I WAS very relieved that the people of Scotland voted to stay within the United Kingdom. But, now the referendum has taken place, I think it is right that the whole question of powers for each of the countries within the United Kingdom should be re-explored.

The three pro-Union parties made clear commitments during the campaign, to establish further powers for the Scottish Parliament. Therefore, it is important, in the interests of fairness to all the countries of our United Kingdom, to ensure that we examine whether MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should vote at Westminster on issues which affect England. This is what is known as the ‘West Lothian Question’, which was raised in 1977 by the then MP for West Lothian, Tam Dalyell.

However, it is more than just a question of which MPs can vote on which issue. As a former Secretary of State for Wales, and having spent many years studying the constitutional positions of the devolved nations, I believe that England needs to have a better deal.

The role which I carry out in our constituency of Chesham & Amersham is covered in Wales by an MP, an Assembly Member [AM] elected by first past the post and also by a list AM. The latter, like Members of the European Parliament, are drawn from lists of candidates selected by the political parties.

In some instances, Welsh seats can contain around 20,000 fewer voters than my own seat. This situation is clearly neither desirable nor fair and is costly. I think we must look at reducing the numbers of MPs and also review the Barnett formula, which gives extra funding to the smaller countries within the UK. This is especially relevant now that it is proposed the Scottish Parliament will have enhanced powers to raise taxes and spend those revenues.

There should be a greater degree of fairness and equity within the constituent nations of our United Kingdom.