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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: The Un-United Kingdom?
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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quote:
Originally posted by Balaam:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
and Black Hill is in Cheshire,

Black Hill is in three counties, the West Riding of Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire boundaries meeting at the top.
Nope. That's the administrative Derbyshire. The real one stops at Longdendale.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

Posts: 17938 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gremlin
Ship's Cryptanalyst
# 129

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quote:
Originally posted by Chapelhead:
It has always been the case in the past that a measure affecting Scotland only might have the support of a majority of MPs from Scottish constituencies but be defeated by a majority of English and Welsh MPs.

The converse is equally possible; a measure effectively affecting only Scotland can be forced through Westminster by the English majority.

Hang on, didn't this happen as recently as the 1980s... the Poll Tax started in Scotland about a year before England and Wales, despite the opposition of the Scottish MPs.

Unfortunately, we have to face the fact that we now live in a much more federal state than we used to have, and decisions made at the top level of government affect the different legislative areas in different ways. A balance has got to be found, or else the whole thing will just spin frantically out of control into a horrible mess. And that mess will only be resolved by imposition from Westminster, or by independence!

Central government needs to be more sympathetic to the individual needs of the different areas of the country. And the Welsh, Scottish and Irish legislatures need to consider their actions in the context of the whole country too.

That is, unless we want the country to fragment even further, in an era of greater greater federalism throughout the rest of Europe!

Gremlin

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Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
Ahhh...I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again...
Oh I get it... like humour... but different.

Posts: 5221 | From: Isle of Man | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by Gremlin:
That is, unless we want the country to fragment even further, in an era of greater greater federalism throughout the rest of Europe!

Why not?

Seems like a good deal to me.

It would bring government closer to most people, and under stronger popular and democratic control. Our current nation states are too big for democracies. Cut them down to size. Most decisions can be made and scrutinised by much smaller units than our present nation states. There really isn't much that benefits from being organised amongst more than 5-10 million people & quite a lot would be better run by towns and cities than by even small countries. And for that matter by neighbourhoods within towns.

Only what has to be run on a mega-scale need be. And as long as that is a sufficiently small part of the public business, who really cares if it is done in Edinburgh, Westminster, or Brussels? After all a lot of the important foreign policy and military decisions have been made for us in New York or Washington for the last 50 years.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Clint Boggis
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# 633

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
Dyfrig - you're right (of course), but the 'real' counties, the traditional geographical ones, can't be changed by any stroke of the pen.


Absolutely! Just relax about border changes - unless you are 'moved' from an area where things are done the way you like it to one where they don't.

Every organisation, company, education authority, the Post Office etc. divides the country into regions for its own purposes and you couldn't keep track of sales regions of a national pizza chain or tax office you live or work in so why pay the least attention to what some minor government functionary says about the region for local government purposes? Its just a label for them and doesn't (shouldn't) affect 'Real Life' much.

Those who live in what was 'historically' Rutland can still say they live there, whatever their address is or whovever they have to pay their Council Tax to. I know I would.

Posts: 1505 | From: south coast | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Chapelhead*

Ship’s Photographer
# 1143

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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
quote:
Originally posted by Chapelhead:
Because the MP from Bradford will be involved in passing laws that affect his own constituency. The MP from Lothian may not be, as laws affecting England and Wales will not affect his constituency.

But neither of them have anything to do with me, and I voted for neither of them. Where's the democracy in that?
That is the nature of an elected, democratic parliament; there is collective decision-making by all the elected members that applies to the whole area, nation, borough or whatever. The alternatives are that everything must be decided solely by those directly elected – so all decisions on health, defence, education etc will be decided by the local MP on a constituency by constituency basis (or by a councillor on a ward by ward basis) or everything gets decided by one central parliament and we do away with the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, county councils, local councils etc.

Last night’s vote in the House of Commons is a good example of the Midlothian (or Lothian) problem. The Foundation Hospital Bill will, if enacted, affect only England (Rhisiart – thanks for explaining the situation in Wales). Had Scottish MPs not voted on the Bill it would have failed. The will of English MPs on an English matter has been overridden by Scottish MPs whose constituencies will not be directly be affected by the Bill.

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Benedikt Gott Geschickt!

Posts: 7082 | From: Turbolift Control. | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by Chapelhead:
The alternatives are that everything must be decided solely by those directly elected – so all decisions on health, defence, education etc will be decided by the local MP on a constituency by constituency basis (or by a councillor on a ward by ward basis) or everything gets decided by one central parliament and we do away with the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, county councils, local councils etc.

But those aren't the alternatives! We have an intermediate system between your two supposed opposites - there are national or federal institutions that do one set of things, and various kinds of regional or local government that do others. These aren't the same eveywhere - different arrangements apply in different places.

Lots of other countries also have an intermediate system between all-national or all-local government. I could mention Germany, the USA, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Mexico, India...

According to you they all have impossible systems!

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
TonyK

Host Emeritus
# 35

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quote:
Originally posted by Chapelhead:
<snip> ... The will of English MPs on an English matter has been overridden by Scottish MPs whose constituencies will not be directly be affected by the Bill.

And indeed, where the members of the Scottish Parliament had already voted against foundation hospitals!

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Yours aye ... TonyK

Posts: 2717 | From: Gloucestershire | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Chapelhead*

Ship’s Photographer
# 1143

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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
quote:
Originally posted by Chapelhead:
Lots of stuff too dull to read again

But those aren't the alternatives! We have an intermediate system between your two supposed opposites - there are national or federal institutions that do one set of things, and various kinds of regional or local government that do others. These aren't the same eveywhere - different arrangements apply in different places.

Lots of other countries also have an intermediate system between all-national or all-local government. I could mention Germany, the USA, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Mexico, India...

According to you they all have impossible systems!

But those aren't my alternatives - they're your alternatives.

You suggested that there is no difference between an MP from Bradford voting on an issue affecting you and an MP from Lothian doing so, both are undemocratic. But what is the alternative? If you are reluctant to have a Bradford MP voting on issues affecting you then you will have to elect the decision-making body in its entirety - the one MP state - or have a referendum on every issue. [Confused]

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Benedikt Gott Geschickt!

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NemTudom
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# 2762

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The Mid-Lothian question only arises because the UK has decided to opt for piecemeal devolution rather than federalism within the United Kingdom. There is no equivalent in the USA because each state has its own government exercising (in theory) whatever powers are not exercised at Washington. The Mid Lothian question is a consequence of the lack of an English Parliament rather than of the existence of a Scottish one.

In my opinion the UK should become a Federation on similar lines to the USA. In the US the central government has one set of powers and responsibilities while the state government has a different set of powers and responsibilities. The outworking of this system in practice has some difficulties, but in theory each level is sovereign within its own sphere. In other words Congress at Washington cannot vote to overturn a law passed at Albany, New York for example. The British system is one of devolution. Any law passed by the Scottish Parliament can be overturned by Westminster if Westminster so desires. The powers of the Scottish Parliament are restricted to those given to it by Westminster, it has no sphere of sovereignty of its own.

The creation of a Federal UK would involve the establishment of "state" parliaments in England (whether as one state or several - that would be for the English to decide) and the upgrading of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish legislatures to full statehood. The Westminster Parliament would be drastically reduced in size and responsibilities, having only such powers as are not given to the "states".

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PaulTH*
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# 320

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The West Lothian issue was demonstrated at its most unfair tinkering with the constitution yesterday. The government, despite its huge majority in the Commons won its vote on Foundation Hospitals by a mere 17 votes. With 64 Labour members voting against and 35 abstentions, the government was in trouble. It won the vote because of the support of its Scottish members. But Scotland isn't going to have Foundtion Hospitals. Health, in Scotland comes under the remit of the Scottish parliament.

How can it be democratically defensible that Scots MP's can give a casting vote on matters which don't affect Scotland, on issues which have for them been devolved to the Scottish parliament. This is the utter arrogance of this government. It knows well, that long term, its Scottish and Welsh support is its only hope of retaining power at Westminster. So it allows democratic principles for Scotland, which it refuses for England. Since the introduction of the Scottish parliament, Scottish members at Westminster, in which Scotland is massively over represented, should only be allowed to vote on issues which affect the UK. Yesterdays vote was an abuse of any democratic principle, engineered by a government prepared to disenfranchise England to its own benefit.

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Paul

Posts: 6387 | From: White Cliffs Country | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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I don't give a damn about the West Lothian question. It is a red herring - a bit of babble thought up by some well-meaning old-fashioned nationalists and brought out now and again by various Tories who hate the Scottish parliament.

Yes, Scottish Labour MPs allowed the government to pass the Foundation Hospitals. So? They'd have managed it anyway & it is hardly of fundamental constitutional importance

(unlike the crime bill - I notice the English MPs did nothing to stop them getting away with another part of their US-directed clampdown on liberties in the name of the War Against Terror (or the war against Crime, or the War Against Some Drugs, or the War Against Paedophiles, or the War Against Loud Music on Council Estates; or whatever other Bad Thing is this week's White Van Driver of the Apocalypse)

You win some, you lose some, On the whole there hasn't been much difference in voting between Scots and English labour MPs.

Hard to tell about Tories of course. I wonder hy that is? Oh, because no bugger has voted for them in Scotland since the Poll Tax debacle.

Scots MPs voting on the tiny number of bills that concern all of England and Wales but have no effect in Scotland is a pretty marginal democratic deficit compared with, say, the House of Lords. Or the government's abilty to choose the date of the next general election.

But as to regional or federal arrangements I still don't see why one size has to fit all, why constitutional arrangements should be the same in all parts of the country.

An English parliament would just be a foot in the door for the nationalists and bigots. What would be the point in one anyway?

English regional assemblies are a great idea for those places that want them - though towns and counties should be alowed to decide which region they want to be in.

But its just silly for the south east of England, forcing us to choose between the doughnut and the banana.

So do it differently in different places. And let people choose which region they're in.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Alaric the Goth
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# 511

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quote:
An English parliament would just be a foot in the door for the nationalists and bigots. What would be the point in one anyway?

English regional assemblies are a great idea for those places that want them - though towns and counties should be alowed to decide which region they want to be in.

But its just silly for the south east of England, forcing us to choose between the doughnut and the banana.

So do it differently in different places. And let people choose which region they're in.

i used to be in favour of some sort of regional government for England, but am not now. It would be a colossal waste of money. And the extent to which I was in favour of Scottish and Welsh parliaments/assemblies has diminished when I see in practice that they are huge 'eaters of funds' and can increase bureaucracy.

I fail to see how you can say that an English Parliament would be a 'foot in the door for nationalists and bigots' and yet be in favour of the Scottish/Welsh ones. Are Scots and Welsh immune form bigotry, then? As the SNP and Plaid Cymru show, they are not immune form nationalism.
I am NOT saying I am against the Scots/Welsh devolution: if I were Scottish or Welsh I would very probably be in favour. As it is, I am cautiously supportive. I wish it could have cost a lot less dosh, though.

Posts: 3322 | From: West Thriding | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Astro
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# 84

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The simplest answer would be that if the law did not affect Scotland then Scottish MPs could not vote on it, rather like pre-Scottish parliament Scottish only matters were not voted on by English MPs - but then as that would cut the government's huge majority I don't think that they would allow it.

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if you look around the world today – whether you're an atheist or a believer – and think that the greatest problem facing us is other people's theologies, you are yourself part of the problem. - Andrew Brown (The Guardian)

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PaulTH*
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# 320

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The West Lothian issue is not a red herring. It is a serious democratic issue, which this government refuses to deal with. The old arguement that Scotland had Tory governments forced on it by the English vote was a red herring, because in a United Kingdom parliament which treated Britain and Northern Ireland as one country, then no region cn claim about the composition of a ntionally elected government. But devolution changes all of that. The Scots voted for a parliament with tax varying powers, which could levy up to an extra 3p in income tax.

This has never happened because Scotland is still heavily funded from the South. I have no interest in the creation either of an English parliament nor regional assemblies for England. We have enough politicians and beurocrats with their snouts in the trough of taxpayer's money without creating more tiers of government. But the powers that, in Scotland are devolved to its own parliament, and those few things devolved to the Welsh assembly, should be devolved to English only members at Westminster, or English and Welsh members where appropriate.

If Scotland wants to develop further the remit of the Scottish parliament, its numbers at Westminster should be reduced to 45, from 72, in line with its population size. Scotland's over representation at Westminster was a safeguard against English dominence of the national parliament. It no longer applies in a devolved Scotland. This is all part of the West Lothian issue. Tony and his cronies refuse to deal with it because they would squeal like stuck pigs at any move which might jeopardise their Westminster majority. But the current arrangements are unfair and undemocratic to the English, and Mr Blair is going to reap the backlash sooner or later.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

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Cod
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# 2643

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As a point of information I believe that the number of Westminster constituencies is being reduced. Rather conveniently (for some) Glasgow Kelvin - George Galloway's constituency is being eaten up in the process.

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"I fart in your general direction."
M Barnier

Posts: 4229 | From: New Zealand | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH:
But the current arrangements are unfair and undemocratic to the English, and Mr Blair is going to reap the backlash sooner or later.

Yes, but its no-where near the top of the list of undemocratic arrangements that need killing. I mentioed two of them in my prevous post, both far worse for what passes for democracy here than either the Midlothian question or the EU soc-called "constitution" are. Why not tackle them first?

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Flying_Belgian
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# 3385

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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
I don't give a damn about the West Lothian question. It is a red herring - a bit of babble thought up by some well-meaning old-fashioned nationalists and brought out now and again by various Tories who hate the Scottish parliament.

I disagree completely. It is not a red herring. Why should somebody who has been elected by the people of Cumbernauld (for example) have a vote over legislation which has no impact in Cumernauld? The only acceptable reason is if their is a reciprocal arrangement whereby English MPs get a vote on Scottish matters.

I support the Scottish parliament, but it is clear that the current system cannot persist. The simple solution is to exempt Scottish MPs from voting on purely English matters. The foundation hospitals vote is a classic example- because the Scottish Labour party has rejected the idea- yet it's MPs are then used to drive it through against the wishes of a majority of MPs from England and Wales. It is undemocratic.

And finally, the West Lothian question was actually first posed by Tam Dalyell, long standing Labour MP, on the left of the party- who was actually a unionist. The SNP actually exempt themeselves from votes on English matters, on precisely these "West lothian grounds" (although in the vote last week, they did vote against, on the grounds that it had an impact on Scottish hospital funding).

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balaam

Making an ass of myself
# 4543

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The West Lothian issue would mean Scottish members of the Westminster government would have no say on matters of taxation for England.

Can't see Mr Brown agreeing to that.

Posts: 9049 | From: Hen Ogledd | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Rev per Minute
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# 69

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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH:
The West Lothian issue is not a red herring... The old arguement that Scotland had Tory governments forced on it by the English vote was a red herring, because in a United Kingdom parliament which treated Britain and Northern Ireland as one country, then no region cn claim about the composition of a ntionally elected government.

Unfortunately for your argument, Westminster has always enacted separate laws for Scotland, due to the continuation of the separate Scottish legal system since Union in 1707: all these were voted for by all MPs in Westminster, even though they could not affect the constituents of something like 80% of the MPs. Poll Tax is only one example where the Tory majority in the Commons - comprising no more than a dozen Scottish Tory MPs - created laws for Scotland based on their English MPs.

Given access to the Hansard databse, I could no doubt list any number of Acts for Scotland created by Englsh MPs where Scots members were outvoted.

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"Allons-y!" "Geronimo!" "Oh, for God's sake!" The Day of the Doctor

At the end of the day, we face our Maker alongside Jesus. RIP ken

Posts: 2696 | From: my desk (if I can find the keyboard under this mess) | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Chapelhead*

Ship’s Photographer
# 1143

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quote:
Originally posted by Rhisiart:
Unfortunately for your argument, Westminster has always enacted separate laws for Scotland, due to the continuation of the separate Scottish legal system since Union in 1707: all these were voted for by all MPs in Westminster, even though they could not affect the constituents of something like 80% of the MPs. Poll Tax is only one example where the Tory majority in the Commons - comprising no more than a dozen Scottish Tory MPs - created laws for Scotland based on their English MPs.

But there was a degree of reciprocity in this. English MPs voted on Scottish matters, Scottish MPs voted on English matters. Of course, there are many more English MPs than Scottish one, but Scotland was over-represented in relation to its population to help compensate.

There is no longer the same degree of reciprocity, with Scottish matters being (in part, at least) devolved to the Scottish Parliament and thus not subject to English MPs but Scottish MPs voting on English matters.

Would anyone think it wrong if Scottish MPs at Westminster weren't allowed to vote on English/Welsh matters?

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Benedikt Gott Geschickt!

Posts: 7082 | From: Turbolift Control. | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
NemTudom
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# 2762

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quote:
Originally posted by Chapelhead:
Would anyone think it wrong if Scottish MPs at Westminster weren't allowed to vote on English/Welsh matters?

There is a major problem with this idea. If a different party had a majority in England than had a majority in the UK as a whole then all sorts of dificulties would arise. Say there was a Labour majority in the UK, but a Conservative majority in England. There would then be a Labour government in Westminster, but when it came to passing English legislation the government would not be able to govern as it would not have the majority to pass its own measures. This is why the exclusion of Scottish MPs from English legislation would not work.

For the period 1920-1972 Northern Ireland did have devolution, the solution adopted to this issue was that NI had a lower number of MPs than other parts of the UK to reflect the fact that most domestic legislation was made at Stormont. Under Devolution NI had 12 MPs, instead of its current 18, though there are now no plans to revert to the original number.

Because of the sovereignty of Parliament all devolution is revocable and all legislation passed by a devolved parliament is subject to judicial review (unlike Westminster legislation -excepting European/Factortame type issues). Furthermore Westminster may override any Act of the Scottish Parliament if it desires. In Northern Ireland it was merely convention which stopped Westminster overriding Acts of the NI Parliament and this convention was swept away at the stroke of a pen when the NI Parliament was prorogued in 1972. These facts would seem to weigh against the reduction of the number of MPs for Scotland on the earlier Northern Ireland model.

Posts: 236 | From: Budapest | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Chapelhead*

Ship’s Photographer
# 1143

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quote:
Originally posted by Aldamir:
If a different party had a majority in England than had a majority in the UK as a whole then all sorts of dificulties would arise. Say there was a Labour majority in the UK, but a Conservative majority in England. There would then be a Labour government in Westminster, but when it came to passing English legislation the government would not be able to govern as it would not have the majority to pass its own measures.

But there's no rule that says the government has to have a majority. Minority governments might be uncommon, but they are not unknown.

Nor does the leader of the largest party automatically have to be Prime Minister.

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Benedikt Gott Geschickt!

Posts: 7082 | From: Turbolift Control. | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cod
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# 2643

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quote:
Originally posted by Chapelhead:
quote:
Originally posted by Aldamir:
If a different party had a majority in England than had a majority in the UK as a whole then all sorts of dificulties would arise. Say there was a Labour majority in the UK, but a Conservative majority in England. There would then be a Labour government in Westminster, but when it came to passing English legislation the government would not be able to govern as it would not have the majority to pass its own measures.

But there's no rule that says the government has to have a majority. Minority governments might be uncommon, but they are not unknown.

Nor does the leader of the largest party automatically have to be Prime Minister.



Nor does the PM even have to be elected - but there are conventions that 'require' these things to be so. Not laws as such - but they seem to be broken considerably less often.

[ 26. November 2003, 08:23: Message edited by: Sir George Grey ]

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"I fart in your general direction."
M Barnier

Posts: 4229 | From: New Zealand | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
PaulTH*
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# 320

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Aldamir said

There is a major problem with this idea. If a different party had a majority in England than had a majority in the UK as a whole then all sorts of dificulties would arise. Say there was a Labour majority in the UK, but a Conservative majority in England. There would then be a Labour government in Westminster, but when it came to passing English legislation the government would not be able to govern as it would not have the majority to pass its own measures. This is why the exclusion of Scottish MPs from English legislation would not work.

The question of a different majority in different parts of the devolved UK is so far untested. The UK, Scotland and Wales all have Labour majorities. Any aggressive disagreements, though they may be ideological, such as students fees and Foundation Hospitals, are less important than the long term goal of retaining power in all the forums.

This may all be different further down the line. The Tories may revive enough support to govern England. But never Scotland or Wales. If a UK Pariament were to be Conservative, or if Labour held UK power only by its Scottish support, as happened in 1964, and in 1974, a major constitutional crisis would errupt. The outcome would be the break-up of the UK. I personally, regret it, because I believe that the UK has always been more than the sum of its parts, but I see that once the devolutionary clock was set in motion this Un-United Kingdom can't but disintegrate.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

Posts: 6387 | From: White Cliffs Country | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged



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