Latest Public Sector News

03.02.15

English MPs to get veto over English-only legislation under Tory plans

English MPs are to be given a veto over legislation that applies only in England, including setting income tax rates, under Tory proposals for ‘English votes for English laws’ unveiled today.

Leader of the Commons, William Hague, was asked to come up with the solution to the West Lothian question, and after outlining a number of different options at the end of last year he has finally settled on his preferred method.

Under the Tory proposals, the committee stage of a Bill or parts of a Bill affecting only England, or England and Wales, would be restricted to solely those MPs who represent English (and when appropriate Welsh) constituencies.

MPs from other parts of the UK, outside of England, would still be able to debate laws that apply solely in England, as a Commons majority would still be required for any Bill to pass.

However a Grand Committee of English and Welsh MPs would be given a veto, in Hague's words, "to prevent the wishes of the English or English and Welsh being overridden by Scottish MPs".

Hague said it was the least radical of three options to resolve demands for English votes for English laws but would bring "fairness and accountability to England without breaking up the unity and integrity of the UK Parliament".

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Hague said that the proposal was unlikely to become law before the election.

But some Conservative MPs believe the plans do not go far enough and will still give Scottish MPs too much influence.

Former Cabinet Minister John Redwood told The Sun: "It gives them leverage. If you had a lot of [SNP] MPs, for example, who wanted something for Scotland then presumably they would all gang up and try to block an English proposal until we cave in on what they wanted. It would be perfectly legitimate political tactics."

In December Labour made similar proposals, saying an English, or English and Welsh, committee stage would give those MPs "a key role" in considering the legislation in question, while MPs as a whole would have the final say.

Ed Miliband said this and other ideas should be considered by a constitutional convention after May's general election.

The Lib Dems, in contrast, are calling for a "grand committee" of English MPs, which has the right to veto legislation applying only to England, with its membership based on proportional representation.

(Image credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire)

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