As Gareth points out on the Campaign for an English Parliament Newsblog, not the least problematical aspect of the proposal is the idea that the Speaker would have to rule on which bills, or parts of bills, were English-only, or English-and-Welsh-only on those areas which are devolved to the Scottish Parliament but not to the Welsh Assembly.
"If, as suggested, it is up to the Speaker to decide what is and what is not English legislation then the impartiality of the Speaker will be compromised. A brief look at Gorbals Mick’s record on impartiality should alert people to the dangers of this. Even if it were up to some higher, or more impartial, authority than the Speaker to designate bills as English-only then it would inevitably cause arguments before the bill is even drafted."
To be fair to Iain Dale, he is a supporter of the CEP and he argues that an English Grand Committee would be a stepping stone towards that eventual aim. Possibly in the longer-term, but I would argue that in the shorter-term, the introduction of further assymetric devolution into the constitution will actually make things worse rather than better, and make it more likely that the end of all this will not be a union of four equal autonomous nations but four wholly independent states.
That said, the distinction between an English Grand Committee and an English Parliament will probably be lost on most voters. The Tories will doubtless get some public support for this, simply for being seen to do something about the problem while Labour continues to bury its head in the sand.
The upside for Labour is that, with the next election not due until 2009, Gordon Brown has 18 months to expose the policy as unworkable, and maybe even to come up with an alternative proposal that is, although if I knew how he could dothat without handing his Scottish heartland over to the SNP lock stock and barrel, I'd probably be sitting in his chair.
Scrapping the Barnett Formula would take much of the current heat out of the issue, but Brown cannot now do that without handing a huge propaganda victory to Alex Salmond. The sensible time to have done it, as he was warned at the time, would have been in 1998/99, when Labour was still reaping the benefit of the devolution dividend.
I have taken a fair amount of mockery down the years for taking an interest in this subject - when my son was born the joke in the Lobby was that he would be fed on Barnett Formula Milk - but I always knew it would become a big political issue one day, and now it has.