The West Lothian question

Lord Norton

The ‘West Lothian question’ is a term coined by Enoch Powell after the then constituency of Tam Dalyell, who raised the issue.  However, the issue of what to do with representatives from a part of the kingdom which is given home rule was raised in the 19th Century during debates on Irish home rule.  It was not resolved then and there remains no neat solution.  I have written a post on my own blog looking at how the question may be addressed.  The question is not amenable to resolution in a logical Powellian sense.  The best we can do is come up with a reasonably practical answer, which though not neat is one in line with precedent.

1 comment for “The West Lothian question

  1. Paul Tyler
    25/09/2014 at 1:03 pm

    Professor Lord Norton of Louth may lead the field, but a number of others have been working away, anticipating the significance of these questions – and the need for practical proposals to ensure devolution in England – once the Scottish referendum outcome was known.

    As he implies, anyone who thinks that the simple answer is an English Parliament has clearly asked the wrong question. Equally, those who now suggest that the McKay Commission recommendations can solve all problems cannot have read the report properly. Having given evidence to the Commission, I have now re-read their analysis, and confirmed my previous impression: for example, there is no recognition whatsoever of the role of the House of Lords.

    Fortunately many others, as well as Lord Norton, have made a more rigorous assessment of the options. For example, Dr Alan Renwick of Reading University has published an invaluable and exhaustive study of various forms of constitutional convention. And we Liberal Democrats approved an outline of an evolutionary approach to a federal UK constitution, with effective devolution for England, at our Spring Conference in York in March – immodestly I would suggest that we were ahead of the usual pundits in this respect.

    Now that so many minds are engaged – not just in the Westminster/Whitehall bubble but in academia, in civic society and in the media – we should not lose momentum by postponing any further thinking for a year or so.

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