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Devolution and parliamentary representation: the case of the Scotland and Wales Bill, 1976–7

Evans, Adam B. ORCID: 2018. Devolution and parliamentary representation: the case of the Scotland and Wales Bill, 1976–7. Parliamentary History 37 (2) , pp. 274-292. 10.1111/1750-0206.12365

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For as long as devolution has been debated in the UK, there has been fierce discussion as to the representation of the would‐be affected areas at Westminster. That this has been the case is a consequence of Westminster's dual remit as both a state‐wide and a sub‐state legislature. While this dual remit was relatively straightforward when applied to all nations of the UK, it does, however, raise serious questions about the equality of MPs at Westminster in the face of asymmetric devolution that would carve out parliament's remit in some, but not all, parts of the UK. These questions bedevilled Gladstone's Irish Home Rule Bills in the late 19th century and have been a recurrent feature of debate following New Labour's devolution programme in the late 1990s, culminating in the adoption of a system of ‘English Votes for English Laws’ by the house of commons in October 2015. This article looks at this issue through the lens of the ill‐fated Scotland and Wales Bill introduced by the Callaghan government in 1976. It explores the roots of the bill and how, and why, the idea of referring the question of territorial representation, post‐devolution, to a Speaker's conference, came to secure the initial support of cabinet as the best answer to this problem, and why the government swiftly changed its mind. Parliamentary statecraft considerations served to push a Speaker's conference onto the institutional agenda, before ultimately dooming it to failure.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Wales Governance Centre (WGCES)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
ISSN: 0264-2824
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 October 2019
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 22:03

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