Labour MP backs calls for devolved English parliament

He’s not the first, but I get the feeling Derek Wyatt won’t be the last – especially with the growing anger at the “perverse” method of dividing public finances between the nations in the UK. Also, it’s an easy issue for New Labour MPs with English constituencies to make a stand on.

Demand ‘growing’ for English parliament
Wednesday 18th June 2008 at 12:12 AM

The United Kingdom is in a “constitutional muddle” and demand is growing for an English parliament, a Labour MP has said.

Speaking ahead of a Westminster Hall debate on parliamentary representation in England, Derek Wyatt told ePolitix.com that four lower houses of equal powers should be established in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

A new upper house of representatives should be set up with responsibility for issues such as the environment and foreign policy, the Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP said.

He said: “We’ve devolved to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, but we’ve not devolved the same powers to the one assembly and two parliaments. And by default, we have not given anything to England.

“We tried to do elected regional assemblies and they failed; now we’ve got unelected regional development agencies and we’ve still got some form of regional assembly – unelected. So the largest economic unit in Britain has no democratic representation.”

Wyatt, who is the parliamentary aide to culture minister Margaret Hodge, said that England was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Barnett formula which allocates funding across the United Kingdom.

“English people are tired really of a Barnett formula that spends more money in the [other] three countries and doesn’t give them the same rights and the same responsibilities and the same treatment,” he said.

“I think it’s time we stopped and thought about what we’re doing.”

He added that demand for an English parliament will grow within the next five years to 10 years.

“People are tired of hearing that Scotland’s got better facilities when the Barnett formula gives them more per head for education, for instance, than in Kent where I live,” he said.

And since I was so amazed at this news, I checked Derek Wyatt’s own website:

Labour MP calls for five UK parliaments: “the United Kingdom is a half-built house,” says Derek Wyatt.

In a Westminster Hall debate tomorrow morning (Wednesday June 18) Derek Wyatt MP (Labour, Sittingbourne & Sheppey) will compare the United Kingdom to a half-built house where no one lives the way they want to and everyone argues about the household bills.

Setting out proposals for wide-ranging long-term constitutional and financial reform, he will call for a replacement of the “Barnett formula” which determines public spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: “arrangements set up in the 1970s for reasons no one can now remember with results no one can now understand.”

Mr Wyatt will propose a constitutional convention, representing all the parties and peoples of the United Kingdom, to agree a ten-year plan for major reform of Parliament. At the end of the period the convention would present proposals for five separate Parliamentary chambers, one for each of the nations of the United Kingdom and one for the United Kingdom as a whole. Each nation would choose the issues it wanted to handle in its own chamber – and finance its policies from its own tax revenue. Other issues would remain with the UK chamber and financed from UK-wide taxation. The final package of proposals would be put to all voters in a referendum.

He will say: “I believe that all the peoples of the United Kingdom should have the same power to shape the laws and services which shape their lives, but they should also have the same responsibility for paying for them. We cannot carry on as we are. The present constitutional and financial relationships cannot endure. They are arbitrary and opaque and they allow everyone in the United Kingdom to believe that the system is unfair to them. The resulting mutual resentments could well lead to the break-up of our country in confusion and acrimony.”

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