Fear of weaker Union

Operating Room''Accident and Emergency, A+E, A&E, Hospital.
Operating Room''Accident and Emergency, A+E, A&E, Hospital.

I read with interest the comments from Tory Peer Lord Lexden in your edition of January 1.

Alistair Lexden is a great friend of unionism in general and Northern Ireland in particular.

He regularly speaks out on behalf of unionist interests and comments frequently on Ulster matters.

He is right to point out the dangers presented by the current EVEL proposals (English votes for English laws) as this would exclude non-English MPs from vast areas of our nation’s legislation.

I understand the natural reaction from English representatives to the activities of Scottish Nationalists in particular, but overreaction to such provocation plays into the hands of those who want to destroy the Union.

Many constitutional ideas that are presently being brought forward as a reaction to the Scottish referendum are ill thought out and could leave Parliament in chaos.

I believe that all parts of the United Kingdom should play a full part in the work of both Houses of Parliament, but current ideas risk destroying this long-established principle.

As England accounts for 85 per cent of the UK’s population it is understandable that English MPs want more say over their affairs as Scotland in particular is getting more powers to pursue its own agenda.

However, creating a two or three-tier Parliament won’t improve our constitution.

I strongly believe that a convention or commission on the constitution is called for so that ideas can be thrashed out in detail and given proper consideration.

Off the cuff proposals, such as some of those before us now, will weaken rather than strengthen the Union.

With a General Election looming, representatives from minority and regional parties are hoping that they will be able to wield significant influence in the next Parliament.

A note of caution here; with the experience of the present Coalition Government before them the majority of backbench interests in both Labour and Conservative parties see another coalition as an unappetising prospect.

The idea that a future government will be held to ransom by smaller parties leads many in the major parties to prefer to go it alone as a minority government rather than rely on a mixture of nationalists and independents and indeed representatives from here.

Ironically, the fixed term Parliaments Act, which was the brainchild of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, makes a minority government more of a possibility.

This was another example of a constitutional change made on the hoof without proper thought and preparation.

The law of unintended consequences applies here as Mr Clegg could be one of the principal casualties of his own bright idea.

Reg Empey

House of Lords