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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
The West Lothian question
The Conservative Party has spoken out against the idea that Scottish Labour MPs be allowed to vote on a policy that does not affect Scottish constituents.

Salty the cow, one of 94 cows making up the CowParade stands outside the Scottish parliament
Is Salty the cow, standing outside the Scottish Parliament, mooved by the West Lothian Question?
Following Chancellor Gordon Brown's hints that university top-up fees in England may have to rise after the next general election, Tory education spokesman David Willetts said that it would be "unfair" if Scottish MPs were allowed to vote on such a proposal.

Powers over education in Scotland have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but Scottish MPs can still vote on matters that only affect English seats. "The West Lothian question" has become shorthand for the consequent tensions.

Newsnight would like to hear your views on this subject. Do you have an answer to the West Lothian question?

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We have had a large number of e-mails in response to this question and will be unable to publish them all. The views published reflect the balance of opinion received.

All systems of representative democracy will apportion influence disproportionately - in one way or the other - and what we have really isn't too bad
Tom Brooks Pollock
The answer to the West Lothian question is simple - The Scots, Welsh and Irish all have their own forms of parliament from an actual parliament to an Assembly - the English don't! So give us an English parliament!! Or just carry on ignoring England until its people explode into pure frustration, anger and rebellion against being ruled by non English MPs in their own country!
Lee Ingram, Leicester

Ban MPs from Scottish constituencies from voting on matters that only affect England - if this leaves them without much to do, tell them to go and play croquet with John Prescott
Saint George
What is the objection here? That Scottish voters exercise disproportionate influence over the making of English laws? Think of the 80s - the industrial north, Wales, Scotland, etc, were governed by Tory governments they had rejected. The fact is that all systems of representative democracy will apportion influence disproportionately - in one way or the other - and what we have really isn't too bad.
Tom Brooks Pollock, London

My solution is to ban MPs from Scottish constituencies from voting on matters that only affect England. This includes the English equivalents of all matters that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament - Health, education, etc. If this leaves the Scottish MPs without much to do, tell them to go and play croquet with John Prescott.
Saint George, Southampton

The bottom line is it's totally unfair that Scottish MPs can vote on English issues but English MPs can't vote on Scottish issues
Carol Bratke
I always think the government missed a trick in its haste to introduce devolution and reform the House of Lords. The Lords should have been abolished with the present House of Commons becoming the upper House. The separate nations should each have been given their own Parliament or Assembly, with any legislation then subject to scrutiny in the upper House. That way we'd allow the Nation's Parliaments and assemblies to consider the impact that any legislation, including UK-wide measures, would have in their particular territory, before it is scrutinised in the upper House. It would encourage greater dialogue between the Assemblies and Parliaments and ensure that UK-wide legislation takes account of different nation's sensibilities. The West Lothian question would no longer be an issue.
Kris Jones, London

There is no question! It is perfectly obvious that Scottish MPs should no longer be deciding matters which do not affect Scotland
Nigel Perry
The only answer is for any Scots to walk out when any purely English item is being voted on but that will not be agreed by the government as it is only being brought up by the Tories - this, by the way, is the true Tories, same as they'll always be, because at the moment they have no seats in Scotland.
Walter Plant, Evesham

The bottom line is it's totally unfair that Scottish MPs can vote on English issues but English MPs can't vote on Scottish issues. The Scots want it all their way they want their cake and to eat it. This unfairness needs to be sorted out quickly - we should not be doormats anymore.
Carol Bratke, London

There is no question! It is perfectly obvious that Scottish MPs should no longer be deciding matters which do not affect Scotland. What we have here is a fine example of the muddle and incompetence at which the government of Mr Blair excels. Ask one of the ladies at the Women's Institute to sort it out during her lunch break.
Nigel Perry, Bath

The Scottish MP's contribution was pathetic. An English Parliament would not endanger the (what he described as) strongest European economy. It would just provide 83% with a fair democratic settlement.
Stephen Gash, Carlisle

Stuff the West Lothian question since there is one question that's UNITING the whole nation: Is Grace the biggest bitch ever in the Big Brother house? Big Brother - it's democracy that works for Britain.
Andy, Lundun

I think that Great Britain, and not its four component "nations", should compete in the World Cup, as in the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games; then we'd stand a much better chance AND avoid the England flag being hijacked by football.
Maurice Waite, Abingdon

Answer to the West Lothian question: INDEPENDENCE
Susan Rankine
I find this whole subject quite unbelievable and very offensive. The Scots have no right to vote on solely English matters. English MPs are not allowed to vote on Scottish or Welsh matters and it is grossly unfair. England should not be ruled by foreign MPs, they have their own parliament and they should confine their interests to it. I feel very bitter, two of the major English parties are ruled by Scots and if Brown takes over from Blair then it will make matters even worse. There should be a separate parliament for England, we should have the same rights as Scotland and Wales. There are far more people living in England, this is the dominant country in Britain and without the south east of England, the economies of Scotland and Wales would be dire. They rely on England for huge cash subsidies that give them a higher standard of living than English people. I think there should be a British parliament governing the whole of this island for general matters.
Mary Kelly, Tavistock, Devon

Answer to the West Lothian question: INDEPENDENCE
Susan Rankine, London

They have got the ELGIN STONE back now give ENGLAND back to the ENGLISH people
Ted Thirley
I must admit that I have no answer to the West Lothian problem - that's up to my MP to sort out but as a voter I do object to Scottish MPs being elected by the Scottish people then trying to run England. They have got the ELGIN STONE back now give ENGLAND back to the ENGLISH people.
Ted Thirley, Harlow

I think the most simple and obvious answer regarding the West Lothian question is that English MPs only should vote on matters that affect England
B Wagstaff
The English are beginning to realise how much they have been short-changed by this government's devolution policy. The only sensible and equitable answer is the one given by Mr Tilbrook - England must have the same recognition as Scotland with its own parliament for internal affairs. Unaccountable MPs from Scotland ruling on English affairs are an abomination to democracy.
Frances Lade, Hitchin

I think the most simple and obvious answer regarding the West Lothian question is that English MPs only should vote on matters that affect England.
B Wagstaff, Littleborough

No, the Scottish MPs should not vote on English matters such as Education. I am beginning to feel no MPs should vote on matters of Education - they often appear so ill informed, particularly when they open their mouths and speak.
Anne Hamilton, Lincoln

Let's both go our own way - we don't need you, you don't need us, but that doesn't stop us working on matters of common interest as two grown up and independent nations
Douglas
Gordon Brown is wrong to say that the answer to the WL question is not to ask the WL question! Possibly the real answer is to make the WL question redundant. There will always be conflict on both sides of the border over who gets what - for example the big debate in Scotland just now is revolving round Scottish taxpayers having to put their hands in their pockets to the tune of 500 million to bale out health trusts in England who can't manage their budgets - why should we Scots pay for such inefficiency? We don't need this level of strife - let's both go our own way. We don't need you - you don't need us, but that doesn't stop us working on matters of common interest as two grown up and independent nations.
Douglas, Dunfermline

Each home nation, including England, should have it's own parliament and the House of Lords should be abolished and replaced by a Federal Parliament for all the UK
Jon Simons
This is an issue that has troubled me for many years. The simple solution is simply to ask the Scottish, Irish and Welsh MPs to leave the room when discussing and voting on wholly English matters, ideally on a Thursday or Friday. This way we use the building in Westminster and have no risk of another building project going over budget and being delivered late and there should be no additional administrative overhead. This does not address the issue of the executive, but the cost of a complete duplication is too expensive. I do, however, feel strongly about the dominance of the Scots in the cabinet and Ministers who were voted in by Scots controlling wholly English matters. It is wrong, as you say, that John Reid can make decisions about Lancashire, but not Lanarkshire. The Home Secretary should be an English MP. Hopefully, if Scotland does achieve the full independence they are seeking, we can cut the cord, stop the subsidy and close all the UK government offices north of the border. Your piece last night did not make clear that we actually have Regional Assembles, fully staffed, in expensive accommodation, up and running and making decisions. It is just that they were not elected.
R Field, Redditch

The present constitutional position in the UK is undemocratic and currently angled in favour of the Scots-dominated Labour government. Each home nation, including England, should have it's own parliament and the House of Lords should be abolished and replaced by a Federal Parliament for all the UK.
Jon Simons, Cambridge

Special voting arrangements for English only issues restricted to English only MPs
Douglas E Walker
The answer is simple - either establish an English Parliament or restrict the voting rights of Scottish and Welsh MPs to matters that only concern their constituents and the UK as a whole.
Jon Isherwood, Leeds

Special voting arrangements for English only issues restricted to English only MPs.
Douglas E Walker, Northamptonshire

The present situation is both unconstitutional and undemocratic - the English are currently the only nation in Europe without their own parliament
Mark Taylor
Laws that effect only Scotland, N Ireland, Wales and England should only be voted on by their own MPs. They all have enough to make relative sense of this: England (529) Scotland (59) Wales (40) Northern Ireland (18). Laws that affect the whole of the UK could be voted on in the normal way. This way the heavy burden of expense created by a regional assembly can be removed and the responsibility of Westminster MPs can be focussed on their local areas. In the same way the London assembly could be replaced by London MPs dealing with London issues.
Paul Keeling, Bodiam, East Sussex

It is very simple. Like Scotland, England needs its own parliament with an English Executive. The present situation is both unconstitutional and undemocratic. The English are currently the only nation in Europe without their own parliament. Failure to create one will ultimately destroy the United Kingdom.
Mark Taylor, Crawley, W Sussex

An English Parliament would solve the West Lothian Question.
Jim Gash, Sleaford, Lincolnshire

I should prefer an elected English Assembly, based in Manchester, for originating and debating English law; a strengthening of the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament; and the Westminster Parliament reserved for UK law. I regret that the result will be less liberal for England, and I may choose to relocate in response. However, the strengthening of democracy is more important than my political preferences.
Peter Hughes, Durham

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