Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Back in your box

There is a story in the Herald that Nicky Morgan, the UK Equalities Minister, has been rebuked by the Speaker of the House of Commons for apparently implying that she didn't have to answer a question because the MP asking it was Scottish.

The MP was John Robertson, who represents Glasgow North West, and he asked Ms Morgan about a policy to allow people without formal teaching qualifications to be allowed to teach in English schools, only to be told that she noted that he was a Scottish Member of Parliament asking about English matters, but she would answer the question anyway .  The full exchange can be found here.

If legislation is put in place for EVEL, we may expect to see this sort of thing happening more often, where Scottish MPs will have no right to put questions on policies that do not directly affect their constituents.  In this case it was education, which is entirely devolved.  However, there are many subjects which do not directly affect the Scots, but which may indirectly affect them through the Barnet Consequentials, and it's worrying to think that Scottish MPs may not have the right to ask questions on those topics either.  It effectively reduces Scottish MPs to a second-class status.

English Votes for English Laws is a great soundbite, but is fraught with difficulty at the practical level.  Personally I would solve this by Scotland getting its independence, leaving England to sort out its own constitutional matters.  However, until that happens, we need to fight for our MPs rights to full and equal status with MPs from the rest of the UK.

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