English Votes For English Laws: What is proposed?

There are plans to introduce “English votes for English laws” for MPs have been voted through in the House of Commons. The government won the backing of MPs by 312 to 270 votes. A series of amendments by Lib Dem and Labour MPs were also defeated.

Pete Wishart, a SNP MP, feels that Scottish MPs would be seen as ‘second class citizens’ and it is also debated whether Westminster could become a England Only Parliament, due to the system being changed. However, further devolution is not being discussed at the moment.

How will it work:

There will be a new stage added to the law-making process in Parliament allowing MPs for English constituencies to vote on issues deemed to only affect England. These MPs would be able to veto the legislation before all MPs from across the United Kingdom voted in the bill’s final readings.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, would decide whether a bill would only affect England or not and it will still have to go through all the other stages to be passed as a law.

He will be able to explain his reason for deciding whether a bill is deemed only for England or for England & Wales only, and he will call on two senior MPs to make the ruling of the law.

Government Opinion

This would be put in place to eliminate the time where Scottish MPs that sit in Westminster can vote on issues like Education in England, but English MPs cannot vote on issues which have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. This is also referred to as the West Lothian Question.

The New Process of Passing English Only Laws

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Why does this matter to us:

When Scotland voted last year to remain part of the UK, David Cameron promised significantly increased powers for the Scottish Parliament, including the ability to set some tax and benefit levels.

At the same time, he promised English MPs they would get more power too – they would be able to legislate in areas such as health and education without any input from MPs representing Scottish seats.

Getting the balance of power between the different legislative bodies right is seen as important to the future of the UK.

If the Westminster Parliament is going to have any authority, voters from all parts of the country must feel they are being fairly represented.

Feel free to comment your views!

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