English votes for English laws

Houses of Parliament

This week The Conservative Party announced proposals to bring in English votes for English laws in the House of Commons.

Under proposals drawn up by The Smith Commission, following the Scottish referendum, Scotland is set to get a variety of new powers including the ability to set income tax rates and bands.

Whilst it might be right for Scotland to get new powers, it is also time for England to have its voice heard as well.

It is wrong for MPs from Scotland sitting in Westminster to vote on budgets and laws that only apply to English voters.

There have been a variety of options put forward on how to tackle this, these include barring Scottish MPs from any role in English and Welsh bills, allowing English MPs to have a greater say over the early readings of bills and giving English MPs a veto over certain legislation at committee stage. There is also an option to establish a grand committee of English MPs, with the right to veto legislation applying only to England, with its members based on the share of the vote.

Our option is the proposal that English MPs would have a veto over legislation – including income tax – that only affects England. This is a fundamental issue of fairness and would properly balance the rights of all voters across the United Kingdom. The Labour Party disagrees with our plans to have English votes on English issues but I believe it must be right for England to have greater self-determination particularly when more powers are being devolved to Scotland.

What we need is a system which benefits the union as a whole whilst being fair to all its regions.