In Devolution and the Territorial Constitution, which Professor Bogdanor, Gresham Professor of Law, will deliver at the Gresham College on Tuesday 5 April at 6pm , he will describe the current situation in the United Kingdom with relation to devolution.
He will go on to explore whether the asymmetrical system which has evolved whereby Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved bodies of different types to one another, while England has no devolution at all, can yield to a stable settlement.
He will acknowledge that given that it is only six years since the Scottish Parliament and Welsh National Assembly were elected, it is too soon to decide whether devolution has ‘worked’.
He will point out, however, that surveys have suggested that the English have come to accept devolution in Scotland and Wales , but that this acceptance may rely on the English submerging their identity in order to hold the United Kingdom together.
He commented: “If, however, the English were to seek to express their Englishness to the full, they could easily, as the dominant nation in the United Kingdom , threaten the unity of the country.”
According to Professor Bogdanor, it is becoming clear that the sovereignty of Parliament has been limited by devolution and that fundamental principles of social democracy are being eroded by divergences in welfare between the devolved parts and the rest of the United Kingdom.
He commented: “What cannot be denied is that devolution threatens the power of the government of the United Kingdom to secure equal social and economic rights for all of its citizens. It is difficult to see how the state can secure these equal rights if it has been fragmented and cut into pieces by devolution. The purpose of devolution is to recognize diversity; but diversity and territorial equality are bound to prove conflicting aims.”
Professor Bogdanor’s analysis sounds, if I may say so, very similar to my own in the Irish World last week.