English Votes for English Laws

Flag_of_EnglandPlans to give MPs from English constituencies an effective veto on laws affecting only England were announced in Parliament during this week’s Queen’s Speech.

Downing Street said it would press ahead with plans for so-called “English votes for English laws” by changing procedures in the House of Commons. It wants decisions on matters affecting England or England and Wales to be taken only with the consent of the majority of MPs from the two nations.

David Cameron promised to give English MPs more say on future laws affecting only England in the wake of last year’s Scottish independence referendum.  Scotland voted to remain in the UK but David Cameron and other leaders of the Westminster parties agreed to devolve substantial new powers over tax and welfare to the Scottish Parliament in the run-up to the referendum vote, in turn triggering calls for more devolution to England.

Mr Cameron has ruled out creating an English Parliament, an idea supported by some Conservative MPs, saying the Westminster Parliament will be “maintained as the UK and England’s law-making body” and all MPs – irrespective of which constituencies they represent – will be able to “deliberate or vote together”, including on all tax and spending matters.  But Downing Street is proposing to overhaul the standing orders of the House of Commons – the written rules by which it conducts its business – in order to make voting procedures “fairer”.

“We want Parliament to work in a way that ensures decisions affecting England or England and Wales can only be taken with the consent of the majority of MPs representing constituencies in England, or in England and Wales,” it said.

“We will end the manifest unfairness whereby Scotland is able to decide its own laws in devolved areas, only for Scottish MPs also to be able to have the potentially decisive say on similar matters that affect only England or Wales.”

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