English Votes for English Laws (EVEL)

On Tuesday 7 July 2015, Mr Speaker granted an Urgent Debate on the Government’s proposals to introduce English Votes for English Laws (EVEL).

In my view the Government’s attempt to make a major constitutional change by amending the Standing Orders of the House of Commons was unacceptable to many members. This would have meant the change was not subject to the same debate and scrutiny that a change through legislation would have entailed.

If a Bill has an English only element, the Speaker must certify this is the case and only English MPs can vote during its passage. But the English MPs also vote for the Bill at the end the so called double majority leading to some MPs having 2 votes and 2 classes of MPs. The Government has not consulted MPs and I am not sure if even the Speaker was consulted. It was announced in the House in a Statement from the Leader of the House. This may have consequences as to whether Parliament continues to be a Parliament for the whole of the United Kingdom.

When the people of Scotland voted against independence, this was after years of debate and scrutiny of the possible options. I consider the appropriate way forward to discuss constitutional issues is to have a constitutional commission so all the options can be analysed and discussed.

I voted against the proposals and was pleased that they were defeated by 291 votes to 2. The Government decided not to turn up.”