The following is a partial transcript of Radio Four's Beyond Westminster programme, broadcast 16th Apr 2011.
Richard Wyn Jones: The elephant on the doorstep is the fact that the UK Government for many areas of domestic policy is now the English government and the Westminster parliament - especially after the referendum vote in Wales a few weeks ago that has led to the emergence of a legislative parliament in Wales - is also an English parliament to all intents and purposes, in many policy fields. And if and when we get a repeat of the election results in 1964 and 1974, which is Labour forming a government overall but without a majority of seats in England, there's going to be a huge problem here.
Sheena McDonald: Are you still sanguine about the Union, Robert?
Robert Hazell: We're talking now about the English Question, and that's a heading for English reactions to devolution. Broadly speaking there are two possible solutions. One is the one propounded by the last Labour government, to divide England 8 or 9 regions and give them all regional assemblies, and I think that policy is dead following the defeat of the North East referendum, but not necessarily forever. Remember, the vote in the north east was four to one against, Richard will remind us that the vote in Wales in 1979 was four to one against devolution for Wales, and within eighteen years that policy was reversed. So I don't think it's inconceivable that in 10-20 years time people might revive talk of regional government in England. But for now the policy solution that might be propounded by the Coalition Government is to set up a commission on the West Lothian Question, which was in the coalition agreement - that's something they haven't yet done but they are discussing how to do that. My guess is it might be quite limited in its terms of reference. I think if I were asked to advise them, I would say: set it up as a parliamentary commission and keep its terms of reference quite narrow; this is essentially a Conservative policy that you're trying to resolve, so have it chaired by a senior backbench Tory, and; get them to advise on the feasibility of testing the EVoEL on just a few bills at Westminster, do some experiments, see how it goes.
Sheena McDonald: The hoary old West Lothian Question...it hasn't ever been answered, is a commission the best idea, Alan?
Alan Trench: A Commission is the least bad approach, it is inherently an unanswerable question...
So Robert Hazell's 'two possible solutions' to the West Lothian Question are regional assemblies and a commission on the West Lothian Question, which he suggests should have 'limited terms of reference' [should not discuss an English parliament] and should be parliamentary commissions [should exclude the public]. My opinion of Robert Hazell is unchanged, he is a prize twat, and a pompuous condescending one at that.
Alan Trench - the expert who 'dissuaded' the Power2010 deliberative panel from adopting the proposal for an English parliament - seriously expects us to believe that he thinks the WLQ is unanswerable? Well, if you dissuade people from the obvious and natural answer then I suppose that it is unanswerable.
Trench went on to say that the Barnett Formula was "overgenerous to Scotland" and "undergenerous to Wales". The problem with reforming the Barnett Formula on a UK-wide basis, said Trench, was that "it would mean a very substantial cut in public spending in Scotland...something in the order of £4.5bn a year or possibly more". An alternative solution, mused Trench, was to reform the Barnett Formula not on a UK-wide basis but to reform it for just the "main loser, which is Wales". In other words, continue to overfund Scotland but overfund Wales too.