Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Conservatives on the Union

From the Conservative manifesto
Change Politics Strengthen The Union

We are a Unionist party and we will not put the Union at risk. But we support devolution and are committed to making it work for all countries. We will take forward the proposals of the Calman Commission, grant a referendum on greater powers for the Welsh Assembly, and support the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland. We will rebalance the unfairness in the voting system for devolved issues in Parliament.

In recent years, we have been hearing things that we have not heard for a long time: people in Scotland saying they want to leave the UK, and some people responding with ‘let them go’. Labour’s constitutional vandalism has weakened Parliament, undermined democracy and brought the integrity of the ballot into question. our unbalanced devolution settlement has caused separatism to gather momentum in Scotland, and separatists have propped up a weakened Labour Party in Wales.

The Conservative Party is passionate about the Union and we will never do anything to put it at risk. and, because of the new political force we have created with the Ulster Unionists, we are proud that at the next election we will be the only party fielding candidates in every part of the UK*.

Support devolution

We support the changes proposed by the Calman Commission for clarifying the devolution settlement and creating a relationship of mutual respect between Westminster and Holyrood:

the Prime minister and other ministers will go to Holyrood for questioning on a regular basis.

the Scottish Parliament should have more responsibility for raising the money it spends. We will produce our own White Paper by may 2011 to set out how we will deal with the issues raised by Calman, and we will legislate to implement those proposals within the next Parliament.

We will not stand in the way of the referendum on further legislative powers requested by the Welsh assembly. The people of Wales will decide the outcome and Conservatives will have a free vote. but our priority remains getting people back into work and strengthening the Welsh economy. So we will seek ways to work with the Welsh assembly government to increase economic growth and improve people’s quality of life.

In Northern Ireland, we strongly support the political institutions established over the past decade and we are committed to making devolution work. We will continue to promote peace, stability and economic prosperity and work to bring Northern ireland back into the mainstream of UK politics. We will produce a government paper examining the mechanism for changing the corporation tax rate in Northern Ireland, in order to attract significant new investment. And we will stop the practice of ‘double-jobbing’, whereby elected representatives sit in both Westminster and Stormont.

Labour have refused to address the so-called ‘West Lothian Question’: the unfair situation of Scottish MPs voting on matters which are devolved. A Conservative government will introduce new rules so that legislation referring specifically to England, or to England and Wales, cannot be enacted without the consent of MPs representing constituencies of those countries.

OK, a bit more meat to chew on there than the few scraps Labour has thrown us:

1. Calman supported, Scottish parliament to have more responsibility for raising the money it spends.

2. Referendum granted on further powers in Wales. Looks very much of a stand-off approach though, a sensible "free vote" reflecting differences of opinion within the Welsh Conservatives?

3. How the Corporation Tax would be changed in Northern Ireland will be examined...in all honesty, in the interests of us returning to the "mainstream", I'd rather see the a UK-wide change in the Corporation Tax.

4. No more double-jobbing. Which is good, obviously; a commitment for Conservatives and Unionists to play a more active part in Westminster than the present bunch of detached "MPs" would have been even better.

5. West Lothian addressed, to an extent. If I understand it correctly, MPs from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will still be able to vote on such matters but they will not be able to vote down measures that a majority of English MPs consent to? Is that right? Bit confusing.

6. "We are proud that at the next election we will be the only party fielding candidates in all but one constituency in the UK".

1 comment:

- said...

As I read the WLQ question, it is a double-consent requirement for English (and Englandandwelsh) bills: that they will not pass without the consent both of the majority of the House of Commons and the majority of MPs from England (or Englandandwales).

Sounds possibly workable and rather more reasonable than some of the party's other suggested proposals.