Devolved Administrations: 20th Anniversary - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:39 pm on 22nd May 2019.

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Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour 7:39 pm, 22nd May 2019

My noble friend is absolutely right. She has put her finger on it and I agree with her 100%. This supposed solution of English votes for English laws is entirely unworkable. We have already seen that.

What we need is proper devolution to the regions of England. To be fair, the Government are doing it for the cities, but what about the rural parts of England that are as important as London or Manchester? What about Lincolnshire, to take a random example? It may be asymmetric—I am not suggesting a uniform system—but it is not up to me anyway. It is up to English people, and we need to encourage them to have a mechanism for looking at it just as we did in Scotland with the Scottish Constitutional Convention. People tend to forget that the Scottish Constitutional Convention was set up by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and civic society in opposition; my noble friend Lady Ramsay was one of its joint chairs. It was not the Government who set it up, but when we came into government we used it as a blueprint. I have been asking the leader of the Labour Party and others for the last four years why we cannot do it for England as part of a settlement for the United Kingdom. That really needs to be done.

I want to see the kind of empowerment that we have seen in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland come to the people of England. Once we do that, devolution will have been concluded and will be successful.