Democratic legitimacy vs parliamentary efficiency

Former Prime Minister John Major’s recent speech to the Ditchley Foundation attracted media attention because of his proposals for Scotland, which I’ve written about here.

However, Major also put forward some very interesting proposals for reforming how Parliament works. This got brief mention in the press – primarily his idea of appointing to the House of Commons some MPs who were experts in certain fields. While an interesting and rather controversial proposal, without having the actual text of Major’s speech before me, I was hesitant to comment on what he had said.

Major’s speech is now available on the Ditchley Foundation’s website, and it turns out Major had more in mind than simply appointing some MPs. Major is concerned with Parliament’s efficiency and effectiveness, which he believes can’t be improved via normal democratic means – or may even be undermined by increasing democracy by electing Lords. Part of the problem, Major believes, is that there aren’t enough MPs who are experts in key areas such as science, financial regulations, etc., and because of this, Parliament can’t legislate as effectively as it should. Major proposes widening the pool of talent prepared to enter politics by removing certain disincentives such as paying MPs a fixed and generous salary, but doing away with living allowances. But that is simply the tip of the iceberg:

We need, also, to attract to the Commons men and women at the top of their profession.  It is one of the oddities of democracy that fundamental policy choices are made by men and women who, apart from the legitimacy of election and a native intellect, have no qualifications to make them.

How many MPs can bring direct knowledge to how banks should be regulated?  Or how hedge funds work?  Or are familiar with e-money?  Or nuclear energy?  Or the social and medical implications of embryology?

We would benefit from our legislators having more practical knowledge.

Of course we can hire specialist advisers, but that can never be as effective as influential, knowledgeable voices speaking with expertise in the Chamber, in the Committees, in the tea rooms, in Party meetings.

There is no solution to this dilemma that doesn’t cut across our traditions, and so I would do just that.  Why not elect fewer Members of Parliament and appoint, on a basis pro rata to votes cast in the General Election, a similar number of Members without constituencies?

I know the familiar arguments against this – a few years ago I would have used them myself forcibly – but, on reflection, I now believe enhancement of the talent pool is so vital it justifies the changes.

If the Commons baulks at a further reduction in its Members then, as Douglas Hurd and I have argued before, let us appoint unelected Ministers, answerable to Parliament, but without being Members of it.  Or, of course, let us do both.  Douglas and I have argued also for fewer Ministers and fewer PPSs:  we have far too many of each:  they could be severely cut back.

One of the issues Major has identified is the difficulty of attracting people from a wide range of professional backgrounds into politics. I haven’t found data for the 2010 general election, but of the 650 MPs elected in the 2005 general election, 39% listed their occupation as “Professions”, which includes barristers, solicitors, doctors, civil servants/local government, and teachers (both professors and school). Nineteen percent listed their background as “Business” and 35% fell under the “Miscellaneous” category, which includes white collar jobs, politicians/political organisers, publishers and journalists. Only 6% were manual workers. While Major raises an important point, is appointing, rather than electing, MPs the solution?

Major’s proposal to “elect fewer Members of Parliament and appoint, on a basis pro rata to votes cast in the General Election, a similar number of Members without constituencies” might well appall on first consideration, but this isn’t really any different from MPs appointed from lists under some forms of PR. The difference here is that those appointed wouldn’t just be party hacks, but chosen for their professional expertise in specific fields. While I personally don’t like the idea of party lists, I might be more amenable to the idea of MPs appointed because of expertise rather than party partisanship.

Major’s alternative to the above proposal is to do away with the current form of cabinet government, wherein ministers are MPs chosen by the Prime Minister to serve in cabinet. Instead, Major is proposing something similar to the US cabinet, which is composed of unelected persons chosen by the President for their expertise in key areas. While perhaps less objectionable to some than the thought of appointed MPs, this would perhaps be a less ideal solution since cabinet ministers don’t normally serve on committees, and since they wouldn’t be elected MPs, they wouldn’t be in the House participating in debates. This option, to me, isn’t any different than that of appointing specialist advisors, which Major dismisses because that could “never be as effective as influential, knowledgeable voices speaking with expertise in the Chamber, in the Committees, in the tea rooms, in Party meetings.”

Major has a few thoughts on reform of the House of Lords as well. He does agree that it needs reforming; he completely disagrees that electing Lords is the way to go:

The case for election is democratic legitimacy.  However, if we want an efficient legislature, the case against is far more compelling.

An elected Upper House would cease to be a revising Chamber and would demand more powers that could only come from the Commons.  There would be confusion and conflict.  We should be reducing the number of politicians and adding to their quality.  An elected Lords would add more politicians and reduce their quality.  That is a bad bargain.

Does anyone imagine that Chiefs of the General Staff, Cabinet or Permanent Secretaries, Captains of Industry, Chancellors of Universities, Professors of Medicine would stand for election?

Of course they wouldn’t, and elected replacements could never bring such a depth of knowledge to the scrutiny of legislation.  If the answer is more elected politicians, we are asking the wrong question.

Again we see that Major is drawing a line between democratic legitimacy and parliamentary efficiency. He posits that the argument for an elected Lords is that this would increase their democratic legitimacy, but that this would be at the expense of parliamentary efficiency, which is his main argument against an elected upper Chamber. An elected Lords would demand more powers for itself, moving beyond its current role of revising Chamber; there would be confusion and conflict between it and the Commons; and more importantly, by electing Lords, we’d be reducing their quality.

This relates back to the problem of attracting persons from more diverse backgrounds and occupations to stand for election. Very few are interested in giving up solid careers for the ups and downs of politics. This doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be interested in serving in some capacity, however, such as being appointed to the House of Lords. Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that I do not think that electing Lords (or Canadian Senators) is necessary or even desirable, and so on this point, I agree with Major.

There have been calls by some to replace juries with panels of experts during complex court cases. The argument is that a “jury of one’s peers” simply cannot grasp the increasingly complex scientific and technical evidence presented during trials, both in high-profile criminal cases and in complex civil litigation in antitrust, securities, intellectual property, and product liability cases. It strikes me that Major is arguing the same thing with regards to Parliament, that elected MPs simply don’t have the knowledge, education and professional background to effectively make and pass laws dealing with increasingly complex scientific and technical issues. Because of this, he thinks it is important that there be some way to compensate for this gap, and that would be by appointing persons with the right expertise to play some role in the parliamentary process. The most obvious one would be to not elect peers, since this is already current practice and would be perhaps less objectionable than to trying to introduce the concept of appointed MPs or an unelected cabinet.

It is a pity that the media focused primarily on Major’s ideas about Scotland, because his proposals discussed here warranted more media attention than they received.

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Quote of the day

The trouble with a cheap, specialized education is that you never stop paying for it. - Marshall McLuhan

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Parlour games?

The Guardian’s Nicholas Watt recently wrote that the ongoing phone-hacking scandal and Prime Minister David Cameron’s closeness to central players in the Murdoch empire (e.g. Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson) leaves him vulnerable to having Nick Clegg “pull the plug” not on the coalition, but on Cameron himself:

This is where the eyes of Lib Dems really light up. If damaging details emerge Clegg could go to Cameron and say that his party is deeply committed to the coalition but it can no longer serve under him as prime minister. At this point Cameron has to decide: does he sacrifice his career to save the coalition, paving the way for another Tory to take his place as prime minister, or does he soldier on as leader of a deeply unstable minority administration?

Lib Dems are enjoying the prospect of bringing down Cameron. It would allow them to go into the next election saying they had saved two cherished British institutions – the NHS and the office of the prime minister.

In fairness, Watt admits that this is “the remotest of remote prospects”, “all very far-fetched and belongs in the world of a fantasy parlour game”. I would tend to agree with that, and wonder why Watt bothered to posit the possibility of this occurring.

There is no doubt that Cameron has been weakened by this scandal, and things could possibly get worse for him, as Watt notes. However, I wonder if the Liberal Democrats really would have anything to gain by forcing Cameron to resign.

The coalition government came about largely because of Cameron. There were, and are, a fair number of both Tory MPs and Tory supporters who would have preferred that the Conservatives govern on their own as a minority government, and believe that the party has made too many compromises in order to satisfy the Liberal Democrats. There are also a fair number of Conservative party supporters who have never really liked David Cameron, and who don’t think he’s sufficiently right-wing, if the comment sections on traditionally pro-Conservative media sites such as the Telegraph, ConservativeHome and the Spectator are anything to go by.

If the Lib Dems did present Cameron with an ultimatum such as the one Watt puts forward, and Cameron did decide to step down, I don’t know who might emerge as the new party leader. Someone the Lib Dems could still work with, such as George Osborne? Or someone far more “traditionally conservative” such as David Davis? There is no guarantee that the new leader would be as willing to continue with a coalition, and the Liberal Democrats could find themselves in an even more difficult situation.

The Liberal Democrats are still struggling in the polls. If they attempted a coup against Cameron, it seems to me that regardless the outcome, it would result in a general election. If, when presented with such an ultimatum, Cameron refused to resign, the Lib Dems would have to pull out of the coalition. A Conservative minority government could then easily be defeated in a confidence vote, resulting in an election that would most likely be won by Labour and that would also most likely see the Lib Dems decimated. If Cameron did agree to step down, and was replaced by someone far more traditionally Tory, it might become impossible for the Lib Dems to continue in the coalition, which would force them to pull out, which then would most likely lead to an election, or the new leader might decide to call an election to seek a new mandate. Either way, this would spell major trouble for the Liberal Democrats.

Watt may be right when he states that:

But nobody should forget that relations between Cameron and Clegg changed forever when the prime minister – in the eyes of his deputy – broke his words to allow the No campaign in the AV campaign to turn on him.

Clegg is not out for revenge. But any warmth he felt towards Cameron evaporated for good in the spring.

This does not, however, mean that the two cannot continue to work together. And I am not entirely convinced that the relationship between Clegg and Cameron has soured that much. The Constitution Unit’s interim report on the inner workings of the coalition, released in June of this year, indicates that the two continue to work well together. As stated in the press release:

Despite the political strains which have affected the coalition in recent months, the Constitution Unit’s research on how the coalition works shows that it has functioned very well in its first year. Viewed from inside, the ructions which have dominated the headlines have not destroyed the coalition’s effectiveness.

I agree with Watt that the prospect of this possible power play against Cameron by Clegg is extremely remote. I can’t see that there would be much, if anything, for the Lib Dems to gain from such a move. Cameron, as far as I can tell, remains conmitted to the idea of coalition government; many in his party, including many MPs, less so. And I don’t think such a plot is in the making, given that even more left-wing members of the Lib Dems are refraining from directly attacking Cameron. If anything, a weakened Cameron might well strengthen the hand of the Lib Dems within the coalition; ousting him would more likely than not leave the Lib Dems in a more vulnerable position.

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Quote of the day

Liberalism, as a political creed, is deeply sceptical about untrammelled media power. In a liberal, open and democratic society, we are constantly alert to the dangers of power that is concentrated and unaccountable in government, politics, the economy and the media. That’s why plurality and diversity, along with accountability and transparency, are so vital. And liberals also believe it’s necessary to maintain a clear distinction between different domains of power. Because, when financial, political, law enforcement, and media power spill over into each other, the fabric of liberty is threatened. - Rt. Hon. Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, in a speech on freedom, accountability and plurality of the media at the Institute for Government in London, 14 July 2011

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Who’s Who in Parliament: the Sergeant-at-Arms

The Sergeant-at-Arms (or Serjeant-at-Arms) performs a dual role in the House of Commons, ceremonial and administrative.

An article in “The Table”, the journal of Society of Clerks-at-the-Table in Commonwealth Parliaments, notes that in England people who were permanently retained by the Sovereign to perform certain services became known as Sergeants. It suggests that Sergeants-at-Arms were originally the King’s bodyguard.

The Sergeant-at-Arms was a personal attendant upon the King, especially charged with arresting those suspected of treason. Richard I had 24 with him on the Crusades. They were formed into a 20-strong Corps of Sergeants-at-Arms by King Edward I in 1278, as a mounted close escort. In 1399 King Richard II limited the corps to 30 Sergeants, and King Charles II had 16. The number was reduced to 8 in 1685 and gradually declined thereafter.

Around 1415, the British House of Commons received its first Sergeant-at-Arms. From that time onwards the sergeant has been a royal appointment, the sergeant being one of the Sovereign’s Sergeants-at-Arms.

There are several theories to account for the introduction of the Sergeant-at-Arms into Parliament, and later, the House of Commons. Some are presented below.

One theory holds that the assignment of a Sergeant-at-Arms to attend upon the Commons Speaker was a scheme by the King in 1415 to extend his power over Parliament. However, it is debatable if this was the true reason. In the early 15th century, the House of Commons was still quite subservient and certainly did not command enough power to warrant such a move by the King. More likely, the introduction of a Serjeant-at-Arms came at the request of the House of Commons itself in order to enforce parliamentary privilege. By virtue of the King’s insignia on his mace, the Serjeant-at-Arms was empowered to exercise royal authority over ordinary citizens through the instructions of the Speaker. When Parliament was not sitting, he returned to duty in the Royal Household.

The article in The Table proposes that since Parliament met where the King lived (the Palace at Westminster), it was only natural that he should have seconded two Sergeants-at-Arms to attend upon the Houses. A pamphlet written about 1322 suggests that the function of the first parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms was that of a door-keeper.

Another theory, one advanced by I.T.P. Hughes, a former British Sergeant-at-Arms, proposes the Sergeant-at-Arms was appointed to protect the Speaker. The demands placed on the Speaker by his master, the Commons, often conflicted with the demands placed on the Speaker by the King, who had appointed him. Violent disagreement was often the result. Richard II, therefore, appointed a Sergeant-at-Arms to attend upon the Speaker about 1391.

The position of Sergeant-at-Arms was obviously introduced during a critical stage in the evolution of Parliament. The House of Lords and the House of Commons were both trying to consolidate their powers at a time of great confusion over roles, authority and privilege, which explains why there is disagreement surrounding the Sergeant-at-Arms’ precise date and purpose of introduction.

Original Role of the Sergeant-at-Arms in Parliament

As mentioned above, the Sergeant-at-Arms was essentially a door-keeper, meaning that he was the Commons’ Usher, Keeper of the Doors, and Housekeeper. As the public became more aware of the activities of Parliament and began to attend sittings, someone was needed to maintain order.

The maintenance of law and order, and the execution of warrants were among the earliest functions of the Sergeant-at-Arms. In the 16th century, however, saw a shift in the authority of the position. Until then, it had come from the Sovereign, through the Speaker. Henry VIII now delegated the wielding of the Sergeant’s authority to the House of Commons.

Because he attended the Speaker, he was involved in all ceremonial functions connected with that office.

By the 17th century, the Sergeant’s department was fairly well established and consisted of the Vote Office (which was primarily concerned with the distribution of the journals of the day to Members), the Deputy Housekeeper, two door-keepers, four messengers and various watchmen and firelighters.

Role of the Sergeant-at-Arms today

The office of Sergeant-at-Arms continues to serve legislatures across the Commonwealth that adhere to British tradition. A sense of the position’s medieval origins persists, particularly in its ceremonial role in parliamentary proceedings. Over time and in many jurisdictions, maintaining order in the Chamber and housekeeping duties have evolved into responsibility for security beyond the walls of the Chamber and property management functions.

The Sergeant-at-Arms’ ceremonial duties involves carrying the House of Commons mace during the Speaker’s procession. This is when the Speaker and his staff walk to the House of Commons chamber before each sitting. The Sergeant-at-Arms occupies a desk at the Bar of the House when the House is sitting. In accordance with the Standing Orders, the Sergeant-at-Arms preserves order in the galleries, lobbies, and corridors and is responsible for taking into custody strangers who misbehave in the galleries. Under the direction of the Speaker, the Sergeant-at-Arms is also the Chief Security Officer responsible for the overall security within the Parliamentary precinct.

(Sources: House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 2nd Edition, The Table, Office of the Speaker, Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan website, Legislative Assembly of Ontario website, Wikipedia, Parliament of Australia House of Representatives website, UK Parliament website)

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Quote of the day

What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, and power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot through the ages. – Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister of the UK (1923-24, 1924-29 and 1935-37). Baldwin was attacking the leading press barons of his day (Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere); the phrase was suggested by Baldwin’s cousin Rudyard Kipling (17 March 1931)

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Quote of the day

Mr. Speaker, if we are calling for greater transparency from the police, I think it is only right we provide it in government too.

After all, as I have said, one of the reasons we got into this situation is because over the decades politicians and the press have spent time courting support, not confronting the problems.

So I will be consulting the Cabinet Secretary on an amendment to the Ministerial Code to require Ministers to record all meetings with newspaper and other media proprietors, senior editors and executives – regardless of the nature of the meeting.

Permanent Secretaries and Special Advisers will also be required to record such meetings.

And this information should be published quarterly.

It is a first for our country, and alongside the other steps we are taking, will help make the UK government one of the most transparent in the world. - Rt. Hon. David Cameron, Prime Minister, in a statement to the House of Commons, 13 July 2011

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A Major proposal

(Update 18/07/2011: the full text of Major’s speech is available on the Ditchley Foundation’s website.)

Recently, former UK Prime Minister, John Major, delivered a speech to the transatlantic Ditchley Foundation in which he discussed the “folly” of Scottish independence.

Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find the full text of Major’s speech anywhere, but according to various media accounts, he proposed the following:

The present quasi-federalist settlement with Scotland is unsustainable.

Each year of devolution has moved Scotland further from England. Scottish ambition is fraying English tolerance. This is a tie that will snap – unless the issue is resolved.

The Union between England and Scotland cannot be maintained by constant aggravation in Scotland and appeasement in London. I believe it is time to confront the argument head on.

Why not devolve all responsibilities except foreign policy, defence and management of the economy? Why not let Scotland have wider tax-raising powers to pay for their policies and, in return, abolish the present block grant settlement, reduce Scottish representation in the Commons, and cut the legislative burden at Westminster?

This idea put forward by Major – that of giving Scotland full responsibility for everything except foreign policy, defense and management of the economy (but wider tax-raising powers) in exchange for abolishing the block grant settlement and fewer seats in the House of Commons – is interesting, at least for me as a Canadian. I couldn’t help but wonder if Quebec would accept a similar sort of arrangement.

From what I understand, the block settlement grant is something akin to the Canadian system of equalization payments. At the moment, most of the budget of the Scottish Parliament comes from a block grant from the UK Parliament. The level of the budget is determined by the Barnett formula. The Scottish Parliament has limited powers to vary the basic rate of income tax (up or down by three pence in the pound). This power has not been used to date.

In 2009, the Calman Commission, set up a few ears earlier to review the devolution settlement, including the financial powers of the Scottish Parliament, made a number of recommendations to give the Scottish Parliament a greater role in raising its own revenue. In particular, the Commission recommended that the Scottish Parliament be given greater powers over income tax and some other taxes and that the block grant be reduced. In the view of the Commission, this would increase the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament. Under its proposals, the Scottish government would raise around 35% of its revenue, compared with around 14% under the current arrangements.

As stated above, the block settlement grant is determined using something called the Barnett formula. I won’t attempt to explain that here – anyone truly interested can find a number of papers on the matter online. However, to quote Wikipedia:

Simply put, any increase (or decrease) each year in public expenditure in England on matters devolved to one or more of the other countries of the UK leads to an increase to these other countries’ areas, in proportion to their relative population at that time. Expenditure is allocated en bloc, not per service (health, transport, etc.), allowing to each devolved administration the opportunity to allocate these funds as it believes appropriate.

This does sound rather like Canada’s system of equalization payments for the provinces. The equalization program had become, in the minds of many critics, an overly-complex mishmash of special deals and formulae that benefited some more than others and pleased no one. From 1982 to 2004, in general terms, the program used a complex but consistent formula of an equalization standard that was based on the average of the fiscal capacities of five provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec), using 33 different tax bases (including 100% of natural resource revenue). Budget 2007 (tabled in the House of Commons on 19 March 2007) included a new equalization program that is principle-based and formula-driven.

The equalization standard in the new program reflects the recommendation in Achieving a National Purpose: Putting Equalization Back on Track (the O’Brien report) and is based on the fiscal capacity of all 10 provinces. The overall program cost will be determined by the application of a complex formula, which is detailed in the Budget Implementation Act. Annual volatility associated with a 10-province standard will be addressed through the use of a weighted three-year moving average calculation for payments. The measurement of provincial fiscal capacity is simplified based on the recommendation of the O’Brien report. Instead of 33 tax bases, provincial fiscal capacity will be measured using 5 tax bases — personal income tax, business income tax, consumption tax, property tax and natural resource revenues. The new program also adopts the O’Brien report’s recommendation to exclude 50 per cent of provincial natural resource revenues, and provides provinces with the benefit of full exclusion without reducing payments to any province. The use of actual revenues also permits an important program simplification, as the 14 separate bases used previously can be consolidated into a single natural resource revenue base.

Of the provinces receiving equalization payments, Quebec receives the largest payment, CAN $7.8 billion for 2011-2012. It is less dependent on federal transfers than is Scotland on the block grant, however. Federal transfers to Quebec in total represent 23% of the province’s revenues (2011-2012 budget figures).

I should note here that the provinces – all of them – also receive money from the federal government via the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and the Canada Social Transfer (CST). The Canada Health Transfer (CHT) is the Canadian government’s transfer payment program in support of the health systems of the provinces and territories of Canada. The CST is a federal block transfer to provinces and territories in support of post-secondary education, social assistance and social services, and early childhood development and early learning and childcare. However, it should be noted that the federal government has no way to enforce how a province allocates these funds. While they are targetted for the aforementioned programs, a province can spend the money any way it chooses.

All that to say that Quebec, like Scotland, receives an important chunk of its funding from the national government. However, Quebec, unlike Scotland, can set its own provincial taxation rates for personal income tax, corporate income tax as well as sales taxes and other various fees. What I wonder is if the federal government agreed to relinquish its share of federal income and corporate taxes raised in Quebec, as well as the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the province, and give Quebec full control over everything except foreign policy, defense, and overall management of the economy (setting interest rates, monetary policy, that sort of thing), would Quebec be willing to agreed to reduced representation in the Canadian House of Commons? More importantly, would this be enough to curb or quell the independence movement in the province?

It’s very difficult to say (obviously). On the one hand, Quebec nationalists have long called for more control over various programs such as immigration, and resent federal attempts to set targets or guidelines in areas such as healthcare (note to non-Canadian readers – healthcare in Canada is a provincial responsiblity, but is governed by the Canada Health Act, which is a federal statute which allows the federal government to intervene in some areas of healthcare policy in order to ensure that services are largely equitable across the country). The argument has been made in the past by some sovereigntists that even if Quebec did become independent, it would still retain use of the Canadian dollar and Quebecers would still be entitled to use Canadian passports, for example. Certainly an arrangement such as the one proposed for Scotland and the UK by John Major would make this a reality for Quebec, minus the full independence part of the equation.

But therein lies the problem. For those in Quebec who do want full independence for the province, even such a far-ranging agreement wouldn’t be enough. They’d want Quebec to have full control over its foreign policy, they’d want Quebec to be recognized at the UN and other international bodies, etc. And even among “soft” nationalists, I don’t know how many would really want to see their influence in Ottawa decrease substantially. Quebec currently has 75 seats out of the 308 in the Canadian House of Commons – roughly a quarter of the seats, which is fairly proportional to Quebec’s share of the Canadian population (23%). This is similar to Scotland, which has 59 seats – 9% – in the UK House of Commons, and represents 8% of the UK population.

Major doesn’t specify in his talk how many seats he thinks Scotland should be reduced to under such an arrangement; I would have to think that the number of seats would have to be such that they would have a much reduced influence on possible election outcomes. By that I mean, for the past 20 years or so, Labour had consistently won the most seats in Scotland (currently 41 of 59), and while it takes only one seat to make the difference between majority and minority government under FPTP, I would think that under the sort of arrangement proposed by Major, Scotland would see its number of seats at Westminster at the very least halved. Quebec would have to agree to something similar – losing at least half of its current 75 seats in the House. Would it agree to this in exchange for total control over almost everything else?

On the whole, Major’s proposal is an interesting one, certainly worthy of further debate. James Forsyth at the Spectator suggested that Major might have been floating this idea on behalf of Prime Minister David Cameron. The SNP has reacted positively to Major’s proposal. Would the next step then be a proper federal system giving England its own parliament?

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Quote of the day

Why not devolve all responsibilities except foreign policy, defence and management of the economy? Why not let Scotland have wider tax-raising powers to pay for their policies and, in return, abolish the present block grant settlement, reduce Scottish representation in the Commons, and cut the legislative burden at Westminster? - the Rt. Hon. John Major, former Prime Minister of the UK, in a speech to the transatlantic Ditchley Foundation, 9 July 2011

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