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Thread: How an English Parliament will affect The English and Other FAQ's

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    Default How an English Parliament will affect The English and Other FAQ's

    (I have been asked a few times by members about the whole situation with the English parliament, so thought to save having to explain myself again and again rather badly, I would place this here for people's reference.)



    1. What’s the point of an English Parliament in the first place? Why bother?

    Well. Try putting that same question to the Scots, the Welsh, the Northern Irish, the people of Eire, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney, to the Germans, the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, the Chinese, the Kazachs, the Americans, the Indians, the Palestinians, and any and every other people you can think of. They would all say that having their own parliament is definitely in their interest. For all sorts of solid reasons. But we English are the Kurds of Europe, the only nation in Europe which does not have its own parliament. Even the people of tiny Sark has its own parliament! And why? Because a national parliament or assembly means something, something very significant. First, it is the most positive statement going of being a distinct nation, which is also precisely what the people of England are. In fact, England was the first unified nation in the whole of Europe. And now the only one without its own parliament! Second, it means self rule. And that is a basic human right for any people. Then third, a parliament is the way to protect and improve the welfare of the people it represents.

    The rest of these pages will explain all this in much more detail but that’s the answer to your question in a nutshell. If having a parliament is such a good thing, and it must be since virtually every single nation on earth has one, and makes sure it has one, why not England? We are after all a nation of 60 million people, one of the biggest nations in all of Europe. not some little rocky outpost in the Atlantic Ocean. It is incredible that we do not have our own parliament and home rule –especially when every other nation in the United Kingdom has theirs.

    What’s more, it is fascinating to think a moment about the people in the United Kingdom Parliament who oppose England having its own parliament. Let’s just take one such person. Gordon Brown. He was the keenest supporter going of Scotland having its own parliament, he was the engine behind the Scottish Constitutional Convention which formulated all the legislation which in 1998 got Scotland its parliament, he was one of the many Scottish MPs and MEPs who signed the Scottish Claim of Right stating that they would put the interests of Scotland first and foremost in everything they did. Brown’s calculation is that Scotland is best served if it has its own parliament and with it the astonishing degree of self-rule within the Union he and his Scottish colleagues achieved for his country while keeping their power to legislate for England in every single one of England’s internal affairs. It is the gross unfairness of the power of Scottish MPs like Brown to legislate on England’s internal affairs that blocks the possibility of England having its own parliament. Well, what’s ok for Scotland is also ok for England. And what everyone expects for their own people we can rightly expect for ours.

    2. But don't we already have an English Parliament at Westminster?


    No. Absolutely not. The Westminster Parliament is the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England -and not just of England. The Union Parliament consists of MPs from all four countries. England did once have its own parliament, from 1258 until the Act of Union in 1707 when together with the Scottish Parliament it was closed down and both were replaced by the United Kingdom Parliament. However, with the Devolution legislation of 1998 the Scottish Parliament was re-established and Wales and Northern Ireland got their national assemblies, with the result that all those three countries now have their own distinct constitutional and political existence and government of their internal affairs, while retaining their MPs in the Union Parliament who are able to make laws for England. But England got no devolution at all. It alone of the four countries has no political and constitutional recognition or existence and no degree of self-rule at all.

    3. But hasn't Scottish and Welsh devolution essentially made the British Parliament an English one?


    Far from it. In spite of having their own Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, Scottish and Welsh MPs still attend the Westminster Parliament as of right and vote on all matters coming before the House, even on those which concern only English affairs, such as health and education provision in England and English transport matters etc. However, English MPs are not entitled to vote on any matters internal to Scotland or Wales or NI. Furthermore, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Defence, just to mention three in the British Parliament, are Scots representing Scottish constituencies. The whole situation is now grossly unfair and discriminatory.

    4. Why do we need an English parliament?


    The MPs in the Union Parliament represent just their constituencies and the political party they belong to and not the individual countries they come from. In fact, a lot of the MPs for English constituencies are not English but Scottish and Welsh. England as England has no representation in the Westminster Parliament. In sharpest contrast the Devolution legislation of 1998 stated that the purpose of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Irish Assembly was to 'provide a forum to debate all matters of concern' for the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England has no such forum. Like the other three countries of the Union it should have. The people of England are a distinct nation. They have their own specific concerns just like the other three. They should therefore have their own English parliament to deal with them.

    5. What is England’s constitutional position?


    There just isn’t one, believe it or not. Constitutionally and politically England does not exist. It ceased to exist politically and constitutionally in 1707 with the Act of Union. So did Scotland. But Scotland received back its constitutional and political existence, and hence its national existence, in 1998 when it got back its Parliament. So did Wales with the Welsh Assembly. And Northern Ireland. But as there is no single constitutional and political institution representing England, it alone of the three nations of the island of Britain does not exist politically and constitutionally.

    6. What exactly is the constitutional position of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish people?


    Constitutionally there are four sorts of people in the United Kingdom. There are those who are Scottish and British, those who are Welsh and British, those who are Northern Irish and British and those who are just British. No prizes for guessing who this last group is. Constitutionally and politically the English just do not exist, while the Scots, the Northern Irish and the Welsh do. Now do you see why England must have its own Parliament? England and the people of England are non-entities as far as the British state is concerned. The English should get the same national recognition.

    7. What would an English Parliament do for England that the Westminster or UK Parliament isn’t already doing?


    For a start, it would return to the people of England that basic human right which they had for the hundreds of years before the Act of Union 1707, namely self-rule and their political and constitutional existence as English. Now, outside of sport they do not have any formal national identity at all. The present situation is nothing less than weird. For example, when there is a Football or Rugby or Cricket World Cup, or the Commonwealth Games or a European Nations Football Cup, the English team is the only one which represents a country which politically and constitutionally does not exist. Because politically and constitutionally their country does not exist. The Isle of Man, each Channel Island, Scotland and Wales, any and every other team wherever they are from, all represent countries and nations which have a political existence. But not the English players. The institution of a national parliament or national assembly gives political existence to a nation.

    In the case of the English people this denial of their own parliament is particularly unjust because their ancient parliament was founded in 1258 and it existed as the very Mother of Parliaments and the seed bed of modern democracy, and is one of their greatest contributions to world civilisation and progress, as is their English language, their unrivalled literary culture and their scientific and engineering achievements. Once England has its own parliament, it will have home-rule, again a basic human right of any nation. With home-rule it will then be able to acquire for its people all the benefits in health provision, education, social services etc which the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have acquired for their peoples, some 80% of the cost of which the English taxpayer pays for and which are described below.

    8. Won’t an English Parliament simply create an extra layer of politicians, bureaucracy and cost?


    This is indeed something that has to be avoided. That is precisely one of the reasons why the people of England’s North East voted against having a regional assembly. No one wants more government. No one wants more politicians. No one wants to spend any more money on either. Unfortunately the devolution programme of 1998 took a form which carefully avoided anything that disturbed, even threatened to disturb, the salaries and ministerial prospects of existing UK MPs from Scotland and Wales and the concomitant civil service in any way whatsoever. Otherwise it wouldn’t have got through so smoothly, if at all. The parliamentary payroll paid for by the taxpayer was added to by 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament and 60 Members of the Welsh Assembly in the form of salaries, expenses and paid assistants. Yet, even though the MSPs took over the responsibilities of the Secretaries of State for both Scotland and Wales, both Offices were retained as were their place in the Cabinet, and with them their salaries. Likewise the range of Government portfolios available to Scottish, Welsh and NI MPs was retained in full. A whole new civil service was also created in both Scotland and Wales. The devolution proposals made by the Scottish Constitutional Convention and implemented in 1998 were designed to preserve the career prospects of its country’s MPs at Westminster and Scotland’s ability to legislate in English matters. They were designed both to transfer as much power over Scotland back to Scotland as was feasible with remaining within the Union and to maintain its power and influence within the Union to the maximum. The Members of the Scottish Parliament took over the majority percentage of the constituency duties of the Scottish Members of the UK Parliament, yet the salaries of the latter were retained in full.

    There is no way this should be repeated when England gets its own parliament. Probably Scotland and Wales got away with it because they make up only 13.5% of the UK population, but with England being 84% it simply will not be tolerated. Neither is it at all necessary. Devolution does not increase the size of the population. The collective number of MPs, Union and English Parliament must not be increased unless there is a clear and defensible benefit in it for the paying electorate. The cost of government must not be determined by the pockets of the people who govern us. There therefore should be no need to increase the amount of parliamentary representation, the number of politicians or cost of government. That should be the iron law of all devolution, or at the very least the aspiration and the ideal. The public which foots the bill will not put up with anything else.

    9. Won’t an English Parliament, because England is 80% of the UK population, be too dominant, more powerful even than the UK Parliament itself?


    This is the standard objection made by those who oppose devolution to England. For example, there is a body called the Constitution Unit. It is a collection of academics brought together under Government auspices to provide a rationale of its policy of denying devolution to England in any form that treats England as a national unit, specifically an English Parliament. Basically it wants to preserve the United Kingdom as it is, no matter what disadvantages the Union inflicts upon England and her people It puts it this way:

    “An English Parliament would appear to be a neat solution to the fundamental asymmetry in the devolution arrangements. It would create a federation of the four historic nations of the UK. The fundamental difficulty is the sheer size of England in comparison with the rest of the UK. England with four fifths of the population will be hugely dominant. On most domestic matters the English Parliament will be more important than the Westminster parliament. No federation has operated successfully where one of the units is dominant”. (.‘The English Question’ 2006. chap.11 p.224).

    The objection is twofold, that within a devolved UK England with its own parliament would be dominant, and on English domestic matters an English Parliament would be more important than the Union Parliament. The reply to both objections is straightforward. Ever since the start of the Union three hundred years ago England for the very reason the objectors provide has always been ‘hugely dominant’. That demographically, economically and geographically is what England is within the Union, yet the Union has been very successful. One can only wonder why these people come up with the idea that it should become a problem now. As for an English Parliament being more important than Westminster on most domestic matters, well that is precisely what devolution is all about. That is its very purpose. It is called the principle of subsidiarity. The Scots, the Northern Irish and the Welsh all now look after their domestic affairs. Why not England?

    10. OK. You get an English Parliament. Where will you have it located?


    It will be up to the English People in their own Parliament to decide its location. They could decide it will be in London as the historic capital city. However, as London will remain the seat of the UK government and has the bulk of political, cultural and media institutions already, there is a strong case for making another city the home of the English Parliament. Cities like Manchester or Leeds or Birmingham are more central to England if one draws a line from the Scillies to Berwick-on-Tweed and have excellent rail, air and road connections. Such a location will radically decentralise power, wealth and cultural activity, which is what devolution is about. However, it will be for the English Parliament to make that decision.

    11. Won’t regional assemblies throughout England bring power much closer to the people?


    No. The Union Kingdom Government up to November 2004 did have plans to divide England into regions each with their own regional assemblies. However, a clear and careful reading of the legislation that was produced to set them up revealed that these assemblies would have none of the real powers given to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, and that they would in fact be nothing more than agencies to implement and enforce Whitehall decisions. Simultaneously England’s county councils, the oldest system of local government in the whole of Europe and genuinely local to the people, would be abolished. For those reasons the people of England’s North East, when the Government put it to a referendum on November 4th 2004, overwhelmingly rejected the whole scheme by 78% to 22% -a truly devastating rejection of the Union government’s to balkanise England, to turn England into what has been described as ‘a veritable witches’ brew of internecine rivalries’ (Will Hutton). The whole scheme was undemocratic in every detail. It would have meant transferring local control within the county or the city council to a regional administrative centre, based perhaps more than 100 miles away. In the proposed South Region, for example, local government policies for Oxfordshire would have been decided in Canterbury and in the South West Region democratic control of Cornwall’s affairs would have been removed from the county and controlled from Bristol two hundred miles away. In the North West economic development in Cumbria would have been decided on in Manchester. Furthermore as the population of England is predominantly urban, the regional assemblies would have been dominated by metropolitan areas, leaving the rural counties with little or no say in their own government. Power would be taken from them and transferred to the city electorates who do not live in the counties and do not understand their needs. So, for example, the residents of Cheshire or Shropshire or Northumberland or Cornwall would have been governed from Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Bristol respectively. This will mean that new developments like sprawling housing estates, noisy concrete roads and towering incinerators may well have been imposed upon rural areas irrespective of local wishes. It would all have been a denial of genuine democracy.

    12. Shouldn’t there be regional assemblies to reflect and develop the great regional diversity that makes up England? After all, England is notoriously tribal. Look at its football teams and their supporters.


    England doesn’t need such bureaucracies as regional assemblies to reflect its diversity. It has been unified in its diversity and diverse in its unity for 1500 years. It has its counties and its great cities. It has its own six ancient geographical regions rooted in the language, familiar to all English men and women: the North of England, East Anglia, the Midlands, London and the Home Counties, the South and the West Country. And how strange that this was only being said about England. The UK Government, and the Scottish ministers in it, and the Scottish MPs and MSPs have never said it about Scotland. Scotland is far more diverse politically, economically and culturally than England. The Western Isles and the Highlands are Celtic in language and culture, quite distinct from the Anglo-Saxon regions of the Central Belt and the Lowlands. Edinburgh is much closer in every form of culture to London and Manchester than it is to Argyll, Skye or Lewis. Orkney and Shetland are Norse in their history and culture, not Scottish at all. Yet a single Scottish Parliament is seen fit to preside over all this diversity which comprises Scotland. No one suggests that Scotland should be balkanised into regions. Why just England? England is the oldest unified nation in the whole of Europe, its unity and self of identity has been the source of its amazing cultural, political, economic and scientific contribution to both European and world civilisation, admired and acknowledged everywhere. One wonders why members of the Union government would even contemplate its balkanisation into ‘regions’ which have no roots whatsoever in its history or in the sense of identity the English people have always had of themselves. When Mr Blair, who was born and educated in Scotland, gave his reasons for a Scottish Parliament in 1998 in his Preface to the Scottish Devolution White Paper, he wrote: ‘Scotland is a proud historic nation’. So is England. Very much so. Regrettably –and curiously- he never made that statement about England. England is indeed a proud historic nation, distinct from the rest, and should therefore for that reason have its own parliament.

    13. How will an English Parliament benefit the people of England?


    Decisively. An English Parliament will be the formal and authoritative statement of the political and constitutional existence of the people of England as a distinct nation, as has been given to Scotland through its parliament and to Wales through its assembly.
    Employing the words of the Act setting up the Welsh Assembly, it will be "the focus of the nation to debate its concerns’. The people of England, all of them irrespective of racial origin, religion and politics, will have their own institution to further their common welfare. The people of England in all their vibrant diversity are one people. They know best what their welfare consists in. It will enable them to decide their own priorities and direct spending where it is most needed. Just as the people of Wales have been able to make all prescriptions free through their Assembly and the people of Scotland have been able to make university education for all Scottish students, so an English Parliament will spend the revenue of England in the ways which best promote the welfare of the English people.

    14. Would an English Parliament be able to protect England’s environment?


    Yes, and that is another vital reason why England must have its own parliament. England is a most beautiful country, a green and pleasant land, loved intensely by its people, its poets, its artists and its writers. But for too long the Union Kingdom government has regarded and treated England as nothing more than a trading estate, a shopping mall. an employment park. The English countryside is shrinking rapidly, and much of it could disappear within 80 years unless there are curbs on new developments. Alarm over the loss of undisturbed areas of the landscape is being raised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Almost 50 per cent of England is now disturbed by roads, industrial developments, out-of-town retail and business parks and new housing estates. Motorways and roads, power stations, airports, railway lines, power lines, wind farms, mines, and quarries have adversely affected the countryside. According to the CPRE, only 26 per cent of England’s land area had been disturbed by urban intrusion before the 1960s. This grew to 41 per cent by the early 1990s, and this year to almost 50 per cent, 25,614 square miles; and the calculation of the incursion would be even greater if the impact of aircraft noise were taken into account. The Union Government in recent years has shown no concern for the English countryside, has never shown any understanding of the close relationship between environmental tranquillity and beauty on the one hand and the mental and cultural welfare of people on the other and has only ever regarded England as a business. Unless and until England is governed by its own people in their own parliament, who love it and feel for it as theirs, just as Scotland and Wales are, its destruction will get worse.

    15. Is there a demand for an English parliament?


    There is. An overwhelming demand. A demand that has grown in strength year by year. An NOP opinion poll in April 2002 showed that in England 47% wanted an English Parliament, whereas only 28% said they wanted Regional Assemblies (25% don’t knows). Tellingly, the strongest support came from the 15 to 24 age group and from women voters. On St. George's Day that year BBC Radio 2 invited listeners to ring in whether or not they supported an English Parliament. 94% (14,556 people) rang in with a Yes, a mere 6% (930 people) voted No.

    The next decisive milestone was the referendum on regional assemblies in England’s North East two years later November 4th 2004. The Union government spent millions of pounds on propaganda and dispatched every Cabinet member to argue for the policy. It knew England was becoming more and more bitter at the way it had been completely left out of the devolution programme and at the huge immense advantages Scotland and Wales were getting from having their own parliaments and home rule, 80% of which was being paid for by the English taxpayer. But the government was completely opposed to England getting its own parliament, it was pushing the division of England into regions instead, each with their own assembly. The people of the North East rejected that proposal overwhelmingly by 78% to 22%. That was an historic moment in England’s history. The Union government’s attempt to abolish England and replace it with regions competing against each other had been stopped dead in its tracks.

    Two more polls more than confirmed the trend. The ICM poll November 2006 recorded 68% in support of ‘England having its own parliament with similar powers to those of the Scottish Parliament’, and the BBC poll January 16th 2007, the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union, found 61% of people in England supporting an English Parliament.
    There is an extra factor which reveals the special significance of this degree of support and which cannot be ignored. It has been achieved without much more than a penny being spent in promotion of an English Parliament, without adverts being placed in newspapers, without a single Government minister or Shadow minister campaigning for it, indeed with the Government and all three main parties actively opposing it, without any celebrity being involved, with very few leaflets and brochures being distributed, let alone pushed through the letter boxes of households, without any publicity on English TV and radio and in newspapers. It has been achieved despite the public opposition of all three major political parties, all backing alternatives if anything at all, and despite the opposition of the BBC, which is hostile to any political recognition of England qua England. The BBC operates a BBC Scotland, a BBC Wales, a BBC Northern Ireland and a British Asian Network but despite all our requests adamantly refuses to have a BBC England. When pressed by us for its reason it stated that ‘England is too big’ which of course is nonsense. There is a BBC World Service. The prejudice against England within the British cultural and political Establishment runs very deep indeed.
    What the polls reveal about the English people is that they have come to the conclusion that there should be an English Parliament purely on the basis their own thinking and feelings about England after the 1998 devolution legislation, and they have done that not just unassisted by propaganda but also in the face of deep Establishment opposition. Soon the dykes will break, the flood of English feeling will sweep everything before it.

    16. Will the creation of an English Parliament lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom?


    No. Not at all. It will strengthen the Union. A union between partners is always stronger when each one is treated equally and fairly. At present the English are showing more and more resentment at the financial and political injustice they are suffering from the UK government. A glance at the website page "England Disadvantaged' illustrates it pretty adequately. It is this resentment that might prove to be the greatest threat to the Union. After all, economically, financially, politically and culturally England does not need union with Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland. England in fact subsidises them. It provides them with a huge job market. The fact is, it is in the best interests of the Union that the UK government acts quickly to restore fairness and justice within the United Kingdom and gives to England what it has so happily given to Scotland. The fact is that Scotland, undoubtedly because of the positions held by Scottish MPs in the Labour government since 1997 to the present day, has received a degree of self-rule and advantage much greater than that received by Wales and Northern Ireland, while of course England has received none at all. Nothing threatens the continuation of the Union more than unfairness like that. The Union will only survive if each partaking nation stands in the same relationship to the Union government and to each other. Nothing destroys a union more than unfairness.

    17. How will an English Parliament affect the relationship between England and the EU?


    At present there is no relationship at all between England and the EU. There is however between the UK and the EU, between Scotland and the EU, between Wales and the EU and between Northern Ireland and the EU. All four are represented in different ways at the EU. All four are recognised officially by the EU. The EU however, does not recognise England at all. The EU, which showed Scotland, Wales and the UK on its map of Europe, did not show England on it at all but nine EU ‘regions’ instead. Only when pressed by members of the CEP with letter after letter did the EU map-makers change their map and put England on it.

    In the event that England gets its own parliament, the relationship between it and the EU will then be the same as that between Scotland and the EU. That relationship is to have official recognition within the EU, to have an office in the EU, to be able to make representation on behalf of the people of England as distinct from the rest of the UK and to receive and distribute EU subsidies and grants pertaining to England directly exactly as Scotland does. England qua England, after all, is and will remain with France and Germany one of the three biggest contributors to the EU budget.

    18. I'm a member of the Conservative/Labour/Liberal Democrat/Other party, is CEP membership compatible with that?


    Yes. The Campaign for an English Parliament is a single-issue political campaign. We have members from all major political parties and none. Our members are pro-EU and anti-EU, pro-monarchy and anti-monarchy, for absolute free-trade and for regulated markets. We do not tolerate extremist views or illegal activity, but otherwise if you agree that there should be a parliament for England, please join the CEP now.

    Source: Campaign for an English Parliament(CEP)

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    This is the question I wanted to ask. When Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already have their own local parliaments and government, than why should not England also would not have it? In this situation it seems that England does not have an equal status in the UK since MPs from other provinces are making decisions about matters that concern England...

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    Thanks for posting this. There's 2 parties that support an English Parliament and that's the English Democrats (a group seeking independence for England from the UK) and UK Independence Party who seeks UK independence from the EU parliament in Brussels. Both these parties believe in equal rights in healthcare, student fees, etc, for English people, and the right to an English parliament.

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