Thursday, 19 March 2009

NHS Constitution for England

The Westminster Parliament is currently debating the Health Bill (introduced 15th January 2009) which, amongst other things, proposes that "all NHS organisations, as well as third sector and independent organisations providing NHS care, should be legally required to take account of the NHS Constitution in performing their NHS functions."
Yet the NHS Constitution itself states that it "applies only to the NHS in England. The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for developing their own health policies."
It may not, in itself, be a big issue but it still seems wrong that whole swathes of MPs will be voting to enshrine into law something that their own constituents have opted out of.

5 comments:

BrianB said...

As well as being a parliament for the whole of the UK on non-devolved subjects, the Westminster parliament (under current constitutional arrangements, whether you like them or not) is also the parliament responsible for all subjects with respect to England -- and its members, wherever in the UK they have been elected, have been elected on that basis. So there are no grounds for questioning the right and duty of Scottish, Welsh or northern Irish MPs to speak and vote on matters affecting only England. That, among other things, is what they were elected to do and are entitled to do.

Of course it's perfectly all right to point out that these arrangements are anomalous and need to be changed, but it's not right to assert, as you seem to do, that acting in accordance with them until they are changed is illegitimate. It's not.

Brian
http://www.barder.com/ephems/

Andrew said...

Brian, the people of England are having decisions taken for them by politicians whose constituents are not even affected by the decisions they take, because they are governed by another parliament. There is not even a body elected solely by the people of England which has the power to change these unfair constitutional arrangements. Of course, the UK Parliament could change them, but it's not the UK as a whole that is affected by them. I think, therefore, that it IS right to assert that the actions of the UK Parliament in legislating on matters (such as health, education or transport) applicable only to England are not merely 'anomalous', but, if not illegitimate then at least unjustifiable, undemocratic and unfair!

BrianB said...

Andrew, I don't think you have read my earlier comment. I need no lectures on the defects and injustices of the present system: indeed, I have devoted a considerable amount of time and energy to trying to expose them, in a goodly number of published letters to newspapers and periodicals, in comments on others' blogs, and in analyses on my own. It should be obvious that I do not argue, have not argued, and shall not argue, that the present dual function of the Westminster parliament (as (1) a parliament for the whole UK on non-devolved subjects, and (2) a parliament for England on all subjects) is desirable, nor that it's incapable of reform. I simply point out that for the time being it's a fact, and that those involved in it have no choice but to do their best to make it work. IOW, it's a waste of breath and indignation to complain that (e.g.) Scottish MPs legislate for the English on subjects that they are barred from legislating on for Scotland, and accusing them of some kind of impropriety in doing so. Concentrate on reforming the anomalous, unjust and unacceptable system, not on unsustainable accusations of impropriety on the part of those who are required, or choose, to operate it!

It's none of anyone else's business, but no secret either, that I am English and live in England, although what that has got to do with anything is an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

Brian
http://www.barder.com/ephems/

Andrew said...

Brian, the actions of MPs for Scottish/Welsh/N.Irish constituencies in legislating for England on subjects that they are barred from legislating on for their home nations are, of course, perfectly legitimate in terms of existing constitutional arrangements (although I would argue that it's not democratically justifiable for them to do so). But your position seems bizarre to me; like someone in the 18th Century saying, "I won't criticise slave-owners for owning slaves as they are perfectly entitled legally to do so, but I will continue to campaign against the evils of slavery."
I agree that it's completely irrelevant whether or not you are English and I never asked if you were!

21 March 2009 17:14
Edited:

Brian Barder said...

Andrew, I think the flaw in your analogy between slavery and the present anomalies in the UK constitution is too obvious to need exposure. Anyway, I don't think we disagree about the principal point at issue: namely, the need to reform the system by moving to a full federation in which all four UK nations have their own internal self-government through a parliament and government for each.