Conclusions of McKay
25 March 2013
The long awaited McKay Commission report published today on the consequences of devolution on law-making in the House of Commons draws heavily on research work undertaken by Professors Richard Wyn Jones and Dan Wincott at Cardiff University working in collaboration with colleagues at Edinburgh.
The conclusions of the UK Government's West Lothian Question Commission which considered the ability of Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish MPs to vote on England-only matters, recommend that decisions taken by the House of Commons with a separate and distinct effect for England should normally be taken only with the consent of a majority of MPs for England.
It also concluded that people in England feel unhappy with the present arrangements and that reform is needed.
The Commission gathered evidence in all parts of the United Kingdom, and from a range of people including academics, politicians, officers of the House of Commons and of the devolved legislatures, commentators and members of the public.
In its final report, the Commission draws heavily on The Future of England Survey of public attitudes in England that was conducted by Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre and Edinburgh's Institute of Governance, in partnership with the IPPR. The first report on the survey –The Dog that Finally Barked: England as an Emerging Political Community – was published in January 2012 and generated widespread media discussion of its conclusions. Namely that the people of England are increasingly dissatisfied with the way that England is governed within the UK. In particular, that an overwhelming majority believe that Scottish MPs should be barred from voting on matters that effect only England and that England should be recognised as a political unit in its own right as part of the Union.
The Commission was also given exclusive access to the results of the 2012 Future of England Survey (to be published in full on St George's Day 2013) which confirms the findings of the previous study
Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Director of the Wales Governance Centre and a key member of the research team, said:
"Some may regard it as ironic that it is researchers in Wales and Scotland that have done most in recent times to highlight changes in attitudes in England as a response to the devolution process. But it is perhaps not surprising. We have long been attuned to the different attitudes to be found across the UK and have developed techniques and theories that allow us to track and make sense of them; techniques and theories that we have now applied to England.
"The McKay Commission report itself is a real landmark in the history of the territorial governance of the United Kingdom. While the changes the Commission champions are relatively limited, if implemented they would represent a sea change. Rather than treating England as a kind of residual category – the bit left over when Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have gone off to do their own thing – England would be explicitly recognised as a full part of the Union with (potentially at least) its own view and voice. Constitutionally speaking the UK would become more properly the multinational state it already is in reality."
For a copy of the The Dog that Finally Barked: England as an Emerging Political Community: