English Votes for English Laws

GJ Chamber wide view 300614

Last week legislation was passed in the House of Commons to ensure that English issues are only voted on by MPs representing English constituencies. These changes, known as English Votes for English Laws will ensure that we have more of a say over matters that only affect us.

Devolution within the UK has seen many decisions relating to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland taken by their own National Assembly or Parliament. For example, since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 decisions in relation to health and education policy in Scotland have been made away from Westminster. Whilst devolution is to be supported this created an anomaly and unfairness for the English. We are without a distinct English Parliament and this has meant that MPs representing Scottish constituencies could vote on issues relating to English education policy but not vice versa.

Under English Votes for English Laws, every MP would continue to have a vote on every Bill. However, where the House of Commons considers a new Bill which only affects England a new Parliamentary procedure will apply. The Speaker of the House of Commons will be responsible for certifying which bills, or parts of bills affect only England. When this happens English MPs will effectively have a veto on the Bill. This prevents England from having laws imposed on it by MPs from other parts of the UK.

This new system will strengthen England’s voice just as devolution has strengthened the voices of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whilst maintaining the strength of the UK Parliament and the Union. These measures were opposed by the SNP and the Labour Party but I feel it is right that England is at long last given fairer treatment than has recently been the case.