Federal ideas

It is very interesting how the “mood music” on the constitution among sections of the Conservative Party has changed in the space of a few years.

At one point Scottish leader Ruth Davidson was talking about acceptance of the powers entrenched in the current devolution settlement.

Now the recommendations of the Strathclyde commission and the remarks on federalism by Murdo Fraser MSP have changed all that (your report, 26 June).

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The federalist approach – the devolution of almost everything apart from defence, foreign affairs and the setting of the interest rate – has always been a coherent answer to the so-called West Lothian Question.

In my view it would only work if there was an acceptance in England of the case for regional assemblies or parliaments.

Otherwise an English parliament would cover too large an area and population to ensure a more equal distribution of power.

But has anyone identified 
any enthusiasm for that kind of regional power south of the

Mr Fraser is on stronger ground with a proposal to replace the existing House of Lords – now more grossly overpopulated, bloated and unrepresentative than it has ever been.

He wants the powers of the new federal parliaments, the House of Commons and a Senate to be underpinned by a written constitution.

In a United Kingdom context that is asking for too much, 
and would take far too long in relation to any benefits that might accrue.

Nevertheless, his broad ideas help take the Conservative Party out of the doldrums in the independence debate, and make it more relevant than it has been for some time.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court