The English Democrats National Chairman, Robin Tilbrook, submitted evidence to the Lords Constitution Committee ~ Call for Evidence on the “Constitutional implications for the rest of the UK of Scottish Independence”. the “rest of the UK” being the British political establishment’s fond notion of what will remain.
With an amusing (but nevertheless serious) insight into the unrepresentative and leaden intransigence of the British Parliament, Robin draws a parallel with the obstinate shopkeeper in the now famous Monty Python ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch, which can be viewed via this link:
As John Cleese asserts in the ‘Python’ sketch, “This parrot is no more, it has ceased to be! It has expired and gone to meet its Maker! This, is a late parrot! It’s a stiff bereft of life . . . “ and the same will apply to the United Kingdom with the absence of the Kingdom of Scotland from the parliament in Westminster!
Another by-product of Scotland’s secession will be the inappropriateness of ‘British nationality’; this and other factors are mentioned in the evidence I submitted to the Lords Constitution Committee chaired by The Rt Hon the Baroness Jay of Paddington which was accepted and which I reproduce below:
Scottish Independence: Constitutional implications for the rest of the UK
Submitted by Alan England, Director-The English Lobby
I am a director of the English Lobby, a non-profit making organisation dedicated to preserving and promoting England and English identity.
We also support the establishment of a separate parliament for England with its own executive and separate bill drafting facilities. To the extent that it is necessary to secure an English Parliament, which is long overdue, we are amenable to England becoming independent to further that objective.
Our submission is as follows:
1. Implementation of a “yes” vote will render the Act of Union 1707 (together with succeeding extant acts and treaties of which it is elemental) redundant. In consequence, new constitutional arrangements will be needed for England & Wales and Northern Ireland.
2. Dissolution of the United Kingdom will necessitate repealing or amending legislation in respect of citizenship and nationality. For example, the extent of the British Nationality Act 1981 will need to be modified. Indeed, the term ‘British Nationality’ may be regarded as inappropriate and this will give rise to a number of other considerations. Unlike Scotland, which has provision for Scottish ethnic identity (at least in the White category) to be recorded and monitored, the monitoring of ethnic identity in England and Wales makes no specific provision for either English or Welsh ethnic identity to be recorded. The basis for this anomaly lies in the different bases for the 2001 and 2011 Censuses between Scotland on the one hand, and England & Wales on the other.
3. In summary, a “yes” vote will afford opportunity to re-examine these matters with a view to promoting more social cohesion. Moreover, in addition to recognising English ethnic identity, t here will be every reason for extending ‘English’ identity to other categories to replace ‘British’ in the other census categories. For example, C Asian/Asian British would no longer be appropriate and in England should become C Asian/Asian English and so on.
4. The treatment of Northern Ireland is even less clear-cut and will very much depend upon the outcome of negotiations. ‘Constitutional Issues’ Clause 1(vi) of the 1998 Anglo-Irish Agreement records: recognises “the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.”
5. The matter of the British-Irish Council, where there has never been any representation specifically of English interests, will require to be considered. It need hardly be said that, without ‘Britain’ remaining in constitutional existence, the Council as presently named is more of an anomaly.
6. In short, the effect of new constitutional arrangements on the various questions posed by the Committee will depend upon how and when new arrangements are devised.
Responding directly to the Committee’s questions as posed, I tender the following thoughts:
Question 1. Is the timetable of independence by 24 March 2016 realistic?
I am sceptical that it will prove to be realistic unless preparatory work has been carried out and depends upon the extent of such work. However, mindful of Parkinson’s Law that work expands to fill the time available, it may be unwise to publicly extend the timetable.
Question 2. Who will negotiate for the remainder of the UK? To whom would they be accountable?
Perforce it will fall to Parliament as presently constituted to negotiate for England & Wales plus Northern Ireland. In due course, they will be accountable respectively to the electors in each of those communities. However, it is not only inappropriate but undesirable for anyone to negotiate on behalf of England and her people who is not clearly loyal to her and has an explicit mandate to do so. The second element of public service is specially applicable here: that of being SEEN to do the proper thing. Regrettably, there are many prominent politicians in the present Parliament who are either hostile to the English nation or by reason of their Scottish ancestry fall short of the previously mentioned second element of public service or both. Therefore, it is imperative that formal arrangements are made rapidly for the proper representation of English interests as soon as it is known that a “yes” vote has occurred. It is to be hoped that the subsequent 2015 General Election may result in true English representatives being elected with a proper mandate.
Question 3. What impact would the timing of the UK general election in May 2015 have on negotiation?
By introducing the variable of a general election at any time prior to 24 March 2016 (or whenever negotiations are completed), any uncertainty will also be increased. Consequently, there is a case for holding a general election earlier than May 2015 to establish a longer period of stability prior to March 2016. Section 2(2) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 provides for such a variation.
Question 4. What happens if the two negotiating teams cannot reach agreement on an issue?
In this event, the teams representing each nation will need to agree to forms of international arbitration in appropriate spheres eg the European Court of Justice (whilst EU Membership is still in force) or the International Court at The Hague depending upon the relevant issues. Facilitating agreement, both sides will have external imperatives to consider. Abandoning the UK’s liabilities would not only lower the re-emergent defaulting country in the esteem of other governments, but also lower the confidence of international markets in the ‘team’ which did so.
Assets and liabilities and shared services.
Question 5. What legal principles should apply to negotiations on the apportionment of assets and liabilities that are currently UK-wide?
If clear, the origins of assets and liabilities will need to be taken into account, not merely current possession. For example, significant liabilities were incurred by Scottish banks consciously based in Edinburgh, such as RBS and HBOS prior to 2008 although the British Government subsequently supplied much needed capital. Otherwise, shared services may largely be determined by the size of the particular population being served. It can scarcely be overlooked that the population of Scotland represents less than 9% of the UK’s population.
Question 6.What are the constitutional implications of maintaining services shared between Scotland and the rest of the UK (for example, the Bank of England and those services listed on page 364 of the Scottish Government’s White Paper)?
On the basis that Scotland would want to administer benefits and the present State Pension for Scottish citizens, England would want a reciprocal arrangement for her people where administration is presently located in Scotland. This principle would apply in other matters eg transfer to England of posts for Armed Services Pensions &c and HMRC functions relating to individuals in England. A National Bank of Scotland could be established for Scotland to administer a new Scottish pound, whilst the Bank of England would continue to serve the much greater number of customers in England (& Wales, if necessary)
The desirability (if not the need) to share England NHS Blood & Transport Services, Research Councils, Air & Maritime Accident Investigations, a Green Investment bank, and the Hydrographic Office would need to be established given the much greater population in England.
It would be neither desirable nor necessary to share the Royal Mint, although it could be used by an independent Scotland for the supply of coins and notes under contract on a commercial basis.
Question 7. What would the position of MPs for Scottish constituencies be from May 2015 to March 2016?
They should be debarred by a resolution of the Commons, from speaking and voting on English & Welsh matters and confined to matters affecting Scotland.
Question 8. What impact would independence have on the House of Commons if MPs for Scottish constituencies left it in March 2016?
In that event, the focus of the Commons on England�s interests will be increased. The composition of the Commons may well have been changed by the results of the 2015 General Election having being affected by a “yes” vote.
Question 9. What impact would independence have on the House of Lords?
Reverting to the terms of the Act of Union 1707 [Article XXII now repealed] whereby ” . . . by virtue of this Treaty, of the Peers of Scotland, at the Time of the Union, sixteen shall be the Number to sit and vote in the House of Lords”, all the peers of Scotland should have their right to sit in the Lords revoked with the repeal of the Act of Union 1707.
A “yes” result would provide another opportunity to reform the House of Lords. On this occasion, a more rational start could be made by seeking to establish and describe, if not to define, its role. The next step would be to decide its composition and the option of election could be re-examined.
It has often been asserted in opposition to an elective second chamber, that legislative ‘gridlock’ could arise when two elective chambers disagreed which would not be easily resolved within the terms of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949. However, the resolution could lie in the convening of a joint assembly of both chambers as in the present state opening of Parliament in which the Commons are summoned to the Lords by means of a separate procedure. The joint Commons/Lords assembly could debate the subject of the ‘gridlock’, after which a ‘joint’ vote could be taken by a procedure to be determined.
Question 10. What legislation (or other measures) would the Westminster have to pass in order for Scotland to become independent?
The Act of Union 1707 (as amended) would need to be repealed. Legislation would need to be enacted recording particulars of the border between England and Scotland both on land and sea.
26th February 2014
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