STV would help solve the devolution problem

This is an extract from Anthony Tuffin’s evidence on The Future of devolution after the [Scottish] referendum to the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee:

What implications does further devolution to Scotland have for how the House of Commons should deal with legislation that deals with only part of the UK?

It is totally unacceptable for MPs for Scottish (or indeed Welsh, Northern Irish or Greater London) constituencies to vote on issues for Sussex and Yorkshire that MPs from those counties cannot vote on in relation to the devolved areas.

The Conservative Party is absolutely right in saying that about Scottish MPs but I have not heard it say it about London MPs.

Although the Labour Party is right to be suspicious of the Conservative’s real motives in wanting to reduce the voting rights of MPs from Scotland, Labour must recognize that the present situation is untenable and, with more devolution, will become more so. Ostensibly, the Labour Party thinks it would be wrong to have two classes of MPs, but we already have two classes of MPs.

Both parties are more concerned about party advantage of whether about 40 Labour MPs from Scotland should be able to vote than about fairness, democracy or what would be constitutionally right and proper.

Both parties are ignoring the elephant in the room of the First Past The Post (Winner takes all) voting system, which distorts voters’ views. It exaggerates Labour supremacy in Scotland and Conservative supremacy in England.

Electoral reform is essential to any new constitutional settlement.

Parliamentary elections by Single Transferable Vote (STV) would increase the proportion of Labour MPs to Conservative MPs from England and reduce the party’s dependency on Scottish MPs votes. It would increase the proportion of Conservative MPs from Scotland and reduce the party’s dependency on English MPs’ votes.

The Labour Party would have less to fear, and the Conservative Party would have less to gain, from restrictions on the voting rights of Scottish MPs. This should make it easier to reach agreement.

First Past The Post exaggerates political differences between England and Scotland. It makes England look more Conservative than its voters are and makes Scotland look more Labour than its voters are. It disunites the United Kingdom.

STV would reduce or eliminate the exaggerations. It would present a more accurate picture in the House of Commons of the UK as it is.

Although STV might not solve the whole problem, it would help considerably to reduce it.

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