Off the Fence: Mark Hoban

Mark Hoban
Mark Hoban

COMMENT: Attraction will capitalise on the riches in our midst

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It’s not often you see a Union Jack flying in Locks Heath, but when I saw one flying last Friday morning I knew I wasn’t the only local resident pleased that Scotland was going to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Later that day, I met pupils from Years 5 and 6 at St Anthony’s School in Titchfield Common and they knew all about the referendum.

The keen interest north and south of the border was a reminder that, whatever the outcome, its result would have an impact across the whole of the United Kingdom.

I can understand the desire of the Scots to have more control over their lives. The shift of power away from Westminster back to people and their communities is something I have always supported.

The devolution settlement put in place by the last Labour government gave Scotland control over its own education system and health service. So decisions about schools and hospitals are taken in the Scottish Parliament, not in Westminster.

Members of the Scottish Parliament are held to account by their constituents for the decisions made. But there is, however, a fundamental unfairness.

Decisions taken in Westminster about the English health service and schools are voted upon by Scottish MPs.

An MP in Falkirk is not accountable for the schools or health service in Fareham, but I am. Why should they vote on laws about English schools when I can’t vote on Scottish schools?

Why should a Glasgow MP vote on healthcare in Gosport when we can’t vote on their healthcare?

The need to correct this unfairness has been given added urgency by the vow made by the three party leaders to give the Scots more power, for example over taxes and welfare.

As well as a new settlement for Scotland, we need one for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

When Tony Blair’s government gave devolution to Scotland, they failed to address the unfairness they created in Westminster.

Now is the time to sort this out once and for all.