Latest Public Sector News

27.04.16

Funding decisions to devolved bodies will continue to be made by whole Parliament

Recommendations that funding to devolved bodies should be reconsidered in light of the growing push for English votes for English laws have been rejected by the government

A recent report from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee said that the newly introduced measures, which allow for a procedure to forbid MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from voting on laws that only affect England, are difficult to reconcile with maintaining the much-scrutinised Barnett Formula as a measure of funding to the devolved bodies.

In response, the government insisted that they would not make any changes to the Barnett Formula, saying: “I have made very clear to the House that it is not possible to draw a direct link between individual pieces of legislation and the Barnett Formula. Suggesting that individual Bills have direct Barnett consequentials and should therefore not be subject to English Votes is not correct.

“The modified Standing Orders provide that all MPs continue to have a role in making all legislation. No legislation can be made without the consent of the whole House. The Standing Orders make clear that the final decision on spending which will have a material impact on the allocation of funding to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will always be taken by a vote of the whole House of Commons.”

The UK and Scottish governments recently reached a deal, after fraught negotiations, guaranteeing that funding to Scotland will stay the same for the next six years.

However, the government said they “welcomed” the other recommendations from the report, although they would not respond to individual aspects at this time.

The report recommended “a new and durable constitutional settlement”, instead of the current “ad hoc” measures, warning that Labour’s opposition to the English votes for English laws measures means they risk being suspended under a future Labour government.

The government also said that they would discuss the report’s recommendations that the speaker of the House of Commons publish a set of guidelines regarding representations relating to devolution boundaries with parliamentary officials.

(Image c. Danny Lawson from PA Wire)

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