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Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:58 pm on 22nd October 2015.

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Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South 1:58 pm, 22nd October 2015

Forgive me. I enjoyed a good debate with the hon. Lady earlier, but I must press on.

This is a matter that has support across the country. There are only three perfect answers to the West Lothian question, but none of the options are available or desirable. We could have independence. Scottish National party Members want that, but it was rejected. We could do away with devolution altogether. That is not on the table; indeed, we are enshrining the permanence of the Scottish Parliament. The third option is to have some form of federal United Kingdom. The problem with that is if the federation is the four constituent nations, England would be far too big and dominant, and the balance would be upset. In addition, there is no demand in England for having England split up into federal blocks, so that option is not on the table.

What we have before us is a perfectly reasonable and sensible proposal that adds the same principle of consent to matters that apply only to England, which Scotland enjoys for matters that apply north of the border. It is a reasonable measure and it has support. People in my constituency want to see it and it is high time, four decades after Tam Dalyell posed it, that we answer the West Lothian question. Doing nothing has a bigger cost.

I fear that if we do not address this issue now, it will fester away and erode the bonds that hold the United Kingdom together. That is why I support the measure, and I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House for bringing this matter before us today.