BBC Scotlandshire has the West Lothian answer

By Nat Hunter, our Political Editor.

Nigel-FarageThere is a growing voice within England for the establishment of an English parliament. The democratic deficit which was so evident in Scotlandshire, and which remains to this day, is now becoming visible south of the border, particularly in relation to the infamous "West Lothian question".

The West Lothian Question question in question is not, as you might suppose, "what did Westminster do to help keep Halls of Broxburn going?", but rather, "why can Scottish MPs vote on English issues when English MPs cannot reciprocate?"

The bitterness evident among English MPs has been compounded by the increasing gulf between the quality of public services offered on both sides of the border, particularly since the SNP took over the Scottish Government in May 2007. This has led to ever more shrill cries of "subsidy junkies" and a general belief that Scots are being given a superior level of service at the expense of their over-taxed English neighbours and, furthermore, that this is being done deliberately.

Recently, reports of despair within the No Scotlandshire campaign have emerged as senior figures privately admit that Scots are increasingly likely to vote for separation in 2014. It is therefore incumbent on all of us on the right, the right side of the argument that is, to suggest alternative constitutional arrangements which might head off this drive towards the extinction of the United Kingdom and all that we love about it.

My personal proposal, therefore, is that we lobby for a temporary rearrangement of UK government and parliamentary affairs, as a sort of educational experiment. This would involve shifting the epicentre and focus of the UK from the City of London to the City of Stornoway.

weather map

For a limited period, say about three centuries or so beginning in 2015, the UK parliament would be moved to the Western Isles. After all, Stornoway is in a similar geographic position in relation to most of England as London is in respect to the bulk of Scotland, so this location would seem fair. Additionally, the Hebrides could do with the jobs.

The majority of civil service positions would need to move with the parliament, with local candidates being used to fill the gaps left by those who choose not to relocate. As a nod to decentralisation, some of those posts could be located in Harris or even as far away as the Uists or Barra.

Obviously the local communications network would require an upgrade, on the model used to accommodate the London Olympics, perhaps.

Proceeds from the residual financial sector in South-Eastern England would be used to build a motorway network between Inverness and Ulapool, and from Ness to Barra. A bypass would be needed around Stornoway itself, so the Barvas Orbital Motorway or M2.5 would be built. The CalMac ferry service to Ulapool would be augmented by a tunnel, to be called le tunnel sous la Minch, connecting Inverness to Arnish by high speed rail link.

The makeup of the parliament would need to change, of course. Nine out of ten of MSPs (Members of the Stornoway Parliament) would represent Scottish seats, with about half of their constituencies being located in the Hebrides and Northern Isles. A second parliament would need to be constructed in Barra to accommodate the new House of Lords of the Isles.

The criterion for membership of this second chamber would be possession of a highland accent and ownership of a Hebridean croft. Naturally, some thirty Church ministers would be made members by right, mainly to ensure that late night parliamentary sittings held on a Saturday did not inadvertently overrun into the Sabbath.

Barra-AirportThe Royal family would be rehoused in Kisimul Castle, and all tourist flights rerouted to Barra airport. Sand would be imported from Luskentyre to build a second runway in order to cope with the increased traffic.

A new gate, to be known as "Angus MacNeil International Airport - Gate 2", will prevent sheep from wandering onto the airstrip. It is expected that queues at gate 2 will be considerably shorter than has been the case at Heathrow.

The Westminster parliament would continue under its new title of English Administrative Executive Assembly and would be responsible for selected English-only affairs, upon which people speaking with Scottish accents or wearing tartan of any form would have no right to vote.

These responsibilities would include cricket, morris dancing, the upkeep of the Thames submarine base and the privatisation of public services.

The English Assembly would receive a block grant from Stornoway to help with its costs. To support this, all income generated in England will be surrendered to the Finance Department of the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

That should put a stop to all this talk of separation, once and for all.


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