Press release

Commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons established

The consequences of devolution for the House of Commons are being examined by a new, independent commission.

17 January 2012
 
The Cabinet Office today announced the establishment of the new commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons, chaired by former Clerk of the House of Commons Sir William McKay.

This independent, non-partisan commission has been asked to examine how the House of Commons deals with legislation that affects only part of the UK.

Mark Harper, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, said:

The government believes that devolving power to the nations and regions of the UK is the best way to maintain a strong and prosperous United Kingdom.

However, as we put more and more power in the hands of local people, it is increasingly important that we address the issues this creates, such as the familiar ‘West Lothian question’. I look forward to seeing the recommendations from Sir William and the commission.

In a Written Ministerial Statement, the minister set out the commission’s terms of reference:

To consider how the House of Commons might deal with legislation which affects only part of the United Kingdom, following the devolution of certain legislative powers to the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales.

The other members of the commission are: Sir Geoffrey Bowman, former First Parliamentary Counsel; Sir Stephen Laws, retiring First Parliamentary Counsel; Sir Emyr Jones Parry, former UK Ambassador to the United Nations and chairman of the All Wales Convention; Prof Charlie Jeffery of the Edinburgh University Academy of Government; and Professor Yvonne Galligan of Queen’s University Belfast.
 
The commission will be supported by Cabinet Office officials, and will be expected to call experts to give oral or written evidence. It will begin work in February 2012, and is expected to report its findings and recommendations during the course of the next parliamentary session.

Notes to editors

1. The phrase “West Lothian Question” was coined by Tam Dalyell, former MP for West Lothian, to describe the perceived problem of MPs representing Scottish constituencies voting on issues that affect only England.

2. Mark Harper laid a Written Ministerial Statement on 8 September 2011 setting out the expected parameters of the Commission’s work.

3. BIOGRAPHIES

Sir William McKay KCB (Chairman)

Sir William was the Clerk of the House of Commons from 1998 - 2002. He has served on a large number of bodies that consider complex legal and constitutional matters, including the Legal Questions Committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and as an observer on the Law Society of Scotland’s ruling Council.

Sir Geoffrey Bowman KCB QC

Sir Geoffrey was First Parliamentary Counsel from 2002 - 2006. He is an expert on legislative drafting and in constitutional and administrative law.

Sir Emyr Jones Parry GCMG

Sir Emyr is the President of Aberystwyth University. He is the former British Permanent Representative to the United Nations and former UK permanent representative on the North Atlantic Council (NATO). In 2007 he chaired the All Wales Convention.

Sir Stephen Laws KCB QC

Sir Stephen was First Parliamentary Counsel from 2006 - 2012. Sir Stephen was called to the Bar at Middle Temple and joined the Home Office in 1975.

Professor Yvonne Galligan

Professor Galligan is the Director of Research on Governance and Policy at Queen’s University, Belfast. She is also the Director of the University’s Gender Initiative and  of the Centre for the Advancement of Women in Politics. Professor Galligan has written extensively on questions of political and parliamentary representation.

Professor Charlie Jeffery

Professor Jeffery has held a Chair in Politics at Edinburgh since October 2004.  He directed the Economic and Social Research Council’s research programme on Devolution and Constitutional Change from 2000-7. He is a member of Council of the Economic and Social Research Council and chairs its Research Committee. He has been advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the EU Committee of the Regions and the Commission on Scottish Devolution. He is a member of the Politics and International Studies sub-panel for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

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