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Commission on the “West Lothian” Question

Volume 532: debated on Thursday 8 September 2011

The coalition programme for government set out our commitment to

“establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question’”.

I can now give the House more details on how that commission is to proceed.

The Government are clear that the commission’s primary task should be to examine how this House and Parliament as a whole can deal most effectively with business that affects England wholly or primarily, when at the same time similar matters in some or all of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are lawfully and democratically the responsibility of the separate Parliament or Assemblies. The commission will not examine financing, which is being dealt with separately through various processes led by Treasury Ministers, nor does it need to look at the balance of parliamentary representation, given that Parliament addressed historic imbalances in representation between the constituent nations of the United Kingdom in legislation earlier this year.

Given the commission’s focus on parliamentary business and procedure, the Government believe that the commission should be comprised of a small group of independent, non-partisan experts with constitutional, legal and parliamentary expertise. We will also wish to consult with Mr Speaker and other parliamentary authorities on how the commission can best address this. We will also ensure that there is a full opportunity for the parties to have their say following the completion of the commission’s work.

We will bring forward formal proposals, including the terms of reference for the commission, after the conclusion of this short process of consultation and further deliberation. I expect that this will be in the weeks after the House returns in October.