This week, William Hague set out the options to ensure fair representation for England following the agreement to devolve greater powers to Scotland. Whilst 'English Votes for English Laws' is rarely top of the priority list, the subject regularly comes up at my open meetings as people are rightly annoyed that Scottish Labour MPs regularly vote on issues which have no effect whatsoever on their own constituents. Imagine the fuss if the situation was reversed! https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/387598/implications_of_devolution_for_england_accessible.pdf
Following the Scottish independence referendum, the transfer of additional powers to Scotland will significantly worsen this injustice to English voters.
In the Houses of Commons, William Hague set out the three options put forward by the Conservative Party:
1. Bills that deal with English matters could only be able to be voted upon by English MPs at all legislative stages.
2. Bills that deal with English matters could be voted upon by all MPs at Second and Third Readings but only by English MPs at Committee and Report Stages.
3. There would be the creation of a new legislative stage in between Report Stage and Third Reading at which English MPs could veto and approve legislation which deals only with English matters.
I am pleased that all three options look to address the 'English question' within Parliament rather than proposing that another raft of structures and politicians be created. The idea of regional assemblies was rejected during a 2004 referendum in the North-East and I have yet to meet a constituent who asks me to campaign for more politicians.
I'm keen to hear your views.
The first proposal has the advantage that it would not add extra stages to the already lengthy legislative process. Although it is true that some parts of bills may apply to devolved nations but not others, in reality Labour oppose this as it would reduce their ability to push through unpopular, burdensome and expensive legislation should they ever return to power. The SNP have long taken the view that they should not vote on English only legislation and rarely do so, thus demonstrating that it is not the complicated morass wrongly claimed by Labour.
This is about fairness to England.