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Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 26 March 2013

1. When he expects that the report from the commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons will be published. (149754)

With this, I will also answer Question 2. The McKay commission, which the Government established to consider how the House of Commons deals with legislation that affects only part of the UK, reported yesterday. We are grateful to the commission for its work. This is an important issue, which is why the Government asked the expert commission to look at it. The report presents a positive step forward, and we will give it very serious consideration before responding substantively.

I, too, thank the McKay commission for such an erudite report. The commission outlines a principle: that decisions at UK level with a separate and distinct effect for England should normally be taken only with the consent of a majority of MPs for constituencies in England. Will the Minister argue with her boss, who is a passionate believer in political and constitutional reform, to implement that sensible principle in the next Session?

I commend my hon. Friend for her work on this important matter—she has campaigned long and hard and taken the time to go into the detail. As I have said, the Government take the report extremely seriously. We believe it is a positive step forward, and I am happy to talk to all members of the Government about its merits and otherwise.

Does the Minister accept that constituents of mine who use the health service in England, work in the public sector in England and use public transport in England, but who are represented by me as a Welsh Member of Parliament, want a say on matters relating to England? Does she accept that there are problems, but not always solutions?

I ought to accept that the right hon. Gentleman wants to do a very good job for his constituents, which I am sure he does. However, I note that the McKay commission report refers to England matters and England and Wales matters. Those serious issues require extensive consideration.

13. Next September’s referendum will, I hope, deliver a substantial no vote against separation. May I suggest that that would be an ideal time to implement the McKay commission’s sensible proposals and evolve the devolution settlement into one that will be acceptable on both sides of the border? (149767)

I thank my hon. Friend for his contribution. I hear his view on the timing of what the Government must do next. We will take that decision seriously alongside the substantive issues in the report. I agree with him and many others that the people of Scotland should choose to stay in the UK next September, and am confident they will do so.

I wonder whether the resolving of the West Lothian question will help us to understand why the Liberal Democrats voted against air passenger duty in opposition, but voted for it while in government, as we saw last night.

I do not believe that even I could persuade the McKay commission to cover that level of detail. However, as I said in answer to the previous question, the people of the UK are stronger together than they are apart. I hope the hon. Gentleman transfers that message to his constituents.

Order. As I think the House knows, the hon. Gentleman was practising the shoehorning technique, which was as mischievous as it was just about orderly.

The biggest threat to the UK might be not the Scottish referendum next year, but the increasing sense in England that the current constitutional settlement is not a fair one. Does my hon. Friend agree that we already have two different classes of MPs, in the sense that Scottish and Welsh MPs have colleagues in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly who perform some of the role that English MPs do?

The McKay commission report deals with some of the questions the hon. Gentleman raises. As I have said, they are serious questions, and it will take time to ensure that we respond appropriately. We will do just that.