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Devolution

Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

6. What discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive on the further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. (160188)

I have had no formal discussions with the Scottish Executive on the further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. Devolution has strengthened the Union between Scotland and England. We are happy to engage in constructive dialogue with those who support the current settlement.

Given that the Labour party in Scotland now favours further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament, will the Minister accept that that includes an allocation of taxes raised in Scotland to fund services in Scotland? Is it not also time that the Government recognised that they need to address the English dimension and move towards consultation for a full federal constitution for the United Kingdom?

I certainly do not accept the right hon. Gentleman’s last remark. I do not believe that having separate votes on England is a sensible policy. The Union is made stronger by us all being together. As for the issue in Scotland that he raised, I do not believe that there is consensus on that matter either

What the Minister has just said is simply wrong. How can the Government continue to ignore the effect that the devolution settlement has on the House of Commons? The West Lothian question will not go away. That great Labour parliamentarian Tam Dalyell was right to ask it 30 years ago, and we will continue to ask it. When will the Government take steps to strengthen the Union by ensuring that Members of Parliament who represent English constituencies have a decisive say when we make laws for England?

The hon. Lady cites Tam Dalyell. Let me put it to her in this way:

“This proposal risks creating two classes of MP. It would be a constitutional abortion. Either you are a member of parliament or you are not. If you go ahead with this, you will have 100 MPs—including those from Wales and Northern Ireland—who are second-class legislators.”

That was said by the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington and Chelsea (Sir Malcolm Rifkind).