Jesse Norman on Scottish independence: Constitutional reform must not be rushed

September 19, 2014
Jesse Norman: "Herefordshire has Welsh problems but English financing."
Jesse Norman: "Herefordshire has Welsh problems but English financing."

I'm delighted that Scotland has voted no, and I'm pleased that it has done so by a margin that's sufficiently large to make it perfectly clear what its view is. In Quebec, you'll recall, there was only a 50.1 per cent vote in favour of the union in Canada. Yet even so it was recognised that the issue had been decided for at least a generation.

Now there is the question of constitutional reform. However people's views may differ on Scotland or the union, constitutional reform must not be rushed. If the brief is drawn relatively narrowly, it is conceivable that the current timetable can be met. But those in charge of working out the settlement must make sure they consult parliament and as wide a range of views as possible among the British people.

I think there's a genuine issue with the Barnett formula. The one fact that came through into the public consciousness about this from the debate in Scotland is the fact that Scotland is the second most prosperous part of the country after London and the South East, but they receive £1600 a head more from spending settlements than the rest of the UK. In Wales the difference is even greater. Herefordshire, my constituency, has Welsh problems but English financing.

So the question is; is that a fair way to divide the cost? And I think my colleagues in the Conservative party might have concerns with that.

As told to Josh Lowe