The effect of Scottish independence on the United Kingdom is being discussed in all sorts of contexts, such as division of energy reserves, military resources, national debt (and probably even the Royal Yacht Britannia at Leith!). One interesting effect will be the size of the House of Commons when there are no Scottish MPs.
The present boundary reviews, giving effect to the new legislation reducing the overall size of the Commons, will see 52 Scottish seats out of a total of 600 after the next election, set for 2015. So, if and when Scotland departs the Union – whether this is before or after the next general election – there will be just 548 MPs. This will be, I think, the smallest number since the Union of 1707.
Will this be viewed as an added free bonus for those seeking significant cuts in the number of MPs, or an opportunity for restoring any dilution of representation caused by the current cut of 43 MPs in the remaining UK? Has this even been discussed seriously amidst all the constitutional debates and legislation of the last 2 years, or is this another example of ‘non-joined-up’ constitutional reformism?
How will the relatively few MPs from outwith England feel in a Union Parliament even more dominated by English MPs? Will it be an English Parliament in all but name? Might this new scenario arguably justify some greater degree of compensating ‘over-representation’ for Wales and NI? As noted in my previous post (here), is any of this within the narrow remit of the McKay Commission on the ‘West Lothian Question’, and, even if so, would it want to look at just the Welsh and Northern Irish aspects? And wait until someone raises the ‘Lords WLQ’, ie ‘Scottish’ peers – however defined! – continuing to sit, and to speak and vote on all UK matters….