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Meanwhile in England support for a devolved English Parliament seems to be growing. The Westminster politicians are not keen on this option. They would lose all the issues their electors really care about education, health and criminal justice (if the English Parliament had the same powers as the Scottish one). The UK Parliament would be left with foreign affairs, defence and raising the taxes to pay for the schemes of the devolved institutions.
Given that, despite a large degree of devolution of education, health and justice, the Spanish Parliament hasn't lost its pre-eminent position in the mind of Spaniards after 20 to 25 years of devolution, I wonder whether what you are saying is true, and how that would work. Would Westminster lose or share the power to legislate on these areas? Some power to legislate at the national level would be necessary to ensure coordination and cohesion of the regional systems (though the controversy over drugs available under the NHS in Scotland but not in England makes me wonder about this). Wikipedia claims
The Scotland Act 1998 creates the Scottish Parliament, sets out how Members of the Scottish Parliament are to be elected, makes some provision about the internal operation of the Parliament (although many issues are left for the Parliament itself to regulate) and sets out the process for the Parliament to consider and pass Bills which become Acts of the Scottish Parliament once they receive Royal Assent. The Act does not affect the power of the UK Parliament to legislate in respect of Scotland, recognising the concept of Parliamentary sovereignty.
I am beginning to wonder how the Scotland Act 1998 compares with, say, the new Catalan Statute. Comparisons between the Basque Country and Northern Ireland are also often made, together with the statement that the current Basque Statute devolves more powers than the Stormont Agreement.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 04:32:01 AM EST
The difference between devolution (Home Rule) and a proper federal system, is that the central Parliament retains full legislative power. It could, for example, abolish the devolved institutions or reduce the powers they have, without any greater formality than for any other legislation. Parliament can ignore devolution and legislate on devolved matters, but it has adopted a convention not to do so. The sanctions against these things happening are political instead of legal.

The reason why it is feared an English Parliament would lead to the break up of the UK is that England has such a large majority of the population. If the policies of a Conservative English Executive were being blocked by a Labour UK government, because of the non-English members being mostly anti-Comservative, then there would be a real risk of the total collapse of the political system.

The problem does not arise so acutely when no devolved area forms the majority of the whole union. That is why Labour and Liberal Democrat ideas involved the English regions having a status comparable to Scotland and Wales, rather than the whole of England. The refusal of the people to accept the Labour agenda has pushed the argument in the direction either of an English Parliament or the Conservative idea that only English MPs should legislate for England on the sort of matters which had been devolved to Scotland.

by Gary J on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 09:05:06 AM EST
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