What recent discussions he has had with the Deputy Prime Minister on establishing a commission on the West Lothian question.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of
State and I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister on a range of issues. The Government remain committed to establishing a commission later this year to consider the West Lothian question.
Does the Minister agree that timing is of the essence here? This is a difficult question and the commission will need to consider its recommendations, after which this House will need time to consider the outcome. It would be much better if this were done at a time of constitutional peace rather than at a time of constitutional crisis.
I respect my hon. Friend’s passion on this subject. She, of course, has a Bill before the House that touches on these issues. I understand that it will be heard on the first Friday of the September sitting, which will give the whole House an opportunity to debate the issues. I will convey my hon. Friend’s call for urgency to the Deputy Prime Minister.
I agree with my hon. Friend. I have always expressed the view that there is no desire for an English Parliament—and the same two people have always written to me afterwards to say that I am wrong.
Does the Minister agree that this issue is much more complex than Conservative Members sometimes allow? A good example arose in the debates on university tuition fees before Christmas. That might have been regarded as a purely English issue, but it had tremendous consequences for Scotland.
I acknowledge the hon. Lady’s point. This is a complex issue, which is why the coalition Government are committed to establishing a commission to look at it. I hope that it will be able to take evidence from people such as the hon. Lady.
I am sure the Minister is right when he says that there is no great demand for an English Parliament. Does he not accept that the proposal to have two classes of MPs in this House, which is coming from many supporters of the proposals of Harriett Baldwin, effectively amounts to setting up an English Parliament in this building? Is that not inevitably the road that his Government will go down if they accept having two classes of MPs in this House?
I do not acknowledge the hon. Gentleman’s point because the devolution settlement means that different MPs in this House already have different responsibilities, depending on whether they are from Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or Wales. The Government are committed to look at the West
Lothian question, which is a substantive issue that the previous Government ignored, and will set up a commission later this year.