted, if anything, the extent to which the UK’s future integrity is threatened by ideas of political difference and constitutional reform must take account of such realities. It must not be rushed, but based on sound logic and principle.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10991-015-9175-6
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1801 Law
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN1187 Scotland
Divisions: Law
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2015 10:35
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 13:45
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/2429
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