West Lothian commission: Sir Emyr Jones Parry joins body

Sir Emyr Jones Parry Sir Emyr Jones Parry was the UK's ambassador to the UN

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The chairman of an inquiry into the Welsh assembly's powers will join a commission looking at the so-called West Lothian question.

Sir Emyr Jones Parry will be part of a commission into whether Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish MPs can vote on English-only matters.

It is due to report in the next parliamentary session.

English MPs are not able to vote on many matters that are devolved to Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.

Tackling the so-called West Lothian problem was part of the coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

It refers to the ability of Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish MPs to vote on issues such as health and education in England while English MPs cannot vote on similar issues in the devolved nations.

Former diplomat Sir Emyr chaired the All Wales Convention on devolution which paved the way towards last year's referendum on direct law-making powers.

The "commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons" will be chaired by a former Commons clerk, Sir William McKay.

Its terms of reference are to consider how the House of Commons might deal with legislation that affects only one part of the UK.

SIR EMYR JONES PARRY

  • Born Carmarthen, Sept 1947
  • Attended Gwendraeth Grammar School
  • Studied physics at Cardiff University
  • PhD in polymer physics at Cambridge
  • Joined Foreign Office in 1973, worked in Canada and held senior posts in EU
  • UK ambassador to Nato, 2001-03
  • Knighted 2002
  • UK ambassador to the UN 2003-2007
  • Chaired All Wales Convention

The West Lothian question was first posed in the 1970s when Labour MP Tam Dalyell, whose constituency at the time was West Lothian, wondered how long English MPs would tolerate members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland influencing English politics while they had no say in matters outside England.

Cabinet Office minister Mark Harper said: "The government believes that devolving power to the nations and regions of the UK is the best way to maintain a strong and prosperous United Kingdom.

"However, as we put more and more power in the hands of local people, it is increasingly important that we address the issues this creates, such as the familiar 'West Lothian question'.

"I look forward to seeing the recommendations from Sir William and the Commission."

The other members of the panel are:

  • senior parliamentary lawyer Sir Stephen Laws
  • his predecessor in the role, Sir Geoffrey Bowman
  • the head of social and political science at Edinburgh University, Professor Charlie Jeffery
  • a leading researcher in gender politics from Queen's University Belfast, Professor Yvonne Galligan.

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