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West Lothian Question

Volume 540: debated on Tuesday 7 February 2012

5. Whether the commission to consider the West Lothian question will take evidence from Members of the (a) Scottish Parliament and (b) National Assembly for Wales. (93685)

The independent commission that we have set up will be able to take evidence from anybody who wants to give it, within its terms of reference. I am therefore sure it will be willing to take evidence from Members of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales, but that is a matter for the commission.

I thank the Minister for that answer. I am sure he will be aware that constitutional change in one area can affect other areas. How might any changes suggested by his West Lothian commission affect reform of the House of Lords?

I am not sure that those two matters are connected at all. The commission’s terms of reference are specifically to consider the effects and consequences for the House of Commons of the devolution arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The hon. Lady will know that we have appointed experts to the commission. They will come back to the Government with their recommendations, and I have committed then to talk to all parties in this House about how we might proceed further.

Will the commission be able to consider what is really the Berwick-upon-Tweed question: how has it come about over so many years that Scotland seems to have had more money for schools and roads, and a great deal of say in the affairs of England?

Specifically, we have made it clear that the commission will not be able to look at the financial questions. The Government have committed to resolving them, but we have made it clear that the deficit must be dealt with first, and then those other matters will be taken forward by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor.