Anders has written an interesting post on an English Parliament, which has generated a followup from Tom, so I thought I’d throw in my 2p’s worth while it was the hottish topic of the Lib Dem blogosphere.
In an effort to square the circle, my suggestion is to have an English Parliament that’s made up of Regional Assemblies, a Parliament that’s structured around the principle of subsidiarity. The way I see it, while an English Parliament would provide balance within the four constituent nations of the UK, it wouldn’t necessarily provide a balanced solution for England. While there are some issues that could be settled at an English level, there are others best left to a regional – or even lower – level. England is a large country, and I’m sceptical that a one-size-fits-all approach is best in all matters.
So, my suggestion would be to elect members of an English Parliament but for those members to also compose their relevant regional assembly. The English Parliament would meet as a whole as and when appropriate, but its members would then also meet separately as the regional assemblies. (The balance of how much time it spends in each form would be one for the members of the Parliament to decide themselves after its formed.) What this would mean is that we’d have decisions being made at the level most appropriate for them, but also that the Parliament would be much closer to the people it represented – personally, I’d have it that the assemblies on the whole didn’t have fixed locations, but met at different points in the region. As well as reporting back to the Parliament on the decisions taken for their region, the assemblies would also allow for preliminary discussion and consultation on national-level issues to take place locally, allowing the Parliament as a whole to hear opinion from across the country by having actually gone there, not sat in London/York/Meriden/wherever it’s based and waited for people to come to it.