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Ed Miliband will shortly deliver his final conference pitch before the election. Many Labour MPs here are pressing him to recognise the problem posed by the West Lothian question; Labour must endorse English votes for English laws (EVEL) in some capacity.
There is an anxiety that he will avoid addressing the issue directly, and cede an issue to Cameron that Labour should be running on. He should be unafraid to point to the recent reports by two of the party’s intellectual forbearers, Andrew Adonis and John Cruddas, who both advocated devolution long before the Scottish referendum, the argument runs. EVEL should be part of a larger transfer of power away from Westminster.
As data from the British Social Attitudes survey shows, the public have long recognised the problem with Scottish MPs voting on English matters. Two in three voters agree they shouldn’t do, and, spun another way, 90 per cent of those who express an opinion say as much.
So Miliband must recognise this anomaly. But what options does he have? Is there a greater and lesser “EVEL”?
New parliaments and assemblies
The first question is whether a solution can be confined to the House of Commons, or new devolved bodies must be set-up. Should regional assemblies be created in major metropolitan areas – Manchester, the Midlands, Yorkshire – to match the one London has now had for 14 years?